As violinists, we're all too familiar with the concept of repetitive drills. These violin exercises form a core part of our routine, helping us perfect our technique and polish our pieces. Yet, most of the traditional violin practice methods focus on breaking down the music into predictable phrases and sections. While this approach has proven its worth over centuries, is it time we experimented with a different angle? What if we focused not on the obvious parts, but on the unexpected, subtle transitions that often go unnoticed?
Our new approach to violin drills takes inspiration from the technique of video clipping. For those who are unfamiliar, video clipping is a method in which a segment of a video is extracted and played on a loop. Now, envision doing this with a master violinist's performance, isolating a specific note transition and playing it on a loop.
This method challenges the traditional approach by focusing on what we call "unimagined" practice spots. These are not your typical phrase beginnings and endings. Instead, we hone in on the moments in between: a shift in dynamics, a subtle stroke change, a specific bow placement. The idea is to not only imitate these elements, but to understand and internalize them.
What makes this practice drill unique and potentially game-changing is the precision it demands. The drill's success depends on replicating every aspect of the extracted clip accurately. This includes the right speed, right dynamics, correct bow location, and correct bow stroke. Our aim is not just to play the notes, but to play them exactly as they were in the performance.
While it might seem counterintuitive to focus on such specific, isolated elements rather than complete phrases or sections, this method has potential benefits. It can help musicians develop a deeper understanding of the intricacies of a performance and improve their technique, leading to a more refined overall performance.
Remember, mastering an instrument is not just about playing the right notes. It's also about how you play them. And sometimes, focusing on the small, seemingly insignificant details can make a world of difference.