And the final secret to expressive playing: DRAMATIC HAIR!
These photos crack me up. You want a happy evening sometime, search online for “stock images violinist.” WOW. They think you’re a moron, the people who make those images.
Ah well. On to the serious stuff.
When it comes to expressive playing on the violin, the most invisible, discreet expressive nuances come from the left hand. These are the nuances that melt the listener, who just can’t quite place what the artist is doing.
Here are the two key techniques:
- Speed of vibrato
- Shifting the left hand
Vibrato speed and expressive violin playing
Many students think of vibrato as being one speed and one width, which is the speed and width they were trying to achieve when they first learned vibrato. But vibrato has hundreds of variables by the time you combine all the possible speeds with all the possible widths!
In my violin vibrato courses, (either sold separately, or included in my Suzuki Book 1 and Suzuki Book 2 courses), we create a chart and students are encouraged to play around with the various combinations of vibrato, resulting in hundreds of different shades.
When you discover these possibilities, you’ll feel like an artist who only had black and white paint, but who now has every color available.
You can also change up the way your vibrato begins on each note. You can have little bursts of vibrato at the beginning of each bow stroke, you can delay your vibrato and sort of “bloom” into it. Each of these approaches creates a different feeling in your music.
Left hand shifts and expressive violin playing
When choosing your fingerings, do you choose the easiest ones? Perhaps you don’t choose your fingerings, maybe you use the ones provided in your sheet music or by your teacher. Or, maybe you decided the fingerings in your sheet music are too inconvenient, and you found easier ones.
Professionals choose their fingerings based on a few important concepts. Matching tone color throughout a phrase (by keeping it all on one string), creating a smooth connected line, setting up for a beautiful shift, or avoiding string crossings. The LAST consideration in choosing fingerings is convenience or ease. So next time you want to change a fingering in your sheet music, stop and take a closer look. See if you can decipher the reason for that fingering, and if your preferred fingering would really serve the music better.
Once you start asking the questions, you start finding the answers!
Click here to check out my online violin lessons featuring Suzuki book 3. These lessons help you free your inner musician through expressive violin playing.