First of all, you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t hit a wall on Minuet 2. I think it is the hardest song in the whole book, including Gavotte, and it’s all because of those darned string crossings!

Practice tips for Minuet 2

  1. Sometimes moving ahead to Minuet 3 sort of allows the skills to marinate, and avoid burn-out. BE SURE to come back to Minuet 2, so that you can really conquer the string crossings, though, because you will need those skills for Gavotte!
  2. MAKE SURE you are using SUPER GREASY ELBOW (this is a term you’ll learn in the Red Desert Violin Suzuki Book 1 online violin lessons. I bet if you pay attention (looking in a mirror) you will notice that your elbow is not nice and greasy like in the Twinkle Variations. This is because those string crossings make us lock up because our elbow motion gets mixed in with the shoulder motion which is needed to cross the strings. Remember: shoulder crosses strings, elbow makes the up-bow/down-bows. Shoulder gets bossy and butts into Elbow’s job. Play open string exercises in a mirror….SLOW, BIG BOWS….watch your elbow!
  3. Try playing the opening passage of Minuet 2 using only open strings, but maintaining the rhythm and bowings of Minuet 2. (D-A-A-E-A-E-E—-D—-D—-) Get this as fast as you can, maintaining greasy elbow, although your bows will get shorter….and that’s ok.
  4. Here is a trick I use ALL THE TIME on my hardest pieces. When I cannot play a passage detache’ up to tempo, even after practicing like crazy, I SLUR it. This is an awfully advanced trick so you might not be able to use it, but in essence, you would do Bar 1 all in a down bow slur. Bar 2 would be up bow….and it’s okay to hook them. Bar 3, all down bow, etc. Try to get it faster. This forces your bow arm to learn efficient string crossings, AND it forces your left hand to be more articulate and on time. Sometimes we blame our bow, but it’s really left hand’s fault.
  5. Practicing in rhythms would help this passage too…..again, that is a pretty advanced technique, but it is like my SILVER BULLET for any hard passage. If you don’t know what that is, it’s where you play pairs of notes lopsided.

What is “practicing in rhythms?”

I have a video about practicing in rhythms. Watch the video later if you wish, but let me just give you the nutshell version here:

First you would play Bar 1 of Minuet 2:
LONG—-fast LONG—-fast LONG—-fast
Bar 2 is not hard….so you’d just play it long, long long.

After you can do that rhythm, then you reverse it, which is much more awkward. Bar one would be:
fast LONG—-fast LONG—-fast LONG—-
Bar 2 again, would be long long long)

Please keep your bowings exactly as you do them in context of the passage you are practicing, and only play short passages this way until you master this technique.

Try these five things, or whatever you feel you can digest right now, and see how it goes.
If your frustration is approaching burn-out, then go ahead and work on Minuet 3 for a few weeks, but promise yourself to return to Minuet 2 to master this technique.

Get many more Suzuki book 1 tips

If you found these tips and videos useful, there are MANY more in my online violin lessons featuring Suzuki violin book 1. I go into great detail on technique using easy-to-understand language and demonstrations.