Making of an Artist: Rafi #3

In this video Rafi is plays Eggs, Sol Re Sol, Saita, and the entire Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star all by himself. He is now able to use his left third finger (ring) for Twinkle independently. He has improved so much on all these songs since the first blog post. The comfort and confidence is very different now when he plays the violin. We have gotten to this point by practicing all his songs three times each day. In the last few weeks we practiced every day except two. 

A delightful part of his musical development right now is his ear's ability to listen for intonation. At 1:24 Rafi fixes his C# in Saita, lowering the note the second time because the first time was too sharp. Again at 1:50 he fixes the F# in Twinkle, also lowering the second F# of the phrase (The F#s fall on the word "lit-tle" in the lyrics "Twinkle, twinkle, little star"). 

In my teaching once the left third finger is mobile (ring finger), I introduce Old MacDonald had a Farm to incorporate the fourth finger (pinky finger). Naturally this finger is going to need extra help at first. But it is so important to get all the left hand fingers working as a team sooner rather than later- physically and psychologically, as I have met many young violinists who have a mental block when it comes to using their fourth (pinky) finger. 

Around 2:50 in the video Rafi is talking about the notes sounding "weird". Once again, he is talking about the intonation not being correct.

We move on to the bow, where now during La La Sh Sh Rafi and I take turns. In blog post #2 I moved the bow for the entire song, so here also is big improvement due to consistent practice. Making a full sound with the bow is still tricky, however, and Rafi is at times too loose with the bow, getting a soft, thin sound (at 5:50). The key to getting a nice tone (making the string vibrate well) is to be able to feel the the interplay of the bow with the resistance of the string. Thus, it feels like pulling the bow against the string on the down bow, and pushing the bow into the string on the up bow (up bow here is Rafi starting at the tip and ending in the middle of the bow). Controlling the string vibration this way is easier when the bow starts from a good contact with the string. Thus I am emphasizing stopping the bow at the end of each stroke so that the next 'start' of the bow is a good one. 

The bow doesn't move well either when the right fingers are gripping it too tightly - at 3:55 when I notice that Rafi's last bow stroke had a scratchy edge to it, I know that he is squeezing his thumb and fingers. So I ask him to tap the first finger on the bow - this usually releases any extra tension on the bow so that he can reset the fingers and start with a clean plate for the next notes. 

This lesson is split into two videos because the cameraman inadvertently stopped the recording, then was able to resume recording (about 3 seconds pass between the videos). So here Rafi and I finish working on La La Sh Sh for the day - you can see that Rafi has better control stopping and starting the bow here.