Ariane Todes selects her favourite stories and interviews from The Strad website and beyond

Focus Monday, 22 September 2014

How to use bowing angle to vary articulation by cellist Colin Carr

The artist explains how he varies the attock and timbre of a note by modifying the angle of the bow to the string

Like singers or speakers forming words, string players have the ability to define the type of articulation we choose for each bow change. The principle behind bowing is, of course, pulling and pushing:...

Focus Friday, 19 September 2014

None of my teachers were any good at explaining technique ― Ruggiero Ricci

Celebrating his 90th birthday in July 2008, the legendary violinist looked back at his teaching influences and revealed that he was largely self-taught

The reason I started the violin was that I heard my father playing the Brahms Hungarian Dance no.5, badly. I liked the tune and said, ‘I wanna play the violin.’ If I had heard the piano ...

Focus Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Personality is no longer encouraged in musical performance

Not too long ago mass audiences and critics alike revered overtly personal performances, yet today superimposing one's personality over that of the composer is regarded as poor musicianship, writes Henry Roth

To what degree should personality play a role in string performance? Personality, in the broad sense, includes the idiosyncrasies or peculiarities of the individual as they pertain to his performance...

Focus Monday, 15 September 2014

How to play with a flexible bowing arm by cellist Gary Hoffman

The American musician explains how he developed a supple and varied bow arm motion, guided by his ear and musical instinct

János Starker, with whom I studied, introduced me to his concept of the bow-arm action, which he refers to as the ‘basic legato rule’. Starting with a down bow at the frog, you draw...

Focus Friday, 12 September 2014

11 views on teaching by Juilliard School violin professor Dorothy DeLay

During the Joseph Joachim International Violin Competition in Hannover in 1995, jury member Dorothy DeLay led a 90-minute discussion on teaching at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater. Evelyn Chadwick recorded some of her views.

Dorothy DeLay joined the Juilliard School in 1948 and taught violinists including Itzhak Perlman, Cho-Liang Lin, Shlomo Mintz, Nigel Kennedy, Sarah Chang, Midori and Gil Shaham. Up until her death in...

Focus Tuesday, 09 September 2014

From the Archive: How to memorise solos

The art of memorising can be mastered by even those who believe they have no apptitude in the area, writes Edwin H. Pierce.

Every violinist who makes any pretensions to being a soloist realises the advantages of playing without notes. The absence of the unsightly music-rack, the freedom from turning pages, the greater attention...

Focus Monday, 08 September 2014

Singing during practice can help improve sound and characterisation, says cellist Laurence Lesser

Learning to listen to your voice constructively isn't easy, but it helps to set musical feeling directly into motion according to the New England Conservatory professor

Sometimes we forget to relate technical aspects of cello playing to their musical purpose. Technique is, after all, just one resource – we also need knowledge of musical structure and of the cultural...

Focus Friday, 05 September 2014

How to develop fourth finger strength

String students often suffer from weakness in the little finger, but this can be overcome, writes James Winram in the Strad’s July 1913 issue

A well-developed fourth finger is of paramount importance in the successful working of the left hand. The third finger is the trying one for pianists, and the fourth is similarly so for violinists. ...

Focus Thursday, 04 September 2014

Can bowing-wrist suppleness improve intonation?

Juan Krakenberger has made a number of interesting connections between good tuning and loosening the bowing wrist in his teaching

What would you say if I stated that right-wrist suppleness has an important role to play in achieving sensitive intonation with the left-hand fingers? These two matters may seem to have no connection...

Focus Wednesday, 03 September 2014

7 ways to play perfect chords

Advice on unforced and resonant chord playing from The Strad’s archives

One of the greatest difficulties experienced by the student consists in making the chords resonant and yet free from impurity of tone. They are apt to sound scratchy. The best way to correct this fault...

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