Technique: Finding your voice on the viola

SUSIE MÉSZÁROS pc KEVIN LAITAK

Susie Mészáros’s thoughts on shifting and articulation

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Shifting and articulation are two extremely important elements of making music on a stringed instrument. Pedagogically they are usually treated somewhat separately, but they are connected by their relationship with the human voice. Think of the left hand as the vocal cords, the bow as the breath, and the fingers on the bow as the expressors of articulation – lips, teeth and tongue.

While beginners are taught to shift between one position and another, and thereby to navigate the fingerboard with confidence, as players become more advanced, shifting should not be seen as merely a technique to build facility. It is complex and when used with imagination has huge expressive power, enabling the violist to engage fully with the music being played…

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