Technique: how to play chords


How to tackle multi-stopped passages with more confidence, musicality and alacrity with Pavel Berman

This article appeared in our July 2019 issue

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Many students get stuck when it comes to playing chords, even if they are quite free with other techniques. Often the problem is a psychological one: as soon as they think, ‘Chords are so difficult!’, the hand and arm contract and they start to produce a very bad sound.

In order to play chords well, every part of the right arm and hand must do its part. The shoulder should be relaxed and not raised; the arm should push out from the body, rather than pull back behind it; and the hand, whose position is governed by the upper arm, should flex freely between the seven basic positions of the bow, for the G string, G and D together, D string, D and A together, A string, A and E together, and the E string alone. The forearm, which works horizontally, deals with bow speed, quantity and stroke; the wrist, which can move horizontally and vertically, must be flexible and free. Finally, the fingers, which are the only part of the body in contact with the bow, must move flexibly, minimally and smoothly in order to determine the range of dynamics, control and the balance of the bow…

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