Tieing in with her new CD of Beethoven sonatas, the violinist shares a few insights
1. Always warm up
I like to do this either with Schradieck exercises, playing them under tempo to make sure my fingers are moving as they should, or with particular passages from the pieces I’m working on, practising them slowly, in different rhythmic permutations.
It’s a good way of making sure that everything is functioning properly before getting into the nitty gritty of practice.
2. Practise without vibrato
This helps me to focus on sound production, intonation, connections, legato, and to make sure that I’m not doing vibrato on a note that doesn’t need it.
Sometimes vibrato can cover things up, or sometimes it can make a note speak too much in a bar or a phrase where another note needs to speak more.
I find that stripping it back helps me to listen with fresh ears and approach a work as if for the first time.
This is an important tool for working on phrasing in the most natural way. It helps me to work with my breathing. It also reminds me to breathe when I’m playing in a concert!
4. Take yoga breaks
Holding the violin doesn’t put us into the most natural of positions, so it helps to practise counter movements to ensure that the chest is open and that the shoulders are down. That’s why putting aside even just a sliver of time to do some yoga is so beneficial. It loosens you up and it allows whatever you’ve been working on to sink in.
5. Go out
This is crucial, not only for doing mental practice and figuring out what to do with those phrases that aren’t quite where you want them to be, but also for enriching your interpretation of music.
If you, say, go to an exhibition of pictures from the period of the piece that you’re working on, just to see what else was being created at that time, it can give you a different perspective.
Read our review of Chloë Hanslip’s and Danny Driver’s Beethoven CD.