A friend recently gave me two books of violin music; he has stopped playing the violin to focus on the viola. One of the books is scored for piano as well. I’ve started playing a little bit out of the solos book that does not have accompaniment – I have to choose the songs wisely; they are not arranged by order of difficulty! First I have to pick a piece that’s in a key in which I’m comfortable. Then I have to start playing very slowly.
So far I’ve only picked pieces that I already know relatively well what they are supposed to sound like. The book has truly well-known pieces, excerpting popular fragments of longer works and other showpieces. I tried to start with Debussy’s Clare De Lune, but that turned out to be too tall an order. I’ve been working with Beethoven’s Fur Elise a little bit, which is tricky but possible (being perfectly in tune is essential), and I’ve especially settled on working with Haydn’s Surprise Symphony, another fun and relatively simple one I’ve known since childhood.
Overall, these brief arrangements are playful little diversions from my regular repertoire. They definitely help me with sight reading, and it’s exciting to have the ability to play some of these tunes I know so well. Technically speaking, the Surprise Symphony is helping me practice staccato and playing softly, with dynamics. Starts and stops are tricky for we newbie violinists; scratchiness is hard to avoid, and working on abruptness in a piece full of them is great practice.
Thanks for reading.