I’ve given myself one year to master the violin.

As an adult beginner, I should be playing Twinkle Twinkle; instead, I'm playing Paganini's 24th caprice.

Feeling the rhythm

When I first started playing Paganini, I had a lot of trouble with the theme and the (what I thought at the time) crazy rhythm. As I played more of the Paganini, I got into really hard stuff like spiccato, octaves, and thirds, but most of this hard stuff was just a bunch of fast sixteenth notes. The Bach is easier without all of the violinistic trickery, but the rhythms are now a lot harder to get. I remember with the Paganini, I used the metronome when learning the theme (and hated the metronome…a lot) but really haven’t touched it anytime lately. Of course, this probably wasn’t a good thing, but when just doing a bunch of sixteenth notes, it’s easier to get lazy. Now, that has all changed. The metronome is back out and I’m struggling to get all of the rhythms down.  It’s funny, playing rhythms for normal mortals like myself is extremely difficult.  People like Danielle (aka musicians), especially musicians who’ve been playing nearly all their lives, can’t truly comprehend how hard the timing is on music like this.  I especially hate it when you have a little sixteenth rest or eighth rest at the beginning of the beat and have to wait through the beat and start playing in the middle before the beginning of the next beat.  It’s hard to time it right.  For me, at least.

A technique Danielle and I started doing is her playing the notes of the piece with me playing open As along with the rhythm. We tried this with some of the later stuff, but I unfortunately didn’t know the notes well enough, so we went back to the beginning. Well, I messed up a bit here too:

When watching that, it’s surprising how crooked my bow was. I’ll have to work on that.

Anyway, I find it very hard especially when going from fast to slow notes. For example, an early part I’m having problem with is this part:

Especially the tie. See where the tie ends in that sixteenth note? Apparently, I’m not supposed to play that sixteenth note but treat it sort of like a rest. It’s not technically a rest but there needs to be a clear articulation there, not a slur. Of course I always forget to stop, but I’m getting better.  When you look at the passage up there, it doesn’t look too bad, and it’s not (other than the ties) but near the end of the first page, we have this:

You got a few 16th notes, 8th notes, quarter tied to an 8th, sixteenths, etc, etc.  This kind of stuff is so hard for me (to play it correctly) and I really believe for anyone without a lot of musical training, this stuff just doesn’t come naturally.  Each day plowing away with the metronome should make it easier over the course of time.  So Danielle says anyway.

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4 Comments on “Feeling the rhythm”

  1. JRV says:

    Awesome — So enjoyable for an early Christmas Eve morning — 🙂

  2. John says:

    Perhaps try playing the tied 8th/16th note as a separate bow at first to get a feel for the rhythm?

    • rrvaughn says:

      Thanks John. It will definitely be better after another year, although it still might not be GOOD…

      How’s the cello going? I thought about the cello also. Danielle’s high school orchestra teacher (with whom she’s still friends) recommended the cello as something that I could “wrap my arms around and get intimate.” The violin had two advantages for me though: 1. as you mentioned, I have Danielle as a teacher. 2. There is the whole alliterative aspect. Perhaps the viola would have worked in that capacity too.


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