WHY MUSICAL STUDIES / ETUDES / EXERCISES MATTER!
“Without a solid foundation, you will have trouble creating anything of value”
Often questions arise in the minds of the student. Why am I still doing studies / etudes/ scales? Why is not the teacher making me do the concertos, sonatas?
What does musical exercise/ study or etude do? Each exercise concentrates on one aspect of technique. For instance if it has to do with the right hand (bowing) – it may be legatos. The exercise will focus on legatos –for the whole bow, the upper half or the lower half. So once the exercise is mastered, one has a reasonable control over the legatos.
Exercise on staccatos – may focus only on the short note to be played and full stop and wait before starting on the second note. One learns this technique SLOWLY and then speed it up with regularly increasing intervals. The single bowed staccatos are different from slurred staccatos. So the exercises could be different.
Left hand application of the exercise is similar, it may have to do with the position of playing first or second or higher positions. The I to III positions are mastered before the advanced student progresses to high positions. Each exercise is specific and caters only to that aspect of playing.
As for the left hand techniques – shifting of the positions, string crossings, the double stops, the vibratos, left hand pizzacato, harmonics with double stops, etc, each can be practiced separately and then applied to the repertoire.
Now coming to repertoire, composer would have, depending on the complexity of the musical piece, employed various techniques which one would have individually studied in the studies earlier on. It is important to scan the music, and while attempting it slowly in the beginning, identify the troublesome spots. Then analyze each difficulty and go through it in detail.
If necessary, revert back to the technical study, practice it all over and then come back to the repertoire.
In case of attempting a difficult piece, it is important to:
- - Isolate the difficult part and work at it in small segments |( one or two bars if necessary) and analyze why it is difficult ( section A)
- - Work at the solution , slowly for a short while
- - Go back to some other section of music ( section B)
- - Come back to the troublesome spot, now with its solution and practice this again ( section A)
- - Practice some other section of music ( section C)
- - And come back to section A again – and gradually speed it up to the required tempo.
This has worked largely for other colleagues as well as me. It is easier to do this rather than playing the music from top to bottom over and over when each mistake is made.
Short bursts of working at difficult sections with analysis, repeated in small sections saves much of wasted time and is retentive in memory easier than otherwise.