Interpretation – Are you a bump on a log?

Phrasing and dynamic contrast
Recently I had several middle school students audition for the local Nafme sponsored orchestra festival. With three pieces to choose from, my students all picked Rondino On a Theme by Beethoven by Fritz Kreisler. All of these students struggled to create phrasing and dynamic contrast.

Caught off guard
The piece seemed relatively short and didn’t look difficult to students because there weren’t a lot of “fast” notes. Upon playing through the piece, my students realized how challenging shifting high on lower strings can be. But once there was some mastery with the shifting, there was no energy or will left over for pursuing phrase shaping.

Now we can all exhale
The results are in and we can do the postmortem on what happened exactly. The point I found myself making in lessons is that the dynamics provided by the composer and/or editor can’t be the end of the story. A musician always needs to include their own input. Of course we always try to honor what is in the print, but there has to be your own interpretation as well.

The arch form
As this card mentions, you can start out by copying what you’ve heard in recordings. My suggestion is to begin by identifying the beginning, middle and end of a phrase. Try to make your phrases as long as possible. Then, apply the arch form by building to what you consider to be the high point of the phrase.

Violinist Linda Beers is the creator of the Inspiration for Violinists, a 50 card deck. Each card has a unique image and text inspiring musicianship, mindfulness and spirituality.

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