While violin quartet music can sometimes be a daunting task, especially for beginners who are looking to improve their skills, there are a number of simple, fast tips and strategies that can make your life a lot easier when it comes to improving your violin quartet abilities. The key is to understand the violin's role in the quartet, which depending on which violin you are playing, can vary. Sometimes a violin is used for melody whereas other times you play the role of harmony or rhythm. Here are three simple tips you can use to make figuring out your role in violin quartet music easier and more enjoyable.
|Wilma Norman-Neruda as a first violin of the string quartet at The Monday Popular Concerts in St James’s Hall, London; also pictured Louis Ries (violin 2), Ludwig Straus (viola) and Alfredo Piatti (cello). |
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
First off, treat each voice in the quartet as though it were an orchestra. The structure of a quartet imitates that of a chamber string orchestra with two violins, a viola and a cello, so you should approach anything you play with the same mindset as in a chamber string orchestra. Violin quartet music usually involves a duet between two violins alternating a melody against each other while the viola and cello are used as rhythm and harmony, but know your role accordingly just as you would in a chamber orchestra.
Next, understand whether you are playing harmony or melody. Melodic lines are clear and open and should be played with intensity, whereas harmony should see itself as a support for the structure of the melody. If you are first violin, you will primarily want to focus on being the singer of the group, whereas a second violin playing violin quartet music functions more as a backup singer most of the time. Know which role you have and how it changes your function in the violin quartet music.
Finally, tune it up and keep the rhythm tight when playing violin quartet music. When you practice on your own, you work with technique of fingering and hand position to refine your own sound, but in a rehearsal or performance, you need to listen to your intonation and rhythm with relation to the other players. This is a key difference and cannot be overlooked. You cannot play an instrument effectively without listening to the sounds around you, and if you play violin quartet music without hearing your relative tempo, rhythm and intonation with the other players, you are overlooking the purpose of a rehearsal and treating it more like your own practice room. Keep rehearsals productive by focusing on group intonation and rhythm when playing in a group.
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