Improving the Tone of a Violin
The present writer chanced to be in a studio recently when a visitor had brought for examination a violin he had purchased for his boy who was to begin instruction under the teacher's care.
The instrument was played by the teacher, tested in various ways, for quality and quantity of tone, for responsiveness, etc. Finally he said: "It's a fair sort of a fiddle. Hut it will improve with regular playing upon it."
The natural inference of the two persons who heard the remark was that the work of the pupil would help to improve the instrument. No doubt this is a fair inference, one that, is true. Yet it is allowable to wonder if there may be some system of daily exercise which will help to smooth and refine the tone more effectively than the playing to be done by the pupil.
Here is a suggestion picked up from a plaver of long experience who delights in experimenting:
Play with full, firm tone, steady bow movement that does not change in power on two strings. Start with the G and the D; then
E F (F#) G A
in succession: E G G G, and back again to the open strings, long sustained tones, and gradually increasing the tempo, making various possible combinations by changing the succession of the tones, thus:
in triplet figures,
|D E F||E F G||F G A||G F E||F E D|
figures of four tones,
|D E F G||E F G A||G F E D||D E F D||E F G E||F G A F||G F E G||F E D F|
etc. Vary these exercises by sustaining the D and moving the fingers on the G; thus:
in all possible combinations of figures and rhythms. A matter of careful attention is that the tone of the open string, D, and the same pitch made by the fifth finger on the G string shall coincide.
Similar exercises can be made with the D and A strings, the A and E strings. An excellent plan is to devote perhaps five minutes or so at each of three periods of daily practice to one set of strings, thus avoiding long continued practice of the same kind.
It is possible to secure valuable drill for the fingers of the left hand in these exercises to bring out the tone of the instrument. Of special importance is it not to take a finger from a string unless it is necessary? The result of this is that descending passages will be played exactly as they were played, so far as intonation goes, in ascending succession. For examle, there is a tendency on the part of players to pull the hand away from intonation of the tones in descending. Make an effort to retain the correct position of the hand by keeping the first finger on the string unless the open D is called for. The effort to keep the second finger in the proper position for F is also valuable and brings about greater suppleness of the joint where the finger and the hand unite.