Saturday, December 12, 2009

Stop, Plop, and Pop

My father used to refer to people who played really well as playing like "gangbusters eating rice krispies." Perhaps that might have influenced three of the most important words that I use in lessons with students (both violin and recorder students) and in my own lessons with myself (in other words, when I am practicing).

Stop refers to a momentary stopping of the bow, which I find useful when thinking about plopping and popping: making sure all the necessary fingers are in place before the bow sounds the next pitch.

Plop refers to what the fingers do. In order to have a Milstein-like left hand, I try to always plop as many fingers down as possible. "Drop" might work for some people, but plop gives me a far more secure feeling. You can "drop" something by accident, but you "plop" on purpose, and you usually do it with a great sense of security.

Pop is what the fingers do when they release notes. When I have three fingers of the left hand down, and I pick up only the third finger, that lifted finger "releases" the note that the second finger is going to play. When I do this action with a feeling of "pop," there is a clarity to the released note. The word "lift" implies work. The word "pop" implies play.

The way it works on the recorder involves a momentary stop of the tongue before the fingers plop or pop.

1 comment:

Caroline said...

I'm smiling. This scientific approach really enlightens. I play both the recorder and the cello. I will now be able to apply this new technique. I appreciate your sense of humor and of humility as a musician!