In the Suzuki Books, which contains the collection of wonderful pieces for students, we start to see violin concerti Volume 4. For most of us who study the violin, the first concerto we learn is by Seitz, like we can see here.
Unlike the pieces up to Suzuki Violin School vol.3, in vol.4, the movements (pieces) get longer in which some different characters are presented. By learning to express them, one can develop violin techniques as well as musicality naturally.
Friedrich Seitz (1848-1916) was a German violinist, concertmaster and conductor. wrote eight violin concertos for students.
Tonality and time signature
Seitz uses G Major, one of the keys that makes it easier to resonate the violin. Some sections are in E minor and D Major in order to support its characters.
The meter is 6/8. If you look at only Suzuki Books, this is the first time students experience it. With this meter, eighth notes take one beat, and there are 6 beats per measure. You can count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 OR a group of 3 to be twice, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, and you will feel Strong, medium, weak, Strong, medium, weak, OR Strong, weak, weak, Strong, weak, weak. In general, music has a strong tie with dances and 6/8 is used for light jigs or fast waltzes. Knowing this piece of information will give you a nice inspiration on how to play it, doesn’t it?
How to play the eighth notes with staccatos at the beginning: mm.9-16
In this section, I highly recommend to use the rests to prepare to play the notes after.
After you play the first stroke of up bow, you can put the bow on the string on the next beat, which is the rest, and then play the following note, B. When I say ON in the recording, I’m putting the bow on the string. By doing so, you can play the up bow very clearly. All the rests in this section can be treated in the same way.
Also, remember to move the bow horizontally rather than vertically, when you are playing the eighth notes with staccatos. In order to vibrate the strings, we always need to move the bow horizontally. I know those eighth note have staccatos, but the staccato does not mean just scratch or pick the string and make the sound short, but rather, move the bow fast and use the speed of the bow to produce a good sound.
Double stops: mm.19-20
Let’s itemize steps, especially if you are having difficulties.
Step One: play the melody as:
Step Two: practice with open strings in order to train your bow arm.
a. play the chord of the down beat of m.20 as open strings: you can see below.
b. play the two measures as open strings
c. Now, let’s add the left hand
Espressivo, but Count Carefully : mm. 49-67
Pay attention to the tied notes and count, feel and play the rhythm correctly.
If you are having difficulty, you practice by playing the section with 8th notes, like the recording.
It is a lyrical section, espressovo e tranquillo = expressively and calmly in e minor, not in a major key.
Rit. and a tempo at mm.67-67
Rit. is a abbreviation of ritardando, menas gradually slower. A tempo means go back to the original tempo.
In this movement, I actually chose slightly different tempo from Section A and Section B. The beginning of Section B at m.49 indicates “espressivo e tranquillo” (expressive and calmly) as well as now in e minor. I think this section can be more inner going than the very beginning of the movement. The beginning of the next section, Section C (m.68) says ” a tempo” and I feel this section also can be the tempo of Section B, not Section A, so after the rit. I’m going back to the tempo of Section B. Later, I’m picking up the tempo at m.84 (beginning of Section D) in order to express “brillliante” (brilliantly).
Intonation: 68-75 (=mm.76-83)
Some students have difficulty especially on m. 72.
What is E sharp? It is actually same pitch as F natural, that is why one of the fingerings has 2 with natural on the side.
Two sets of fingerings you see on the music are:
For the first set of fingerings, you take E# to be half step higher than E natural, so you use the index finger for E#.
For the second set of fingerings, you take E# to be F natural, so you use the second finger for it.
The 3rd and 4th notes make a half step relationship, so fingers 1 and 2 for the first fingerings, and fingers 2 and 3 for the second fingerings will be right next to each other.
This section is grazioso = gracefully.
Brilliant but Don’t Rush ! : mm.84-93
I highly recommend everyone to practice this section without staccatos and under tempo, even practicing as eighth notes will be helpful.
In this section, you have to be aware which string you are playing for the each note.
and also, the coordination of right and left hand has to be right.
By practicing under tempo, you train your hands/arms well covering those two points.
For this section, music says brillante = brilliant, however this movement is Allegro moderato. Allegro=lively modrato=moderately, Lively, but not too much. By playing the 16th notes, as Seitz wrote, it already sounds exciting and brilliant. That is why you do not have to push yourself too hard to play the 16th notes so fast.
Double-stop, and chords: m.94, 95, 107, 108
If you are having difficulty, practice double stop and chords only, at the beginning, in order to get used to playing them. Try not to use too much bow pressure, but find the good bow angle with which the bow hair will be on two strings with a good contact.
mm.94-95 is risoluto = bold, strong. By learning it correctly, this character will for sure come out.
Fom m.103, music says piu mosso = more motion = faster. If you can afford, you can control the tempo and move forward, then end the movement very brilliantly with confidence.
This video includes the practice aid for learning the notes as well. Please find it using the time stamps.