van der Werff, Ivo-Jan - A Notebook for Viola Players



Ivo-Jan van der Werff, A Notebook for Viola Players

"This book is a significant and notable addition to our literature for viola technique... It is a wonderful addition to any violist's library and practice routine... A definite must have!!"
- Journal of the American Viola Society

With demonstration DVD

Second, revised edition

Published by Total Recall Publications

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£ 19.95

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"... a personal contribution to the art of viola playing, or more accurately, the art of practicing the viola, which will be valuable for players of all levels."
- The Strad

"van der Werff's overviews on viola technique are presented in a way that allows the reader to fully explore and understand his or her own style and approach... filled with down-to-earth advice for violists of various levels... van der Werff's text and musical and video exercises create a true educational companion for viola students of all ages."
- Strings Magazine

"This book is a significant and notable addition to our literature for viola technique... It is a wonderful addition to any violist's library and practice routine... A definite must have!!"
- Journal of the American Viola Society

"This Notebook... will certainly become a favorite in my studio. Great for players of all levels; even advanced violists will find material to feed their thoughts and improve their playing... I believe teachers will greatly appreciate this new addition in the technical repertoire for our instrument."
- Journal of the Canadian Viola Society


"Ivo-Jan van der Werff has very cleverly and clearly set out his ideas about basic technique in a way that can relate to many different kinds of violists, a unique achievement. I am certain the Notebook will become an important and useful resource for many players. It was of particular interest to me to see in print, for the first time, exercises devised by the great player and teacher Bruno Giuranna, with whom Ivo and I both studied."
- Simon Rowland-Jones, violist, composer and editor of the new Peters Edition of the Haydn String Quartets and of the Bach Cello Suites for Viola

"'A Notebook for Viola Players' is a wonderful addition to the world of viola technique. Expertly offered with clarity, wit and elegance, it is eminently practical and compassionate!"
- James F. Dunham, Professor of Viola, Rice University, Shepherd School of Music; former violist: Sequoia and Cleveland Quartets

"This is such a valuable fund of exercises, thoughtfully devised to build and maintain a foundation of technical security and quality. Players at all stages of their development will find both useful warm-ups and technique-enhancing challenges, presented in Ivo-Jan van der Werff's articulate, reassuring style."
- Roger Tapping, Professor of Viola, New England Conservatory; former violist Takacs and Allegri Quartets

"This book gives a truly grounded and open approach to viola technique, imparting wisdom without unecessary fuss. There is a balance between indivdual needs and the fundamentals of a strong string players technique. The conclusion gives every instrumentalist food for thought, basics that all players should think of every day."
- Edward Vanderspar, Principal Viola, London Symphony Orchestra

Excerpt: Introduction

The number of ways to play the viola is determined by the number of violists in the world. Each player has (and should have) a unique technique, a unique sound and a unique way of interpreting music. Why should this be? Because each player is an individual, physically, emotionally and mentally. It would be so boring if every violist sounded the same. A unique voice is much more interesting and compelling. To this end we have to determine our approach to playing on every level. But, the basics of what we do are going to be very similar. The individuality comes later, when we can develop our techniques to express ourselves as unique voices. The basics are determined by the fact that the majority of us are born with two arms, two hands, two thumbs, eight fingers, two legs etc. The way we all walk is similar due to this, though everyone has an ‘individual’ and often recognizable walk. The physical movement involved in walking is based on common principles for almost everyone. So it should be in the way we set up the viola and our approach to it.

The position of the body, the way we stand or sit, the way we raise our arms to hold the viola and bow, the actual bow hold and the shape of the left hand, all these basic things can be approached from common physical principles even though every player is built differently. The wonderful thing about violists is not just the physical diversity of the people playing the viola but also in the diversity in the shape and size of the violas themselves. It can lead to challenging issues and resolutions to problems. Again, coming from common principles can help in deciding on all the variations of approach we have.

The one thing that every single violist can hopefully agree on is that we want to create the best sound possible. Why after all were we drawn to play this amazing instrument? Everything I suggest in the text and practiced in the exercises is to this one, basic, unifying principle. Sound is affected not just by the way we put the bow on the string but by the way we hold the viola, the way the fingers of the left hand approach the fingerboard, the quality of the vibrato, the way we stand and breathe, by intonation. The list goes on and on.

Hopefully by reading through the text and playing the exercises in the ways suggested, you will gain a good understanding of how to create a great sound, how to allow the viola to resonate without forcing it, how to gain dexterity in both the bow and the left hand and how to play in a relaxed yet vital manner.

Ultimately, everything I suggest to think about in playing the viola should become natural and habitual. For those more advanced players trying this out for the first time, one of the toughest things is to overcome old, ingrained habits. Always remember the goal, don’t get discouraged and don’t rush. New habits take time to get bedded in. The goal is worth the physical and mental effort.

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