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Key signature troubles. Please help.


Chu
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I am working on a Sevcik shifting exercise.

It is written in C major, but it says that I have

to repeat it in 11 different keys. It doesn't mean to

transpose, it means that F (for instance) in G major

wouldn't become a note of an entirely different name,

it would just become F#. I'm fine in G major and the

obviously easier ones, but when it gets into all those

sharps and flats, I get totally lost and don't even

know how to approach it! I thought practicing scales

in these keys would help me, but it doesn't. I can

play a scale as perfectly as any teacher could ask

because with a scale I know how it's supposed to sound.

I know the sound of major, minor, melodic etc, as long

as I start the scale on the note of the name of the

scale. When it comes to this exercise starting on

either A, Ab, or A# no matter what strange sounding

key it's in, I just get a headache. Please help,

I don't even know how to approach this.

Thanks, if anyone can help me I'll be so grateful!

-Chu

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I'm a music theory major who plays the violin, and this sounds like a challenge to your music theory and your listening abilities! I can think of a few possibilities for working on this:

The Thorough way-- do all three steps:

1) How do you practice your scales? If you practice them merely by relating pitches to one another with no absolute idea of where you are (i.e., major, minor, etc., only starting on a different note every time, doesn't matter what note) without concentrating on what actual notes you are playing, that might be why practicing your scale is not helping you. It is possible to play very accurately in tune without ever knowing, intellectually, what notes you are playing! I used to do this when practicing my scales, but my teacher told me that I have to know what notes I am playing; for instance, in the C# minor scale, say the notes as you play: "C#, D#, E natural, F#, G#...." etc. Always know where you are when you play your scale, even when you play it fast. Apply the same principle to the exercise.

2) If you've mastered your scales when starting on the tonic, practice your scales starting on random notes; for example, in Db Major, start on a note in the scale other than Db and play the right notes: for instance, Gb, Ab, Bb, C, Db, Eb, F, Gb. Train your ear not only to hear "do re mi fa sol la ti do", but also "re mi fa sol la ti do re", "mi fa sol la ti do re mi", etc. The way I learned to train my ear to hear this kind of thing was actually not by playing them on the violin, but by singing melodies and changing the key signatures (or changing from minor to major or even medieval modes, whole-tone, octatonic, and other non-diatonic scales).

The Quick Way-- only #3:

3) Play the Sevcik slowly enough so that you can get the right notes in the new key signature. If you must, you can write all the accidentals into your music to help you play it, for the time being. Have a clear idea in your mind what the accidentals in your key are. Don't go "by ear", unless you are unusually talented in that area-- that is, trying to hear what is supposed to sound like in your head and play according to that mental idea. That can get too complicated if you are in a very strange key. Instead, teach your ear what it is supposed to hear in these unusual key signatures-- each time you change keys, play it like it is a completely new piece that you have never heard it before, and practice it slowly until you CAN hear what it is supposed to sound like with six flats, etc.

In the short term it is probably fine to just do #3, and just doing that will certainly help to train your ear, especially if you do it systematically (eg., up by a half-step every time, or around the circle of fifths-- C Maj, G Maj, D Maj, A, E, B, F#, C#/Db, Ab, Eb, Bb, F).

I definitely do not advocate letting music theory take precedence over performance-- if you are serious about playing the violin, play the violin!! but theory really helps performance. It will enable a violinist to understand and interpret pieces on a deeper level.

It is worth it-- really!! Over the past year or so I went from hating music theory because it seemed utterly irrelevant to violin playing, to loving it, because of the depth and understanding it gave me.

Best wishes!

Irene

: I am working on a Sevcik shifting exercise.

: It is written in C major, but it says that I have

: to repeat it in 11 different keys. It doesn't mean to

: transpose, it means that F (for instance) in G major

: wouldn't become a note of an entirely different name,

: it would just become F#. I'm fine in G major and the

: obviously easier ones, but when it gets into all those

: sharps and flats, I get totally lost and don't even

: know how to approach it! I thought practicing scales

: in these keys would help me, but it doesn't. I can

: play a scale as perfectly as any teacher could ask

: because with a scale I know how it's supposed to sound.

: I know the sound of major, minor, melodic etc, as long

: as I start the scale on the note of the name of the

: scale. When it comes to this exercise starting on

: either A, Ab, or A# no matter what strange sounding

: key it's in, I just get a headache. Please help,

: I don't even know how to approach this.

: Thanks, if anyone can help me I'll be so grateful!

: -Chu

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That was a nice discussion. It helped more than just the writer. Thanks for taking the time.

: I'm a music theory major who plays the violin, and this sounds like a challenge to your music theory and your listening abilities! I can think of a few possibilities for working on this:

: The Thorough way-- do all three steps:

: 1) How do you practice your scales? If you practice them merely by relating pitches to one another with no absolute idea of where you are (i.e., major, minor, etc., only starting on a different note every time, doesn't matter what note) without concentrating on what actual notes you are playing, that might be why practicing your scale is not helping you. It is possible to play very accurately in tune without ever knowing, intellectually, what notes you are playing! I used to do this when practicing my scales, but my teacher told me that I have to know what notes I am playing; for instance, in the C# minor scale, say the notes as you play: "C#, D#, E natural, F#, G#...." etc. Always know where you are when you play your scale, even when you play it fast. Apply the same principle to the exercise.

: 2) If you've mastered your scales when starting on the tonic, practice your scales starting on random notes; for example, in Db Major, start on a note in the scale other than Db and play the right notes: for instance, Gb, Ab, Bb, C, Db, Eb, F, Gb. Train your ear not only to hear "do re mi fa sol la ti do", but also "re mi fa sol la ti do re", "mi fa sol la ti do re mi", etc. The way I learned to train my ear to hear this kind of thing was actually not by playing them on the violin, but by singing melodies and changing the key signatures (or changing from minor to major or even medieval modes, whole-tone, octatonic, and other non-diatonic scales).

: The Quick Way-- only #3:

: 3) Play the Sevcik slowly enough so that you can get the right notes in the new key signature. If you must, you can write all the accidentals into your music to help you play it, for the time being. Have a clear idea in your mind what the accidentals in your key are. Don't go "by ear", unless you are unusually talented in that area-- that is, trying to hear what is supposed to sound like in your head and play according to that mental idea. That can get too complicated if you are in a very strange key. Instead, teach your ear what it is supposed to hear in these unusual key signatures-- each time you change keys, play it like it is a completely new piece that you have never heard it before, and practice it slowly until you CAN hear what it is supposed to sound like with six flats, etc.

: In the short term it is probably fine to just do #3, and just doing that will certainly help to train your ear, especially if you do it systematically (eg., up by a half-step every time, or around the circle of fifths-- C Maj, G Maj, D Maj, A, E, B, F#, C#/Db, Ab, Eb, Bb, F).

: I definitely do not advocate letting music theory take precedence over performance-- if you are serious about playing the violin, play the violin!! but theory really helps performance. It will enable a violinist to understand and interpret pieces on a deeper level.

: It is worth it-- really!! Over the past year or so I went from hating music theory because it seemed utterly irrelevant to violin playing, to loving it, because of the depth and understanding it gave me.

: Best wishes!

: Irene

: : I am working on a Sevcik shifting exercise.

: : It is written in C major, but it says that I have

: : to repeat it in 11 different keys. It doesn't mean to

: : transpose, it means that F (for instance) in G major

: : wouldn't become a note of an entirely different name,

: : it would just become F#. I'm fine in G major and the

: : obviously easier ones, but when it gets into all those

: : sharps and flats, I get totally lost and don't even

: : know how to approach it! I thought practicing scales

: : in these keys would help me, but it doesn't. I can

: : play a scale as perfectly as any teacher could ask

: : because with a scale I know how it's supposed to sound.

: : I know the sound of major, minor, melodic etc, as long

: : as I start the scale on the note of the name of the

: : scale. When it comes to this exercise starting on

: : either A, Ab, or A# no matter what strange sounding

: : key it's in, I just get a headache. Please help,

: : I don't even know how to approach this.

: : Thanks, if anyone can help me I'll be so grateful!

: : -Chu

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Which Sevcik are you playing? Op.8 or Op. 1 book 3?

The excercises in Op. 8 are much easier... If you are playing the 3rd book of Op1. you might want to start with Op. 8.

One thing to keep in mind when shifting is to make sure that you play the "target" note (the note you play right after shifting) correctly in tune. Use the whole bow in those notes to become very concious of what you are hearing.

-sm

: I am working on a Sevcik shifting exercise.

: It is written in C major, but it says that I have

: to repeat it in 11 different keys. It doesn't mean to

: transpose, it means that F (for instance) in G major

: wouldn't become a note of an entirely different name,

: it would just become F#. I'm fine in G major and the

: obviously easier ones, but when it gets into all those

: sharps and flats, I get totally lost and don't even

: know how to approach it! I thought practicing scales

: in these keys would help me, but it doesn't. I can

: play a scale as perfectly as any teacher could ask

: because with a scale I know how it's supposed to sound.

: I know the sound of major, minor, melodic etc, as long

: as I start the scale on the note of the name of the

: scale. When it comes to this exercise starting on

: either A, Ab, or A# no matter what strange sounding

: key it's in, I just get a headache. Please help,

: I don't even know how to approach this.

: Thanks, if anyone can help me I'll be so grateful!

: -Chu

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