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Practice Techniques: Add a Note

When approaching a challenging passage, one very useful technique is that of “adding a note.” Adding one note at a time is an excellent tool for improving passages technically. Many people enjoy this technique because it can usually be done at performance tempo, without slowing the passage down. When using the bow: Be sure to use the same amount of bow, in the same place in the bow, as you will in performance.

Let’s use this simple lick as an example of how to apply this technique:

Add a Note: Lick

The most obvious application of the Add a Note method is to start from the beginning, playing the first note. Once you can play this in tune, cleanly, with rhythmic precision and with physical ease, then you add the next note.

Once you can play the first two notes in tune, cleanly, with rhythmic precision and with physical ease, then you add the next note…and so forth .

Like this:

Add a Note: Figure 1

Then:

Add a Note: Figure 2

Then:

Add a Note: Figure 3

Then:

Add a Note: Figure 4

Continue through the end of the passage.

Working from the end is also helpful.

Add a Note: Figure 5

Then:

Add a Note: Figure 6

Then:

Add a Note: Figure 7

Then:

Add a Note: Figure 8

Then:

Add a Note: Figure 9

Etc.

Don’t add a note until you can play your selection in tune, clean, with rhythmic precision and with physical ease.

Starting from a middle point in the passage can also be helpful. We can use a middle point note as either a starting or an ending point.

For example, using the seventh note as a starting point:

Add a Note: Figure 10

Then:

Add a Note: Figure 11

Then:

Add a Note: Figure 12

Then:

Add a Note: Figure 13

Then:

Add a Note: Figure 14

Using the seventh note as an ending point:

Add a Note: Figure 15

Then:

Add a Note: Figure 16

Then:

Add a Note: Figure 17

Then:

Add a Note: Figure 18

And so on.

Mastery of a passage comes much more quickly if we attack it in a variety of ways. This “Add a note” approach will give you another practice technique to use in mastering a challenging passage.