To continue where I left off part one of my post on the TMEA All-State Etudes for high school students, I thought I’d spend time specifically on the J. Hrabe Etude #25 in C major. There are a couple things to keep in mind before you start this piece, first you need to be warmed up, meaning spend some time playing scales and arpeggios in C major, and perhaps some bowing exercises or rhythmic patterns before attacking this etude. Once warmed up I would approach this etude in two distinct ways:
1) Focus on the bow arm- right hand only. My thought is that beginning/intermediate players do not spend enough time thinking about bow arm technique and this could really make a difference in your sound. I would encourage looking at the bow and the note values and determining how much bow you really need to play each note. Remember to think proportionally- slurred notes count as long as the slur lasts. Eighth-notes are going to use a whole lot less bow as compared with whole or half-notes. The goal is to achieve variation in bow length while maintaining consistent contact and bow pressure and to be able to vary the dynamics as you choose musically.
2) Focus second on a very active left-hand: fast fingers! Because so much of this etude is scalar (ie. playing scales or parts of scales) you are constantly picking up and putting down fingers and using all of them: 1, 2, 4 and 3 in thumb position. Think about being very precise with where your fingers land on the fingerboard and memorize those key points (‘landmarks’) that you can find every time and play in tune. If you are working on scales, and I hope you are- you might want to play your scales not just one way, but several different ways, with several different fingerings in order to develop a good sound across the instrument. You will also train yourself to play well in more positions and make your ears aware to the subtle changes in timbre while maintaining good pitch.