I’ve noticed something interesting about ViolinGirl and fast tricky passages. It’s interesting because I did the same thing as a young musician.
When confronted by a passage that’s fast, particularly if it doesn’t fit well under the fingers, she plays it even faster than written and blurs the articulation. I recognize it instantly because it took me years of being picky and hard on myself to get rid of my own version of the habit. The only cure for this malady is to ask yourself whether you can also play the passage slower. Camille Saint-Saëns, the famous French Romantic composer and pianist said:
Sure you can play it fast; but can you play it slowly?
“One must practice slowly, then more slowly, and finally slowly.” - Camille Saint-Saëns
For me (I’m wearing my pianist hat, not my violin practice parent hat…), the telltale sign of a passage that’s fingered correctly and really learned is one that is susceptible to being played at any tempo from 0 to the final performance tempo. If I’ve begun to suspect that a fast passage isn’t quite right, I’ll slow it down considerably and listen for evenness. Sometimes, if I’ve rushed to learn a piece, I’ll find that I cannot even play it at a slow tempo. This is a telltale and painful sign that the piece isn’t really “in the fingers.” There’s a sort of automaticity that takes over at some point in learning a piece of music. But this sort of learning seems to be very kinesthetic. Once the kinesthetic and proprioceptive inputs become disrupted by slowing a passage down, it can unmask a defect. I’ve gradually taught myself that relearning is slow and frustrating work. Better to do it correctly the first time around.
I definitely wish someone would have challenged me more as a young person and said: “Yeah, that’s fast; but can you also play it slower?”
I'm referring to my own habits at the piano. The same thing must also be true of the violin; but I'm not qualified to say much specifically about slow practice on the violin. Ask your teacher. ↩