Practice Tips for Handel’s Bouree in Suzuki Book 2

Congratulations on getting half way through book 2. Here we have the second piece in the book by G.F. Handel. This piece brings together bow techniques that we have been learning since the first piece in Book 1.

Here are some practice tips as you work through Bouree and prepare for your half book 2 recital:

Key.

Bouree is in the key of G Major, which means that it has 1 sharp — F#. For violinists it means that we play a low 2nd finger on the A and E string. Did you notice that numbers 1, 3, 4, and 5 all are in G major?

Structure.

This piece is comprised of three main sections, having an ABA1 form. A (or part 1) is line 1 and 2, B (or part 2) is lines 3 and 4 and A1 (or part 3) starts with a pick up into line 4 going all the way to the end of the piece.

Skills/Terms.

Bouree.

Until now we have played the Minuet, Gavotte, and Waltz. The Bouree is defined as a lively French dance in an even time signature from the Baroque period. Below we will discuss how knowing this will impact our playing of the piece.

The Grand Detache.

One of the reasons that Bouree is the sixth piece in Book 2 is to practice what some people call the “Grand Detache.” There are probably other names for this bow stroke, so do not be surprised when you encounter them. In the second line of the piece, there is a gradual crescendo from piano to about a forte.

William Starr gives us an insight into how Dr. Suzuki taught this skill: “Suzuki asks the student to lengthen the bow strokes gradually, raising the elbow as the bow moves to the frog on the up-bows” (To Learn with Love, p. 110).

So, the Grand Detache is the bow technique of playing with lots of bow quickly, in this case eighth notes (Check below for tips on how to practice this technique).

Pianissimo. In Hunter’s Chorus, we encountered ff (very loud) where we strived to play with as much bow as possible. Now, we have the opportunity to play pianissimo (pp), which means very soft. Remember that playing very quietly means to use small bow but still keeping the bow firm on the string that the tone remains clear and resonant.

Long Crescendos

In part 1 and part 3 there is a big crescendo, giving us the opportunity to learn to use more and more bow over the course of an entire line. More specifically, pick-up to measure 21 starts with a pp then a gradual crescendo all the way to forte in measure 23. This is by far the biggest crescendo that we have worked on.

Strategies.

1. Practice different rhythms with whole bow, tip and frog of the bow.

2. Practice the shifting exercises on page 29 with smooth slurs and other strokes.

3. Learn and play Finger Exercise №5A 7 times every you practice, to get comfortable sliding your first finger back for a low first finger.

4. Listen to the c.d. or a YouTube video of the piece as you follow the notes. Listen to how the dynamics and bowing are performed.

5. Play the piece with no slurs or worrying about the rhythm, focus on getting the fingering.

6. Now that you have the fingerings focus your attention on adding the rhythm of the notes, especially since it is easy to rush the eighth notes.

6. For the big crescendo in part 1 and part 3 practice playing on all the open strings 4 times. Start with small bow and grow with each bow stroke. Next, practice this big crescendo with different rhythms, like groups of 2 or 3 or 4 notes. Now, practice measures 5–7 and 21–23 growing the bow, every group of four notes should get more bow so that the crescendo is clearer. You can use the same strategy for the measures with decrescendo.

7. Study what the Bouree dance was all about so that you can start understanding the style of the piece. One aspect of playing a baroque dance is to keep the song lively and not aggressive. We want people to dance to the piece.

8. You are ready for the Half Book 2 recital. Get your teacher, family and some friends together to perform for them 1–6. The more you perform the better you will be able to play the pieces.

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