In this free lesson segment, Rachel Lee Priday discusses Jean-Baptiste Accolay’s student concerto! This concerto is an ideal stepping-stone between intermediate level music and advanced concerto repertoire. Here she discusses how she works on intonation on more challenging double stop passages.
To improve intonation, find moments to check pitches against open strings. For example, the A at the end of measure 28 can be played against the open A string to check the pitch. Once you are certain that you can land the A accurately, add the C below it. You may also need to raise the pitch of the C slightly higher than you would for a single-note melodic line to blend with the A better (some double stops have to be played with just intonation to sound in tune). In measure 29, the B can also be checked against the open E string.
Listen, Practice, Repeat, Memorize
Once you have found ideal positions for each of these notes, do not immediately move on. Practice it with repetition to memorize where the pitch is so you can play it every time. Listen for perfect intervals (unisons, fourths, fifths, and octaves) blending and giving a neutral tone quality. If these intervals are even slightly inaccurate, they easily stand out with a harsher tone. When they are in tune, you may notice a slight increase in volume because of the increase in resonance.
In the case of the B in m. 29, after tuning it with the open E and finding the correct pitch, three things follow.
- First, play the B on its own at a mezzo-forte dynamic to listen and memorize the resonance of the pitch.
- Second, memorize the physical sensation of note placement, and note precisely what the finger feels like in position, where the thumb is placed, etc.
- Third, look at the violin for a visual marker. Even if you don’t need to, visualization helps with focus and memorization.
Watch more of Rachel Lee Priday’s in-depth course on Accolay’s Concerto in A Minor on tonebase Violin!