I remember, several decades ago, coming to a lesson and complaining that the new Paganini Caprice my teacher had assigned was too difficult. His response, “Only because you are trying to play to fast.” And he was right.
Having listened to Ruggiero Ricci’s recording, a very fast reading, I was banging my head against a wall trying to duplicate his performance, rather than building my own from the ground up. “Even Paganini can be easy if you play slowly enough,” was the next observation from my teacher. And he was right there, too!
Here’s the caveat, however, and it required working with the great Nathan Milstein for me to fully appreciate. Slow practice of anything is only useful if you keep in mind, all the while, the form that is needed to play FAST.
You see, a good part of what prevents us from playing with velocity are inefficiencies in technique. While playing slowly, and accurately, we must examine the feeling under every finger placement and the efficiency of every movement.
Precise timing of shifts and spot on coordination of the two hands must be in place before the tempo is raised. Mental pictures of landing points for dramatic moves must be at-the-ready as well, in advance of where they are needed.
These all are part and parcel of building a consummate performance. They are also where the joy of improvement is to be found!
The next item that will come up on my sale page is my “Paganini for Violin Virtuosity” course. Within the four instructional DVDs I take you measure by measure through the building process. In the final DVD I perform each of the 8 Caprices, without benefit of editing, to demonstrate where my methods can lead. I hope you will come along for the ride!
All the best,