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David Wilson: Fundamentals of the Baroque violin & viola (Sundays @ 5pm)

November 1 @ 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm PST

|Recurring Events (See all)

An event every week that begins at 5:00 pm on Sunday, repeating until November 1, 2020


In this five-part set of classes we will consider and practice the fundamental building blocks of playing the baroque violin and viola, and build on them to practice more advanced techniques. We will reacquaint ourselves with those primary principles and use them to solve technical problems in the baroque repertoire. 

Pitch A=415 for all classes

Gut strings and baroque bow encouraged but not essential.

October 4

Class 1: Sitting, Standing, Holding, Bowing

In order to play our best, we need to have a physical approach to the instrument which is ergonomic and efficient. In this class we’ll refresh our understanding of how to apply those principles in holding and playing our instruments. Then we will put our bows on the strings and consider the fundamental principles of making a sound, with emphasis on articulations and dynamic shapes within a bow-stroke. We will conclude the class by playing together a piece which will let us put the things we’ve learned into practice.

October 11

Class 2: The Left Hand

Continuing the themes of ergonomics and efficiency, this class will consider the role of the entire left arm in playing our instruments. We will look at specific examples from the repertoire to consider how to find fingerings that work, how the fingers can guide one another to the correct spots, techniques for shifting positions, strategies for double-stops and chords, and use of vibrato. Participants will play throughout the class, and we will conclude by playing a movement together.

October 18

Class 3: Yin and Yang

Building on the technical tools cultivated in the first two classes, this class will consider how one makes decisions about the shape of a phrase. We will look at factors like harmony, tessitura, melodic shape, and tonal inflection, as well as other clues left to us by the composer. Participants will play all the musical examples. We’ll talk about how to determine which notes belong together and which should be separated from each other. At the end we will all play together the complete movement from which our examples have been taken.

October 25

Class 4: Written by the Masters

In this class we will look at a few of the most important books on playing the baroque violin, books from both the baroque period and also more contemporary works. Many—most—include practical exercises (some include actual compositions), and as we talk about each book we’ll play some of those. Participants will receive a bibliography, something that can be referred to in the future. We will play a piece from a treatise at the end.

November 1

Class 5: Left and Right Hands Redux

In classes 1 and 2 we talked about fundamental principles of the left and right hands. In this class we will build on those principles and discuss more advanced techniques with both hands. This class will also include an open-ended question-and-answer session on any topic having to do with the baroque violin or viola. Our arc of classes will conclude with a group performance of the opening movement of Jean-Marie Leclair’s sonata for two violins without bass, Op. 3 No. 1.


November 1
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
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San Francisco Early Music Society
(510) 528-1725


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