1812 Overture—HELP!

said: Jun 14, 2009
 17 posts

I know this isn’t a Suzuki question, but maybe someone can help…

I’m in a youth orchestra, and this summer we are doing a patriotic program with the professional orchestra (adults). Great experience, but we’re doing 9 pieces, 5 of them with a ton of syncopated rhythms, 3 that are tricky but not to bad, and we’re doing the 1812 Overture. The concert is at the beginning of July, and I just got my music a couple days ago. I started working on the 1812 today, and, well, I got 2 measures in and realized I needed help. We only have 3 rehearsals and my teacher’s out of town. Does anyone have any tips for learning the the 1st Violin part of the 1812? Maybe some “Shortcuts”?

I’m 4th chair (the highest chair for a student), and I want to play like I actually know what I’m doing.

Please help!!!

said: Jun 16, 2009
Suzuki Association Member
120 posts

First, I recommend getting a recording of the piece and listening to it while following along with the printed music. Do this many several times periodically over the time you’re studying the piece. Listen to it as you would in Suzuki (like background music while you’re doing other things) but also listening while watching the music is another way to absorb what’s going on in the music. I would recommend doing this for all the pieces you’re playing in the patriotic concert. Even when my students that play in youth orchestra are playing arrangements of an orchestral piece I still recommend that they listen to the full version of the piece.

Going into individual suggestions within the music would be too complicated here. But, take it really slowly at first, even measure by measure, to learn the notes, sort out fingerings for yourself, and of course the rhythm. Take small chunks of it and begin to get comfortable, then build up the tempo little by little.

Second, if your teacher is out of town, is there someone else you could call for a coaching on this music—perhaps someone who regularly plays in an orchestra? They can help you break down the toughest sections by helping you with rhythm and even suggest fingerings. This may be less overwhelming than trying to tackle the whole thing on your own. For specialized help with a piece like this, if I were your teacher and was out of town, I wouldn’t be offended if you went to someone else for help. Can your youth orchestra give you some names of people to call?

One thing you can do when the tempo is too fast in certain sections—perhaps fast 16 notes with repeated notes—break the rhythm down to only eighth notes. This way you are playing the pitches in time, but moving the bow in an easier, slower rhythm. This is an excellent way to practice, but in the rehearsals with the orchestra this could also make it easier for you. Sometimes with runs (chromatic or not) you can take a “shortcut” by playing the first note in every group, rather than every note. These ideas may help keep you moving forward in the music, not getting bogged down with every note.

I hope this helps a little. Good luck, and I hope you have fun with 1812 and the other pieces and playing alongside professionals.

said: Jun 16, 2009
 17 posts

Traim, thanks for responding so quickly! I wasn’t expecting a post until at least this afternoon.

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There are a couple teachers in town that can help me, & was actually planning on calling one today.

I’m just curious—does anyone have a Suzuki book level that they would rate this piece?

Any more tips? I’m kinda, well, really nervous about this concert.

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Thank you for your help in advance.

Emillie said: Jun 24, 2009
Emillie BlairViolin, Viola
8 posts


I would say that the 1812 Overture would be after the book 8 level because of some of the techniques.

I did the 1st violin part when I was in book 6/7 and it was very difficult for me.

Hope that helps!

Just curious, what orchestra is that for and wnat is your level?

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