Magazine article Strings

One Popper a Day Keeps the Troubles Away!

Magazine article Strings

One Popper a Day Keeps the Troubles Away!

Article excerpt

What do you feel you need to do on a daily basis to maintain your skill level?

I am strong believer in doing a daily regimen of scales and arpeggios (four octaves), and scales in thirds, sixths, and octaves. In addition, I do daily routines for bow control, sound production, and vibrato maintenance and improvement.

Do you have your own daily routine of scales or technical exercises?

Yes, I have developed over the years several non-traditional scale fingerings. The purpose of the non-traditional fingering patterns I developed is to cover all areas of the fingerboard and familiarize the player with all positions. Also, I developed fingerings that help attain very fast speeds. Those fingering patterns have fewer shifts than traditional scale patterns.

Do you still use études and/or study guides?

I use in my practicing and teaching the 40 Popper études, and some of the Piatti Caprices. In fact, I have a saying: one Popper a day keeps the troubles away!

Do you practice scales and arpeggios?

Yes, every single day, in my first hour of practicing.

Was there a particular teacher who was instrumental in developing your practice regimen?

Janos Starker. More than anything else, he made me aware of the need to think much more during a practice session, and to not just repeat aimlessly various difficult passages. He said: "The brain should get tired before the hands get tired!" Starker emphasized the need anticipate every action, mentally and physically. That piece of advice has remained a guiding principle for me, not only in my own practicing, but also in my teaching. Using my brain more meant that I was able to solve problems faster and therefore spend less time in the practice room.

How has your daily practice regimen changed over time as you've advanced?

I have become more efficient at locating problems, making a quick diagnosis, and devising a strategy to deal with the issues. …

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