String Music in Patterns: For Better Intonation
t is not uncommon for string players to have difficulty with intonation. A number of factors contribute to this problem. First, a public school string teacher is usually rushed to tune multiple instruments at the start of class, and the variance of quality in instruments and fine tuners means that the open strings on some instruments are never really in tune. Orchestral stringed instruments are not fretted. Tapes or markers placed on instruments to guide finger placement are not always accurate, and students come to rely on finger placement by sight rather than adjusting to what they hear. This is especially acute when notes have to be tempered due to their place within a chord. Imperfect bow and left hand finger pressure also result in intonation issues.
The composer wondered if students would have better intonation if they were playing music which was entirely composed of one pattern: the same one pattern for every string. This also posed the question, could credible music be composed in this manner, excluding the use of any notes not within the pattern?
This is a collection of seventeen pieces for string orchestra: four each in patterns 1, 2, and 3, one piece in pattern 4, three compositions in pattern 5, and a piece which is performed in pattern 1 and then in pattern 2. Each piece of music is preceded by warm-ups in the finger pattern employed. The patterns were renamed and reordered for this publication.
As with Mrs. Shapiro's single compositions for strings, full orchestra and band, all the instruments have interesting melodic and counter-melodic lines with which to develop their technique. The music is well edited with fingerings and bowings. Violins, violas and celli remain in first position, but the basses are given the opportunity to shift within the pattern.
"Brilliant! This method book offers a clear and enjoyable way for students to improve precise and consistent left hand finger placement and work towards better intonation. Music is equally exciting and challenging for every stringed instrument."
- Jean Phelan - Viola Instructor, State College of Florida