Rachmaninov's Vocalise

Meet Helen Dromey! An experienced Violin and Viola teacher, Helen leads the ESTA PG Cert in Teaching, and is Principal Teaching Fellow at the University of Southampton. In this resource Helen shares some ideas about teaching Rachmaninov's Vocalise from our Grade 7 syllabus.

Several techniques need to be well-established to play ‘Vocalise’ musically. Warm-ups and studies that spotlight these techniques can be designed in advance, creating a short- and medium-term plan that finishes with learning the piece itself. These techniques include:

  • A sustained/singing bow stroke, which is achieved through flexible finger action;
  • Vibrato of different speeds and intensities;
  • Knowledge of sound points that help create different tonal colours;Secure shifting in first to fifth positions.

It can also be helpful to review old pieces, playing them in the style of ‘Vocalise’, thinking about dramatic changes in tonal range, dynamics, and expression.

Once these techniques are established, or at least developing well, pupils should be able to approach the music with greater independence.

Helen shares some of her lesson ideas and activities to help pupils to develop their performance of this Rachmaninov piece. Download her ideas to use in your teaching.

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Last modified: Thursday, 12 October 2023, 8:30 AM