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Mastering Etude 2: Conquer the All State Viola Challenge!

Updated: Jul 6, 2023

Etude 2 from the viola All State middle school requirements is a lot of fun to learn, but it is also very challenging. It involves a lot of shifting and playing in 3rd position on all strings. The bowing is complicated as well, which makes it harder to coordinate and count. I will share some ways to practice this etude so that you can have the ultimate confident All State audition this year!


1. G minor scales – I always recommend that you practice things in first position first. This is because you can hear exactly what it should sound like before trying to learn any fancy fingerings. The intonation is a lot easier to hear in first position and you can also hear the music with the best resonance, meaning the viola will have the most ringing tone. When you practice the same thing in 3rd position, or whatever fingering you need to learn, try to make it sound exactly the same. The intonation should be precise, and the resonance should be as close as possible.

*Pro Tip-If the sound comes out muddy or fuzzy in higher positions, try bringing the bow a little closer to the bridge so tighten up the sound. This will improve the resonance.

After you’ve finished both versions of the first octave practice the second octave on its own.

2. Freeze & Shift – This etude has a ton of shifting in it! The best way to practice these shifts is to take a passage and practice the Freeze & Shift method. Play all the notes until the last note before a shift, Freeze on the note before the shift as if there is a rest there, and then deliberately move your hand up to the new position, say the word “shift” and play the note of the shift. If the note is not in tune, try again and aim a little higher or lower based on whether you landed too flat or sharp.

*Pro Tip-Think of each position like a rung on a ladder. Every time you shift your hand, you are moving to a different step on the ladder. When you shift into 3rd position, you are moving from the first step to the 3rd step. Think of your first finger moving onto the 3rd step of the ladder, replacing where your 3rdfinger would usually go when you’re in first position.

3. Travel up and down the bow – In other words, bow distribution. This etude alternates between quick notes and long notes, which creates a bowing and counting challenge. If you are in the wrong part of the bow you won’t be able to hold the dotted half notes for the full three beats with a nice tone, so you have to make sure the bow travels properly between the frog and tip of the bow. Play the first measure slowly, and with every note try to travel a little closer to the tip. Use more bow on the first notes with the slur, and get a little closer to the tip with every note play for the rest of the measure. You’ll have to use a little more bow on the down bows and a little less bow on the up bows.

*Practice this very slowly for the best results. Put the metronome on quarter note=60 for this exercise.

These are some great ways to practice for All State 2024. The more hours you put into practice the better your audition will be, so go practice and have a fantastic audition!


Thanks so much for Practicing With Me today! I hope that this blog has been helpful and you have an awesome audition! 🎶🎵🎶


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