The Boy Paganini by Edward Mollenhauer is a great piece for a young violinist who has learned some shifting. It  gives the student an opportunity to explore music besides the baroque. Techniques necessary for the piece include:

  • Shifting to fifth position
  • Harmonics
  • Left hand pizzicato
  • Slurred and arpeggiated chords
  • Off the string strokes using “colle”
  • Intermediate bow distribution

In the opening of the tune, various bow distributions will enable the student to express the phrasing more eloquently.  Accidentals in the opening will pose a challenge for tuning. Students should know the finger patterns for each part if tuning is a problem.

Various approaches are seen to harmonics throughout the pieces. In m. 11, an extension from 3rd position will allow them to reach the first partial on the E string. Good bow speed and use is required for any harmonic. In m. 32 and to end end of the first movement, there are harmonics of various partials on the G string. The student will need to work on making each of these harmonics speak clearly. Although they are marked at the point of certain notes, they may be slightly below or above where they marked. This would be an excellent opportunity to talk about the divisions of the strings that make harmonics.

In the second movement’s theme, the colle stroke make be used on the repeated up bow strokes. Another opportunity to use the colle stroke is in m. 56 as the student plays grace notes and brings the bow slightly off the string with the fingers.

The variation in the second movement will require practice because its use of bowed notes and left hand pizzicato. Some exercises may be done to prepare for this. If the student has played The Puppet Show by Josephine Trott, they should have a firm grasp on left hand pizzicato. Rhythmically, I found the entrance in the variation to be a challenge.

The variation also has some chords that are slurred as arpeggios. The student will need to be able to place fingers correctly in tune without the bow. If a passage of this type is new, you may also preview rolling the bow across the strings for the arpeggio. I found using the wrist motion made this work more smoothly for this passage. I do not think that this is the bowing used in the Mendelssohn Concerto.

I found spiccato section marked in m. 112 is more likely to be sautielle if the piece is moving fast enough. A challenge through this section would be to have the student put the stroke back on the string (through the crescendo) and then move it off again (through the decrescendo).