What is Tonalization? | Online Violin Lessons

What is Tonalization? | Online Violin Lessons



What is tonalization?

If you’ve started studying a string instrument, you have likely heard the word “tonalization” and may be wondering what it means. Tonalization is defined as the ability to produce a beautiful, ringing tone quality on an instrument. It is a term coined by Shinichi Suzuki and is similar to the word “vocalization” used in voice studies.  Suzuki includes various tonalization exercises throughout his method books, and there is even a separate book available that contains only tonalization exercises.


Why is tonalization important?

I teach tonalization to my students from the very beginning. It is important to be able to recognize and produce ringing tones early in string pedagogy so you can learn to play beautifully. Even beginners can listen for a resonant quality as they are plucking their strings. It is vital for students to learn to play in tune, as ringing tones cannot be produced from out-of-tune notes. Learning tonalization early sets a foundation for quality string instrument playing.


How can I practice tonalization?

The first step is to be able to produce a resonant tone while plucking. This is especially important when plucking fingered notes. If your finger is placed incorrectly or not firmly enough, the tone will come out flat.

Next, listen for ringing tones. 3rd and 4th fingers in first position ring more because when placed correctly they allow open strings to vibrate as well, which causes more vibrations and therefore more resonance. Practicing scales and arpeggios daily is a great way to practice finding these tones. There are also many exercises available to work on tonalization that involve these ringing tones. Practicing finding these ringing tones daily will greatly increase the ability to develop tonalization.

It is also important to be able to play with the proper bow hold and bow strokes. The bow should be placed firmly enough to be able to “pull” the resonance out of the instrument. Crooked bows or not using enough bow weight will make it difficult to find ringing tones and practice tonalization.



Looking for more tips for producing a beautiful sound? Read how to create a beautiful tone here!




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