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Drew Lecher


April 7, 2009 at 6:32 PM

What to know and how to practice. 

1. Identify/Know every:

• Note

• Hand Group

• Position

• Shift's Guide Note/Finger (always shift with 1st finger to new position, both on the last string played and on the 'new' string when there is a change of string). Additionally, practice the same shifting of position with the 'new' finger when there is a change of finger.

• Rhythmic Pattern

• Bow Stroke (direction) for String Crossing and identify Rhythmic Placement (where in the rhythmic pattern the string crossing occurs).

2. Developing passages and dealing with problems: Identify > Fix > Repair > Learn > MASTER:-)

• ONE note at a time.

• Then 2 notes.

• Then 3 notes.

• Then exit out of section.

• Then work into section.

• Then combine.

Think through every move, flowing into and out of each note, having no hesitations mentally of physically—absolute clarity of thought and ease of action combined.

• Then increase speed gradually—initially use small incremental increases and varied rhythmic patterns.

• Rhythmic patterns are to be done in shifts, as well. Hear, feel and see every shift as smooth as silk.

Commit all to memory during the above process, not just the 'tune' or sound of it, but ALL OF IT.

Sounds like a lot to do only because it is. This kind of work will become second nature in a relatively short period of time. 

Have fun and enjoy the progress.

Have fun learning it incredibly well.

God bless,


Author of

"Violin Technique: The Manual, How to master" 

"Viola Technique: The Manual, How to master"

From al ku
Posted on April 8, 2009 at 10:55 AM

drew, you are so methodical i bet you can teach my kid golf right now even without knowing much about it!:)

is there any different/special tech during this kind of shift, say, from fourth finger (pinkie) on first position to land on first finger on 7th position.  how do you "guide"?


From Ray Randall
Posted on April 8, 2009 at 3:02 PM

Excellent advice, Drew. It brings order from chaos.

From Drew Lecher
Posted on April 9, 2009 at 5:32 AM

AL, Golf—is that where they hit the little white ball real, real far and try and find the too little hole and speak in strange languages…upon missing. Mind you, the hole is the size of the Grand Canyon compared to half-steps in 15th position on the violin—even the viola.

<is there any different/special tech during this kind of shift, say, from fourth finger (pinkie) on first position to land on first finger on 7th position.  how do you "guide"?>

I assume you are on the same string—let’s say Eing.

1.    Play B4 and slide to A4—if difficult to hear, stay in 1st position and play B1 on Aing and A3 on Eing which sounds the m7th that will be shifted. It helps to use the Open A as a pedal tone.

2.    Then play the E1 while there, assuring the ratio of hand size is accurate. (It is good to play the other fingers as well, according to the key and/or passage—identify Hand Group.)

3.    Next, shift the F#1 to E1—again playing the other notes/fingers in both positions.

4.    Mix in a variety of rhythms with the notes in each position AND the shift—this is where most miss it.

5.    Shifts must be done smooth and slow, but then developed to smooth and very fast—absolutely no jerk and/or whiplash with start and finish on shifts (departures & arrivals, Ray is a master of those). Generally shifts are faster then the notes and smoothness enables us to hide them or show them to whatever degree we choose.

Having said all of this, open to page 22 and work the “8va Slides with H. G. Sequences.” Embellish this, as in #2-4, by starting in different positions and/or change the shifts’ interval, i.e., m7th as in the example above. See Shifts, pg xxvi, Shift/Full Shift, points 1-5.

Remember that a shift is being learned for thousands of applications.


Thanks Ray, as long as I don’t create chaos from order and confusion from clarity:-)


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