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Karen Allendoerfer

Quiet Left Hand

November 28, 2007 at 12:44 PM

One reason I started and maintain this blog was to be able to look back and see where I had been and where I was going with music. Life this time of year gets really nutty with holiday preparations; all of the sudden you turn around and it's January.

So I looked back at my November 2006 entries . . . I'm playing "Greensleeves" in church again, maybe it's the start of a tradition? But I'm not singing in the choir. I took a break from choir this year in order not to get too overwhelmed. Greensleeves is earlier in the month, the performance is this Sunday, two days before my birthday, and it is going to be accompanied by Largo from Winter for the prelude and Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring for the musical meditation. I feel pretty good about all 3 pieces.

The Vivaldi in particular benefitted from a teacher's input. I'd decided against playing it at the Farmers' Market last summer because the intonation sounded generally "shaky" and "iffy" and I couldn't seem to fix it. There were too many flats, and I couldn't check them easily against open strings and hear clearly what needed to be done.

It turned out there were just a few notes and shifts and string crossings that needed grounding in order to make a big difference in the intonation of the piece as a whole. In particular, moving a finger across strings from the A to E or vice-versa in a perfect fifth was something that I was doing in a weird way. I was always trying to cover both strings together with the same finger and then rock my hand to the string where I was playing. My teacher noted that the exaggerated rocking of the left hand would make the notes out of tune. She suggested actually moving the finger from one string to another without major changes to the overall hand position, and that has turned out to be much more consistent.

And not letting Nellie the thumb fidget so much, especially when going from "second and a half" position with first finger on an A-flat or D-flat to third position, with first finger on a D-natural on the A string. I can cover both positions without moving the thumb at all, and it gives me a better kinesthetic sense of where I am on the instrument, helps me visualize in my mind's eye where to put the fingers.

Eliminating unnecessary movements, keeping the left hand quiet, have a lot of unexpected benefits.

From Mazz Swift-Camlet
Posted on November 29, 2007 at 1:49 PM
thanks so much for sharing this! it's something that I have been thinking and working on a bunch lately. that and fly-away fingers... I'm finding that doing what is most comfortable works the best for me...

anyway, thank you again - and good luck!

peace
Mazz

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