How do you practise octaves?Technique and Practicing: Jay's thread inspired me to open a specific thread on practising octaves:
From Teresa Colombo
'Also consider two aspects of left hand security. Do you keep only 1 and 4 down? Would it help to have the second finger retsing lightly on the upper string?'
How to play\practise\teach octaves is something I have been thinking about a lot recently.
Personally, I don't actually remember holding down or lightly resting any other fingers apart from 1 and 4 when I was at college, (and I see a lot of other people do the same) but am not sure that was the best route. A famous pedagogue here in Italy recommends the second finger being lightly on the upper string (so you are 'feeling' the sixth.) On the other hand there are those who hold the third finger and not the second finger on the string (can't remember who it is on the 'Art of Violin' who has a pretty pretty high flying second finger during octaves) .... and then there are those who tend to rest both middle fingers on the upper string.
So IS there a best way, or can it depend on the individual hand to some extent?
Also: if you are going to have three fingers on the upper string, does it matter what pattern they are falling in? 12 3 4 or 1 2 34 or
Obviously I am talking about octaves in the lower positions, not when you get into 'nose-bleed' territory, as Jay puts it.
Thanks for any input
From Charlie CaldwellFor me , second and third finger hover above the string. Usually, my hand is in a "1 23 4" pattern, but I don't actively think about it. It just happens naturally.
Posted on January 17, 2008 at 03:00 AM
Most likely, it varies from person to person (something I would suspect). Obviously, you don't want your 2 and 3 fingers flying around in the air. Just do what works for you, as long as it feels natural.
From Nate RobinsonI agree with Charlie it varies from person to person. For 1-4 octaves I usually keep 2 fingers down. For fingered octaves, I usually keep the 1&3 down most of the time. I suggest practicing 2 octave octave scales in all keys (1-4 and fingered). Kreutzer 24&25 are also very helpful exercises according to Ricci for octave practice. There's a growing trend amongst violinists to play only the bottom note in octaves in order to cover up intonation. If you practice your scales everyday, you won't have to do this.
Posted on January 17, 2008 at 03:32 AM
From Sue BechlerMy teacher Hadley Castille, famous for swing-style Cajun music, can finger an octave comfortably with 1&3, so he sometimes uses that when it helps in context for what comes next. Also means he can do turns & gracenotes a sounding octave. Way cool. When I see him this spring, I'm going to ask if he ever uses 2&4 for octaves. If you have a big hand, or especially a wide span across you palm or the base of the fingers, this "switched fingering" might work for you. Sue
Posted on January 17, 2008 at 02:05 PM
From Antonello Lofù1)chain system
Posted on January 17, 2008 at 10:47 PM
2)put the not involved fingers to the board to not to generate additional effort
3)advice: more importance to lower note as for vibrato and intensity
From Stephen BrivatiGreetings,
Posted on January 18, 2008 at 03:27 AM
thats interesting. I follow Dounis` advice and keep the vibrato focus in the upper finger of a double stop. I wonder if it varies from person to person?
From Teresa ColomboThanks for repies so far!
Posted on January 18, 2008 at 09:58 AM
To be really specific I am interested in teaching and practising Kreutzer 24. I just spent a pleasant morning playing it:
1) 1-4 with middle fingers hovering,
2) with second finger down, in a major 6th pattern, (third finger not on string)
3)with 3rd finger down (second finger not on string)
4)both middle fingers on string in 1 23 4 pattern
For me, the most COMFORTABLE and most SECURE for intonation is second finger down.
My daughter (12)is working on this study and I asked her to try all the above ways (under protest of course) She tells me that she just want 1-4 down, but if she has to have anything else down it would be the second finger but in a minor sixth hand shape!!
I find having the second finger down more comfortable and secure, could this be a general rule, or no, because everyone's hand is sightly different? Or do we think we are comfortable with something just because we've always done it like that and never tried any other way for long enough?
One of the privileges of teaching is that you start questioning all the things you just did without thinking about it, and often find there are better ways! I am now a convert to keeping my second finger down (at least in Kreutzer 24!)
Ciao ....Antonio ...or Antonello? ...what happened ..did you shrink? Come si sta a Bari? Three weeks of grey skies here is not funny.
From Graham ClarkMost important for accuracy is to practise one finger scales with both first and fourth finger separately, i.e. not double stopped as octaves.
Posted on January 18, 2008 at 01:16 PM
From Jay AzneerTresa--
Posted on January 18, 2008 at 01:41 PM
I notice that after I get past 5th position in octaves I have to lift my fingers off the strings(2 &3) because otherwise they push my octaves too far apart and I'm out of tune--fat fingers:(
From Friedrich SprondelFor me, a good way to practice easy movement and intonation in octaves is playing 1-4 flageolet scales, with and without vibrato. It greatly helped suppleness in arm, wrist and finger movements, as well as in finding just the right amount of pressure from the lower finger so that the note speaks easily while movement is not harmed by too much pressure. That way, you can concentrate on your intonation focus without tiring early.
Posted on January 19, 2008 at 10:54 AM
Actual octaves I practice the usual way --
From Oliver SteinerI have learned from practicing with my students during lessons, as well as from my own practicing, that it is very easy to become so absorbed in trying to find a double stop pitch, that one fails to notice that the *tone quality*, or momentary lack of it, may be making the search difficult, or nearly impossible. Often the unusable tone is caused by excessive bow pressure on one of the two strings, which in turn is caused by the bow hair losing contact with one string, and the violinist responding inappropriately.- - Instead of reacting to the dropout of one string by correcting the plane of the bow hair, he presses harder! He presses on the one string that is sounding until the hair meets both strings. Now he has seemingly corrected the problem of only one string sounding, but he has unwittingly killed the tone in the process! The violinist should re-train himself, to react to the dropout of one string by correcting the plane of the bow hair, rather than by pressing. The practical remedy for all of this can be as simple as practicing whole bows on a pair of open strings, with the goal of absolutely clear, rich and unforced tone from end to end of the bow. If one's standard of tone quality and clarity are high enough, this simple exercise might be more challenging than it seemed before trying it!
Posted on January 19, 2008 at 02:42 PM
From Sacha StandenFive years late, I know, but I found this video interesting on the subject of practising octaves:
Posted on May 19, 2013 at 12:33 PM
He puts the emphasis on getting the first finger right, and also suggests placing the 3rd as a support to the 4th.
From Marie CorrAs it turns out I've just joined the community! Will have a look at the website for practising octaves, thanks.
Posted on May 22, 2013 at 10:07 PM
Revisit Violinist.com editor Laurie Niles' coverage from Canada of the 2013 Montreal International Musical Competition, including her interview with gold medalist Marc Bouchkov.
Please consider supporting Violinist.com by becoming a sponsor, and reaching our dedicated community of violin professionals, students and fans!