Exercises for string crossing

January 26, 2018, 5:48 AM · Okay, I've been at this almost 9 months now - almost enough time to hatch a kid. My left hand is making steady progress (albeit all in first position) and intonation is decent. And as long as I stay on one string, I can draw the bow reasonably straight with even pressure. But when I have to start crossing strings, I'm afraid the neighbors will phone up animal control because they think I'm vivisecting felines.

At least I can at least figure out why this is. My wee little brain is still having trouble coordinating the movements between my two hands. When I practice R hand alone on open strings, I do okay. But as soon as I divert more than 7% of my attention away to what my L hand is doing, I tend to reach for the next string with my wrist rather than move my elbow to get over to that other string, which causes all sorts of Bad Things to happen.

So I'm wondering if anyone has any suggestions for exercises that would allow me to practice string crossings with some but not too much activity in my L hand.

Replies (4)

January 26, 2018, 6:44 AM · Hi Madeye,

Don't worry too much about it, in time this will happen less and less.

I think it's the complexity of different factors: getting educated on how to balancing the bow in the hand (which is in itself a system of finger and wrist) and on the string, then the shift from one balancing act on one string to another blanacing act on another, knowing and having a feel for the different planes for each of the strings and then for two at the same time (double stop), then even three at a more Advanced level (that is still beyond me). I dont know where I read this (maybe it was Appelbaum's book), but to really know how to cleanly change from one string to another, its important to also be doing double stops so you know how to avoid them when you don't want to sound them.

So, I think this apparently simple gesture is a combination of many different factors, each of which will improve with time.

for me, I have been working on the exercise Strings/Planes Crossing in Drew Lecher's violin technique book along with the accompanying videos that explain more clearly how to perform them. In essence you would be playing just open strings, going from one string to another, one string to two.

Here is a link to his post on this topic in his blog here : http://www.violinist.com/blog/drewlecher/20174/21135/

Personally, I do this exercise from his book every day and I think it works very well for me.

January 26, 2018, 7:42 AM · I think practicing on open strings is a good start, then you can start playing with your first finger down and so on. There is so much to consider while playing, but it will get easier.
January 26, 2018, 9:49 AM · What does your teacher suggest? Ask about it if need be. Try to keep your movements as small and precise if possible. I'd start with open strings, then, add one finger, then two, and keep increasing the complexity of the exercise as your confidence increases.
January 26, 2018, 10:41 AM · Scales. Scales. Scales. 4/4 first one note on one bow, then two, then 4, then 8. Make stops between notes, then bring them together in legato. Then 3/4 (count 1,2,3), first with one note on one bow, then 3 etc. In 3/4 the last note is longer. Then arpeggios in the same way. Start with a scale you are familiar with. Then move to the others. Everything is in two variants: starting bow down, and starting bow up.
You need to think about crossing before you cross and prepare yourself in advance. that means that your fingers should be automatic. When you start practice in the way our teacher suggested, you first help your fingers to know the positions, and then gradually come from changing the string at the end and tip of the bow to the actual crossing. The main tip our teacher gave: first work out with pauses between each note, saying loudly what you need to do exactly and detailed.


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