Dancla "School of Mechanism" question

February 23, 2018, 6:04 PM · Has anyone here used Dancla's "School of Mechanism" in their practice? I am having trouble with a particular exercise (#15) and am wondering the best way to go about it.

Replies (7)

February 23, 2018, 6:41 PM · I use the School of Mechanism with my students quite a bit. The main issues to watch out for in #15 are to avoid pressing too hard with the second finger and to lift the fourth and third fingers cleanly from the base joints, without any superfluous wrist motions. The fingers should not contract when they are lifted off the string
February 23, 2018, 8:18 PM · Thanks. The biggest problem I have with this study is endurance - I can only get through so much of it (sometimes only a few bars) before my left hand cramps, usually the big muscle in the heel of the hand. Once that happens, my third and fourth finger stop working altogether until I stop and shake out my hand. Sometimes - but not always - I can avoid the cramping by keeping my 2nd finger close but not down (I know the study says to keep it down).

I have tried doing the study very slowly, also doing it 1, 2, 3 etc bars at a time. I don't know whether I should go for speed or endurance. I play viola, by the way, so this is probably more of a stretch than on violin.

Edited: February 24, 2018, 8:43 PM · That sounds as if you're squeezing with the thumb, essentially anchoring your hand at the base of the first finger. That makes it harder to lift the third and fourth fingers. In most playing it's possible to get those fingers off the string anyway with a little kink of the wrist or a slight turn of the hand, but in this etude the repetitive figure makes those strategies less practical (which is the point of the etude). I'd concentrate on keeping the thumb relaxed and lifting with the extensor muscles only (i.e. from the base joints). Work up to it slowly, the extensors are less strong than the flexors (which put the fingers down), so you may need to build them up.
February 24, 2018, 8:32 AM · Agree with previous input re: thumb, extensors, flexors. Also, if you start to feel cramping -- STOP. You need to build up the hand muscles incrementally till you can play the piece fluently and evenly. Then you can think about speed-building and endurance.

This exercise, like Kreutzer 9, is not one you want to do for an extended period. When I review material like this, I typical go for 1 or 2 takes -- and then do a few minutes of vibrato exercises on each finger to relax the hand before the next try.

February 26, 2018, 5:45 PM · I've had a look at the Dancla score online (IMSLP) and noticed that some of the exercises, #15 in particular, reminded me of Bernhard Cossmann's Studies for developing agility in the cellist's fingers. These are doubtless well-known to the cellists in our midst (my teacher started me on them when I was 14). Not surprising, since closely similar problems on the two instruments are going to generate similar solutions.

February 27, 2018, 6:06 AM · Thanks, all, for your thoughts.
February 28, 2018, 6:53 AM · Karin make sure to let the wrist ease in a bit for this exercise. To do this on the viola as if you would do it on a violin, you need a really flexible hand. So take such exercises more as a lifetime gradual improvement route than as an instantaneous exercise "here and now".

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