Finding the notes no matter the position
There are a lots of books on learning positions. However, I would like to know what you think is the most effective way of getting to have a fluency of reading/fingering notes from the vantage points of different positions.
One suggestion I recently came across was to play the same piece in one position, then play it in another and so on.
I was wondering whether there were other suggestions or recommendations for a method/book out there that treated positions in such a way that one arrived with less time spent on comfortable relative association of notes in the same position.
I find Yost to be very helpful. Other than that, I think playing repertoire that requires use of upper positions is the most helpful.
Forget positions and treat the fingerboard as one position. Don't jump unless unavoidable and crawl about instead. Do one finger scales and double stops so you only move a semitone or tone.
Yost 1-finger scales. It's all about knowing the geography of the fingerboard through whole and half steps (and combinations thereof).
For practice and as soon as I could, I used to play the game of playing my practice songs without a necessary string. So I had to move the notes of that string to higher in the fingerboard of the lower string (s). It worked very well to allow me to find a note without thinking.
Tammuz I think you already alluded to it. It is the exercise that Simon Fischer is most proud of. Take a passage, melody, musical theme, short song, anything, but not an entire piece: it should be some independent phrase that you can remember and play by heart. Play it in as many fixed positions as is possible. Depending on the notes there may be really a lot of possibilities. For example, a one-octave scale in A minor, starting with the A of the open A-string, can be played from first until eighth position. But this is just an example, it works better with melodies, fast passages, etc, so avoid fixed scales. I do that every day. It is fun too. It is really "playing".
@ Carlos "This is a topic that brings some heated discussions between my teacher and me. He is very strict that I have to go through the board in the traditional way: 1st, 3rd, 5th, etc..."
I agree with Peter. It is one thing to have a teacher laying down the law for a 5-year-old (usually the best way to get results!), but if a teacher can't/won't have a reasoned discussion with an adult pupil then there is something seriously wrong.
Carlos, your teacher is nuts, if that's really his stance (and I agree strongly that not having reasonable discussions with adult students is a big thumbs down).
Excellent reasons and advice from Lydia and Trevor. I should have put it a little more strongly in my quick answer above!
As a kid, I started position-playing about 3 months into lessons. My teacher felt I was ready for it, and she was right. I started with the Harvey Whistler 2-volume method,
I think there are two sets of skills involved here.
In the intermediate stages I teach positions by semitone: low 1st (="half") low & high 2nd, etc. There is some overlap, e.g. high 3rd = low 4th.
There is a lot of overlap. My mental position system is similar to what the cellists and guitarists use: 1/2, 1, 2, 2 1/2, 3, 3 1/2, 4...etc. The order that I would teach it is 1, 1/2, 3, 2, 2 1/2, 4, 3 1/2... Doing a chromatic scale in parallel octaves will demonstrate that. Of equal importance is the interval distance between the positions when shifting.
With regards to Yost, it is true that the transition is across positions within the scale; however, as I recall from the book it is on the same string and is typically very linear, setting up patterns to be repeated on all strings. Which invites a certain virtuosity but I think it doesnt push the brain into sightreading across strings.
I see three memories involved in shifts and positions:
Certainly, the "old school" violin pedagogy was to teach positions in the order 1-3-5. I think that by the time you got those down pat you had room in your brain to fill in with the even numbers and climb up from there. The problem I found with this progression was that by the time you must play even-number positions (especially sight-reading them) you mmd has grown used to thinking of fingers 1 and 3 as "nots on the line fingers" and fingers 2 and 4 as "notes in the space fingers." This does not lead to easy switching to the opposite perception for the even-numbered positions.
"Forget positions and treat the fingerboard as one position. Don't jump unless unavoidable and crawl about instead."
Tammuz, like Lydia already answered, it is indeed based on Basics #255, but there it is given with a fixed four notes. Then, in his book "The Violin Lesson" (exercise 2 of "two essential intonation exercises" in the chapter on intonation) he suggests to expand this to any phrase or scale. Here's
Thanks Jean and Lydia and everyone else. I've incorporated basics 255 (upto position 5) followed by a piece I'm playing in different positions. This is apart from the rest of my homework.
I always thought that discreet positions halfway up each string were a given, and that all advanced and intermediate players would be aware of them. These are extremely useful and still will work in parallel with semitone and tone finger movements. (As will other harmonics that can be used to check intonation).
Tammuz also very interesting are the Sitt etudes in fixed position, I believe they go up to 6th, entire etudes in one position.
I think of note-reference points for specific fingers. That's how I can get to nearly any high note on the fingerboard almost without much thought. Thinking position-wise is a loosely helpful guide for me-I really do not think about them at all.
I would not put too much weight in my teacher's comment. I know where he comes from and where he is going and I understand that he is trying the best way to get there according to his background.
Actually "fiddling around" - ad libbing - (extemporising) is extremely useful as it not only helps you be creative but frees you from the page, and makes you use your ear to pitch notes. It appears that your teacher is against all the things you SHOULD be doing!
When I started learning the cello at age 11 or 12 my teacher within the first few months started getting me acquainted with the whole length of the fingerboard. The sort of thing he'd say was to shut my eyes and play the 2nd C (that's in the 7th position) on the A string with my 3rd finger, and other similar instructions at random. He started off with the easy stuff in the first octave and extended it to the 2nd octave and half as the weeks went by. It was hard at first, but gradually things came together and I was comfortable with the whole length of the fingerboard within a year. Notably, he almost never referred to positions by number.
Thanks Christian. Jean has also mentioned the Sitt. What are.the advantages / disadvantages of one compared to another?
Trevor - interesting observations and I agree that the violin has to be held with the left hand. Quoting Ricci again he reckons we should not jerk the fiddle at all with big movements of the left hand and that the thumb should stay and only follow when forced to. Also, very lightweight use of fingers on strings to the extent of not always pressing the string down to the fingerboard. Using the pads too, rather than the tips. I think playing fortissimo with a big vibrato tends to force the fingers into the fingerboard, at least in my case! It's surprising how many fine players including the greats, use less vib and a narrow vib too. They only occasionally let rip and then it's a big contrast to what has gone before.
Hi Christian.I mean when would you prescribe one or the other? As you said, it depends on which stage of development ...so is one book more advanced than the other for instance?
Schradieck book is fun too, and has "all positions" up to the seventh. It is not too advanced (the higher positions will be "hard", but everything unfamiliar will be as much-just work patiently through it while still working on your repertoire and scales.)
Thank you Christian.
I was told to use Yost when I was taking lessons. Lately I've been working through this obscure thing written by Henley from the 1920s. http://imslp.org/wiki/Modern_Violin_School%2C_Op.51_(Henley%2C_William) Book 5 has change of position exercises, usually one line and focused on some combination of fingers and positions. Use them for sight reading or to practice awkward shifts, either because of the interval, string crossing, or the way the bow exposes the shift. (Henley included double stops.)