Regarding Carl Fleisch's Urstudien

August 3, 2017, 6:44 AM · I honestly don't know why everyone isn't using it on a daily basis. My teacher, a professional violinist, told me that she didn't know about it, and seldom have I heard of it anywhere else. I've only found out about it when I followed Hilary Hahn's Instagram, where she posted videos of her practicing CF's Urstudien.

Being in China at that time, I quickly found the cheapest edition of it in a book store and immediately started to use the exercise on an almost daily basis along with my scales. And to my surprise, it did wonders to my left-hand and right-hand technique.

My left hand became so much more precise, and the fast passages sounded way cleaner than before; this applies to both the intonation and articulation.
My right-hand also became more precise, but not to the extent of my left-hand. Probably because I slacked off at the bow exercises...

Anyways, my question is: Why isn't everyone using this to some extent??? The first few finger exercises are simple to learn and memorize and doesn't even require a bow; not to mention that they are extremely effective. I found it to be the perfect exercise to enhance finger nimbleness. And it's usable for both beginners and professionals since they are generally in the first position. The bow exercises should also be equally effective, although they are significantly harder. But I haven't tried those out long enough to give a complete commentary on it.

Replies (16)

August 3, 2017, 7:14 AM · Just a side comment on Hilary Hahn's instagram account. I love watching her practice videos too! I wish her #100days would never end...
Edited: August 3, 2017, 8:25 AM · I guess Dounis or Roland Vamos' are more popular alternatives (for the LH exercise).

Honestly, I have never heard of Urstudien until I read this post, so I'm glad that I bumped into this.

Edited: August 3, 2017, 7:52 AM · I am familiar with his scale system but not these studies. Do these studies complement the scales? Interestingly, the scale studies were published originally only in C Major. The student had to transpose to the other keys. That's a fair amount of work!

August 3, 2017, 7:55 AM · Hi Carl,

Yes, Hilary Hahn's videos are indeed very good, both in an educational and entertainment sense. :)

August 3, 2017, 7:57 AM · Tong,
Yup, it doesn't really surprise me, a lot of the people I asked never really knew the exercise. I, on the other hand, never heard of the two you mentioned...
Edited: August 3, 2017, 8:00 AM · Raymond,
I've heard that it is related to his scale system and is designed to complement his book, "the art of violin playing."
And yes, his scale system is way more well known
Edited: August 3, 2017, 1:28 PM · They are the precurser of Fischers "Basics".
And Watson Forbes was inspired by them as a basis for his Daily Exercises for Viola (O.U.P, London)
August 3, 2017, 9:09 AM · The old timers will tell you that Heifetz practiced the silent finger exercises from the Urstudien every day, and found them very helpful for finger action and trills. Probably more people don't useit because it points out the weak spots in your technique VERY quickly, like a doctor poking an irritated nerve!
August 3, 2017, 10:24 AM · Benjamin,
Then by that logic shouldn't it be very effective? As it finds the problems very quickly?
Edited: August 3, 2017, 1:37 PM · I have got a copy... collecting dust. The same challenge as with his system of scales (I am currently going through one scale per day) is that you have to warm-up properly before using them.
Perhaps if one starts using them as a young violinist, while still working on the most effective hand position and finger movement.... yes.
But, if on later st(age), and with less-than-perfect hand and finger placement... the road to injury.
By author's own intro, Urstudien are meant to save time for busy people. In my opinion, they are in fact quite demanding and time consuming.
August 3, 2017, 3:54 PM · I went through a period when I was practicing some of the exercises on my own, and I found them to be useful, but not as useful as spending my time on other stuff, whether Sevcik or Fischer's Basics.
August 3, 2017, 6:33 PM · Chao Peter Yang,

I didn't say the Urstudien was not effective.

Edited: August 3, 2017, 10:58 PM · Benjamin,
I see, I'm just supprised that people don't like using it because,"points out the weak spots very quickly." Shouldn't that effectiveness mean that it should be more popular with violinists?
August 4, 2017, 11:35 AM · One reason might be that once you have attained a certain level of technique in left hand and bow, you can typically invent little Urstudien-like exercises on the spot within certain passages while practicing your repertoire. Note that Flesch stresses that these studies are not in the first place designed to attain a level of technique, but mainly to preserve it once attained. They are actually quite known, just search on this site, they have already been mentioned and discussed a lot here in the past. I think nobody really questions the utility and value of the Flesch Urstudien. It's just that all roads lead to Rome!
August 4, 2017, 5:08 PM · Chao Peter Yang,

I'm not here to argue with people. If you don't agree with what I said, then kindly disregard. What I'm saying is that the Urstudien presents various technical problems in a very exacerbated form, and often people would like the problem in a form that is a little less intimidating. As an example, take the exercise for string crossings. The problem is presented by Flesch going from the G string to the E string. Most people find it more pleasant to develop this technique using the Kreutzer No. 9 with variations, since the string crossings are less extreme (D to E or G to A), and the etude is a little more musical. If you prefer the Urstudien approach, by all means use it. I love the Urstudien and use it from time to time to gauge my progress in technical development. Hope this answers your question.
To me, Urstudien is like the basic powerlifting exercises. If you have a weakness anywhere in your posterior chain muscles, you will not be able to perform a squat. So the squat is not only a great strenth training exercise, but a good way to measure strength. But if your form is bad, you can really hurt yourself. Same with Urstudien, and Dounis. If your technique is bad, you can actually do more harm than good (research what Stern said about Dounis). So, enough about that. Enjoy.

Edited: August 6, 2017, 12:03 AM ·

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