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Pobbles and Prunes.

November 9, 2009 at 11:32 PM


I suspect one of the worst areas of hidden tension is in the base joint of the left index finger.   It`s certainly true for me.  One of the give aways is a certain amount of extra twitching in the little finger ,  even if its only a very small vibration and remains poised nicely above the string in a good curved shape.   The problem is one may not be too aware of this extra motion because of practicng too fast.   Slow things right down and really pay attention to that finger and then try and see if relaxing the left index finger helps.   It is also useful to seek out cases where you can keep the fourth finger down while playing on other strings.  One might for example,  do the Basic left hand pattern practice from Drew Lecher`s book keeping the fourth finger down on a higher string until needed.  This wil promote finger independence,  too.

The only teacher teacher I know who has made a few public references to the (big) toes is Mimi Zweig.   These last few months have been very painful as I struggle to induct my crappy old body into the core essentials of Aikido.  There are certain things I was unable to do for a long time.  One was knee walking,  the other kneeling with toes curled under.  My big toes were so weak and unused to being curled with weight on them I had to sit in a hot bath for hours and work on easing them into the groove.   It was a source of amusement to read in Godo Shido`s classic books on Aikido that the big toes are the central source of energy,  balance  and vitality for the whole body in Aikido (IE life).   Makes me wonder how I played the violin before and also calls to mind again the great David Oistrakh who,  unlike the Pobble,  clearly had all his toes in excellent working order.    I wonder how many other violnists could really benefit from a little fancy footwork....

In the mean time I was enchanted by the perfection of this Aikido article in relation to anybodys dreams and joys of learning the instrument at any level:

Happy bathing,


From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on November 10, 2009 at 12:16 AM

Sorry what or who is the pobble???  Don't know this word. Happy that you found ways to stay flexible...  Everything in the tows???   About Oistrakh, his famous accompagnist Richter told that it was all because he had streigh legs and abdomen. (I suppose he meant tonus)   I must admit that he was very "streigh" even at a late age yet very relaxed.  When you compare with many people who moove (to not say dance) all around, are bent in odd ways where you can see each muscle so contracted with head lying on the violin...  It's maybe more show off but... So the violin teacher who said "violin is not a circus" was right!

Good luck with your flexibility things


From Stephen Brivati
Posted on November 10, 2009 at 1:28 AM


do a Google for edward Lear, poem. The Poppble who had no toes.

As opposed to the `pro who had no tone.`  ;)



From Tess Z
Posted on November 10, 2009 at 3:35 AM

Take your shoes off and experience life on the wild side.  Best exercise for toes/feet is digging in deep sand.  Walking in sand barefoot is great for your muscles.

Our feet spend too much time in shoes where no muscle is required for balance.  The big sloppy flat soled tennis shoes kids wear these days are creating a whole generation of kids with weak feet.

From Yixi Zhang
Posted on November 13, 2009 at 3:21 AM

Ha! All my yoga teachers want us to be barefooted with toes spread out. I'm new to yoga but always have capable toes so this is what I'm at my best in these classes, kind of sad, eh?. I always like to pick things up with toes, and do calligraphy or draw figures on the floor with toes when I chat with friends. People saw this told me that I was weird, but really, there's nothing dumb about toes.  If you use them, they'll be just as capable as fingers. Recently I saw a video on a woman borne without arms living productive life by using toes to do what we do with hands, including catching live crabs and cooking elaborate Chinese meals for the family, doing farm work, sewing, embroidery, writing and raising three kids! It's really worth checking this video out:


From Yixi Zhang
Posted on November 13, 2009 at 4:26 AM

Interesting article by Lievonen and thanks for the link, Buri! Maybe I missed something, but I find her article problematic both in her assumptions and conclusion. To me, the coolest thing being an amateur is that I set myself up for a challenging but fascinating long worthy journey to go through to reach the dream of being nearly as good as a professional without aiming at monetary gain. There's really nothing intrinsically cool about being professional per se, especially when in rare occasions you see some professionals don't quite reach the level of some amateurs.  And to suggest that we are treating the craft as a lesser priority if we are amateurs is a confusion of necessity or practicality with priority . Some of us go to work because it feeds our hobbies but not the other way around.

As for not reaching the level to contribute to a conversation that more advanced players are having, Lievonen's point is well taken, but I'm sorry to say that her tone is a bit off putting.  It is part of the growing and learning to feel not always knowing what's going on, to feel humbled and even dwarfed among those who ahead of us.  Of course we should respect those who put in the hours and are at the place I may not be at, but it is this type of talking that could lead to withdraw for some of us.  In a nice community such as here at, I see the professionals and those who way ahead of others are extremely inclusive and tolerant. This is a real sign of professionalism to me. To me the coolest thing being a true professional is that you are always try to have your heart, mind and eyes open to those behind you and lend your hand to those who seem to be behind and in need of help and explanation.  To be ignored and confused is part of learning process, but to ignore those who need help is not true professionalism.



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