February 2009

First Position

February 22, 2009 17:00

Remember when your teacher first showed you third position and then of course how to shift to get there? Over time shifting became a primary solution to most left hand problems. 

Then came double stops. Whoa, what is this?! You liked the sound but they were hard. I didn't practice them seriously.

Well shifting is a very important technique in modern violin playing. One can hardly do without it (unless you're Ruggiero Ricci perhaps.)

But at some point we need to go back to first position, so to speak. Instead of shifting to solve every problem by seeing what happens when you stay in position and cross strings. Try placing fingers in advance on adjacent strings when you have a difficult passage. Hmm. Suddenly it feels like we have our hand on a chord. Now we have a new skill to master -- string crossing. Frequently the left hand can stay almost immobile. 

Try playing Silent Night in first position. Keep as many fingers down as possible at all times. Prepare fingers as far in advance as possible. Voilà! Suddenly there is legato. Yes the left hand with prepared fingers is a key to good legato playing. And there are chords. We can test our pitch by playing double stops on the prepared fingers. Sometimes we are even holding fingers down on three strings.

The community orchestra I am playing in is performing Beethoven's 4th Symphony next month. There are some fast passages that, in the past, I would have shifted to play. Now I am finding that they are easier if I stay in position. 

So its back to challenging myself to see if a passage is better in one position or if I should shift.

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An Opera in Three Acts: Something to Offend Everyone

February 1, 2009 05:02

Here is a very funny link to a synopsis of an opera in three acts entitled L'Obama, ossia L'Avvento del Messia .

It is calculated to offend everyone no matter what your politics. 

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More entries: January 2009

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