Printer-friendly version
Drew Lecher

“GPS” –– 4.2 Right Hand

April 6, 2008 at 4:22 PM

From Teresa Colombo
Posted from on April 25, 2008 at 6:27 PM (GMT)
“Drew ... I am so excited, my left hand has never been so precise, tension free, improved co-ordination with bow, articulation, etc ... and I thought this was mainly about helping my pupils!!”


The book is all about “How to master…”

In writing the book, my 1st thought was that the world does not need another “scale/study” book. After all, scales are simply notes in a row and arpeggios are scales with holes in them. We have 4 fingers and 4 strings — go to work!

How to master scales, arpeggios, all double-stops and chords, plus bow strokes — this is why I wrote the book. It was developed over 36 years of teaching and took almost 3 years to format into the book. In trying to be as succinct as possible it still ended up almost 3 times larger then my original goal. I could’ve easily gone 1,000 pages (Volume 1:-), but felt that would be total over-kill, and think of the poor student lugging it around, absolutely overwhelmed.

In a nutshell: it is all about how to accomplish various aspects of playing and directly applying those methods into the repertoire — it works.

Go all the way through it or use it as needed. Either way, you will benefit.


I have to say my 'warm up work out' with the little viola pupil is working much better ... but we ALWAYS start off now with RH going up half the scale in the HG we are working on. 4 'hits' for each note using 3\4 bow martellato. I have also come up with a bouncy piano accomp. for the 02132431 ...(covering all strings with connecting scale) which she finds exciting and fun …especially when we start speeding up. (For the first 2 HG I'm ok but the next two HGs are going to be more challenging for my composing skills!)

Your ideas are fabulous. By the way, if she is a bit small for her viola, definitely have her do 3rd or even 4th position when beginning the Open Hand Group, #3 (M2/M2/M2). She can "creep" down in have steps after she has great form and accuracy. That will be fun to compose something for that –– maybe spooky:-)

Also, tend to use 2 rhythms, like 2 8ths and 1 quarter, with the RH. It develops the hand/mind coordination better and it's more fun. When able add the permutations of the rhythm as in Basic II, R1-4 then 5-8. Later have the student make up a 3 or 4 note rhythm — but they must be able to write and say the rhythm:-)


Don't know if I can explain this, but say we want to do consecutive thirds (eg13 24 shift 13 24) I take the first 13 and do about 6 in a bow, I hold the third as long as I need, and just release briefly for the RH .... so you hear briefly the open string. Then I work the 24, then the 13 24 change, then the 24 13 shift in the same way. The bow is always legato without change in weight as you 'pulse' the left hand.
It is amazing the amount of tension release and how much control this is achieving ... and cutting down practice time (and not much of that happening these days anyway)

Great! Also RH 3, keeping 1 down; RH 1, keeping 3 down; then together, as you mention, and varied rhythms (similarly with 4 & 2). RHing both at once is actually very advanced and the balance, angles and unison of RH action, with intonation must be totally mastered.

The bonus is that you are also training great independence and the ability to lighten the fingers for a variety of shift speeds, weights and styles.

Check out the 3rds Study, pg. 34. Apply the RHs in #1 with the "new" finger that is added, retaining the "old." In #2, 1 & 3 should be kept down except when doing "The Check" or RHs improving balance and accuracy.

Allow the slide to be heard and studied — the pitch changing, and the touch sense of distance and balance. Use 31 to 31 slides, adjusting the new interval before shifting (later this is done within the shift). When training insist on the 4th finger being maintained over its respective string 100% of the time. This is crucial for developing speed, as it requires incredible balance and form in the hand and left arm.

In "The Check" the 1st finger, when the others are released, will not like its balance from playing 3rds. When you release the other fingers the 1st finger/hand/arm will want to shift to the normal single-finger posture — don't let this happen!

Retain the balance for 3rds, where the left hand is rotated clockwise to enable 3 & 4 to cross over to the lower string and the left arm is also brought more under/around for the hand to achieve this positioning.

RH used creatively is such a time saver get everything ... blocks, independent, anchored, all for the price of one, if you know what I mean.

I love a bargain –– and 3 for the price of one is GOLD! :-)

…RH with you do it? (has been interesting to try it in long scaley passages ... but giving each note only one 'hit' …the release in tension and increase in articulation and accuracy is amazing)

Yes, they work totally in legato with even and varied rhythms! In fact, this is how I generally use them with the tops of arpeggios and scales so I know the connection between notes is absolutely there.

"…but giving each note only one 'hit' ..the release in tension and increase in articulation and accuracy is amazing)."

It is the rhythmic release and therefore freedom of throw from the knuckle that you have added to your playing. As there is no lifting of fingers, and never should be, the hand almost never fatigues.

Here is another game for you;-)

One of the most difficult releases is when you have all fingers down on one string, or several strings as in a chord, and then rhythmically release only the 3rd finger, doing RHs — including moving the interval spacing and changing strings. (With 4th finger down on the same string, this is silent — no bow.) This is a great warm-up exercise!

An example would be to alternate between BHG (M2/m2/M2) & H3G (M2/M2/m2) — note how the left forearm and hand need to rotate (clockwise/counter clockwise) thereby assisting, actually enabling the move.

Your hands and arms must be like putty (totally pliable), resilient (flexible steel), agile and fleet of touch.


What do you mean by arches? (in shifts) the shift should not be 'a frog bounding from lily to lily' but more like 'a water skater'???

Yes, her left hand should "flat-line" (plane) parallel to the floor when she shifts. Often one sees the instrument pulled down during shifts –– the level stings (to the floor) must be maintained and/or a very slight lifting of the scroll higher for shifts Up & Down. (Her shifts should not cause her hand to go over the top of a Volkswagen Beetle:-)

The entire arm is involved, opening and closing like a fan with the hand staying true to the plane.

I haven't tied this yet ... but what do you think about actually putting a piece of tissue under the finger and making a sliding\polishing game of some sort?

What a great idea!!! I never thought of that one:-)

Everything affects everything.

Hope this helps…

Author of
Violin Technique: The Manual, How to master…
Viola Technique: The Manual, How to master…


(Rep Hits)
Repetition Hits of the left-hand fingers thrown from the knuckles to gain a freer action with greater accuracy — do not pound the fingers as in knocking loudly on a door.

1. The action is to be decisive and light.
a. For dramatic and/or intense passages we do apply greater strength, always maintaining freedom of action with flexibility.

2. Best done in rhythmic patterns.
a. For the longer rhythm, feel the finger hold the note like an electro magnet that you simply turn off when the note ends — the finger rhythmically and automatically releases the string.
b. The fingers must remain close to the string and above their note.

This entry has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Facebook YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

Anne Cole Violin Maker
Anne Cole Violin Maker

Miroirs CA Classical Music Journal
Miroirs CA Classical Music Journal

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Los Angeles Philharmonic
Los Angeles Philharmonic

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Classic Violin Olympus

Coltman Chamber Music Competition

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Jargar Strings


Violin Lab



Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine