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Drew Lecher

Left Hand: Hitting other strings, etc…

April 22, 2008 at 6:26 PM

Hitting neighboring strings:

Talk to your teacher, but it is okay to hit the other strings — unless it interferes with the next note to be played. A combination of placing the finger a bit more to the side (off-center) and/or modifying the angle of the left arm via rotation of the forearm possibly combined with the pendulum movement of the upper left arm.


Strings can be set a little further apart. Your luthier can re-do the nut at the end of the fingerboard and the bridge string-spacings. Also, the strings can be set closer for those with smaller hands. This is of tremendous help when playing 5ths and various chords.

"I had trouble getting the hand shape so my third and fourth fingers get to a and b flat."

With a High 3 Hand Group (M2, M2, m2), also open the left hand/forearm a bit (counter-clockwise). This enables an easier lengthening/reaching of the finger. Don't do so much as to make it difficult for the 4th finger.



Pizzicato on page 93: Left hand pizzicato, what is considered advanced virtuoso technique, is great at developing left hand shape, curve of the fingers, dexterity and precise rhythmic control.

With Left Hand Pizzicato pull fingers strongly and suddenly toward the higher string.
Alternate left hand fingers after developing each individually.
Also, alternate with Right Hand Pizzicato and/or Bow Stings/Piqûre — at the very tip near the bridge using minimal up & down bow directions.

Again, work this with your teacher — do #1 with just the open Eing and Ging. Initially pluck with only the 4th finger. When this is gaining confidence, add the 3rd finger and still later the 2nd and 1st fingers. Vary rhythms as ready. Quickly/suddenly — the pulling of the fingertip towards its base joint. Allow a slight follow through of the natural counter-clockwise rotation. Note that on the Eing the 2nd and especially the 1st fingers will drop into the hand a bit if not continuing on with more left hand pizzicato.

BONUS: This also develops a stronger finger action and tougher pads.

"The other problem is my fourth finger sticks up when i play."

Wiggle and flex it all over the place:-) This probably happens mostly when playing the 3rd finger, and possible 2nd. Hold them down and move 4th around, including returning the 4th to the "flag pole" position, as this will show the tension that is causing this involuntary action.

Hope this helps —

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

Everything affects everything.

From Jim W. Miller
Posted on April 23, 2008 at 12:00 AM
Re: the flagpole 4th, I saw a video of a well-respected, well-known soloist who does that. Lurking at a different vln website, I saw people talking about it. They were wondering if he'd been taught that to compensate for something else. I emailed the person via this site, and respectfully asked what was up with it. They wrote back and said teachers tried to change it early on but eventually left it alone. So a whole slew of teachers now, including ppl like Zukerman, have apparently left it alone. The real reason for it is just because, like I'd been suspecting :) It's fine in that person's case, apparently.
From Drew Lecher
Posted on April 23, 2008 at 5:05 AM

You are probably correct.

Sometimes with a very advanced and talented player it is thought better to be leave alone on certain matters at certain levels. There has to be the will-power of the player to see the need and conquer the problem.

I could easily imagine PZ saying something to this player and they didn't grasp the need and importance, so he would not spend further time on the subject.

It is still not the best way to use the "pinky." It is too likely to develop overess or worse — tendonitis! I hope that is not true for the alluded to player, or anyone else for that matter. When I imitate the problem to new students of various levels they are able to conquer it in 99% of the cases.

It simply boils down to — bad habits are bombs waiting to go off for all of us. We have to rid our playing of them asap, and then EVERyTHING truly does become much easier and far more enjoyable.


From Jim W. Miller
Posted on April 23, 2008 at 6:06 AM
To me it's an interesting bit of uniqueness and contraryness that's working, for the time being at least as you say. Actually, it even looks bent backward at the tip-most joint a lot of the time.
From Drew Lecher
Posted on April 23, 2008 at 4:02 PM
Who is this player???
I am too curious:-)
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on April 23, 2008 at 5:04 PM
I don't want to say who, because I mentioned a private communication. I wish I hadn't, so we could talk about it more. Other people here might be able to guess. I'll neither confirm nor deny :)
From Teresa Colombo
Posted on April 24, 2008 at 1:15 PM
"It simply boils down to — bad habits are bombs waiting to go off for all of us."

Unfortunately we can get away with an awful lot when we are 20, even 30, but then it starts! Often we don't don't even realize we are mis-using our body!

From Ray Randall
Posted on April 27, 2008 at 12:44 AM
The superb teacher I work with said she was doing something years ago that a highly regardedconcert violinist was also doing. At this time she was playing in one of the top orchestras
of the world when he CM, a friend, asked her why she did that. After hearing her explantion the CM laughed and said "so and so play exceptionally well in spite of that, not because of it."

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