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Drew Lecher

Slo-mo into the pillow…

July 18, 2008 at 2:01 AM

So you want to traverse from one position to another.

The simplest move is to pull the hand via the closing of the left arm toward the body. That’s it.

Practice slo-mo (slow motion) with a very light touch, maintaining the shape of the left hand, but adjusting it’s size — smaller higher and bigger lower. The lower fingers will ‘shrink up’ toward a higher finger, when shifting up on all but the 1st finger and, vice versa, the lower fingers will expand (open) away from the higher finger when shifting down.

One of the secrets of great shifts is maintaining the ‘face’ (fingernail) of the shifting finger. Keep the contact evenly balanced on both sides of the string being played. When playing on one string do not roll over to the lower string side.

When going into higher positions, anticipate the soon needed lifting of the hand over the top by having the thumb flow behind the shift and come under the neck so it is in position to continue support of the instrument. It will look like a hitchhiker’s thumb. DO NOT GRAB THE NECK IN THE PROCESS.

Now —

Move very slow and very deliberate and be very observant.

Maintain your wrist form in the lower 3 or 4 positions — depending on the string being played combined with hand/arm/shoulder size. The movement of fingertip, hand and arm must be simultaneous.

Slo-mo into the pillow/note and allow no whiplash/wobble upon arrival. Initially use no vibrato and simply achieve the purest pitch imaginable. As these are sped up, the silky smoothness, balance and flow must be maintained even when playing lightning fast at speeds over 800 notes per minute.

When vibrato is added, the first move will be one of descending pitch and return. Also do this slo-mo to maintain balance and clarity of action. Subsequently, this can be easily sped up to desired effect — season to taste:-)

Hope this helps—

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

P.S. For more details and different types of shifts, see my previous articles on Shifting in the earlier GPS 2 Shifting articles.

From Ray Randall
Posted on July 18, 2008 at 11:19 PM
Good advice.
I loaned your book to my
superb teacher, she took it with her on vacation from the SLSO. She especially liked your caboose analagy
for intonation.
From Drew Lecher
Posted on July 19, 2008 at 2:10 AM
Thanks Ray. Hope she joins the train:-)
From Christian Vachon
Posted on July 19, 2008 at 11:27 AM
Mr. Lecher,

What a great post! It's funny, I just came back from a summer festival where I was teaching. I explain shifting exactly the same what. I even add that for coordination, it can help to feel both forearms moving at the same speed during the shifts. And yet, with all the students and backgrounds, none of them know any of this, all had problems with shifting, and yet can shift terrifically in 48 hours (provided they are also explained guide fingers).

To me, this seems just logical (I was not even explained this as a student) and yet, nobody teaches it - UNTIL I READ YOU THAT IS :) - so why not?

To anyone reading this post who doesn't know this, I urge you, since are receiving the best possible advice on shifting here for free, take advantage of it and try it. You will be amazed at the quick massive improvement that will occur!

Thank you for posting this Mr. Lecher, and all my best!

Christian Vachon

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on July 19, 2008 at 1:52 PM
Drew, I'm so glad you're back, I've missed your posts. It's a neat experience to go back to the old ones that I wasn't ready for the first time I saw them--like the repetition hits. That one is for whatever reason really hitting home now for me.

This one is another one that I think I might be ready for soon, and it gives me a way to talk about these issues with my teacher that is very helpful. Thanks!

From Drew Lecher
Posted on July 20, 2008 at 10:38 PM
Thanks Christian.
Sometimes the simplest things are overlooked and they are truly the most important. Keep hitting the basic concepts of getting around the violin and the students will keep improving at a good pace. Then it is easy for them to relate to the more challenging concepts technically and musically.

Sounds like you had a very rewarding teaching experience.

Hi Karen and thanks.
Things just got a bit hectic and I cannot keep up the pace I was doing. Glad the Rep Hits are beginning to click along with this.

The books I have written contain literally 100’s of tips. These are just the tip of the iceberg.

Glad they help—

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