August 2011

VIOLIN TECHNIQUE/VIOLA TECHNIQUE: Intonation, Hand Groups and the L2G (Low 2 Group)—a question…

August 4, 2011 10:01

A little about Open & Closed Hand Groups/Finger Patterns as I use them—

We open and close the interval spaces between the fingers to measure various distances—use the whole hand for these actions as it is all interrelated. 


Everything affects everything.


L2 = Low 2 Group, e.g., Ding: E-1, F-2, G-3, A-4

(1&2 closed/half step on same string, 2&3 and 3&4 open/whole step on same string.)

The Hand Groups/Patterns terminology applies to any combination of notes across any combination of strings and, when applicable, shifting into any position. 


Some think that Hand Groups, or Finger Patterns, etc., should be termed in Major and minor. This is very limiting to the actual audible experience and technique of playing the violin/viola. 


A few examples with just the closed/half step between fingers 1&2: 

    1. E-1 on the Ding to F-2 on the Ding is a minor 2nd = closed interval for fingers;
    2. E-1 on the Ding to C-2 on the Aing is a minor 6th = closed interval for fingers, and sounds the C Major chord with the open G string (also, inversion of the m6th notes sounds the M3rd);
    3. F-2 on the Ding to B-1 on the Aing is an Augmented 4th = closed interval for fingers, and sounds the tritone (3 whole steps). 

The same notes in example 3 above played in 2nd position with F-1 & B-4 on the Ding physically measure as the tritone/3 whole steps/Open Hand Group (OH). Place your 4th finger a Perfect 5th over to the F#-4 on the Aing with F-1 on Ding and you are now playing an Augmented 8va—among the favorite intervals of my younger students:-) THEN move 4 over to the Ging to play E-4 on G with F-1 on D and you are playing the minor 2nd with 3 whole steps in your hand (OH).


Think and play in patterns of the left hand as translated to the instrument from the notes of the music. This correlates with reading words formed by the letters.


If you teach, read a random sentence to your student only saying the letters and not acknowledging the separation of words or punctuation. A few bright ones will get some of the words and even a partial meaning of the sentence. Then read the sentence saying the words. Instantly there is recognition and understanding. 


You can easily do this with yourself to see the clear difference.


The physical act of opening and closing the hand and fingers is simply accomplished to play numerous intervals—Augmented, Major, minor, diminished, etc. These pattern combinations should be developed thoroughly.


We learn to translate the written page to the language of our strings tuned in 5ths.


Now to the question—



    Question: …if I extend my fourth finger in a L2G, my wrist will move back towards the scroll). Is this allowable? …”




99.991% of the time, do not move the wrist contrary to the direction of the fingers. Have the left arm pivot the left hand toward the notes and therefore into the motion of the fingers. All the sections of the move are to be simultaneous—just a bit of multitasking like we always do:-)


When playing the L2G think of leaving 1&2 behind as you pivot toward the 3&4—what is required is opening/enlarging the palm of the hand, thereby the space between 2&3. The left arm and hand are actually doing a shift move toward the instrument. 


If your hand is slightly diagonal out from the neck, rotate your forearm and hand clockwise as you approach the 3&4. At times the 4th finger will require a subtle pendulum move of the upper left arm. 


In doing this do not break/bend the left wrist in. There should be no backward tilt to the left hand—the motion is totally proactive in the direction of the fingers. 


Hope this helps…


God bless,



Author of 

"Violin Technique: The Manual, How to master"

"Viola Technique: The Manual, How to master"

4 replies

More entries: February 2011

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Silent Violin
Yamaha Silent Violin

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

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

Johansen International Competition

Antonio Strad Violin

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases


Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Metzler Violin Shop

Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin



Johnson String Instrument and Carriage House Violins

Potter Violins

String Masters

Bein & Company

Annapolis Bows & 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