August 4, 2011 at 5:01 PM
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:
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…
Duh. I'd never thought of calling the hand positions open or closed. Thanks for the insight!
Your blog posted just as I was struggling with keeping my 2nd finger on the string while reaching with the 3rd. After some days of practice, I saw the usefulness of your description regarding opening the palm. My teacher had never told me that part. Thanks!
I love your explanation for this phenomenon! I love the physics of playing and the instrument and I think you worded it beautifully! Thank you, I will make sure many of my students read this entry!
Thanks for your comments. I am delighted to know the blog was timely for all of you. D.
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