July 2009

The Left Hand... A New Perspective

July 21, 2009 13:09

As per request of one of the other members

The bear paw.  I know, it sounds incredibly cheesy.  But, it's something that makes sense.  I mean, David Russell actually used this metaphor in a lesson I had with him in summer '07.  It works, why else would he mention it?  

A bear's paw is vaguely hand-shaped, but it has no fingers.  When a bear scoops up honey (or whatever), it uses its whole paw as a unit.  

The left hand can be thought of in much the same way.  When doing so, the fingers do not individually search for notes.  Rather, the hand locates the position and the fingers merely need to fall into place.  

Another thing that goes along with this.  4th position (or any position) will never change on your particular instrument.  It stays in the same place; it's a constant. The hand and fingers are the variables.  Once you learn what your hand is like in any given position, it's a small matter to find it again because muscle memory has been built.  Combine this with the bear paw idea and suddenly (well, with a bit of work), the opening of the Mendelssohn violin concerto doesn't seem nearly as terrifying for intonation.  

Now, you're probably thinking.  Uh, Catie, sometimes your fingers must reach out of the standard interval and yada yada yada.  True, they must.  But, if you learn what the finger must do in relation to the position of the hand, that won't change either.  

Hopefully this makes the concept a bit more clear.  However, I try to describe this in words, I feel it misses something without the visual.  I encourage you to spend some quality time with your instruments and think of this idea.  If you have played, or are playing Mendelssohn, I especially encourage you to try it using that piece.  

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Practicing To-Do List

July 19, 2009 22:42

Entry #2, here we go!

 Recently, I've felt that my practicing has been unfulfilling.  You see, I had a stint where I was playing viola on a concert tour in Austria (for trip info click here and go to 2009 PSSO Tour Web link).  I spent very little time with my violin before the trip, during, none at all, and have since struggled to get back into really productive practicing.  I have no lack of material to study, nor do I lack motivation.  I'm just not finding my focus.  

Tonight, however, I think I had a breakthrough.  Finally...  

As I was practicing, I noticed aspects of my playing that I didn't like.  Well, I do all the time, but I really thought about the specifics so it wasn't like, "well, my bow arm sucks" or something like that.  Rather, it felt like I was taking the first step back toward productivity.  I didn't really address those concerns tonight; I just decided to make note of them and begin to deal with them tomorrow.  One must take baby steps, right?  Or perhaps, I'm just procrastinating again.  I prefer the first.  

So, here are some of my observations:

I actually have some solutions in mind....HOORAY!

  1. think of my hand as a"bear paw" again.  I got this idea after having a lesson with David Russell at Credo '07.  It worked wonders with my intonation and helping me to learn the way around my instrument.  
  2. Use my eyes.  Feeling and hearing are vital to intonation, but seeing helps too.  I must learn visually also.  

That's it for now.  I have more ideas, but those two are the ones that occurred to me while practicing.  

It is late (or really early) and sleep calls.  Hopefully, I can make some progress tomorrow (later today) using these solutions.  

Happy practicing!

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More entries: June 2009

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