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Mendy Smith

Balancing Act

October 12, 2008 at 3:03 AM

I never quite realized how much of a balancing act playing viola was before today. I had struggled wtih my setup for some time, and finally thought I found that happy place where everything was just right. That was until I started playing Bach again - movements with many doublestops and arpeggiated chords. Then I ran into an issue.

While my setup allowed for a good straight bow and being able to really "dig" into the strings, I had unknowingly compromised my ability to finger doublestops and chords easily. Angling my viola so it was more parallel to the floor (the left/right tilt, not dipping the scroll down) is good for bowing, but not for fingerings. When I tilt my viola more to the right so it more or less rests flat on my body, I can reach any string without touching any others if I desire. In this position, my 4th finger can stretch farther making those G# (on the C string) much easier. Not to mention vibrato on the lower strings easier. However by doing so, bowing is that much more difficult. I cannot take advantage of the weight of the bow on the D and A strings.

There must be a point of balance that can achieve both goals.

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