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Mendy Smith


April 3, 2008 at 4:18 AM

With the prospect of that 4 letter word behind me for a few days (work), I got serious with some of the technical issues I've been having (viola-wise) tonight. Its a wonderful thing to put all my brainpower on something other than software & engineering solutions.

My memory of several weeks of lessons finally came back to me (my "oraclitis" is in remission for the moment):

#1 - try holding the viola more towards the front (rather than out to the left)
(this brings my left arm closer to my body... hmmmm)
(it also makes me hold my left elbow more towards the right, I'm a little sore right now)

#2 - a flatter left hand (not collapsed) makes 4th finger playing easier

#3 - to play at the tip, need to extend forearm out - WAAAY out

After three hours of putting 1-3 together, I got a consistent and IN TUNE A from my 4th finger! Wooohoooo! I was also playing waaaaaay at the tip with more control and the bow much straighter. The most interesting side affect of this experiement is what happened to my vibrato. My wrist vibrato dimished and I started doing an arm vibrato instead - even some 1st finger vibrato.

Tomorrow the experiement continues to determine:

Can the results of the experiment above be duplicated repeated over several days?
What happens when I try to shift from 3rd to 6th position?
Can I figure out what position I'm playing at the highest point of the F# major scale?
Can I produce a vibrato with my 1st finger?
Can I produce a vibrato on the C string?

Stay tuned for results. :-)

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on April 3, 2008 at 9:20 AM
Re your description of holding the viola: Suzuki taught his students, and many other people, that the nose is over the bridge is over the elbow is over the knee or foot (siting or standing). Holding your viola or violin correctly is a great help in intonation.
From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on April 3, 2008 at 4:43 PM
Hi Mendy, In response to your comment on my blog, I did google Interlochen. I had heard of it before, but always thought it was just for kids. Are you going to the Interlochen Adult Chamber Music camp in August? That sounds wonderful! I would love to meet in person but I think I am going to have to introduce my family to the concept of music camp S-L-O-W-L-Y. I am already going to have an important business trip in September and maybe another in November and it's already a tough job getting my husband used to my being away for that. :(

Be sure to blog about it, it'll be very interesting to read!

But talk about parallels . . . my violin teacher told me the same thing several years ago about holding my instrument more towards the front. And I'm also working on trying to achieve some reasonable Cing vibrato, especially with the first finger :)

From Mendy Smith
Posted on April 4, 2008 at 2:25 AM
An update on my vacation experiment:

Only after about an hour or two of work getting the viola back in the right position again. It seems that I have yet another habit to un-learn.

Karen - Yes, I'm going to the Adult Chamber Music Camp. My teacher is one of the summer faculty members for this camp. He's already started me on a series of various quartets. I think he's doing this in preparation for "camp". :)

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