Printer-friendly version
Karen Allendoerfer

Finger patterns and virtual strings

December 15, 2007 at 1:02 PM

A few weeks ago I had a viola epiphany of sorts. I really wasn't treating the C string with the respect it is due. I was viewing it as a low G string, the "grandpa" string of the viola, same as the violin, just lower in some vague way. This was unconscious on my part, and I didn't even realize I was doing it, until I started playing Fiorillo #9, which starts on the C string, with a C-E-G major arpeggio. What was I saying to myself in my head as I played? "G-B(2)-D." Oops.

So, how could I get my unconscious mind on board and think C-E-G, give those notes their right names? Where is D-E-F-G fingered as 1-2-3-4? Those patterns are so unnatural! That makes no sense! Ugh, alto clef! But wait, actually, it does. The same pattern 1-2-3-4 with a half step between the 2 and 3 is already ingrained in my mind and fingers as third position on the A string, both violin and viola. Suddenly, with that piece of the puzzle, I was able to "see" and "feel" in my mind a natural D-E-F-G progression on the C string. Fiorillo "clicked." C-E-G-C-E-G-grace-note-B-C-G-E-C-G-E . . .

But then, last night I was practicing the dreaded 3-octave G-major scale. The Bach Allemande is in G major. Normally I will warm up with a 2-octave scale, but I decided to try to add the 3rd octave. The Fleisch scale system for viola starts this on in 3rd position on the C string, with a 2 for the G. So it was not as simple as just "adding" the third octave, I had to start out somewhere weird. And then I had another of these Cing moments: when in heck is G-A-B-C fingered as 2-3-4-1? Well, in 2nd position on the D string, I guess, but who does that? In first position on the E string, too, but that breaks down quickly because there isn't a B string up above that you can go to for the 1.

So, this is really a learning-something-new kind of moment. I've encountered a pattern I just need to get more comfortable with, and when/if I do, it should even help me with 2nd position. And, it's even kind of fun to imagine how one might finger a virtual B string.

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on December 16, 2007 at 4:50 AM
Congratulations on your epiphany. Learning is often like that, not a steady pace, but real leaps ahead.

This entry has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

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

Shar Music
Shar Music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

Los Angeles Philharmonic
Los Angeles Philharmonic

International Violin Competition of Indianapolis
International Violin Competition of Indianapolis

Virtual Sejong Music Competition
Virtual Sejong Music Competition

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

Metzler Violin Shop

Bein & Company

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin

Annapolis Bows & Violins

Los Angeles Violin Shop

String Masters

Bobelock Cases

Things 4 Strings LLC



Sleepy Puppy Press

Jargar Strings

J.R. Judd Violins, LLC

Southwest Strings

Nazareth Gevorkian 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