2nd position nightmares

June 27, 2008 at 12:29 AM · Hi Everyone! is there any way I could get through the torture of the second position? I'm done with the 1st, 3rd, & 5th, so here I am with the 2nd and the ill fated 4th if I can make it through the 2nd. HELP!!!

Replies (33)

June 27, 2008 at 12:29 AM · Doflein Book 3 :) Do the whole book and you won't have any more problems with second position.

June 27, 2008 at 01:03 AM · Agreed.

I find the fourth very useful for orchestra playing.

June 27, 2008 at 02:31 AM · 2nd position is better than Safeway French bread out of the oven at


June 27, 2008 at 02:51 AM · I love second position. I use it and fourth all the time.

June 27, 2008 at 04:12 AM · Greetings,

second postion is almost as prfound as a plate of prunes. Master it and you will; have an amazing wedge in orchestra. And no, its nto at all difficult. It just needs the sdame amount of practice as anythign else.



June 27, 2008 at 05:23 AM · Orchestra is painful enough without having an amazing wedgie.

June 27, 2008 at 05:54 AM · I'm a beginner, so 4th position is hell for me. It's like a brain teaser.

2nd position is a bit better because I was force to use it in orchestra. But like someone mentioned earlier, the more you play in that position, the less hellish it gets.

June 27, 2008 at 05:57 AM · I think the difficulties really arise because, on the middle two strings, the 1st finger notes in second position are f and c, the tunings of which are relative. So, you have less of a sense of them to begin with (we generally think of them in relation to the 1st or 3rd fingers). First position we use a lot, and third is an octave up from the string below (i.e. simple to tune). When you begin 2nd position, your hand feels like it's kind of floating out in the middle of nowhere. But, it can be mastered. Don't let your initial failures disgust you.

June 27, 2008 at 02:51 PM · I love 2nd and 4th positions. I suspect they are commonly avoided in school programs, and left out too long by many private teachers. By the time students people get to them, they have "odd-numbered fingers=lines, even-numbered fingers=spaces" so ingrained that the wrong fingers just come down. If folks would teach Bb, F & C scales in first position and then in second early on, this wouldn't be such a mystery. Sue

June 27, 2008 at 03:15 PM · The Kayser op.28 is pretty handy for the second and all other positions...the studies are fun for the student. The book goes from 1/2 position to 7th then combines...I have an old book dedicated to 2nd position...but I don't recall the composers name right now, will look later!

June 27, 2008 at 03:15 PM · Whistler's "Introducing The Positions" Volume 2 covers the 2nd, 4th, 6th, and 7th positions in a most thorough manner.

My personal favorite is 4th.

June 27, 2008 at 03:40 PM · Sue, do you think learning 4th immediately after 3rd is wise? that's what my teacher is doing and I hated 4th. :(

June 27, 2008 at 04:03 PM · 2nd and 4th are so useful. Doing scales in those positions can help.

June 27, 2008 at 06:11 PM · thank you so much for the insight, I just have to get my brain train on that position, its frustrating most of the time though..but got to do it anyhow...again I appreciate all your help, it feels good to have people given out info and support. More power to all of you!

June 27, 2008 at 06:30 PM · Hi Elinor,

Second position is important in so many ways.

1. There are many passages that lie comfortably in second position and not in first or third.

2. When you become fluent in second and fourth position then you can do a lot of one position shifts, first-second, second=third, third-fourth, which are much easier and more secure than the two position shifts, first-third, etc.

3. Eventually you learn to read music intervallically, finding your way from one note to the next in terms of the distance between them, no matter which position you are in. When you can do that you will be at a higher level of musical and violinistic literacy. You will also be able to learn music more quickly and also to sight read better.

So -- chin up! Keep at it, knowing that every time you practice second position you are becoming a better violinist! And who knows. You may get so good at it that you will someday love second position!

June 27, 2008 at 08:08 PM · The only problem with 2nd position is that you have not referance contact points of left hand with violin differently from other positions.

But once you fix the position of the hand the problem is solved.


June 28, 2008 at 06:29 PM · I've been using it for about 3 or 4 years and I wish I practiced it mroe in the beginnging! I hate it, but i can't lie it can be very very helpful. It starts to get easier so just practice and give it time!

June 28, 2008 at 11:17 PM · Hi there-- the problems, I'm having is that, everytime there is a passage that need to use the 2nd position, my shifting from 3rd to 1st, 1st to 3rd, 3rd to 2nd, all of a sudden, everything are a mess. Couldn't even find the 3rd or 1st even. That is why its so frustrating. I started to concentrate on 2nd this week exclusively, don't know yet the progress. I never have any problem with the 3rd nor the 5th when I was learning it. I'm up for the challenge though, can't do anything about it, really have to learn it. But thanks for all the insights, I really appreciate it.

June 29, 2008 at 04:41 AM · I agree with Helen that thinking too much about which position when you are playing is problematic. Just play the notes where the fingers you’ve decided to be at and listen very carefully for intonation so you know your fingers are on the right spots, provided that you keep your hand shape nicely without stretching your fingers. Check open string and double stops frequently if not sure about the pitch. Once you’ve got a hang of it, you’ll know how good it sound when you shift from 3rd <--> 2nd or 1st <-->2nd instead of always 1st <--> 3rd.

June 29, 2008 at 04:24 AM · play the third movts of mozarts concertos No. 3 and No. 5. 2nd position will never be a problem after those two :)

June 29, 2008 at 05:18 AM · First, second, third....it just doesn't matter.

Think intervals. Does a singer have positions?

It is all a matter of physical comfort. Play in all positions to accustom your hand and body to the different positions.

It is all so simple.

June 29, 2008 at 08:21 PM · 2nd, 4th, and half position will make your life so much easier in the long run. And you can do it -- remember, at one point walking was a seemingly insurmountable task for all of us. Now you do it without a second thought. Imagine that!

I recommend, along with your finger practice, that you focus on ear training and find time to sing solfege every day.

June 29, 2008 at 10:26 PM · i like 2nd position. at first i put tape on that position and used the practice at (quarter not equals)40 method. it helps so much. also the Yost book helps alot.

June 30, 2008 at 12:56 PM · Hopefully helpful hints:

  • Jump to odd positions, creep (or extend) to even ones
  • Remember that whereever your hand is on the fingerboard, two adjacent strings will give you a full octave
  • Even positions are not more difficult per se, we just allow ourselves to be unfamiliar with them and have to live with the results. Would you expect to like first position if you played for two years using anything but?
  • The cruelest scale becomes easy if you start it with the first finger on the first note (whatever position may be required) and play it thinking "A major starting on the G string"
  • In love, absence may make the hard grow fonder and familiarity may breed contempt, in violin technique it is the other way around.
  • If the transition to the even position is made in a suitable, comfortable way, staying there will feel like your favorite overstuffed chair.

Good evening, Jürgen

June 30, 2008 at 10:43 PM · Greetings,

Jeurgenn, that`s very good advice. I think it mifght be just a language thing but I strongly advise my stdinets nevr to `jump` to any position. This implies releasing contact with the string instead of gldiign along the surface.



July 1, 2008 at 03:00 AM · My teacher advises the same thing, Buri.

About second position, one thing that has really helped consolidate it for me is playing melodic pieces in double stops, eg. thirds (also scales in thirds and so on, and things like the double stop part from Kreisler's Caprice Viennois). I play Austrian (and similar music) accordion dances and things as extra practice - this is tuneful, fun, and simple music loaded with double stops :-) Second position is needed a lot in order to get a singing quality in these sorts of melodic double stops, where almost constant change of position is necessary. Ian and Juergen make some great points.

July 1, 2008 at 03:33 AM · Greetings,i am very fond of a simple but prfound exercise. Take two cans of prunes and ...nope, that`s the otehr one.

Take a simple piece of music and play it with only the first finger. I knew it was in ther esomewhere.



July 1, 2008 at 11:13 PM · Greetings,

its main benifit is for shifting in general. But it will aid your awarness of where things are on the fingerboard which will develop your second positon skill too.



July 2, 2008 at 01:53 AM · I think that if you practice a full-range chromatic scale as 0, 1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4, 0,---etc. as part of your daily warm-up, you will find that getting into 2nd position will become as natural as breathing. If it hasn't worked after 3 weeks, try something else.


July 3, 2008 at 05:28 PM · What is really great about 2nd and 4th position is it gives you options to stay off of open strings you can manage your sound and vibrato better. It also can get rid of string changes that really don't bring much to what you are trying to do. It helps you be efficient when you need to go fast as well. The Dolfien 2 & 3rd book was the ticket for me. It is a bit dense when you look at it, but there are great little pieces by some great composers that are very satisfying to play. They are short and challenging so the variety helped me get over the excercise only aspect of learning. Unfortunatley, I don't think there is a Dolfied 4 and 5th position but I may be wrong. Whistler is great too, and I did both, but Dolfien rewards your efforts more with all those duets in the back. Before you know it you will find your self able to think in the position without the "from first position" translation step.

July 3, 2008 at 08:52 PM · Hi everyone!--I got the Dolfein bk., vol 3. Laurie suggested it, and I ordered it right away. Your right Mr. Kingston, the book has more sense to me. I started it yesterday and I can actually getting it. I like the little work there, like playing a tune to a different octave or keys. I know I have a long way to go, but now, 2nd post, is not too bad at all. I have to keep up with the intonation with this position, like any other. Thank's so much for all the inputs. Also, Buri suggested a one finger exercise, I like that one too. Everything you guys suggested are all worked and please keep it coming. I appreciate all your suppport too. Hey, Have a Happy 4th!

July 4, 2008 at 12:50 AM · This is a timely post...I am planning to play the Sleeping Beauty Waltz (first stint in the community orchestra!) in February...I got the music EARLY and my teacher suggested using 2nd position (and them a shift to third) for the opening portion...it feels wierd, but I guess it will helo solidify the whole step/half step thing! And I was just getting used to using a bit of third, now second!

July 4, 2008 at 05:02 AM · I'm so glad it's helping! :)

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