Wrist action and rapid shifts

June 5, 2010 at 04:24 AM ·

I can find a lot of information on shifting and I'm getting pretty good at it, even to the less-comfortable positions (I find the 2nd the hardest as there are no physical signposts to tell you when you are there - but now I rely on the note and instinct and that seems to work the best.

But this is not about shifting per se but about achieving rapid shifts - about which I can find very little.  If I use only the method that I have been taught - maintaining hand shape and light string contact I still end up with a noticeable delay between the last and first notes in the two positions - the perfect scale eludes me.  I thought about this and realized that if I flex my wrist in the direction of the shift before the fingers move - hand extension (backward) on the way up and flexion (forwards) on the way down it is already in place for the new finger position.

I looked for videos on this on the web and while the discussion was solely on the finger actions I noticed that there was a hint of this action as the instructor shifted - in particular when he was freely demonstrating.

I've fooled around with this and it seems logical - but at this stage I don't want to introduce an error that is going to come back and bite me so I was looking for a bit of input...

Replies (45)

June 5, 2010 at 01:05 PM ·

Hi Elise,

During my early violin years, one of my teachers actually taught me to flex the wrist prior to shifting just like you describe, but I have come to realize that it leads to inefficiency.  Any extra motion will make your shifts less efficient and more noticeable.  My current teacher is helping me unlearn that technique and to shift from the elbow joint and my shifts are gradually getting smoother and more efficient.  Note, that when you get to higher positions (4th, 5th and above), then the wrist has to come into play because the left hand is up against the violin and there is no more room for the elbow joint to bend.  But for lower positions, it is imperative to keep the left hand as quiet and stable as possible, just letting the fingers fall on the string, using the elbow to bend and rotate (left or right) to minimize the work required by the left hand.  The left elbow really plays a critical role in making the left hand more efficient. 

Interesting topic.  Hopefully Buri and others will chime in with helpful tips, as this is something that I too would like to improve.

June 5, 2010 at 01:26 PM ·

Smiley.  Maybe its one of those subtle things that you add late in the development process.  However, I do see it in a teaching tape by Tod Ehle:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPGJML_YNHs  ~2.23

I hvave not looked elsewhere.

It just seems to make logical sense...

June 5, 2010 at 01:29 PM ·

I remember the subject of shifting be discussed and until you have to reach over the fingerboard the violinist shifts with the elbow keeping the hand as is (from 1st position to 3rd.).

June 5, 2010 at 01:34 PM ·

Well there is definitely something going on with the wrist here in in David Oistrakh's Beethoven sonata:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpDq2ia6oWA

June 5, 2010 at 01:45 PM ·

Yes... He is stretching to reach a note with the pinky but notice his hand after that..... back in place to play the notes in the position he has shifted too.  The wrist is used on stretches.

If ever you do see the Masters do something and it works for you after understanding what & why they did what they did then do it!

June 5, 2010 at 02:26 PM ·

Thats the reason for my topic :D  I got as far as having an insight and I think I see it (if subtly) on the videos now I want to find out if I'm crazy... :)

By the way, I was not referring ot the wrist action over the fingerboard but a much quieter one during each move from or to the 1/2 positions.

June 5, 2010 at 07:11 PM ·

¤ In any of the lower position shifts, its a good idea, as previously iterated, to keep the wrist in position, but let the shifting occur at the elbow. The reason for this is because of muscle-memory. Engaging the elbow involves bigger muscles than working from wrist or fingers. The larger muscles will develop a memory more efficiently than the smaller muscles. That efficiency will eventually turn into speed.

¤ How do I know this? I now play in a church orchestra, and the music frequently involves shifting from 1st to 2nd, as well as, from 1st to 4th or 5th or 6th in these scores. I had NEVER worked on shifting very much. When I was in school, and the 8th grade, training was essentially over and high school was just playing, unless you could afford a private teacher. So, its a skill I never developed, among many others, esp w/the use of the bow, but that's beside the point.

¤ When I saw someone about a year ago explain shifting, using the elbow as the hinge, and why, I began working on shifting in earnest. Granted, shifting up or down to 2nd position is not easy, but I'm better at now than ever. And, I've also learned to shift to the resonant notes quickly and efficiently using this system. Being able to find those notes quickly in 4th, 7th & 8th positions, is a great aid to finding the other positions w/other fingers.

¤ Note that when I say efficient, I also mean accurately.

June 5, 2010 at 08:21 PM ·

>I find the 2nd the hardest as there are no physical signposts to tell you when you are there

I assume that when you shift into 3rd position, you are contacting the violin with your left palm.  This is also a point of contention.  I started a thread about it a few months ago and there are opinions on both sides.  Here's the thread if you are interested.

www.violinist.com/discussion/response.cfm

Personally, I have found that I can get away with touching my palm to the instrument when shifting UP to 3rd position, but no way when shifting down on a fast passage.  The extra motion required in the wrist to "feel" 3rd position with the palm adds too much inefficiency.  That extra motion makes it impossible to play fast passages up to tempo.

I discovered this when playing with the BSO earlier this year.  The beginning of Tchaikovsky Symphony #4, mvmt 4, vln 1, consists of 16th notes starting in 5th position, and shifting down to 3rd then 1st.  At mm=120, you can shift however you like and get away with it, but at performance tempo (mm=140-145) any wrist action or extra movement in the left hand and the opening passage turns into an ugly mess.

 

 

June 5, 2010 at 09:17 PM ·

 Greetings,

it is true that there are a few teachers around who teach a small preparatory movement in the wrist but I would have have to aree with Smiley that it is basically inefficeint.   The essence of good left hand technique is mimal disturbance of the shape of the forar, wrist /hand unit leaving the fingers free to do their thing.  

My apologies,  but I looked at the Oistrakh clip and I would venture to suggest he is not actually shifting with an anticipatory movement of the wrist at all.  This is not to say that te wristis stiff and inflexible.   What great players (and hopefull lesser ones...)do is search for the best posisble sound from a specific part of te fingertip.  That is, in learning the left hand I think there is a progression from learning to palce the fingertips consistently in the same place and then once stability is established the player begins to apply greater freedom in fingertip place ment to find the sound color that matches heir inner concept of the music.   I think what you may be referring to is the reaction of the hand to this kind of adjustment of the fingers.

Also typical of larger hands in @aticular is the `fly off` technique in which one may play in a higher or lower position whilekeeping the thumnin one place so thta in theory one is anchored in that position.  For example, I often keep the hand in third and play perhaps just a few notes found in fourth without moving the hand.

As far as hte scales are concerne dit is often helpful to recognize that the secret of smooth shifting (especially without a rest) is the contracion and expansion of the fingers/hand to a small degree.  That is , coming down if one ispalyign a first finger prior to shfiting to a third on a lower note the third finger moves in closer to the first finger as though it is trying to push it ut of the way.  On the ascent the reverse is true. The finger thta is gointo play a higher note anticpates the shift by stretching slightly towards hte nose This technique can be pracitce fro many hours using the Kreutzer etude in e major triplets.

As a rule I have found taht people having trouble with shifts are actually tensing up somewhere in their body prior to the shift becuase they ae nervous about shifting and `carrying` the ideathat their shifting is not so good which automatically creates a probelm anyway.  The way to deal with this is to spend a few monhs practicing stopping on the note immediately beforre a shift and holding it while checking every single part of your body for tension and releasing that which you find.  Aside form the more obvious tightening of the left hand thumb there is very often a small tensing of the base of the first finger joint which is less noticeable but just as harmful.  But it may be as far away as in the toes.  Seriously.

 

Cheers,

Buri

 

June 5, 2010 at 09:17 PM ·

Thanks for the link and comment Smiley!  I certainly have a comfy spot for 3rd going up - how can one not when you learn that first (a mistake I think - wish I learned all at the same time)?  But I tested it and if its there its very subtle going down.  Comfy spot or not I can hit 3rd reliably (actually, getting pretty good at 2nd too, just have to work a bit more on nailing 1.5 :)

BSO?? Awesome...

June 5, 2010 at 09:21 PM ·

Elise: Are you talking about short shifts from one position to another or the long ones like in the cadenza of the Sibelius concerto. In the short ones the actual playing finger is always the guide in an ascendant way. In the descending way, for instance third to first position, the thumb must precede and the last finger played will also be the guide to the next one, releasing the guide finger with ease. Avoid any tension from the wrist  . Some players do add a little finger pressure like if you are bending an arc while doing the motion. Using the same finger for a complete shift needs a little help from the wrist. Now, long shifting like portamentis , are always easier with two fingers. Example: B natural first position second finger to reach B natural on the same string (G) an octave higher with the third finger needs a little help with the second (Guide) which is only released when the third  finger is in perfect pitch. That rule applies to all extended shifts and the guide is all the time the preceding finger. Close fingers are always giving a more secure left hand in the art of shifting. (Stoliarski and Yankelevith)

June 5, 2010 at 09:22 PM ·

Score one for my teacher who also showed me that 'newton's cradle' approach to shifting (fingers hitting; hey, like my analogy?) some time ago.  This lazy student has not, however, incorported the idea yet :)

Thanks as ever Buri.  Love the idea of 'settling'.  I think the quote that has struck me more than any on V.com is the Heifetz one (don't remember who quoted) that he (excuse rewording) 'plays out of tune as often as any one else but just fixes it faster'!  I suppose settling is just that - though it includes moving slightly off the perfect note for effect.

June 5, 2010 at 09:29 PM ·

Marc - I was thinking more of long shifts - say from first to third or fourth.  Longer ones are not really helped (even in theory) by the wrist action since you still have to move the forarm. 

But this begs the question: if wrist flexion/extension is to be avoided during a 1-3rd (say) shift - what of shifts to positions beyond the end of the neck?  There the wrist has to bend: should this occur only after you get there or do you prepare that prior to contact?

Maybe I should get one of those body-less electronic violins :)

June 5, 2010 at 10:42 PM ·

Then, for long shifts, the wrist and hand follow and the wrist must always be loose, what ever is the action undertaken( short-long). This applies to the right hand too! Many are not in contact in the third position with the body of the instruments. It depends... This is usually true with persons with smaller hands... and Oistrach had short ones. I have long fingers so I have to get away from   the body of the violin if I wish free action of the fingers with vibrato. I have noticed that Heifetz does not have any contact with the body of the instrument except when he reaches the fourth position...

The Sibelius was just an example... I played it with Pierre Dervaux the french conductor when I was 16... But I cannot play it anymore because I compose music now and just practice much less than before...

June 6, 2010 at 01:16 AM ·

>BSO?? Awesome...

Haha!  I wish it meant that I'm really good, but unfortunately, not so.  I'm just an amateur.  Perhaps you missed the thread about the BSO inviting local musicians to join them.  I was one of the so called "rusty musicians." 

www.violinist.com/discussion/response.cfm

Back on topic, one of the most efficient left hands I've seen belongs to Gunter Pichler of the Alban Berg string quartet -- very little wasted motion.  He makes it look sooo easy.

www.youtube.com/watch

 

June 6, 2010 at 03:09 PM ·

John: No offence. I think that the Sibelius reference was very funny... now I only play Vivaldi concerti and easier stuff...And it does feel good to my EGO. Second position his a little harder than first and third...so we have to work on it!!!

June 6, 2010 at 06:53 PM ·

I think second position is unique because its the first thing we do on a violin where you leap into the unknown!  I actually shift to it without problem - but I don't yet have confidence in that shift because there is no reassuring nut or body.  (Mentally) more and more shifting is about tone not physical position - I can't memorize the precise position for my hand but curiously I can remember where to hit 'E' on the A string. 

In one of the videos referred to above (forgot which one and I can't scan the topic while writing) there is a quartet playing.  The second violin moves his fingers seemingly feeling for the position, as described by the 'newton's cradle' method.  however, the first violin shows no evidence of this at all.  I don't know if hte action is too subtle but it seems he is just simply putting his fingers where the note is.  Is there such a dichotomy?  If so I think I belong to the second group - a note player not a position player. 

are there two types of violinists - one that shifts 'positons' along the fingerboard and the other that plays the 'note' instinctively and thinks of the position only secondarily?

 

June 6, 2010 at 08:30 PM ·

Elise: we often refer to the first second third ect ect. until seventh position... But as Leopold Auer mentionned, when you become an accomplish virtuoso there is no such things as several position... There is only one, the good one...

June 6, 2010 at 10:21 PM ·

Well, I think I'll be a virtuoso first and do the other stuff later :D

Call it 'right-brain' playing...

June 13, 2010 at 01:41 PM ·

Thanks.  I think the discussion morphed a bit from the original intent - but its no less interesting and, actually, made me think much more about the wrist-action shifts that you are referring to.  These (if I have it right) are not really shifts in that you are (say) in third use the wrist to reach into second while maintaining the arm position in third.  I love your example (though I do not have the same edition) and will think about this.  Perhaps the most common example I've come accross is picking up (A) C#  from D in third.

My original question was if wrist action could be used to make large shifts smoother.  The consensus here seems to be 'no' that an arm movement to the new position with the wrist held steady to be the preferred method.  One rationalle for this was that it is easier to develop (so called) muscle memory if the action is kept simple.  I'm sure there is a lot of truth in this - but I am equally pretty sure that the true virtuoso develops a muscle memory that is at a much higher level - for the position of the fingers relative to the violin not to the arm.  Thus, if Joshua Bell injured his elbow and had to have it in a cast he would instantly adapt to shift with his wrist, at least as far as it permitted him to move.  Thats 'muscle memory' at the cerebellar processing level if you like.

 

June 14, 2010 at 01:31 AM ·

Greetings,

>I'm sure there is a lot of truth in this - but I am equally pretty sure that the true virtuoso develops a muscle memory that is at a much higher level - for the position of the fingers relative to the violin not to the arm.

That`s a bit of an odd comment;)  Actually its a strawman argument.

Its pretty well established that everythign is organized relative to the @position of the fingers.  Even us lower level players udnerstand this point. 

Greetings again. I`m adding to this now.

Try going back to what I call the coffee cup principle. How do you reach for your coffee?   You know where the cup is andyour fingers hand move directly to the cup.   The tool is organizing the hand  and the arm follows without thought.  By analogy, when playing the violin one should know exactly where the notes is you are going to. This means knowing the sound and also havign a built in memory of where it is on the fingerboards which is an aggregate of all the data you have every collected on that one note. I do know where eveynote on the fingerboard is and can put a finger on it.  That is soemthign that needs ot be learnt over time.   Now,  as with the coffee cup,  your finger,  hand moves to that spot because the mind is elading it there.  It is carried by the forearm and it leads the forearm in amutually dependent relationship.  One does not actually think about the forearm during this process. At no time does the wrist do funny things unless you wish to spill coffee on the cat.  This undesirable situation can leave you with coffee stains on the rug (abnd cat) and scratch marks on your face.  None of these things are easily removed.

Lokkibng forweard to your next attempt to tie the world in knots.   It is a -very- commendable endeavour.

Cheers,

Buri

 

June 14, 2010 at 09:01 AM ·

I wonder if you are mixing up previous posts Buri?  Or maybe it was not directed to me?  I think what I wrote was entirely in agreement with your description both of the importance of finger position (the note is the only thing that counts, position is just a way of getting there) and 'muscle memory', you learn a complex action and not something associated with a single muscle or muscle group.

I'm only an intermediate violinist - but I have my chops in neuroscience :D

ee

June 14, 2010 at 10:46 AM ·

I'm suprised there isn't much mention of Portamento, unless people don't like it?

June 14, 2010 at 02:01 PM ·

Perhaps you could describe - for those of us newly back to terminology.  :)

June 14, 2010 at 10:09 PM ·

Portamento is an ment to be used in an artful way of reaching the destination pitch, either by sliding from the base pitch or sliding towards the destination pitch (Or a mixture). The way I learnt it was as a very-fast Glisssando (But it is different to a Glissando since your not playing the entire range, it was just easier to practice it that way).

So say you want to shift from B to E on the A string, you start on 1st finger on B and you slide up to 2nd/3rd position (I think your better off as not treating it as a position shift, I think it makes it more mechanical) then put your second finger down to hit E, but depending on how you want it expressed it can be inaudable or 'a cheap sentimental sound', there is perhaps alot of issues to it :P ... anyhow the artful part aside, practicing this as a method of shifting, I believe helps you gain a better conscious control over pitch

Generally you won't find yourself playing the entire pitch range from B to E, I can't really explain it very well though :( I had this really cool PDF but I can't find it ... http://www.marcocosta.it/icmpc2006/pdfs/339.pdf however this might be ok,

Um ... perhaps I was a bit of a tangent, as I was writing I finally understood what the OP ment .. I'm a bit slow on the uptake :(

If your wrist naturally bends/flexs, but if you have to force yourself to do this motion, your just adding an extra process in your shift which will reflect in tone-production (And perhaps end up making you sluggish). I think the result of the bend/flex is because of a loose wrist (and perhaps some anticipation), and not a forced action

June 14, 2010 at 10:37 PM ·

Or those awful sideburns

No offence to chop wearers

June 14, 2010 at 11:22 PM ·

@John Cadd
 

Its a jazz term - when you have learned enough to show off basically!

here:

'Chops: technical ability, to execute music physically and to negotiate chord changes. Distinct from the capacity to have good ideas, to phrase effectively and build a solo.'

OTOH, I can cook some mean chops... ;)

June 18, 2010 at 01:40 AM ·

July 13, 2010 at 01:58 PM ·

I'd agree that it's not a good idea to flex the wrist at all (apart from the high positions when it's unavoidable) - you want a seamless change of pitch by moving your hand from (eg) 1st pos to 3rd pos, and any wrist flexing will just intoduce unwanted time gaps. I think it would be a good idea to practice the up-and-down shifts in Sevcik Op 8, which starts with a semitone shift and widens the shifitng range gradually, using . That way you can distil your energy into shifting (the exercises are musically very simple). Getting a seamless shift of one semitone with 2 adjacent fingers is a good start. I used this to help my shifting and 10 solid minutes a day got me very good results.

Jim

July 13, 2010 at 04:13 PM ·

I think that was the concensus - but the idea was to speed the shift by, on the way up, moving the arm first and extending the wrist so that the shift would involve less whole arm movement - same on the way down.  Sort of like those semi-tone shifts one does in third, say to reach down to C# on A but generalizing it.  I still think the mechanics are an interesting theory but it may be 10 years till I will be proficient enough to test it!

Thanks for that shifting excesize tip - I'll look out for it.  Shifting has become easier but I'm surely not fail-safe yet.  [And yes, I'm now quite happy in 2nd!!]

ee 

July 13, 2010 at 04:43 PM ·

"I can find a lot of information on shifting and I'm getting pretty good at it, even to the less-comfortable positions (I find the 2nd the hardest as there are no physical signposts to tell you when you are there - but now I rely on the note and instinct and that seems to work the best."

You don't get ANY physical signposts for any position, only your ear can tell you!!

"But this is not about shifting per se but about achieving rapid shifts - about which I can find very little.  If I use only the method that I have been taught - maintaining hand shape and light string contact I still end up with a noticeable delay between the last and first notes in the two positions - the perfect scale eludes me.  I thought about this and realized that if I flex my wrist in the direction of the shift before the fingers move - hand extension (backward) on the way up and flexion (forwards) on the way down it is already in place for the new finger position."

You should read Roger Rich (Rugerrio Ricci) on this a nd do his scales using one finger. He says "there is only ONE position."

"I looked for videos on this on the web and while the discussion was solely on the finger actions I noticed that there was a hint of this action as the instructor shifted - in particular when he was freely demonstrating." 

DON'T look on the web, most of it is total BS. (BS = words I can't interpret as you may be quite a young person of certain sensibilities --- i.e. ask your Dad!!)

"I've fooled around with this and it seems logical - but at this stage I don't want to introduce an error that is going to come back and bite me so I was looking for a bit of input..."

STOP fooling around and get a good teacher!!

July 13, 2010 at 07:40 PM ·

"STOP fooling around and get a good teacher!!"

AARRGGGHH!!! 

I just tried to.  Signed up with the RCM here - you pay first then they match you to a teacher.  I asked for someone with experience and specialty in performance.  Perhaps because I am an older student (I'm being generous) they matched me with a teacher who is probably excellent - but she works with school orchestras.  And when I talked to her she made it very clear that an older student had to take it slowly and had to have low expectations.

Garbage.  I am sooo mad.....

Anyone know a teacher in Toronto with great imagination, a fresh attitude to teaching, who loves the unusual - and who will expect me to excell, not 'be average'?

July 13, 2010 at 07:42 PM ·

But thanks for thinking I'm a young person for whom such would offend my sensibilities :)

I take it you haven't visited my profile :-\

July 13, 2010 at 07:44 PM ·

Greetings,

so you ask the teacher do -you- have

a) low expectations for me

b) high expectations for me.

If a) you shouldnt be teaching. If b) then you are advocating a mismatch and I need a differnent teacher. 

Alternatively you can note that the teacher in question is rather old and you have rathe r low expectations of her but hopefully she will try hard to improve as a teacher.....

Cheers,

Buri

July 13, 2010 at 08:12 PM ·

Elise,

The Yankelevich book, discussed in another thread, has a comprehensive discussion of position change. Everything you want to know, and then some! Worth a look.

As to teachers, I sympathize. After not having played for some years, my first candidate teacher was a little like yours: she kept saying things like: "older amateurs tend to be too ambitious", and when I wrote her a polite letter to call off further engagements she had the gall to suggest I did not know what I was doing! As you said, AAAAARRGGHH!

A few years later, when I was at the luthier's for a repair job on my daughter's violin, there was a young violinist trying out newly made violins. She played "the stars from heaven" as we say in Dutch, and what's more, she did it in ways that were very much like I had been taught. I asked her if she taught, and she does. And I have been happily learning ever after.

There must be a symphony orchestra and a conservatory in Toronto; apart from luthiers' shops they might be good teacher hunting grounds.

Good luck,

Bart

July 13, 2010 at 08:25 PM ·

Thanks for the litmus test Buri - I already applied it; and the guillotine.

"There must be a symphony orchestra and a conservatory in Toronto; apart from luthiers' shops they might be good teacher hunting grounds"

Thats the two places I've tried.  The current farce is trying to find a teacher through the Conservatory.  You can see (in your minds eye) the 'matchers' sitting around drinking cups of tea and eating triangles of cucumber sandwiches: (lifting my file) "How about this old biddy, we mustn't tax her system, might have a heart attack you know.  Who do we know thats taught up to Suzuki book II?".

...

July 14, 2010 at 07:13 AM ·

How about Google?

edit: sorry, I did not mean to patronize you. But the results from searching for  "Torotno (sic) violin teacher" do seem very promising.

July 14, 2010 at 07:29 AM ·

Tried that ad nauseam - but came up empty.  I even tried a topic here a while ago but it didn't  really take off.  Its an interesting problem - finding high-level teaching for older students. 

July 14, 2010 at 08:28 AM ·

I'm sorry to hear that. And I'll stop insolently "solving" someone else's problem.

One of the 2.6 million Torontonians must be your ideal violin teacher. I hope you'll find her or him.

July 14, 2010 at 08:35 AM ·

"I'm sorry to hear that. And I'll stop insolently "solving" someone else's problem."

Please don't - its always nice when someone else cares enough to make a suggestion :)

"One of the 2.6 million Torontonians must be your ideal violin teacher. I hope you'll find her or him"

One of my favorite sayings (from a dance mentor) is:

"when the student is ready, the teacher will appear"  Its amazing how that works - but I think you need to be connected to a community for it to get traction - and right now I am not connected enough to the music community.

July 14, 2010 at 09:10 AM ·

Bart: I tried googling again (I've spent hours going round in circles before) and this time I think I have found a real possibility!  A music 'academy' that I had not seen before with two outstanding violinists teaching there.  And its not far from home either.

So maybe your prod DID do some good - I'll let you know how it works out :)

July 14, 2010 at 09:39 AM ·

In the book "Dounis - His Method in Teaching the Violin", it states that there are two types of shifting, depending on the speed of the shift. I'll copy out the whole section, as it's relevant to Elise's question.

According to Dounis there are two types of shifting: the type used in slow playing and shifting used for fast playing. It is important to make the distinction between the two types of playing and the practice necessary for each. 

The slow shift from "vibrato note to vibrato note" is performed with a flexing of the wrist inward toward the body of the violin, as if pulling the hand upward to snap on the new note in the new position. The wrist is the leader of the slow shift. The hand, after the initial flex, seems to pull the fingers, a kind of left hand brush stroke, and must feel perfectly balanced throughout. The impulse of the wrist causes release of the pressure of the finger on the string. The finger then glides on the surface of the string, snaps on the upper note and begins to vibrate wildly. 

The downward shift requires the opposite motion of the wrist. There must be an impulse in the wrist towards the note we are going to. The wrist flexes slightly outward, away from the body of the violin. Again, the impulse of the wrist causes release of the fingers. They glide along the string using it as a rail to the lower position. Vibrato is necessary before the beginning of the shirt and immediately upon arrival in the new position.

In the fast shift there is not time to flex the wrist; therefore, it is performed with a straight wrist and forearm. In fast playing there should not be any feeling of shifting at all; the fingers merely crawl up and down the fingerboard. 

I'm sure you'll come across different points of view depending who you refer to.

July 14, 2010 at 10:29 AM ·

Here are my thoughts, continuing on from Buri's coffee cup example. When I reach for the coffee cup, I have a (subconscious) feeling that I am leading from the wrist (the part of the wrist nearest to the coffee cup). I have to bend my wrist and pronate my arm so that it's at the correct angle to hold the cup. When I take the cup towards my mouth, I lead again from the wrist (the part of the wrist nearest to my mouth), and have to make continuous wrist adjustments to keep the cup upright. I suppose we learn these complicated hand movements from a very early age, through trial and error. 

I find this movement very similar to the bow arm. When I bow I have a feeling that I'm leading from the wrist, with continuous hand adjustments from the wrist joint, in order to keep the bow more or less on the same level and in a straight line (of course it shouldn't really move in a straight line).

I think there is a similar feeling in the left arm too when shifting. Even if the arm is moving as one unit from the forearm to the hand, I find it useful to imagine that I am leading from the wrist (in the lower positions at least).

 

July 15, 2010 at 04:02 AM ·

You know, I have to believe (admittedly without checking) that Simon Fischer's book, "Basics" must have something on this topic that's worth reading about and practicing.

It's not a cheap book but buying that book was the best $50 I've spent on violin education.  I highly recommend his second book, "Practice" as well.

July 16, 2010 at 08:36 AM ·

Ray: I just followed your advice and bought both books.  I've noticed a few references to this book on V.com, including one by Buri recently on thumbs and shifting.  I also googled him - and he has a number of you tube demonstrations.  The one on tone production is, unfortunately, difficult to listen to because the voice is very faint whereas the violin is very loud (bit odd). Hopefully his DVD will come out at some point too...

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