Faster page turns

June 8, 2010 at 04:53 PM ·

Last year, I ditched my shoulder rest and now I can't turn the pages fast enough.  My first thought was, hire a full time page turner.  Nah, I don't make enough money for that.  When using a shoulder rest, you just use your left hand to turn the pages.  Now that I am playing restless, if I take my left hand off the instrument, it will fall to the ground.  I can't turn with my right hand because it is busy holding the bow.  So, how does one go about turning the page quickly when playing without a rest?

Replies (28)

June 8, 2010 at 08:26 PM ·

Smiley, I have a Way To Do This.....I was planning to make a video and put it in my blog, so ....coming to turn a page! :)

June 8, 2010 at 08:35 PM ·

As a pianist, the only thing I've ever found that works is to memorize the music or wait until the easier bits, and if that means you turn the page a bar too late, then so be it.  Sorry.  :-(  Another option is to just zox the pages to the parts you have trouble with.  Hopefully, it's less than will fit on the music stand side by side.

June 8, 2010 at 09:05 PM ·

Lower the bow into the left hand (as it holds the fiddle touching the body, to minimize the distance the bow has to go) and turn with the right hand. This is a good idea in orchestral contexts regardless of shoulder-rest choice because it avoids leaning your body into/in front of your stand partner to turn with the left hand.

June 8, 2010 at 09:28 PM ·

I second Jude's method!

June 8, 2010 at 09:30 PM ·

If I remember well from seeing (in video unfourtunately ; ( Oistrakh in a recital, I think he put somehow his bow in his left hand while his left hand was also holding the violin and turned with his right hand. I don't think he turned the pages with the bow in hand...  I'll check this out. And did you know this story of the page turner in Montreal who turned his page anywhere in the Brahms sonata because she was lost in the score while Oistrakh's public performance onstage!   The poor had to continu by memory! 




June 8, 2010 at 09:57 PM ·

Laurie, Jude,

Are you recommending to turn pages like in this video (at 6:14)?

This is the piece I am struggling with, but it is the 2nd movement that has the wicked page turns (some pretty wicked notes too).

June 9, 2010 at 12:04 AM ·

Yes, that's the way to do it, the first time I joined chamber, that has been not only mentioned but also showed how to do it. You have to memorized the coming notes on the next page though, that give you time, on what to play/playing while turning the page.

June 9, 2010 at 02:54 AM ·

In the 2nd movement, the same violinist uses her left hand instead of her right to make the page turn.  It's a close call, but she barely makes it in time.  (see 1:56)

I'm guessing that for this page turn, there isn't enough time to transfer the bow to the left hand, and turn with the right, so she turns with the left hand.  Also, it seems that she has copied some pages to overcome the toughest page turns (notice the pages hanging off the music stand). 


June 9, 2010 at 03:13 AM ·

 When I have to turn the page, I just roll the bow towards my palm, and hold it using my middle, ring, and pinkie fingers. (Imagine making a gun gesture with your right hand.) This leaves my index and thumb free to turn the page, and then I unroll the three fingers holding the bow so that it's back in playing position.

June 9, 2010 at 03:13 PM ·

Unless you're playing more than 3 pages of music...I'd just photocopy.  Avoid having to turn the pages altogether.

I have one annoying book of fiddle tunes that I use a lot for warm-ups...I'm not sure who planned the pages for it...but every piece that has two pages, has a page turn!  Drives me batty...


June 9, 2010 at 03:56 PM ·

N.A. Mohr's answer is a good one, which I have used.  Photocopy pages which are a problem and tape them to the page where the turn is a problem.  The NSO folks, when they play chamber music, do it all the time.

June 10, 2010 at 12:27 AM ·

I think I'll tinker around with a new gadget to make this easier.

Right now, I'm thinking a bit of a small charge mounted on a band-aid like thing. Put one on each page that does not have a convenient rest.
The charge can be set off by a foot switch. When the page turn comes up, tap your foot, and the page will turn.
I know there are weaknesses in this plan, but I'll try and find a solutiuon to cover them.

June 10, 2010 at 12:35 AM ·

Music Pad Pro from FreeHand Music.
Turn the page with a touch of the tip of the bow or use the foot pedal.

June 10, 2010 at 02:40 AM ·

I would just turn the page with my right hand by allowing one finger off of the bow (while still supporting it).

Why did you stop using a shoulder rest though? I find it extremely difficult to play anything without one. 

June 11, 2010 at 05:44 PM ·

>Why did you stop using a shoulder rest though? I find it extremely difficult to play anything without one.

Tell me about it.  If you peruse the past discussion threads, you will see many, many, many, many (is that enough many's) debates over the use of shoulder rests.... or not.  Not to stir up that hornets nest again, but I will try to answer your question.

The reason I gave up the shoulder rest is that I find it physically impossible to fully relax my left shoulder when I use one.  As soon as I put on a shoulder rest, my left shoulder goes up.  That results in tension in my left side which made my playing sound tense, and was causing my left shoulder to get achy.  My vibrato was also tense, sort of nervous sounding.  Even now, after not using a shoulder rest for almost a year, as soon as I put one on, my left shoulder goes up and the tension returns. 

For me, the transition was not easy.  I think excruciating would be an accurate term.  I have a long neck and you would not believe the ugly sounds that came out of my instrument when I was first making the transition.  But I am taking a long term approach to the violin and I believe that (for me) the short term pain will result in a longer term gain.  After ditching the shoulder rest last year, quite a few people have commented that my sound has improved. 


June 11, 2010 at 06:24 PM ·

 Tape a small piece of paper or put a sticky to the bottom right side of your music page.  When it’s time to turn the page, just turn the piece of paper that is sticking out!

June 11, 2010 at 06:29 PM ·

Yes Vinh, I thought of the same thing, or perhaps a paper clip that is sticking out a bit.  Seems like someone should come up with some kind of gizmo and patent it, because I know I'm not alone.


June 11, 2010 at 11:47 PM ·

Smiley, for page turns, if needed how about judicious photocopying of a sheet, extending the stand with the extra bars at the top, using two stands side by side?

With regard to the shoulder rest - stick with it! I used to use one, and just like you, was tense. My teacher told me to throw it away - so there I was, playing in an orchestra and holding down a job playing WITH it, and trying to practice without in the evenings. Then one day we were doing Roman Carnival and it wasn't working - I tried taking off the rest, and it all clicked. Haven't used one since, and that was 40 years ago!


June 12, 2010 at 06:49 PM ·

I now have another direction to experiment with my new invention. I think I'll start with a mousetrap spring, and create a turner that can be inserted on each problem page. Just touch the marked location, and SNAP!!!!! next page!
All I need to do is find a way to dampen the resultant sound...

June 12, 2010 at 07:32 PM ·

i have yet to come to this issue BUT

how about a small piece of double sided tape on the scroll and dog ear the pages at different amounts ?  I play hand bells also and have to turn pages quite fast so I fold the corners single, double, triple ect ..... depends on number of pages

June 13, 2010 at 02:31 AM ·


If you invent something, let me know.  I'll be more than happy to beta test it for you.  How about something with magnets.  Maybe a metallic thingy clipped to the music, and a magnetic ring that you wear on your right middle finger (magnet on the back of the finger).  You wouldn't even need to change your bow hold to turn the page.



June 13, 2010 at 06:55 AM ·

My current project uses magnets, but only for weight.
A small silk thread is attached to each page, and there is a magnet for each page attaced to the top of the music stand. You flip the magnets to the floor one at a time, the pages turn. The only problem in the prototype is the magnets attract each other; every page turn ends at the end of the postlude.

I'll keep working on it!

June 13, 2010 at 12:35 PM ·

Hi Smiley. I've mentioned this in other threads. As a "restless" player myself, I do use a suede cloth about the size of a hankie, and I use it in a similar way - partly over the chinrest, and partly covering the lower back of the violin. My 'invention' is also very thinly padded in the middle, where it contacts the collar bone. This material provides a slip-resistant surface. It's main function in this regard is to help in down-shifting. Using this while playing, I can down-shift with no pressure from my chin.

Similarly, using this suede cloth, I can hold the violin briefly w.o. the left hand, when I need say, to adjust the bow's tightness - although, honestly I will  need some chin pressure in that situation. But why not simply turn with the right hand? That's what I do. I'll have my hand in approximately the 3rd position area, transfer my bow to my left hand, where I hold it about in the middle of the stick, and my right hand is entirely free to turn. If this sounds complicated on paper, it really is simple in actuality. With a little practice, it can be done quickly and efficiently.

PS I'm almost through with my auction article - then I'll decide where to put it!

June 14, 2010 at 06:09 PM ·

 Okay Smiley, here it is, your video tutorial on turning pages!

June 14, 2010 at 06:53 PM ·

Smiley - some of us have a third arm that we use to turn pages.  I guess you weren't there when they handed them out.

June 15, 2010 at 01:09 AM ·

>Smiley - some of us have a third arm that we use to turn pages.  I guess you weren't there when they handed them out.

Actually, I WAS there, but I was waiting in the other line.  The one where they were handing out six fingers.  Unfortunately, they ran out before I got mine.

June 15, 2010 at 05:02 PM ·

Walmart carried in the past a computerized page (the size of a score). It might still carry it. My pianist at the time downloaded music on it. It had a food pedal that enabled him to turn the pages by foot. He could also make notes on it. We needed it heavily for the recording of Enescu's violin sonatas. He never needed a page turner again.

June 15, 2010 at 06:54 PM ·

How about a kindle?

There go my dreams of riches; this may obviate my Steam Powered Page Turner. It focuses a small jet of steam at the page, either turning the page, or moistening it so if you do need to turn by hand, the page is pre-moistened.

I'll bet an ipad or other similar devices could do the same, and some may more easily work with a remote switch.

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