If you can reach the fourth finger on a bigger violin can you reach the higher positions?

June 19, 2012 at 04:03 PM · If you can reach the fourth finger on a bigger violin can you play the higher positions as well?

Replies (26)

June 19, 2012 at 04:11 PM · Yes. The distances get smaller as you shift up the violin.

Cheers Carlo

June 19, 2012 at 06:13 PM · Thanks Carlo

June 19, 2012 at 06:26 PM · Only after 6 large glasses of (red) wine ...

June 19, 2012 at 07:22 PM · But Peter, that will mess up your intonation.

(Also, don't encourage underage drinking.)

June 19, 2012 at 08:46 PM · I'm not under age now!!

June 19, 2012 at 09:25 PM · Peter I think she is referring to me haha

June 20, 2012 at 01:13 PM · Well, I have tried my friend's violin and it seemed okay but back then I only knew the g major 3 octave scale. Now I know almost all of the 3 octave major scales.

June 20, 2012 at 06:58 PM · "But Peter, that will mess up your intonation."

Oh dear, don't mention my intonation, even when sober it's unreliable.

I recorded a movement of the Mozart K454 sonata with piano and there is one note ...

Same with a movement of Bach D minor partita - one note again, and I can't stand listening to it.

I'm obviously not doing enough work on these pieces.

June 20, 2012 at 09:45 PM · Peter, all is not lost! The original intention of AutoTune (which, I understand, was close to being a well-kept trade secret at the time) was to deal with just these situations. It was technically and economically more efficient to use AutoTune to correct a bum note on a track recorded in the studio than to get the eminent singer back to re-record it, especially if he happened to be doing a concert tour the other side of the globe. Under the prevailing circumstances I think this was a legitimate use of the technology. Today, of course, the misuse of that technology is a pervasive worldwide menace to artistry at all levels.

June 20, 2012 at 10:01 PM · John, I stand to be corrected on this, but I believe the highest fingered note (not an harmonic) in the standard repertoire is probably the A in the 3rd octave on the E string, in the Dvorak concerto. Not the easiest note to reach or sound well! Most of the classical repertoire rarely goes higher for fingered notes on the E string than the D in the 2nd octave - Locatelli's cadenzas for some of his concertos perhaps being the more obvious exceptions.

I believe with appropriate tuition and training (not straining!) any violinist with average size hands, or slightly smaller, should be able to easily hit that D on a standard size violin without resorting to unseemly hand gymnastics round the body of the instrument.

June 20, 2012 at 10:09 PM · Yeah I've heard about the thumb technique and I use it when I get to 11th and up or sometimes 10th and up depending on the key.

June 21, 2012 at 08:23 AM · "Peter, all is not lost! The original intention of AutoTune (which, I understand, was close to being a well-kept trade secret at the time) was to deal with just these situations. It was technically and economically more efficient to use AutoTune to correct a bum note on a track recorded in the studio than to get the eminent singer back to re-record it, especially if he happened to be doing a concert tour the other side of the globe. Under the prevailing circumstances I think this was a legitimate use of the technology. Today, of course, the misuse of that technology is a pervasive worldwide menace to artistry at all levels. "

But Trevor, I will still know that I played that one note sharp, so I will never rest easy ...

P S My wife says that at my age I should chill out and not be so obsessive. Well, she plays out of tune on the piano all of the time, and in some prestigious concert halls sometimes ...

June 21, 2012 at 11:49 AM · John, I've just tried that little test, and get the same result as you do. But then I come from the cello world where the "real" thumb position across one or two strings, even in the first position, is an essential element of technique. Paul Tortelier taught a variation in the use of the thumb in the very highest positions by placing its tip under the fingerboard, using that part of the fingerboard as if it were an extension of the neck. Where the cello hold differs from the violin and viola, of course, is that the left hand does not support or hold the instrument.

[Edit added] That top A in the Dvorak VC is equivalent to the top A on the piano keyboard, and it needs a good piano that is well set up for that note to sound clearly. I've heard many performances where that high A, and higher, is little more than a loud click. The instrument is evidently approaching the limitations imposed by the physics of a struck short stiff steel string, where its diameter/length ratio becomes a significant element of its behaviour.

Which leads me to think ... I suggest that on the violin, compared with steel, a good quality gut E should be a better choice for notes in altissimo (lower density, mass and stiffness - the physics seems right). That is the string that Paganini (and Locatelli before him) would have used successfully, and which would have been universally used in Dvorak's time.

June 21, 2012 at 03:22 PM · Angelica, you really don't have to worry about small hands on higher positions that much. Like I said in another thread (where you asked about becoming professional a while ago) - the main challenges for small hands playing on a bigger instrument are chords and double stops that need wide stretch and thicker fingers. Try 10ths and fingered octaves - these are better indicators of whether the instrument is too large for you.

June 21, 2012 at 04:02 PM · Hey you're right Joyce thanks!!! I'll try them when I go to my music store when I try a violin out. :)

Thats a perfect solution!

June 21, 2012 at 04:25 PM · I saw the website of a solo player (female) today because she was doing a radio recital at lunchtime. I noticed that she claims to use a 7/8 violin because of her small hands. (I'm not a great admirer of her playing, mind you!) (Alexandra Soumm).

June 21, 2012 at 05:10 PM · It may be worth pointing out that the presence of a shoulder rest and/or chin rest can inhibit easy access to the upper regions of the fingerboard. I found that out when I went CR-less a while ago (I don't use a SR).

June 21, 2012 at 07:44 PM · Sorry Trevor, I just do not think that is true, but that's just my opinion, and you may believe differently!!

June 21, 2012 at 11:42 PM · Peter, I was careful not to write "will inhibit" (a general statement); I used the phrase "can inhibit" (which is not a general statement). I know that the left-hand reach of many players is obviously not affected by a shoulder rest or chin rest; but some are, and I am one of that number, possibly because of my anatomy in that area, or perhaps because I took up the violin in later life (i.e. after retirement).

June 22, 2012 at 11:41 AM · John, wonderful! Are you good at cryptic cross-words, by any chance?

June 22, 2012 at 05:23 PM · I think he's only any good at confusing everyone. We need an American/English /Welsh/Borders translation ...

June 23, 2012 at 12:47 AM · Hah nice

June 23, 2012 at 02:00 AM · Trevor, my thumb has to leave the neck sooner when playing without SR (see my post here). It really depends on how you hold the violin, more precisely - where you position it in relation to your chin and shoulder, and the angle of the violin in relation to the arm and the elbow. My hold is different between SR-ness and SR-less!

June 23, 2012 at 12:20 PM · John, I think it's about time you produced video masterclasses on how to play the fiddle. (On line).

We will wait with baited breath for these Youtube? videos, and then we will all really learn how to play the fiddle, and not have to rely on all those old and out of date teachers who turn up to do masterclasses on Youtoob - we all know how useless and bad they are (I'm not ALWAYS joking here!)

So lets have video No 1 - on tone production. (Simon Fischer can retire now and have an easy life without worrying about all those fiddler's problems, from now on ...)

June 23, 2012 at 12:39 PM · My goodness, Peter, you did get out of bed the wrong side today!

As a late starter, I am continually reminded of "basics" that most players assimilated when much younger. So I find the kind of exploration that John enjoys (be it SRs or air resonances) thought-provoking, and beneficial to myself and to my students.

Stellar players' masterclasses are stimulating at quite a different level, but would a top footballer necessarily make a good physiotherapist?

June 23, 2012 at 01:11 PM · "My goodness, Peter, you did get out of bed the wrong side today!"

Who says that I've got out of bed yet? (But maybe I should - and send the brunette home before I get caught out ...)

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