HOW TO COMBAT STICKINESS

February 14, 2015 at 07:38 AM · Hi everybody!

So...everybody sweats right? Especially when they're nervous or just exercised or was just out in the hot sun, etc.

I JUST went to class today (about 15 minutes ago) and I was really nervous because I really needed to pass this piece that I've been playing SINCE APRIL! (Mozart No5) So I really wanted to clear this piece and start on the Bruch.

I bike there, because I can't drive yet. And coincidentally, even though its WINTER right now, the sun was so hot, and I was biking there as fast as possible so I could warm up my hands right before I actually started the lesson to up the possibility of me passing (by warm up I mean playable -- because have any of you noticed that your hands and fingers become clumsy and kind of bloated if you are outside in really hot sun for a while?) >:-(

So when I got there, and I played my piece, practically all of my shifts were so strained and too many were out of tune because my hand kept getting stuck!. Way more times than when I practiced.

So my question is -- how do the pros do it? How? Do they put chalk on their hands? Do they just push through it? Do they just NOT SWEAT?

I feel like this is SUCH A BIG ISSUE but it hasn't been addressed!

Although, I did end up passing my piece and I'm very happy right now :3

Replies (24)

February 14, 2015 at 09:28 AM · greetings.

cant offer anything on the sweating, but as someone who has done a lot of biking i would offer the suggestion tat it is a pretty bad idea before an audition. it tends to put unwanted pressure on the hands and also keep the body in one position for an extended period.

anyway congratulations on passing the exam. the next challenge is bruch and after that you may notice the mozart suddenly got a lot harder;;)

cheers

buri

February 14, 2015 at 10:31 AM · I have a sweaty-handed student who uses talc.

It gets everywhere, even into the varnish of her student viola (15").

Some sweaty hands stick, others slip; in both cases shifting and fine intonation are compromised. So an absorbant talc may be the best way to keep this adherence (or lack of it) at a constant level.

For biking, I adopt an upright, Jacques Tati posture so I don't really lean on the handlebars. Looks daft, but who cares!

February 14, 2015 at 11:08 AM · actually the best way to bike is using proprioception,

cheers,

burp

February 14, 2015 at 11:27 AM · Buri, you actually bike with your eyes shut?

February 14, 2015 at 12:06 PM ·

Proprioception test

February 14, 2015 at 12:19 PM ·

I use to have stage fright at one time and the herb sage helped in curing this. Sage is amazing for anxiety, which causes sweaty hands, but I am not sure if it helps prevent sweating from exercise.

Not having tape on the fingerboard helps with stickiness.

February 14, 2015 at 12:52 PM · Get to your destination early enough that your hands can recover and wash them. If you can't wash them use baby wipes (or whatever they may be called otherwise).

February 14, 2015 at 01:19 PM · ..and if you must use tapes, don't put them sticky side up..

February 14, 2015 at 02:23 PM · Sometimes I use an alcohol-based hand gel, the sort of stuff you find in hospitals, but I always make sure my hands are thoroughly dry before I touch violin or bow - doesn't take long.

February 14, 2015 at 05:12 PM · Lots of things can be learned and un-learned. If you have to ride your bicycle before performing, practice it! Ride a bicycle for the same amount of time and distance before your practice. Whatever "ritual" do you choose, practice exactly the same sequence of events every time. Once you can play with no difficulties at home, try the same elsewhere until you are happy 8 out of 10 times with your performance. The point is to accumulate neutral and positive experiences and welcome bad ones as your learning material.

Regarding the stickiness, one part is the hygiene of the fingerboard - keep it clean. Talc would certainly help, but use it sparingly. A very small amount will do; apply it on the top of your right palm and then tap with the tips of your left hand only once. Then slide all 4 fingers across 4 strings at the same time and Bob is your uncle!

February 14, 2015 at 06:54 PM · Regarding a previous post, I don't understand why having Bob as an uncle would signify non-sticky hands :-)...But I think I found something that might work.

At this year's NAMM show last month, I saw a small booth that was giving out samples of Chops PrePlay, a hand product designed to reduce the acidity in one's hands, to avoid wood damage. Though principally for guitar players, I see no reason (nor did the company employee) why it wouldn't work for violin players. That product is from a company called Graph Tech, http://graphtech.com/products/brands/chops-preplay. Though $20.00 at their site, it's $15.00 or so on eBay or Amazon, and also available at most guitar retailers.

Most of the reviews are very positive. When I tried it, my hands were quite sweaty from running around at NAMM between appointments and destinations. It didn't quite dry my hands like a hand sanitizer, but neither were my hands greasy or coated like some hand lotion. It's hard to escribe the feeling, but my hands felt neither sticky, sweaty, nor coated. If it solves your problem, there is the added benefit of reducing the wear and tear on your instrument's finish by reducing the acidity.

Has any other violin player tried this? When I tried a sample at home, I thought it improved my shifting, left me more "sure-fingered." It certainly reduced my sweaty plams.

February 15, 2015 at 02:29 AM · OK I will try the alchohol idea. Smart! Because alchohol is drying right? Will run out and get hand sanitizer or something similar. :)

And I'll practice too. I feel like using things to dry out my hands is like cheating you know? So I'll learn how to play with sticky hands as well. :)

Just out of curiosity: why would playing the Mozart be harder than playing the bruch? Isn't the bruch technically harder?

February 15, 2015 at 02:45 AM · Greetings,

wait and see . the world of music is like Alice in Wonderland with huge changes in perception as we get older and perhaps wiser but often just more sweaty,

Cheers,

Burp

February 15, 2015 at 05:49 AM · ...could you be just a teensy bit clearer? :)

February 15, 2015 at 05:55 AM · probably not

February 15, 2015 at 06:16 AM · In major music institutes and perhaps a as consequence, in the minds of many young (?) musicians there is a view point that concertos form a natural progression of difficulty from Bach, to Mozart and then the romantics . Thus one is examined on the works in this order before graduating.

Of course thes einstitutes are not stupid and there are good reasons for working in this way. If one looks at purely technical demand s, which tend to over focus on the let hand in many cases ther dis indee da kind of progression.

But later on things start to look a little different. One learns very quickly that the concertos that initially did make higher demands on the student such as the Bruch are not that difficult to perform publically in some ways because they are forgiving of error. But somehow when playing Mozart the smallest mistake is somehow magnified and marrs the canvas in the same way a blob of ketchup on the Monas Lisa's nose would. And then somehow it seems these errors are difficult to avoid. To play flawlessly is in fact, extremely difficult. That is why Heifetz often state dthat the Mozart cocnertos are the most difficult. But that is purely on the technical level. oN a musical level you are probably

y taking gigantic steps right now and the Bruch seems vast and emotioanlly, musically demanding. That is true. But once you have made a good shot at that work you will probably found your new level of artistry causes you to pose questions about how you want the Mozart to sound, what kind of things you want it to express and they may well seem frustrating to pin down. Yu might start seeing the vital connection between opera and the concertos and what a long journey it is to clarify and draw upon this relationship. and all this is without even touching on the question of authenticity in Mozrat and how you reconcile using a modern instrument and bow with music played on rather different set ups. You may decided this does not matter to you, but that decision should be based on at least some research into the authentic question. A flat out rejection for no other reason that it is easy is not an artistic choice.

Even going back to those Bach concertos, the curious difficulty of deciding exactly what you want to express and how to express it becomes more rather than less complex over time. Listen to Hilary Hahn playing the Bach e major concerto and try and get a handle on the things she does with it to make it sound that way. That is not just sheer genius but the end product of thousands of hours of sweaty hands in the practice room.

Of course you will continue to develop the ultimate mechanical and broad tonal equipment from bigger and bigger concertos that over shadow Mozarts in everything from number of notes to sheer length and stamina required. But somehow, just about all orchestras are asking players to do a Mozart. There are good reasons for that. You are standing stripped down to your essence in this situation and what you have to offer cannot be anything less than a rare and shining diamond.

Cheers,

Burp

February 15, 2015 at 07:55 AM · Buri is right and so was Heifetz!

While Pinchas Zukerman often played Mozart early on in his stellar career (with a maybe slightly saccharine beauty?), Itzakh perlman was alway asked for Paganini, Lalo, Tchaikovsky etc.

Perlman said he was delighted when concert organisers started to ask for Mozart and Bach: he felt he had "arrived".

And yes, we should try for a violin hold, shifting technique etc. which is les affected by sticky hands, e.g. less contact with the base of the index.

February 15, 2015 at 08:57 AM · This explains why I spent so long on my Mozart actually. I was used to getting over pieces really fast, but when my teacher didn't let me pass this piece and move on I got really frustrated. Only after a couple of months did I notice that at the end of the piece, there was a Suzuki note:

Point of Practice:

"Many pupils, when they have learned to play, are apt to become self-satisfied and give up further practice. But if they ever want to cultivate superior ability, they still need to continue their daily practice, always trying to improve their performance, even if they already can play 'correctly'. One should never forget that one's ability will be fostered in proportion to the amount of one's diligent and steady practice."

After I read this I thought, " SO MY TEACHER WAS RIGHT AFTER ALL."

It seemed like she was being especially picky about this piece anyways. On other pieces my teacher was much more lenient.

February 15, 2015 at 09:02 AM · Actually, does having a shoulder rest vs. not using one have anything to do with the effect of stickiness? Without one, your hand will always have to be in contact with the violin, right? On the other hand, if you do use a shoulder rest, you can let go of the violin neck and move without having to slide.

OR!!! (had an epiphany)

to avoid sliding, is it bad technique to just have the thumb support on the bottom at a neutral position (say, further forward if you are on first position and need to shift to third) and just not move it as often. so when shifting from 1st to 2nd or 3rd or even 4th you can have the thumb stay there and also have more secure intonation by reaching back on 1st and 2nd and stretching forward on 3rd and 4th. Is that bad though? Because I remember an old teacher saying that when you shift, you shift with the whole hand and not just the fingers.

February 15, 2015 at 09:22 AM · Greetings,

the shoulder rest or not debate doesn't really apply here. having a light contact with the index finger on the side of the neck should not inhibit either shifting or vibrato. if it does then the student gas not been taught properly. For some it is easier with a rest for others not.

If I understand the other question you are actually referring to the avoidance of shifting by substituting the fly off technique. I use this from third position onwards on rare occasions when it is simple to do than shift into fourth position for just a few notes and shift back. But I have big hands. Perlman has huge hands and he uses thus techinquest a fair bit or he did.

In the lower positions I think you are ephifanizing a red herring. Shift with the hand and arm as one unit with the thumb as part of that unit. That is fundamental technique.

Cheers,

Buri

February 15, 2015 at 02:59 PM · Buri-San. That was a very good post on growing into music over and over.

(Same thing can happen with re-reading good books over time: the text doesn't change, but the reader does.)

February 15, 2015 at 03:17 PM · And (good) films as well; in particular, anything from the Walt Disney stable to see if you can spot the obligatory reference to Mickey Mouse on the second viewing.

Returning to the main topic, I sometimes use a few drops of sweet almond oil (not essence) on my hands, well-rubbed in. The hands feel dry but very smooth, with no interruption to shifts, and the strings feel extra smooth under the fingers. The oil does no harm to the strings and is in fact a good idea if you're using plain gut.

February 17, 2015 at 11:37 PM · "The sonatas of Mozart are unique: too easy for children, too difficult for adults. Children are given Mozart to play because of the quantity of notes; grown-ups avoid him because of the quality of notes." -- Artur Schnabel

February 18, 2015 at 07:53 AM · An update/ending/moral of the story:

Today I did some community service where I had to perform the cadenza from Mozart 5. I was really nervous! And I still hadn't yet had time to implement the solutions that everybody has come up with. So I ended up doingggg...not too well.. /crying inside

The moral of the story is to prepare for the nervousness/environment/conditions in which you perform under, not just the piece you play! -- a lesson very worth learning...

Thanks for all the input and answers everybody! :) I'll try out the solutions!

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