base joint blues redux: feeling more hopeful

Edited: July 12, 2018, 4:29 PM · So, despite an erratic schedule and not a ton of practice, I've spent some reasonably productive time working on the Dounis Daily Dozen and it actually seems to be paying off. I'm focusing more on my elbow position in particular. This, along with revisiting old etudes from the early days of study, is helping me develop a more solid hand frame/efficient left hand.

I really noticed it yesterday when playing the Praeludium and Allegro (which I'm learning pretty casually, given no teacher). I had already figured out the shifting patterns (and felt like a boss!) but have now also realized (duh) how much easier it is if I leave my fingers in place as often as I can. Huzzah!

Also, this piece is FUN! Like a series of puzzles to unlock...

PS: thanks, Jeewon!

Replies (3)

July 13, 2018, 8:09 AM · Cool! Glad you're finding it useful!

What etudes have you been revisiting?

So now that you're getting comfortable finding your 1-4 frame, next I would start 'deforming' the frame, all the while holding the feel for the frame as reference (there's no real term for it, but the closest I can think of is something like 'proprioceptive image'.) The traditional way to practice this is to use chromatics. Start with same finger chromatics: 1-1 2-2 3-3 4-4, etc. At first it's important to always keep track of the diatonic scale buried in the chromatic. Start slowly and speak the diatonic note names, or degrees of the scale, until you can clearly hear it within the chromatic scale. Make sure you release pressure of each finger, to harmonic pressure, whenever you slide. Make the slide quick and 'crisp': Primrose called this a "finger staccato." Feel the shape of each finger when it's low and high, feeling its pattern within the frame, in other words, feel the place of other fingers as you move each finger, especially 1 and 4.

E.g. A Maj, starting G-string, 1st position:

A1 Bb2 B2 C3 C#3 D4 D#4
E1 F2 F#2 G3 G#3 A4 A#4
B1 C2 C#2 D3 D#3 E4 F4
F#1 G2 G#2 A3 A#3 B4 C4
and back down.
Leave fingers down, but light. Place 1 while playing 4 ascending; place 4 while playing 1 descending.

That's where most scale books would leave it. But to make the most of any finger pattern exercise, keep moving up positions (a la Dounis.)

Still in A Maj, starting on G-string, second position, speaking diatonic notes:
B1 C2 C#2 D3 D#3 E4 F4, etc
Go as high as you like, but most exercises like this take you to 8th position. Or do lower positions one day (1-5) and higher another day (5-8)

After you do a few of these (G, Ab, A, Bb, B majors) you get a better feel for the position of the 1-4 frame within all the chromatic motion, after which you can 'let go' of the diatonic 'anchor,' so to speak, and just do same finger slide exercises:

'low 1'-1 2-2 3-3 4-4 (play the previous 4-next 1 unison in tune), next string 1-1 2-2 3-3 4-4 (4-1 unison), next string, next string, back down (1-4 unison,) next string, etc.... N.B. 'low 1' is always an extension away from the 1-4 frame. Make sure you can clearly feel 1-4 as you extend before you move onto these.

Shift up a semitone, repeat, etc.

At first, you might get lost as you climb the fingerboard, so check open string notes and harmonics, from time to time.

You can also 'chromaticize' Dounis:
AA A#A G#G F#F EEb D#D C#C BBb A shift to BbBb BBb etc.

In all scales and passage work, it's useful to keep track of what positions you're in (in that key) and 'know' the frame and which fingers are in and out of the scale pattern in that position. (Sometimes, you use an anchor position not in the key for convenience, using enharmonic spellings.)

We first encounter deviating from the frame when learning C maj and flat key scales. Many students don't distinguish between 1st and 1/2 positions, and shift whenever playing a low 1, instead of keeping the feel of first position and reaching back. Sevcik Op. 1 takes you through these kinds of 'chromatic deformations': Bk1 1st position, Bk2 2nd-7th, Bk3 Shifting (scales, arpeggios, passage work, hand extensions and contractions), Bk4 Double Stops.

Edited: July 14, 2018, 5:57 AM · My €0.02 regarding half position.

A major, 2 octaves, 1st position: no high 4 or low 1.
Ab major, half position: likewise.
Bb major, staring on 2nd finger:
- low 1 on D-string,
- slip back to half position for the upper octave 1,2,3#,4 (to avoid 1b, 2b, 3, and 4b).
The shift is during the transition from "4 on D" to "1 on A" with a brief, symetrical tritone "frame".

In real passages, and arpeggios, the half position may spread to the lower strings, with high 4's.

Edited: July 16, 2018, 10:10 AM · A really good test for hand and finger position is to play B major in half position. Just the first four notes, leaving fingers down. If you can do that fast and flexibly, up and down, with nice soft and round fingers, your left hand is perfect.

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