Fingered octaves?????

Edited: August 12, 2018, 5:59 AM · If anyone here is familiar with Heifetz' arrangement of Prokofievs Masks from Romeo and Juliet, could you please be kind enough to give me some tips for the painfully difficult (at least they are for me) fingered octaves? Thanks!

Replies (7)

August 12, 2018, 9:52 AM · Not familiar with the passage, but some general pointers on the technique:

1. move your elbow inward, to sort of "send" your left hand right above the fingerboard. Because if your fingers are still reaching from the side, it won't actually be in tune. A good way to check if this works is to see if your thumb is low enough.

2. First practice 1-3 solid, then add the 2-4 back, 1 finger at a time.

3. Make sure your hand frame (AKA thumb) is hanging out around the second finger, which guarantees that you are reaching back with your 1st and not stretching with your 3rd (dangerous! could cause injury).

4. One of the hardest part about fingered octaves I found was shifting down. And the problem always seems to be the intonation with 1-3. But then I realized that 1-3 is interconnected so that if your 1st finger is low enough to be in tune, so will the 3rd. Which is why I always try to pull my 1st finger back as far as I can.

August 12, 2018, 11:24 AM · Fingered octaves are simply something you have to do. Yes, they seem impossible in the beginning (as did every other aspect of playing the violin) and may take weeks to get some comfort with. It requires an extended period of daily practice, and not too much at a time lest you risk injury. If there's a magic bullet, I don't know about it. It's like jogging for non-joggers: take it easy in the beginning and stick with it.
August 12, 2018, 2:26 PM · Camilla the only thing to know (but you probably know that already, and Frank wrote it already as well) is to place the higher finger first, only then the lower finger, or at least use a hand position that would obtain if you did it in that order. Also ease in the wrist a little bit (my hobbyhorse). For the rest like Scott wrote, it is just slow practice, gaining flexibility.
August 12, 2018, 4:28 PM · Also, know that there is not an effective, long-term way to *tension* yourself into playing fingered octaves. The end effect of the hand's shape must come from looseness and flexibility as others have mentioned.
August 12, 2018, 7:39 PM · Do you usually have issues playing fingered octaves, or just these particular ones?

Scales in octaves and fingered octaves are useful for your daily routine.

August 12, 2018, 10:38 PM · Fingered octaves in scales going up are fun...coming down, not fun!
August 13, 2018, 4:11 AM · I'm currently (re)learning fingered octaves because I'm working on the Bruch.

My favourite way to practice is going up and down the scale in plain octaves first, then starting fingered octaves in a high enough position that the stretch isn't uncomfortable (I start in 2nd but I have big hands).

On each note practice getting 2-4 perfectly tuned then shift and do 1-3 on the same note, then 2-4 the note up followed by 1-3, then down to 2-4 on the same note and then 1-3 the note below and 2-4... keep going in little patterns up and down gradually rising.

Since I am doing this max 10 mins at a time because of time constraints, and can spend several minutes on an individual shift, I expect that it'll be some time before I finish a whole actual scale. But it should mean that descending fingered octaves are less of an issue because I have already practiced the hand positions to death...


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