5th Position - F Arpeggio
My teacher is enjoying his vacation and is unavailable, so I am turning to the very knowledgeable people here.
Last week he assigned various arpeggios to work on while he is traveling, the beast of them is the F arpeggio in C. It starts in 2nd position and winds up in 5th. This week I'm focusing on slow scales/arpeggios/shifting/slurring practice and not so much on pieces - just the occasional piece when I need to break it up.
I am straining my 4th in 5th position reaching for the F and I can't for the life of me figure out how I am doing this - it is not a long reach from 1-4 in that part of the fingerboard. As some may remember I do have quite small, and arthritic, hands, but we've solved that problem in 1st, a bit unconventional perhaps, but it works and it's in tune.
Any tips on how not to strain my hand while reaching for F in 5th? It's the first time I've needed to deal with the body of my violin and I am sure it has to be related.
Try bringing your left elbow slightly forward and/or bring your thumb slightly under the neck.
Is that a F maj or C maj. arpg.? For any arpeggio, in both exercises and real music, we don't want to gamble on our top notes by diving into them or stretching long distances. We get up into position early so the top note is safe. I am guessing that you want to have 1st finger on C before dropping in the 4th finger F. Also be aware of the interval distance between the positions. I find a shift across a perfect 4th to be hard to measure.
Thank you Ingrid and Joel. It is F in C Major. It is meant to help with a piece that hits E in C Major.
I am very confused Catherine. In 5th position on the E-string, your 1st is on C and your 4th on F, like you say yourself. Why would that be a stretch? The interval is a perfect fourth. Let's get back to first position, say again on the E-string, with your 1st on F and 4th on Bflat. That is also a perfect fourth. You said that you and your teacher had solved your hand position in first position. So I assume you do not find that F-to-Bflat in 1st position a huge stretch. Now the good news is that a perfect fourth in 5th position is much shorter than a perfect fourth in 1st position. So you should be able to do this! Make sure that your thumb is also in 5th position, that is, that is has shifted nicely along, so that you can "mimic" the situation in 1st position! Did you have a similar problem when you learned 3rd position, say?
No, 3rd position is fine (though the 1-4 stretch in 3rd was right at my limit until my hand adjusted), and I don't think it's really about the stretch in 5th because it's shorter than 3rd.
Catherine following up on what you wrote at the end, I also think that may be the problem: you may be stretching for a note that is not F but something higher! Do you know how it should sound? Play it on a piano or keyboard (or virtualpiano.net if you need it).
I've a pretty good tuner with drone notes I use sometimes, and I've also a good ear. I'm pretty sure I'm hitting the right note - but it's entirely possible I'm reaching too far (over the string, not on it) before bringing my 4th back to where it belongs. I've been known to do this before, which could be the cause. Again, mirror work is called for.
Catherine, you should never have to reach for a note, in the sense of it being an effort-full strain. If you are stretching in that way, something is wrong, and you are on the path to injury.
Nate - I tried this tonight and it was enlightening and I learned a few things, thank you.
Good that Nate emphasized it, as it is a general golden rule that your teacher perhaps has not yet really articulated to you: when the fourth finger is involved, it should always be given priority. What that means is, you *first* place your fourth finger in a nice rounded soft manner and add the lower finger afterwards. the natural hand position that results from that is something to remember. then when you play the phrase, you use that hand position. kind of convoluted explanation, it is very eloquently explained in the book by Simon Fischer "The Violin Lesson".
Catherine: Great! Glad it's helping! Last night I thought of something that might be slowing you down. Students typically run into this when they start working on extensions or long-distance shifts, but since your hands are small it might be giving you trouble now:
Jean, I appreciate that, and so does my teacher. My hands are small enough, however, that in 1st position I physically cannot have both 1st and 4th down at the same time - regardless of the order.
Nate - we are not working on vibrato yet - but that's a good point. I've been trying to make certain my thumb isn't tense, it's between my 2nd and third fingers ideally. I hadn't considered that I may be gripping in other ways, thanks!
Catherine, it doesn't have to be a "real" vibrato. Just a waggle to get your flesh unstuck from the neck. Good luck! :)
Ahah! I get what you're saying now, thanks!
Nate - we won't discuss what my fake vibrato sounds like but that is not the purpose of this exercise. This, combined with your other suggestions has resulted in my 4th no longer feeling strained. I will discuss further with my teacher next week when he returns from vacation.
the "Milstein exercise" that was recently mentioned in another thread may also be interesting here:
I checked out the video Jean, and it was of interest, thank you! I think one of the harder things is to free my hand from the neck - and I suspect that this is a problem that we all have to overcome regardless of the size of our hand!
I wanted to report back and to thank everyone for the helpful suggestions. Between following your advice, and a small tweak from my teacher this week - the F arpeggio is no longer the beast that it was, as well as no more straining my 4th.
great to hear!
Yes, and now he is moving all of the notes he can in my non-Suzuki pieces into 3rd and some 5th positions as he can. To me this is a great milestone less than 9 months after returning to the violin from a 45 year break :) I am wondering what the combination of shifting and slurs will be like...
I'm puzzled by why your teacher is giving a beginner arpeggios that go into the 5th position at all, and why you are learning scales that don't use the traditional fingering pattern (Flesch or Galamian).
Lydia - it IS an interesting mix and he has developed his own method over 30+ years. We are going through Suzuki rep to rebuild my foundation, but we also use non-Suzuki pieces I pick (with his approval) to introduce/re-introduce new things. For example, Bach's Marche and Telemann's Sonata 1 (first section only) doesn't require the higher positions but he has chosen to reintroduce me to the 3rd position with those two pieces after I worked with them a bit.