At What Level Does Suzuki Teach 3rd Position?

August 2, 2019, 12:21 PM · I am 70 years old and began violin at age 65. For the first 4 years, I was with a teacher who was more of a fiddler. For the past year, I have been with a teacher who is a classically trainer violinist. I am working on the Gavotte from Mignon. I would like to learn to play some hymn arrangements composed by Kristin Campbell and Ruth Coleman that often go into 3rd position. When, in Suzuki, will I learn about shifting and 3rd position?

Replies (10)

August 2, 2019, 12:49 PM · I no longer have the Suzuki books I taught from, but I think 3rd position was started in Book 3.

If you ask at you will see some related stuff.

It will make a difference if you are reading music. But whether you are or not, in 3rd position your 1st finger goes where your 3rd finger was in 1st position. So shifting to that finger (in the right order and to the right location) you can play all 7 notes of the major scale named for the open string you start on by shifting to the third position at that point - and you can finish it off flipping your 4th finger up to the harmonic octave for the 8th note - so it feels complete.

Edited: August 2, 2019, 2:14 PM · Every teacher is different on their approach but why not take your teacher one of the pieces to see if he or she will support your working on it along with the Suzuki material? Suzuki 2 starts 3rd position shifting exercises on page 29.

I just started Suzuki 2 myself (after we worked through 2 other books), but we have been working on material outside Suzuki that has recently expanded to both 3rd and 5th positions (5th is very new and a small amount only). I select the non-Suzuki pieces but he has the final say on whether it's currently possible for me.

August 2, 2019, 1:23 PM · Thanks to both of you for your replies. Andrew, I do read music. Began learning when I was in the 5th grade playing what we called a “Tonette.” It’s a Recorder-type flute. Later I played Trumpet and Bass. “Sousaphone.” I have worked on some of the songs with the fiddle teacher, but I’m not sure we were doing the shifting and playing in 3rd position correctly.

And thank you, Catherine. I will take a look at page 29. My new teacher and I looked at a passage in the Piece that follows Gavotte from Mignon that has 1 high note that she wants me to play as an extension and I’m working on an exercise for that.

August 2, 2019, 1:28 PM · In the revised series, there are a few (optional) harmonics in Book 2 and the introductory exercises previously mentioned. Shifting in pieces starts in Book 3. Most teachers now teach Humoresque with a ton of 3rd position throughout all the sections.
August 2, 2019, 2:25 PM · Thanks, Susan. I really look forward, then, to Book 3. Sounds like what I need to know to reach my next major goal. If I could play those hymn arrangements, I would be a “happy camper.”
August 2, 2019, 3:04 PM · The first piece in the Suzuki program with a shift to third position is usually Humoresque in Book 3. There may be preparatory stuff in Book 2 but I doubt you need it. Humoresque can also be played without the shift and I have seen young students perform it that way. Not every student learns every skill in perfect parallel synchrony. It's good for there to be non-shift fingerings so that the teacher does not feel obligated to start shifting exactly then. Still, I'd have to say that if you're doing Humoresque it's probably about time anyway.
Edited: August 2, 2019, 3:43 PM · In order to get a good feel of the third position you can play some of the book 1 pieces in third position transposed to G major. Long Long Ago (which does appear in G major in book 2) is very fit for that.

You will probably realize sooner or later that is not that difficult to play in the third position. It is the position shifts you need to work on.

August 2, 2019, 3:55 PM · Paul, I haven’t start book 3 yet. I’m still working on Gavotte from Mignon.

Lars, I agree that knowing how and when to shift is beyond me at this point. I definitely need work there. But all in good time.

August 2, 2019, 10:59 PM · It depends on the teacher and could be anywhere from book 2 "Lully" Gavotte (the one after Mignon) to book 4 Vivaldi A minor, with book 3 Humoresque a common middle ground. Some teachers even do the D string harmonic for book 2 Bach Musette and A string harmonic for Boccherini Minuet (not for 3rd position but for a first venture out of 1st position). My students play quite a bit of non Suzuki pieces so E string harmonic may come up around late book 1 and 3rd position in early/mid book 2.

It may help to think of what skills would be necessary prerequisites (but ask your teacher what she's looking for):
Physical: stable left hand frame, flexibility of fingers in various patterns (half steps), any tension issues addressed
Musical: playing "consistently and accurately" in tune in 1st position, ability to self-adjust on pitch (i.e. realizing that the notes/fingers are closer together), sufficient bow control to deal with contact point and tone change (especially when not on the E string)

August 3, 2019, 6:52 PM · I was started seriously on shifting in Vivaldi A Minor in book 4, which is the first thing in Suzuki for which you MUST shift to hit the notes. However my daughter was introduced to it much earlier (the way Suzuki teaching is taught has changed significantly in the last 30 years), sometime in mid Book 2, but only here and there. Your teacher can introduce it as early as he or she chooses,and in fact some early book 1 songs such as Twinkle and Perpetual Motion work well as third position exercises (i.e. start in third position and stay there). If you have pieces you could otherwise play that you would like to, that need basic shifting, just ask your teacher it they are willing to introduce it a bit early. Many teachers would be happy to have the interest.

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