Whistler on 2nd and 3rd positions

October 10, 2019, 9:49 AM · I've been trying to devise a methodical but condensed approach to him.

2nd position is easy - there are only about 5 definite studies obviously worth practising.

But 3rd position is a lot more extensive.
I find to my surprise and satisfaction that the studies are a lot more enjoyable to play than the "Selected Solos" that follow them (vol.1, p.26ff) - what a dreadful lot of clich├ęd tearoom drivel! So they are out.

It may help to start with the specific key sigs first.

Any other suggestions?

Replies (10)

Edited: October 10, 2019, 9:54 AM · Two octave scales in one position with a drone for intonation, and scales with one finger for shifting. Just 5-10 minutes a day...
October 10, 2019, 10:01 AM · I never teach the "selected solos."

In my experience there cannot be too much repetition for 2nd position. Since I teach the Whistler books in order, by the time the student has reached volume II they already have quite a bit of experience with shifting. So I start off by asking the student to simply read through the exercises at the beginning of the book, and at whatever point they can no longer sightread with accuracy, i.e. they have to do a little practicing to get it, that is where their assignment starts. This is almost always either the half page study before the first full-page exercise in C major, or it is the C major study. And from that point I have them practice everything.

I tell my students that if they are able to sightread an exercise without my being aware that they are sightreading, that's good--that's the point--learning to read in 2nd position with fluency. But few students reach that point before completing all the Whistler 2nd position exercises.

Edited: October 10, 2019, 10:17 AM · For second position there is a nice study but it's probably a little harder than what you have in your Whistler book. It's Kreutzer No. 2. The entirety of it can be played in 2nd position with only one stretch for the high D toward the end, and the stretch is good for you too. Of course Kreutzer No. 2 is not intended to be played this way so there will be some very awkward fingerings and string crossings. But that's precisely why you do it. You don't have to do all of it at one sitting, and you don't have to play it fast, and you can just play detache bowing. Concentrate on your intonation and getting your hand positions comfortable.

Then what you want is to sift through the various Wohlhardt, Kayser, Dont, and Schradieck studies to find the ones that require you to move around a lot between first, second, and third position. Like the first study in Dont Op. 37. People here will say "oh no those are too hard" but just because it's 32nd notes on the page doesn't mean you have to play it fast, and just because they've got 48 notes under one bow doesn't mean you have to play it that way. Play it slow with four notes to a bow and concentrate on the parts that involve second position (and shifting in and out of 2nd position from 1st and 3rd position especially). Another good thing is diminished arpeggios. If you haven't learned to go high on the fingerboard yet then don't! Just play a couple of octaves starting on G, Ab, and A, and those are all the diminished arpeggios there are anyway. You want to totally groove the low positions on your violin. High stuff is important too but you won't get there without learning the low positions of the fingerboard really well first.

Edited: October 10, 2019, 10:43 AM · Interesting, Paul. I'm working on Kreutzer 5 at the moment, and plan to work on K2 afterwards, so I'll bear in mind the possibility of doing it all in second.

As for sifting, in theory Whistler has done that for us!

October 10, 2019, 11:45 AM · Yes I agree with you about the sifting. It just depends if you want to do more than what's in Whistler.
October 10, 2019, 12:01 PM · If I want to condense, I want to do less than what's in Whistler!
October 10, 2019, 12:30 PM · Tsk tsk. More homework is always better. :)
October 10, 2019, 3:53 PM · My point is that the repetition is important in and of itself. "Condensing" completely defeats the purpose.
October 10, 2019, 4:09 PM · I don't think Whistler is very extensive so I wouldn't condense rather the opposite. Some of them are definitely more enjoyable than others though imo.
Edited: October 11, 2019, 2:00 AM · Well, maybe we have different ideas of what I was asking. In the way Whistler has a "big" or "definitive" study in keys like Bb, Eb, F, A, etc with shifting, importantly (3rd position, pages 17,19,21, 23, 25, mostly by Wohlfahrt, curiously), it would have been nice if he'd unified that approach into some concision in the earlier keys of C, G and D. To me this book seems meandering to begin with, before becoming more satisfyingly focused.

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