How to practice tenths

Edited: April 14, 2020, 8:23 AM · Hi all,

What are the common ways in which students are introduced to tenths? Are there certain etudes or technical exercises (or pieces even) that teachers commonly use?

Thanks in advance!

Replies (18)

April 14, 2020, 8:41 AM · Starting with the octave "frame", we open the hand both ways, adopting a 'cello or guitar-like spread; with the base line of the knuckles probably parallel to, and away from, the fingerboard. The elbow may have to swing further to the right. Painful!
It's can be hard to get a good tone from the side of the 1st finger.
Edited: April 14, 2020, 11:21 AM · I was taught, and teach my students, to start with the the hand in position for the top (pinky) note and then to stretch my first finger back.
April 14, 2020, 9:26 AM · Thanks all for the advice! Are there any etudes or pedagogical exercises (by say, Schradieck) that focus on tenths though?
April 14, 2020, 9:26 AM · @Jeewon why are fingered octaves a prerequisite?
April 14, 2020, 11:27 AM · If you have mastered the stretching required to play fingered octaves, tenths become much easier.
April 14, 2020, 12:02 PM · I have been taught to move my thumb under the neck for 10ths, which helps me stay more relaxed, while for fingered octaves, I keep it about in the regular place on the left side of the neck. Your mileage may vary.
April 14, 2020, 1:22 PM · Fingered octaves are incredibly useful in a ton of contexts and are well worth practicing.

What Jeewon is saying is that to place a tenth, you can first start with a sixth on 2-3. (That's why it's important to make sure that you can reliably place in-tune sixths.)

Then you hold the 2-3 in place and place the 1st and 4th fingers so you have 2-4 and 1-3 fingered octaves. The two fingered octaves will be a third apart. And the 1-4 will form a tenth.

Be really careful stretching for tenths. You need to build the strength up over weeks.

April 14, 2020, 4:44 PM · I would do it in the following steps:

1. Stretch from pinky to 1st finger (as mentioned above). This is not always possible in a real piece, but it's a good safety step for beginners.
2. Practise scales in 10ths, but try and press the left fingers down with as little pressure as possible to make a good sound.
3. Vibrate as widely as you can! If you can vibrate 10ths, then you have a very 10ths solid technique. Of course this is much easier to do in the higher positions.

April 14, 2020, 7:37 PM · Aren't 10ths at the beginning of Wieniawaki 1?
April 14, 2020, 7:43 PM · Would anyone recommend trying to play tenths (or any compound intervals) in higher positions to avoid the extra stretches involved? For example, instead of E natural (D string) and G natural (A string), use G and D strings in fifth position. I guess you lose a little brilliance but maybe easier to tune (?).
April 14, 2020, 7:44 PM · Raymond I think that would be my go to. My previous teacher said to try and make things as easy for yourself as possible
Edited: April 14, 2020, 7:56 PM · No you can't cheat by playing them in higher positions. It just won't sound right. Sorry to burst your bubble there.

Get the Spohr No. 2 concerto. It's a lovely piece and there are just a few tenths. Also those tenths are not in first position so they're less of a stretch, so it's a good starting point, for the reasons Raymond mentioned.

Once you can do fingered tenths then you'll be read for "The Last Rose of Summer."

Edited: April 14, 2020, 10:03 PM · Maybe it's helpful to practice tenths on the viola and then try them on the violin.
April 15, 2020, 9:41 PM · Or the bass.
April 15, 2020, 10:32 PM · Okay thanks all for the helpful advice!! :)
Edited: April 16, 2020, 12:48 PM · I find discussions about 10ths and fingered octaves to be humbling. In the low positions I have never been able to do the Major 10th. I can do the minor 10th as 1/2 step extension of the fourth finger plus a whole-step extension of the first finger. I don't trust my 2-4 octave to be in tune in performance because of the extreme stress to my hand. I consoled myself by re-reading this from Leopold Auer's little book: "Fingered octaves are... a product of the last quarter of the past [19th] century.... None of my teachers [Dont, Joachim] ever made me practice fingered octaves.... It was not until later that... Wilhelmj..introduced a scale of doubled fingered octaves... But to play them... one would need his giant hand and his long,slender fingers."
Edited: April 16, 2020, 1:07 PM · Joel Quivey, or you need to start on them before your ninth birthday. No sleepovers!
April 16, 2020, 7:20 PM · @Jake

10ths are the beginning of Wieniaski 1, provided the soloist doesn't shred the orchestra tutti as a warmup (looking at you, Ray Chen). But nailing those 10ths are very different than working up to them as a teaching exercise.

I think it takes experience and practice to understand this next point, but sometimes I reach up for tenths, sometimes I reach down, it depends on the context and where you are on the instrument, and frankly, your hand and wrist natural shape (after a certain point on the instrument, I am forced into 2-4 octaves and even tenths).

Bruch was my first encounter with 10ths, and I never did any exercises until I played that piece. Fingered octaves I encountered later.

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