Hello! I’ve been a lurker for some time, and I’ve come up with a question that I can’t figure out by searching the Internet. Maybe someone could offer advice? It would be greatly appreciated as I don’t have a teacher =) And I don’t know what this particular skill is called...
When I am in low positions (1st-3rd), I can place a finger anywhere and know where any other note is from there. For example - If I place my 1st finger on the D string, I know that if I place a low 4th finger say on the G string, that this is a D flat. I know this without even thinking about it.
However, once I’m in 4th position or higher, I have to “count” my way up. If I place my 1st finger in 4th position on A string, I can’t find any other notes without counting. While my 1st finger is on that E (on the A string) and I place my 3rd finger on the E string from there, I don’t instinctively know what that note is. I have to take time to figure it out. How do I develop this skill of knowing my way around instinctively?
Any advice would be extremely appreciated! I feel that this is holding me back from moving up in skill.
It sounds like you are a fluent reader in the lower positions, but not yet in the higher positions. This is where the etude books help. Try Doflein book 5 and/or Whistler, Introducing the Positions, book 2.
I don't know when most teachers introduce 3 octave scales, but scales are an important part of internalizing the fingerboard. You can start E, F or F# on the G-string, starting on the second finger, which starts you in either 4th or 5th position.
You will have to spend as many hours in each position as you have already spent in the first position!
hi Heather that skill is called "knowing your positions" :-) it takes practice just like everything else. you can also benefit from the analogy with other positions. for example you give the example of 4th position, well in a sense the notes are the same as in 1st position, but one string up and one octave up. you find such similarities across all positions.
Thank you, everyone, for your advice =)
I think thinking in terms of positions is more of an established, didactical approach. Knowing them well is a bonus but not an imposition to master the instrument. The more important positions to learn as an earlier student would be 1st, 3rd, 2nd, then all others (traditionally, "seven" positions) including playing the so called half-position. But in practice, I think in terms of note and finger patterns accross the fingerboard, using important notes as a mental reference (natural harmonics, all GDAE notes, etc.) This is all reinforced by years of scale studies, as Mr. Lesniak alluded to above.
continued,- Above 5th position I usually do not think in terms of position numbers. Instead I think of the interval distance between the notes, and also most important, the shifting interval between the positions. What can throw us off up there: extensions and contractions can accidentally move the hand a half-step off. Insisting on keeping the Perfect 4th between 1st and 4th finger cramps the hand. And our numbering system is flawed, an illogical system inherited from history.
The violin fingerboard is quite logical, as the strings are all tuned in 5ths. The same system you have in navigating the first three positions will apply to all the higher positions. Consider:
Great reply Lorenzo, thanks! We should hear more from you!
Stephen what a great christmas present to see you back on this forum!
Welcome back, Buri!
Greetings to all and sundry,
Welcome back Buri. May your posts be fruitful and multiply.
Wow I sure am glad to see Buri here again!
I took my beginner book and played everything in weird positions for the lower strings. For the e string, I did high parts of orchestral excerpts and Introducing the Positions. Arpeggios helped me a lot as well.
"I took my beginner book and played everything in weird positions." Buri recommended to me once that I try playing the entirety of Kreutzer No. 2 in second position. It's very awkward but instructive.
Joel you say our numbering scheme for positions is "flawed", but (1) as you well know C# and D flat are ideally not really the same note; and (2) even if they are exactly the same note, what is the problem that a certain fingering qualifies both for second and third position, say? For a position naming scheme the most important is that if someone tells you "play it in Nth position" that you know the fingering they mean. And that property is still satisfied. It seems less important to have a classification that puts fingerings in strictly disjoint categories. That's something for taxonomists I would say...
Exactly! An interesting case of Christmas stuffing...oh, not taxidermists.
continued--, Thanks J.D., Yes, C# and Db can be slightly different, but that is a very small (~1mm?) adjustment by the finger. By positions I think of the position of the thumb, with the shifting motion made by the arm. When the thumb gets to that saddle point there is so much overlap in the upper positions that the system starts to break down. An analogy: for the fretted instruments, guitar, electric bass, banjo, etc. they use a separate whole number for each 1/2- step fret. For chord diagrams in upper position they write the fret number on the side as the starting point. We can't switch to that system because of centuries of tradition. Also: I use the 1/2 position concept a lot more often than what we see in the instruction books. For me, 1/2 position is whenever the 1st finger is next to the nut, And, the 4th finger is a half-step below the adjacent open string. The thumb is also low. This version of the 1/2 position immediately makes All of the flat keys easy.
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