Fingered Octaves and Tenths
As I've mentioned before, I took up the violin again after a break in college. I have smaller hands and struggled with fingered octaves and tenths back then, but I got them to a decent level. Now, the stretches are extremely difficult and are sometimes painful for me. Is it just a matter of time? Would appreciate any insight. Thank you so much.
I think it's a combination of both time and hand positioning. I think finger length and joint flexibility are factors here as well. Which finger hurts more when stretching? Your index or your pinky?
the pinkie. The tenths are somewhat manageable and I think they'll get better with time. It's the fingered octaves that are the real problem.
Welcome back, Buri!
May I add that the repertoire that does not require fingered octaves or tenths is humongous. I doubt you could play every piece on this list even once before your life ends.
I suppose one could play some compound intervals in the higher positions to shorten the stretch. Might work better with an electric violin (as opposed to an acoustic) in terms of sound quality/volume.
+1 to Albrecht. I can't do fingered octaves at all, and tenths only a little. However I would have to say that all of the work I have put into double-stops generally (and the harder the better from this vantage) has improved the rest of my playing, probably by improving not only my intonation but also the general strength and flexibility of my hands and fingers. That doesn't really help Vish though.
Thank you all for the replies. I will definitely try the massage Buri mentioned. I have tightness all over my body in general, so I'm sure that would definitely make for a good start.
I find that with small hands, tenths require a lot of 4th finger strength because you are having to hold down the string with a tiny sliver of your 4th finger.
Just wanted to complement Albrecht's comment about fingered octaves and "normal" violin playing. Lydia has pointed this out many times already. The kind of extensions involved for fingered octaves are actually very common in normal violin playing, but then executed on the same string. Bridging a fourth between the 1st and 3rd finger, or 2nd and 4th, both upwards and downwards, is something one needs to do very regularly to nail fast runs cleanly, or to stay on the same string for tonal reasons. Of course this is not quite the same as really playing a double-stopped fingered octave. But practicing the latter will improve your commend of the former, so to speak.
Don't stretch your fingers more than you have to. Cheat, and find a way to manipulate your hand and wrist to reach that tenth without wringing out your tendons.
Don't try to fight your anatomy. Some players should not do fingered octaves and tenths for the same reason that pianists with small hands should not do Rachmaninoff and Gershwin. Paganini and Wilhelmj had huge hands. More recently, Szigeti had very long and flexible fingers, and would often play a perfect fifth between 1st and fourth fingers. If the strain is severe, it will probably be out of tune in performance, when it counts. Most of these stretches should be done with the 1st finger, not the fourth, like a cellist or guitarist. For me, I can do the 1-3 octave, but not the 2-4 octave. The minor 10th is a half-step extension of the fourth finger with a whole step extension of the first finger. The major 10th is one step too much for me. Very gradually expand the hand by first doing the harmonic minor scales, which place a minor third between the adjacent fingers, and start in higher positions, gradually working lower.
What Cotton wrote is very important. Don't forget to position you wrist, hand, to allow the downward extensions in the first place. For example you may be unwittingly pushing away your wrist while trying to reach for the tenth. That will be impossible. Instead, easy *in* the wrist a bit.
That's 'fingered-octaves and tenths' I presume - not 'fingered octaves-and-tenths' ;)
For 10ths, it helps quite a bit to slide your thumb under the violin neck, so that your fingers come up a tiny bit more over the fingerboard. Your thumb in that case would roughly be pointing towards the scroll. I haven't found this to quite be necessary for fingered octaves, but you might find that adjusting the thumb somewhat is part of finding the most comfortable position. Of course, your scale practice needs to be slow and relaxed and with as much stretching as possible in the first finger, and as Jean mentioned, with a straight wrist.