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Left hand fingers

August 5, 2022, 1:14 PM · Hi all,
Any suggestions for keeping your left hand fingers down (i.e. bot having them stick up unnecesarilly)? Its something my teacher mentions. I watch myself in the mirror and watch my hand as I play, but it frustrates me. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
If it helps, it is generally my index finger that sticks up.

Replies (12)

August 5, 2022, 1:54 PM · Maybe visualize having the finger(s) down while reading through the music. Then practice one octave scale in different positions to develop a feeling of what it feels like to have the finger(s) down; then try playing an etude or piece with that feeling (Kreutzer 2 or Fiocco Allegro). Take a video recording on your phone to see what may be causing the fingers to rise up.

August 5, 2022, 2:23 PM · In the case of runs of passagework where you are going up and back down on the same fingers, this is the basic work to be done with Schradieck. Find some videos on Youtube about how to practice Schradieck, or better yet, ask your teacher.

If it's about keeping a finger prepared on another string so that you can pivot it and use it as a base for notes on the next string, or other such necessities, this happens a bit in Kreutzer, and a lot in Rode. The Schott (Rostal) edition has a lot of weird fingerings, but it marks where it makes sense to keep fingers down.

August 5, 2022, 3:20 PM · I think your fingers should be where you will need them in the next 0.2 sec (or so) say 0.5 sec if you are newish to this. For very fast passages the fingers about to be used should be in position to be ready for action.

"On the other hand" (so to speak) some violinists and violists find having some fingers "in the air" helpful for producing smoother vibrato oscillation.

August 6, 2022, 9:57 AM · The goal, after the beginner's early levels, is to only have the fingers down for the ones that you are actually using. Leaving fingers down is like constantly playing double stops but only sounding one note. One finger down at a time improves intonation and vibrato.
When learning a piece spend at least one practice session mentally focusing on when to place fingers (prepared fingerings) and when to lift them. How high?: about 1/2 inch/ 1 cm/ the length of the last digit of the finger.
August 6, 2022, 11:01 AM · The OP's post seems to be misunderstood by some people (or maybe by myself?). The way I read it is this: "Keeping the fingers down" means (in this thread) having them hover low over the strings while they are not in use--rather than sticking them straight up and making them travel a long wayl when they have to be used.
August 6, 2022, 11:56 AM · I suggest training your brain, with simple studies that you can prepare for yourself, to recognize how it FEELS in your hand when you're doing it the way you want to. That way you won't have to be looking at it all the time to check.
August 6, 2022, 1:24 PM · Practicing scales in octaves and false harmonics will help train your hand to keep the correct shape.
August 6, 2022, 2:22 PM · For violists, it's not necessarily a cardinal sin to have your first finger pop up at certain times. Sometimes it's done to get a little more freedom for a wide second or third finger vibrato, especially if you have small hands. That said, if your finger is popping up in fast passages, then it's definitely something that needs to be worked on.
August 6, 2022, 3:39 PM · My father used to practice his violin every day after work. I remember hearing him play fingered harmonic scales all the way to start: 0-3,1-4, 1-4, 1-4, 0-3, 1-4, etc, etc. as high as he cared to go.

He would bow the first 0 or 1 as a down bow and then up, down, up for the fingered harmonic and then the next group.

This also sets one's octave spacing!

August 6, 2022, 6:08 PM · @Jake - I am not sure I really understand the problem. Can you please describe in a bit more detail what your teacher says? Is the problem that your fingers stick up so that you are not ready when you have to play the next note? In any event, your teacher should be instructing you concerning the proper technique in this area. Good luck!
August 7, 2022, 7:16 AM · Albrecht is correct in what he says (hovering fingers). Thank you Mary Ellen, I'll try that during my practise sessions today.
August 7, 2022, 3:50 PM · Sevcik and Dounis have these exercises where you keep a finger down (would be the first finger in your case) and you play a simple sequence of notes with the other fingers on an adjacent string. Such exercises could be useful for you?

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