Fingering techniques

November 3, 2017, 12:45 AM · Is it necessary to place all the three fingers (in their respective positions as in first finger on 1st position, second on the 2nd position so on) while playing the 3rd position or is it okay to put just the third finger in 3rd position??
I find it easier to put only the third finger in 3rd position, especially when I have to shift between strings but my teacher insists me to put all the fingers down on the fingerboard. For instance, while playing D on A-string followed by A on E-string. Which one is more advantageous and in what ways? Thank you

Replies (8)

Edited: November 3, 2017, 12:57 AM · Placing the fingers down in order helps build secure and consistent intonation (remember, intonation is part muscle memory) as well as finger independence.

By doing this you train your hand to know how far a half step and whole step are, as well as others. It forces your hand to hold the correct spacing between the fingers and also gives you a guide. Your third finger is much more likely to be in tune if you have a reference point to place it down (in this case, 1 and 2).

If you just stick third finger down you're taking a risk you don't need to be taking (yet).

November 3, 2017, 3:16 AM · It helps with framing of the fingers too, to get use to them staying over the strings when not on them. I found it a little difficult to catch a note in time when the index finger is pointing straight up in the air (my bad habit).
Edited: November 3, 2017, 4:03 AM · The mind loves being ahead of everything else(your mind is at least 2 seconds ahead of your conscious), but when things lag, and you practice in 'real time' then the mind doesn't like this: it is too slow for it. So, if you were to only place one finger down at a time and not setting up the next finger to be played, this will be a slow tedious process for the mind. The question should be: should we be one, two or three finger placements ahead of a note being played now? If you can,always have the next finger down, or hovering over the string to be played next. Being two steps ahead is better, if you can. Is 3 steps ahead necessary or better? I would say generally, no, and this is because the hand often tightens up(creates tension), and movement slows. In my experience, I find it better to only keep 2-3 fingers down at a time. As a general rule, I rarely have 1st finger down when using the 4th, but if 1st needs to be down than 2nd and/or 3rd fingers are off the strings.

So we want to set up the next note or two most of the time, but we need to analyze things and look for tension issues if we are setting up three or four notes ahead. If placement creates tension, then at least have it hovering close and over the string to be played.

November 3, 2017, 8:03 AM · When to hold fingers down, or pre-place them, is something that will eventually become instinctive -- if you get into the habit of doing it properly as you work on things as a beginner. There's an element of personal preference, as well.

In addition to the intonation benefits, there's also a speed benefit -- the fingers are already where they need to be. Furthermore, in descending passages, you'll get clearer articulation popping held fingers off the string.

November 3, 2017, 8:31 AM · When fingers are lifted, they should usually remain hovering over the notes they have just played, or will soon play. For vibrato, small hands (but not the thumb) can shift just a little to balance on the vibrating finger, but without losing the feeling of the coming intervals.

Even with "creeping" shifts, or wholetone or diminished scales, our hands must feel where they come from and where they are going

November 3, 2017, 11:19 AM · Hi!
In the beginning- Yes you have to, because your hand will be more secure and the intonation will be better.
When you have that, you can start only use the fingers you like, that's also important because your hand will feel more free.
(Have played for five years now and are currently playing Bach sonata 1)

Best regards


November 3, 2017, 12:21 PM · On an ascending series of notes, such as 1, 2, 3, it makes sense to keep the bottom fingers placed as you climb the notes. However, if you are going from 0 - 3, without anything in between, it makes zero sense to place all 3 fingers. This is PARTICULARLY true between two fast notes, where by trying to slap on all 3 fingers in an instant, you will either have to slow down your tempo or incorrectly place the bottom fingers due to the constraints of time. Not only that, but now those bottom fingers can't be easily adjusted - as they've already been placed - so it's best to only keep fingers down where it makes sense to, such as in the case of an ascending scale (0 1 2 3).

However, there's one more thing I want to add: your teacher may be having you do this for a specific reason, and not as a way of encouraging it as a permanent function of your hand.

Teachers don't usually have time to explain every little function of what they're doing to the student, or the whole lesson would be taken up by explanation. But, if you're concerned about it, you should really ask them, because I guarantee that if you go to your next lesson and say "well, I WAS trying your thing, but then it didn't make sense to me and I asked the deal was and they told me some different stuff", then your teacher is going to be very unhappy.

Always go to your teacher first. I personally allow students to text/email me between lessons to avoid the situation you're having, but if that's not an option for you, then ask them directly next time you see them.

However, if you don't absolutely trust the opinion of your teacher, you need to get a different teacher. A student essentially needs to blindly follow everything a teacher says in order for that teacher's methodology to work. If you only do half of what they're asking, then their method usually won't work. That's like following half of what the GPS tells you to get where you're going, and then not ending up in your destination and blaming the GPS. Thus, if you feel that your teacher isn't giving you the right directions, you either need to ask them directly to explain the directions (and also tell them it's ok to use lesson time to explain this), or you need to find a teacher you can blindly trust.

November 6, 2017, 1:09 AM · Thank you everyone!
I trust my teacher completely, it's just that I tend to put down one finger at times instead of all the fingers, especially in staccato so I was wondering if it's a common practice (pardonable) or a fatal mistake that I must get rid of. But after reading the responses above, it seems that my teacher is stressing on placing all fingers for now so that I develop the proper framing and intonation first.
Since there is always a sequence for learning techniques, ie. first things first, I gladly follow what my teacher instructs. However, this site gives me the chance to quench my curiosity which might come off as silly if I ask my teacher. Like Eric said earlier, teachers don't usually have time to explain every little thing. And it's also one of the reasons why I'm really grateful to the people who respond here. Thanks again. :)

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