Movin' Them Fingers (left hand)

December 5, 2017, 10:19 AM · OK, I'm just trying to play four eighth notes. But, I'm having a hard time getting the fingers down in time for the bow. I've been trying to work with a metronome slowly raising the speed. But it isn't working out so good 75% of the time. Any suggestions on exercises to speed up the fingers.

Replies (12)

December 5, 2017, 10:30 AM · Could you post a video so we can give more relevant suggestions, or ask your teacher if you have one? Hand position issues or unnecessary tension may be causing problems.
Edited: December 5, 2017, 11:32 AM · By slowing them down. Itzhak Perlman once said, "the slower you practice, the slower you forget".

Keep those fingers close to the fingerboard and not lift them all the way up when you are changing notes (no wasted motion). Use a metronome, start with the speed you can do perfectly and play one note per beat. Then as you get comfortable and playing in tune, speed it up - poco a poco, and play one note per beat, etc. If you can't, go back to the slower speed. You might have to start subdividing and play two notes per beat as you get faster and faster and it gets harder to discern the beats.

That's a start; there are other methods to speed up your motion including playing it rhythmically different, but that's all I have for now.

Also, is your bowing correct? Are you bowing to the beat or prematurely changing bows before you should? Sometimes, what we think is a left hand problem is actually a right hand problem.

Ella is correct in that there might be hand position issues and unnecessary tension. A video of course is best.

Edited: December 5, 2017, 11:57 AM · The metronome was my teachers suggestion. As well as separating each note with a pause, then speeding it up a little at a time.

Thanks for suggesting to watch for hand position and possible tension issues. I will keep an eye out for that. And changing the bow early - good idea, I will keep an eye out for that as well. Thanks! I'm just notr comfortable with a video right now... soon maybe.

December 5, 2017, 12:06 PM · A good way to speed up your fingers is to vary the rhythm. Play your four notes long-short-long-short and make sure you really pause on the long ones and use the pause to prepare the short note coming both with your hand and in your head. Play the short one as fast as you can. Practice that until you can do it.Then do the opposite. Short-long-short-long. Again pause on the long ones to prepare the short ones and play the short ones fast. When you pause stop your bow so that you don't run out if bow if you pause for a long time. When you then play the four notes evenly you will notice they seem much easyer than before.
December 5, 2017, 1:02 PM · Thanks everyone... will keep at it
December 5, 2017, 2:26 PM · If you can work at a really slow tempo, you can work on the speed of the finger action pulling away from the string. You can even practice this without the bow. You may be pressing too hard. You may not be pulling the fingers back from the knuckle joint. Relaxation and speed work together.
December 5, 2017, 3:58 PM · "But it isn't working out so good 75% of the time."

Can you elaborate on what you mean by that? Are you making sure to start at an easy base tempo each day, and then pushing your limit a bit more?

For example, let's say you start at a very easy base tempo of 60 BPM on Monday. Through incrementing the metronome (1 bpm at a time if possible), you were able to push the tempo to 100 BPM that day.

So, the next day, you should start at 60 BPM again, but this time increment 3 BPM at a time, so you arrive at your Monday-best tempo (100 bpm) faster. From that point, you can increment 1 BPM at a time again. By the end of Tuesday, you've pushed your tempo to 120 BPM.

Wednesday comes along, so you should start at 60 BPM again, and work your way up 5 BPM at a time to 100, 3 BPM at a time to 120, and then 1 BPM as far as you can get it. Maybe 130 this time.

Thursday, you follow the same basic principle and maybe you get it to 150, etc....

Point being: always start at a very easy tempo with the metronome EACH day. Don't assume that just because you achieved 100 BPM the day before, that you will be able to start from that point the next day.

Once you're truly "juiced" this method to its fullest potential, I recommend introducing rhythms to push the tempo even further.

December 5, 2017, 7:50 PM · "But it isn't working out so good 75% of the time." that means no matter how slow I go, I'm still getting the finger moving slow getting to the string or (after reading the responses here) possibly getting the bow moving before the next note- guess I better find a way to get a video, I know what I'll be doing tomorrow
December 5, 2017, 8:11 PM · "no matter how slow I go, I'm still getting the finger moving slow getting to the string"

You have a "sequence of events" issue. Your muscle memory has learned that for every new note, you have to change the direction of the bow and then drop or raise the finger. As far as I know, the only way to fix this is with a lot of repetitions of the correct sequence.

Play a scale or something simple that you know very well. Put a big pause between each note and make a big deal about ceremoniously lifting or dropping the new finger, PAUSE again, then move the bow. You'll need to do this a bit every time you practice for a week or two before the muscle memory switches to the right sequence. The good news is that there is no mystery about how to fix it - it just takes the effort.

December 6, 2017, 1:40 PM · Mordents, leading to trills, slurred and détaché..
January 2, 2018, 4:02 PM · +1 on Kan's point. Pay attention to how far you pick up your fingers.
January 2, 2018, 5:26 PM · Are your fingers dropping down from the base knuckle? They should drop like little hammers, and only your lowest knuckles (next to the palm of your hand) should be bending, the rest of your finger should stay basically the same curved shape (in first position at least). You can't really play very fast until you get this down, and it takes some time for sure.

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