Block fingering

December 7, 2017, 6:22 PM · I am having a tough time to do block fingering while descending a scale. Any tips will be greatly appreciated.
Thank you:)
PS: I'm doing Hrimaly Scale System. My teacher wants me to do block fingering.

Replies (11)

December 7, 2017, 6:42 PM · What is block fingering?
December 7, 2017, 6:50 PM · For example, I
If i have to play D note on the A string, not only I have to drop my 3rd finger but also my 1st and 2nd finger. I hope you understand it.
Edited: December 7, 2017, 7:25 PM · Albert, block fingering is a good way to prepare finger patterns, which means planning note patterns, which is another way of saying thinking the key of the scale.

If it's not obvious to you, as an exercise, I would say the upcoming pattern out loud, then say the tone-semitone pattern, then feel the pattern in your hand, plop down fingers then play. (You can also sing ahead if you like!)

So in your example above, if you're in A Maj, say A, B, C#, D, then think and feel Tone-Tone-Semitone, then play, O-1-2-3.

Descending is tricky when the pattern changes. Continuing in A Maj, descending from the D on A-string, think D-C#-B-A, same pattern as above, then think ahead to the D -string. Say A-G#-F#-E-D, feel ST-T-T-T, feel high 3-2-1-0. Notice how the pattern changes from A-string to D-string. You can practice the hi 3-lo 3 change on each string to really feel the pattern in your hand. Then as you descend, as you play 1 on A-string, think and feel the D-string pattern you are about to play, feeling the pattern in the hand before you cross to D-string (allow the elbow to follow the fingers) and cross over and play on D-string. This is a good exercise for repertoire as well when you have such scale passages.

Edit: it's a good idea to place 4 as you place 1 while descending, feeling hi3-2-1, or if you're not using 4, place hi3-2-1 while playing 0.

Edited: December 7, 2017, 8:14 PM · It's related to pattern mapping in the fingers as well, where instead of placing fingers individually as notes come up (what I call the "whack-a-mole" approach), you place as many of them down as possible in a tetrachord pattern of whole/half steps. Then, you only need to take fingers off instead of having to target and place them for the next note. It's essential for speed and clarity on descending scales.
December 7, 2017, 8:22 PM · Thank you for everyone's input. I just really have to put my fingers down and check the intonation. Is it really hard to drop the 1st finger half step to 2nd finger together?
Edited: December 7, 2017, 8:38 PM · Sounds like you maybe squeezing the second knuckles together. You might find this thread helpful (maybe.)

I started posting some pictures but never quite finished before the thread expired.

(If you're having difficulty placing semitones together, it might be a bit premature to start block fingering.)

Edited: December 24, 2017, 8:36 AM · It's good to play the ascending scale many times before adding the descending bit: which is a bit like going down a ladder in the dark! A ladder with missing rungs....
December 25, 2017, 12:56 PM · The best source of finger blocking in scales is in Simon Fischer's book, Scales. He got some of his ideas from Zdzislaw Jahnke's book Studium Gam Na Skarzypce. Only available in libraries. It's oop
December 25, 2017, 2:00 PM · Ha! I'm trying to teach myself the diminished scales, and I'm trying to do it without looking at music or fingering charts so that it will hopefully, in the long run, be better learned (I'm not entirely sure why I think so, but it's not important here anyway). What I noticed is that it's very easy to figure things out going up ... but strangely much harder coming down. I think there's something fundamental about that ... about the way our brains do scales.
Edited: December 26, 2017, 8:42 AM · As in my ladder-in-the-dark analogy, the hand has to memorise the linear and diagonal distances on the way up. And as on a ladder, we should start by creeping down one rung at a time....

Diminished, (and wholetone) scales require organising positions by semitone, rather the by diatonic sequence. All the half positions.

December 26, 2017, 11:59 PM · I am not playing myself, i just watch my son's lessons. My son has this exercise too (just limited to one scale). While he plays 0A, he needs to form the finger block in a write pattern (depending on the song or scale he plays) and put it all at once. With the teacher, they first discuss the left hand position (all small issues he has to focus on) and what is the pattern needed for a particular piece, they form the pattern. Then place it on a bow (using it as a fake violin) while singing, and only then try with bowing. As long his left hand position is correct (relaxed, window between hand and fingerboard, correct fingers form, nails toward him etc) and he is focussed, he sounds precise. Sometimes it is easier for him to go down, because the correct position of the 3 is more natural for him than the 1, where he needs to really control himself, so he uses 3 as a coordinate where to put the block.

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