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moving down the fingerboard


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Hope this doesn't sound too strange to you, but it seems to me the simplest and easiest way to learn moving up is by playing scales. Get the Flesch scale system book if you don't already have it, and just play those three octave scales...you'll have to move up on the fingerboard, and because of the repetitive pattern you should be able to judge intonation with greater ease as well. It's really no big deal, just gotta go fer it! ; )



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Some suggestions to reduce the "death grip":

1. Make sure you can grip the violin between your chin and collar bone. Practice walking around the house holding you violin in this manner (of course, try not to bunp into anything). Use your hands to do other things like scratch your nose, turn lights on and off, sort flatware etc.

2. Keep your left wrist back. Many self-taught players like to put the heel of their hand on the neck. Practice keeping your wrist back by waving bye-bye to yourself.

3. Get yourself some good books that show, in detail, proper position of hand and arm. Study said books. Follow diagrams and photos carefully. Do as they say.

4. Get Whistler's Introducing the Positions, book 1.

5. To get comfortable with third position (learn that one and the others are easy) put the pinky side of your hand against the rib of the treble side of the upper bout. make circle around the neck with your thumb and second finger over the A string. Place the first finger about 3/4 of and inch from the second finger, remove circled fingers from the fingerboard so you are only holding down the a string. Bow a double stop with the d and a strings. Move finger a bit if needed to sound an octave "D". You are now playing first finger, third position.

Hope this helps. The only other advice I can say is to relax and, if possible, get a teacher.

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First (and it took me forever to register this), you aren't moving "down" the fingerboard, you're moving "up" the fingerboard. I had to make myself think in terms of "higher positions are up."

The Whistler book is what I'd suggest as well. Something you can do as an exercise is to place any finger on any string in first position, resting it lightly and just run your finger up and down the fingerboard. It makes really neat "ghost" sounds as you run over the various harmonics. Make sure you move your hand as a unit (meaning take your thumb with the rest of your hand!). Because you aren't stopping a note, you'll find this relaxes your hand.

Good luck and be patient. It's a huge step to begin shifting and not many people have an easy go of it at first, but one it clicks, you'll wonder how you survived without it.

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Here's an unabashedly biased suggestion. Get on the phone and call several local violin teachers. When you find one you enjoy talking to, hire that person.

There are teachers out there who take their craft so seriously that they welcome conscientious adult beginners. Imagine the above beautifully written posts coming at you in a cheerful tone from someone who can actually see and hear what you're doing.

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I'll second both the advice on how to shift and to get a teacher.

A few more points to remember. The left elbow needs to rotate to the right and come into the body. Think cool shifting. Your hand should gracefully glide up and down the fingerboard. In third position and higher your hand will come into contact with the body of the violin. Learn to use this contact to help determine what position your are in.

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By the title of your thread I thought you were already playing in 12th position and were trying to figure out how to get down to 1st position.

PS: any 'iron grips' should be discouraged by relaxing your hand. A teacher would make you stop and relax. There is no place in violin playing for 'clinching the neck of the violin in a death grip, plus, this practice can lead to injuries that could end your playing altogether. Get help. A good teacher will help you.

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I agree with all the above - if you haven't started shifting, it's sometimes good to simply play notes in the next few positions (eg. play up to a second/third finger then swap for 1st) to get the feel of making notes in tune.

Lots of books offer tunes for this and I tend to encourage pupils to do some playing in 2nd or 3rd position before shifting begins. It's a chicken and egg thing of course but you'll be more keen to do the shifting if you know where you're going to.......anyone care to comment.

Relax that grip between thumb and first, if you can't get this good, get help SOON!

Good luck


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