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Suzuki 1 - Allegretto - Question


sbarton
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Hello - I just started working on Allegretto in the Suzuki 1
book. My instructor replaced many of the Open A's with a 4th finger
A on the D string. That means on several measures I have to go from
4th finger A to B on the A string.



Should I try to learn this by pressing both the D and the A down
simultaneously? (Sorry - bet there is a term for this) - or should
I just finger it normally?



 



Hope this makes sense -



 



Thanks,

Bart

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I can't recall that exact piece but a bit of advice from an old start: the sooner you can keep more than one finger down on a note (as you describe here) the better off you will be in the long run. It seems beginners are taught to move the entire left hand as a unit to get to individual notes. That's well and good, but if you keep that habit (*cough* like I did *cough*) it makes playing faster pieces very, very difficult and it's a PAIN to unlearn that habit.

If you can find a video (or if someone here knows of one) that shows close-ups of a professional violinist playing, you'll see what I'm saying. If I can find the link I'm thinking of, I'll post it here and you can have a look.

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In my opinion, the 4th finger on the D string should be used in Suzuki, Book 1 #10 ONLY where the indicated fingering gives it as an option - and never when it precedes or follows a fingered note on the A string. An advanced player might use optional alternate fingerings - but an advanced player would have the option of moving around to play in other positions instead, as well.

Using the 4th finger is used to

1. make it easier to play a passage without crossing strings OR

2. to avoid the sound of an open string

In Suzuki, one starts substituting the 4th finger for the open strings in #9. Even in "professional-level" playing there are many times when one will use an open string.

I believe it is a good idea to learn to play with "all fingers down." I put it in quotes, because only the highest finger is sounding - but it does lead to the ability to move the "down" fingers to another string when it is about to be needed. After some time, you will realize that your hand forms a "set of frets" that helps you place each finger properly by its relation to the other fingers. The lower fingers may actually touch the string, although they should not be pressing it down. Eventually this "fretted hand" becomes more a thing in one's mind, although the fingers are best if never far removed from the string.

When you learn to vibrato, you may remove the lower fingers, depending on how long the note is and how you are shaping it with vibrato.

As a teacher I do not agree with some of the fingerings an bowings one finds in the various later Suzuki books, but I can see what is intended. I have sometimes chosen to allow a student to use the more conventional bowings or fingerings that are available in other publications (for pieces in later books). But in this case I agree with the fingerings given in the book - exactly. I think that if 4th finger is added to any otheropen As, it is conterproductive of this particular lesson's intent.

Andy

P.S. One thing more. In the Suzuki books, one gets later chances to learn more advanced things, so just because you have just come upon the use of 4th finger is no reason to exhaust its possibilities. I also teach cello (I am also a cellist, not a violinist who teaches or plays at cello) and in Suzuki cello Book 1, the 4th finger is introduced in the the first peice ("Twinkel") because it is absolutely essential to cello playing - a scale cannot be played without using the 4th finger (which does not play an open string note on cello - but plays the note equivalent to 3rd finger on the violin).

4th finger is the "place" where violin students have to give up playing with a collapsed wrist - which is why so many self-taught fiddlers never use a 4th finger. Opening up the left wrist is also essential to developing a vibrato and moving on to higher positions.

4th finger is also - and always - the hardest finger to use on violin and viola. If you look at music that Yehudi Menuhin edited you will see how heoften avoided using 4th finger. On cello, it is no harder than any other finger in lower positioins - but almost impossible in the "thumb positions."

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This is a super great site for getting up close and personal shots of various techniques. A couple words of caution, stick with the level you are at (I've looked at the advanced and professional videos and wanted to cry!) and don't be discouraged by the fact that the little kids play so darn GOOD! Look at the elementary level under the left hand menu and see if you can get an idea of what you need to work on.

Violin Master Classes

I love this site. It shows lots of technique issues close up and for me, augment my lessons when my teacher isn't handy. Again, use this only as a supplement to a real live teacher.

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Gray - Thanks for the link

Andy - Thanks very much for that overview.  I'm not sure

why my instructor wants me to do it this way.  I'm sure you

can understand though when I say "she's the boss".  I will

share your comments with her though at my next practice and see

what she says.  For now though I have to practice it the

way she asked me to. The piece is already pretty

challenging in other areas for me - especially the bowing with

staccato and attack. I guess for now I'll try to

get it as clean as possible without using the double press.

I was woodshed'ing it last night and I was surprised how difficult

it was to bow those eighth notes cleanly with some resemblance of

separation between them.  I couldn't get the bow to stop

cleanly which resulted in lots of unpleasant screeching.

Thanks,

Bart

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quote:


Originally posted by:
sbarton

Gray - Thanks for the link

I was woodshed'ing it last night and I was surprised how difficult

it was to bow those eighth notes cleanly with some resemblance of

separation between them. I couldn't get the bow to stop

cleanly which resulted in lots of unpleasant screeching.

Bart

You're quite welcome, Bart. Hang in there on the bowing, etc. It all comes with time and lots of dedicated practice! I've been playing for 12 years and every once in a while I'll pull out those first two Suzuki books to just zip through them. I still remember all too clearly how HARD it was to get it all together "back in the day" but it's worth the work. Funny aside, at my lesson this week my teacher threw some new things at me and I struggled with them just like you are now. I've commented more than once that just about the time you "think" you've got a handle on this violin stuff, you find out how much you DON'T know!!

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"Teacher" is the key word here. While it is fun and often instructional to discuss the many details on playing on these forums, your teacher has the advantage of being with you one-on-one. Your teacher can take things into account that we cannot see or may not know about. I hesitate to give any advice beyond wanting to encourage you to look a the many possibilities, which you seem to be considering even now, but to present your thoughts and questions to your teacher as the authority on your lessons.

Best Wishes,

Ken

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I was thinking something similar to Ken. You have been told to use your fourth finger for the A and now you are encountering a question about the subsequent notes. Your teacher might be trying to lead you someplace there, including asking just that question. If you cannot solve the puzzle, ask your teacher in the next lesson and see where she wants to lead you.

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OK, another example - what about the next song "Andantino" page 24.

3rd Line - 1st measure. I don't know any better, but it kinda looks

like the most efficient way to handle those first 3 notes would be

1st finger on the E with 2nd & 3rd on the A. Or at this stage

should I learn picking all 3 up and putting them down on the A. Am

I making sense?

Andy, I'm thinking from your previous comments it should be the

latter no?

Thanks in advance for the insight,

 Bart

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Sanford,

It appears that your teacher is introducing an important aspect of left hand technique. It will become more important as you startplaying in the flat keys, where you cannot always use an open string. It will become even more important when you start playing in higher positions where you must use the fourth finger.

There should be a moment when both the first and fourth finger are on the string. at that moment you change strings with the bow too. As soon as the smooth connection is made between the 1st and 4th finger you can lift the finger you are no longer usuing. The sensation is like walking. One foot goes down and the other one comes up.

You are establishing what is called the "frame of the hand" which consists of the first and fourth fingers in their places. Then the middle fingers also fall (more or less) into place. This is the basis for a lot of advanced technique.

So -- if your teacher thinks you are ready, you should tackle this technique and master it. It will pay off.

Best regards.

Roy:

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I think that what Bart is asking about concerns having some fingers on one string and other fingers on another string simultaneously. What I see happening behind the scenes is that you have been set up to encounter "problems", in the sense that we are given math. problems in school so that we become skilled at finding solutions, so that in solving them you begin to become more familiar with how to navigate on the violin. It is good to encounter challenges and to try out solutions, to end up with questions. But the next step is to present the problems as well as the solutions to your teacher. She may be expecting this, and it would be part of her way of teaching you. "This is the problem I've had. This is what I've been doing about it. Is it correct?" And she will confirm, steer you in another direction, give you more insight and that's how you learn. Show your teacher what you have been doing, and ask away. I think she will be more than pleased at both the question, and the opportunity of providing an answer.

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Bart, You are correct in what you say.

This technique is first introduced (in Suzuki) in the 3rd piece, "Song of the Wind." Of course one "frets" or frames tha hand and the fingers do "linger" at the next place they will be used. Fingers in place simultaneously on 1, 2, 3, and even 4 strings are part of technique; but how one apples pressure is something to study and learn - for example, for a 4 note chord, do you apply pressure to all 4 fingers simultaneously or do allow the left hand to "roll" as the bow transfers across the strings? The same principle is used in applying pressure to several fingers on seeveral strings for all purposes.

My argument involves using the Suzuki books' order for introducing technique rather than "jumping the gun." Also, with respect to the question asked, there are many things in technique that one can do but that one would not do in normal playing because there is no reason to (and it makes something that is hard to do (e.g., violin playing), at best, even harder). It seems to me that part of learning (and teaching) is to know the difference. But the teacher may have some other principle in mind. Students usually have no idea why a teacher has them do somethiing a certain way - it is often to correct a problem - and for this teachers will try all kinds of things until they find what works. Even if the teacher explains the reason(s) the student usually forgets.

Andy

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Sbarton

At this stage, the fastest way for you to learn would be to keep all your fingers down as much as possible.

If you look at the way professionals play through fast (and even slow) passagework...from a distance it's almost visually imperceptible as to which fingers are on the string and which aren't. All you really see is the hand moving from position to position (for the pieces you mention your hand is going to stay in first position)...you don't see their fingers moving. Ultimately in the end...you're not thinking finger to finger so much...rather it's hand position to hand position. This is part of the "frame position" which Roy Sonne mentioned.

And to get to that point, keep as many fingers down as is possible. Train your hand this way, and things will come much easier later on. And I too would introduce the 4th finger asap and use it as much as possible too.

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Hi Sbarton,

If you understand that there are multiple ways to play your piece, then practice all

different ways. My teacher (long time ago) would suggest the best way she thought

I should play. However, she would not object to it if I did not follow her way.

I think your teacher wanted you to practice the 4th finger. It is okay to play your A note on D string

or play your A on open A-string. Your second question was : Can I play the A note simutaneously (open

A and 4 th position A on D, double stop) ? Answer, is NO. The reason, the music does not call for such.

Usually open A (on top " 0" ) on D string " 4" should be

indicated in the music sheet. It means what fnger should be used ( no ambiguity)

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Hi, thanks for all the replies. I think part of the issue is that

I'm only getting 1 lesson a week for 30 min. I spend about 10 min

playing what I practiced the following week, then we spend 10min or

so identifying/fixing problems then the rest of the time is spent

going over what I'll be doing the next week. Add setup and teardown

time there isn't alot of time left in the lessons to go over

details like what we're discussing. Thanks again for all the input

- it really is helpful. Bart

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Hi,

I find it very important to play Suzuki Book 1 (or other book like it).

I am a returnee.

(1) tune your violin "perfectly" (use a electronic tuner to help if needed) (it cannot be any better)

(2) listen to the note you play (not to worry about fingering that much) (your ears tell your fingers)

After that everything will be easy.

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