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Tommy

Curved Fingers - exercises??

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I am working on keeping my left hand fingers curved (especially the joint at the fingertip) and close to the strings at all times. Would greatly appreciate any suggestions on how to commit this to muscle memory. Have been playing slow scales focussing on this issue but it does not necessarily translate into playing a piece (at least not so far for me). Thank you. Tom

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I am working on keeping my left hand fingers curved (especially the joint at the fingertip) and close to the strings at all times. Would greatly appreciate any suggestions on how to commit this to muscle memory. Have been playing slow scales focussing on this issue but it does not necessarily translate into playing a piece (at least not so far for me). Thank you. Tom

Keeping your left hand fingers curved is essential to playing in tune. If you find yourself playing flat you should analyze the curvature of your finger joints to see if that is the problem. I make my students keep this in mind all the time.

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How about the first two pages of Schradieck (School of Violin Technique, Vol. 1)? Scales are good, but the Schradieck patterns might help your muscle memory more. Honestly, you just have to keep reminding yourself until they behave. Try writing CURVE at the top of every page of your music (I had to write BEND on ever page of the Bartok Concerto in order to remember to bend my right thumb... it stays bent now... most of the time :))

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I am working on keeping my left hand fingers curved (especially the joint at the fingertip) and close to the strings at all times. Would greatly appreciate any suggestions on how to commit this to muscle memory. Have been playing slow scales focussing on this issue but it does not necessarily translate into playing a piece (at least not so far for me). Thank you. Tom

I find the best way for proper left hand positioning is to practice lots of double stops. I use an etude book that is not too common in the US but widely used in Europe: 30 double chord (stops) studies by Polo (Ricordi). It starts off very easy and you can pace yourself as your left hand starts behaving better. Etude #9 is especially useful, making sure that you do not lift any fingers off the fingerboard unless absolutely necessary. Lymond's Schradieck suggestion is excellent as well and I would also suggest Kreutzer #9 as well. For extreme development of flexibility and proper finger position, (this should be supervised by a teacher) practice a chromatic scale in unisons: 4th finger on G string on Eb, 1st finger on the same note on the D string, then move up to E natural, etc. There are many ways to hurt your arm if you don't properly make sure that your arm and fingers are as relaxed as possible while pressing enough to keep them in place and in tune, thus needing a teacher to supervise the early attempts.

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I am working on keeping my left hand fingers curved (especially the joint at the fingertip) and close to the strings at all times. Would greatly appreciate any suggestions on how to commit this to muscle memory. Have been playing slow scales focussing on this issue but it does not necessarily translate into playing a piece (at least not so far for me). Thank you. Tom

Hi Tommy

Curved fingers and a relaxed hand are essential to achieving ease in playing and reliable intonation.

There are several elements to achieving the above.

1. Fingertip placement

2. Widening the base joints

3. Hand position

In Simon Fischer's Basics book all of this is explained with pics and exercises. p93 - p102

Highly recommended.

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I read Leopold Auer's book not too long ago and I remember he suggests an interesting excesice to strenght the fingers and give shape to the hand. I dont really remember hes exact words but I'll try to explain:

Put all fingers in first position, first finger on F natural on the E string, second finger on C natural on A string, third finger on G natural on the D string and the fourth finger on A on the G String. After you got them all in position, you firmly tap a few times each finger without moving the others. Auer also suggests to follow an order, i think it was second finger first, then fourth, then first and then third. (Im not sure thought).

Hope it helps, I think its a good exercise.

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I think having strong fingers are important, and the Auer exercise is a good one because it combines both strength, shape, and relaxation, but I'd want to add that for me, the ability to keep my fingers curved is more about relaxation than strength or even shape. Shape I more associate with intonation. Strength I associate as one element of speed, the other, of course, is relaxation. Strength is also one of the elements of tone. The Auer exercise improves on most other double stop exercises exercises because the relaxation is built in.

Way to go, Leo!

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Thank you for these great practical suggestions. Funny that I have been doing Kreutzer No 9 for years....nice to finally know what I should be looking for....so that I can stop doing it wrong or pointlessly.... Tom

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A couple of quick observations since I have been focussing on keeping fingers curved at all times:

- if you keep the first finger curved then the others seem to automatically follow

- my fingertips hurt since apparently if forces you to play more on the tip.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Tom

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A couple of quick observations since I have been focussing on keeping fingers curved at all times:

- if you keep the first finger curved then the others seem to automatically follow

- my fingertips hurt since apparently if forces you to play more on the tip.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Tom

Just keeping the fingers curved isn't the whole story.

That's like a golfer just thinking about keeping his left arm straight....and expecting to hit straight shots every time.

There are many other elements that must be addressed including the angle of the fingers, the base joints and hand position.

As I mentioned above it's all in the Basics book which is mainly the teachings of Dorothy Delay, the teacher of Itzhak Perlman, Midori, Sarah Chang, Shlomo Mintz etc.

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I bought both Fisher books two years ago and tried to use them but to no avail. I could not understand his obtuse writing style and hyper-anatomical descriptions for the exercises. After reading the paragraph over and over and trying to produce the desired stance/hold/motion on my violin, I needed a martini before I ever got to actually do the exercise. Luckily I dumped them on craigslist. Would have preferred a video or the reincarnation of Ms Delay.

The curved fingers do seem to make fast passages cleaner and more in synch and also set up the finger for immediate vibrato....believe me I like what I have learned and am not complaining....

Tom

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I bought both Fisher books two years ago and tried to use them but to no avail. I could not understand his obtuse writing style and hyper-anatomical descriptions for the exercises. After reading the paragraph over and over and trying to produce the desired stance/hold/motion on my violin, I needed a martini before I ever got to actually do the exercise. Luckily I dumped them on craigslist. Would have preferred a video or the reincarnation of Ms Delay.

The curved fingers do seem to make fast passages cleaner and more in synch and also set up the finger for immediate vibrato....believe me I like what I have learned and am not complaining....

Tom

I believe the books were designed to be understood and used by students aged 11 upwards. Over 30,000 copies sold. Sorry you had problems understanding it. I don't think it could be explained more clearly and there are even photographs of the relevant hand/finger positions too.

Perhaps the Martinis are best left until after violin practice....... :)

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I think Fischer's book is more helpfull for teachers than for students. Its good book, but sometimes he over-explains things. (If you have to think too much about it its not gonna work) .Just imagine someone completly clueless trying to understand what Fischer says, especially when he can barely control what hes hands are doing. Now, imagine a teacher who finds something wrong with the student's technique, and uses the book to understand and correct the problem. I think thats how Fischer intended the use of hes book anyways.

One last thing, I think the problem is that a lot of people are just looking to be taught "the perfect tecnique" trying to understand everything about playing, and most of the times you just have to stop thnking and do it.

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It's worth keeping in mind that flattened fingers (especially the pinkie) often appear in the playing of many great players, so one has to keep the curved finger prescription in context, with an eye out for ways in which individual hand shape and particular pieces and techniques may modify it. Curved fingers are part of what enables consistency, control, and efficiency, which are crucial to intonation, but the curve sometimes departs even while intonation remains. :)

a1s2--Fischer's book is for anyone capable of understanding and using it. Some people don't learn well from verbal sources, that's fine, but it doesn't mean the book is only useful for teachers. Far from it, one can find many comments from players who find the book useful online, including students.

Tommy--to make correct finger behavior a part of your habitual technique you have to practice it as part of everything you do. Every piece you play, you have to practice playing with the right technique, there is no other way. If you play exercises to get this right, and then you play your favorite pieces for fun without paying attention to this issue you are just perpetuating the bad habits.

The answer isn't therefore a particular exercise (although I'm sure the above suggestions are fine), the answer is a rather draconian break with your old ways of doing things until you establish new habits. This is exactly the reason why learning things the right way at first is important, re-learning/changing technique is a royal pain. :) (I don't mean the latter in a scolding way, just mentioning the connection. :))

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I think Fischer's book is more helpfull for teachers than for students. Its good book, but sometimes he over-explains things. (If you have to think too much about it its not gonna work) .Just imagine someone completly clueless trying to understand what Fischer says, especially when he can barely control what hes hands are doing. Now, imagine a teacher who finds something wrong with the student's technique, and uses the book to understand and correct the problem. I think thats how Fischer intended the use of hes book anyways.

One last thing, I think the problem is that a lot of people are just looking to be taught "the perfect tecnique" trying to understand everything about playing, and most of the times you just have to stop thnking and do it.

As I have read and participated on many topics on this forum, I am finally understanding the difficulty of explaining in writing solutions to problems that really need physical presence in order to be properly understood. For example, as a player and teacher, I used to find the answers of the makers and set-up people to simple questions very unsatisfactory and would say so. I have needed to learn some set-up stuff and repair techniques lately and was looking for steps 1,2,3, then done! However, it's not always so simple. There are many variables, the biggest being the knowledge of the one seeking advice. There are a lot of experts on this site, and it is refreshing that there are so many willing to share, often with no expected thanks or responses.

My point on the original topic is that there is no book that can explain satisfactorily how to do something without bringing some practical knowledge to the table. And some effort. I posted technical advice, hope it works. If it doesn't, a book by a disciple of anyone won't help. A good teacher, in person, would.

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I believe the books were designed to be understood and used by students aged 11 upwards. Over 30,000 copies sold. Sorry you had problems understanding it. I don't think it could be explained more clearly and there are even photographs of the relevant hand/finger positions too.

Perhaps the Martinis are best left until after violin practice....... :)

What 11 year old do you know that could benefit from these books? The explanations in these books are useless and the pedigree of who wrote them equally so. A martini is certainly required to correlate the explanations with actual sound production and to understand the minutiae that is described.

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What 11 year old do you know that could benefit from these books? The explanations in these books are useless and the pedigree of who wrote them equally so. A martini is certainly required to correlate the explanations with actual sound production and to understand the minutiae that is described.

The tone of this makes me quite cross. Who the f*** are you to insult and devalue somebody who has devoted his life to helping young people learn to play the violin. As for his 'useless' pedigree, Simon Fischer gives classes at Juilliard, and is a professor at the Yehudi Menuhin School and the Guildhall School of Music in London.

Then I realised you're the same guy who described all violin dealers as crooks and managed to upset a lot of members by questioning their integrity. Looks like you do have a problem.

As far as your post pertains to this forum: a gratuitous and unfounded insult. The threads pertaining to this aspect will fill volumes - volumes of good, solid information.

That is why I suggested you find an analyst, because publishing your "opinion" on this forum is evidence of seriously anti-social behaviour. The fact that you formed your "opinion" in the manner you did also betrays a serious lack of discernment - or perhaps attention deficiency - or even delusion.

You seem to have a problem with makers, luthiers and "experts" in general to an acute degree, judging from many of your other posts. Find an analyst and try to fix your problem - that just may help you to start benefiting from this forum.

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I believe the books were designed to be understood and used by students aged 11 upwards. Over 30,000 copies sold. Sorry you had problems understanding it. I don't think it could be explained more clearly and there are even photographs of the relevant hand/finger positions too.

Perhaps the Martinis are best left until after violin practice....... :)

I always hold the shaker in my left hand....invaluable for vibrato training....

Tom

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This recently opened my eyes a bit, from Erick Friedman, student of Galamian, Milstein, and Heifetz:

‘There is a standard of medical practice that is accepted by the profession, but a violin teacher can teach anything he pleases. Teachers, often with the best intentions, will teach their students things that they have never really thought about, e.g. “you have to round your fingers”, “you have to see your elbow”, “hold the violin in the centre”, “hold the bow so you don't lose it”. They might as well be giving them an infection. They're teaching them problems! There isn't a great violinist in history who automatically rounded the fingers. I wear a 37-inch sleeve. Does that mean that someone who wears a 32-inch sleeve has to manage his arm and fingers the same as I do? Fingers are equally disparate. Most violinists with any degree of security play the same way: with their palms; not their fingers. The fingers fall. Perlman's great security comes from his enormous hands, well- developed arms and long fingers. Heifetz and Milstein and Stern had this too - knowing where the hand is. You don't find notes with the tips of the fingers!’

That got me thinking, so I tried placing all four fingers as perfectly in tune as I could in first position on the D string, and then swung my instrument to the left and right until I found the spot where my hand and elbow were most relaxed, and then also placed my thumb where it felt most balanced. It was immediately easier to keep good intonation - all up and down the neck. I've been working for years to keep my left hand "quiet", but that became more natural, too. The fingers do indeed tend to naturally fall where they need to, and to stay nicely rounded. Only drawback is that I had to adjust my bowing to keep the bow square, but that hasn't been a problem.

Might be worth a try. Apart from that, I play a lot of slow scale exercises, and concentrate on minimal finger movement. It does carry over, just as the intonation does. HTH

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In my playing experience (which hasn't been extremely long), I find that keeping a good elbow position under the violin helps a lot. I had this problem when I first started.

Another thing, try finding or asking your teacher for a piece of music with all or most double stops (you could also write one based on another song just using thirds or fifths). This would help you keep fingers straight in order to play a clean double stop.

Lastly, you may be doing fine, if you can double stop and switch strings quickly as you are. There may not be too big of a problem. However, I have not seen how flat/curved your fingers are. If you are certain that its a problem, then the only way that you will get a big change is a laborious and difficult way. Take all of the tips you can, but in the end you just have to keep remembering it and focus every minute of your practice on this (even if you have to slow down or play some easier songs).

Many of us have had to develop new muscle memory by just painfully replaying songs with the problem in mind, its not fun but I am fairly sure all of us have had to do it (I remember a big problem for me was keeping the bow perpendicular with the strings cause of my lanky arms )

Keep at it,

~TFirzli

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Michael R. that's a fabulous quote, thanks for posting it.

I ran across that at a good time, I think. It certainly made a big improvement in my playing. At a little over four years of serious work, I'm at the point where my basics are good, and I play decently, but am really working to refine intonation and tone, as well as expressiveness. Anything that makes playing easier lets you relax more and helps you play better.

I found the whole article fascinating. Lots of good thoughts on playing and teaching, as well as violin world politics. You'll find it here: Friedman article

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I ran across that at a good time, I think. It certainly made a big improvement in my playing. At a little over four years of serious work, I'm at the point where my basics are good, and I play decently, but am really working to refine intonation and tone, as well as expressiveness. Anything that makes playing easier lets you relax more and helps you play better.

I found the whole article fascinating. Lots of good thoughts on playing and teaching, as well as violin world politics. You'll find it here: Friedman article

Excellent article, very interesting and candid. Totally agree with his opinion about current players feeling that they have to "look" intense in order for the audience to think that they are. Thank you for posting it.

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And here is Auer's book http://www.archive.org/stream/violinplayin...age/n0/mode/1up It is supposed to be copyright free.

I also would add this to Friedman's opinion, this are L. Auer's words:

"But what I have meant to suggest here is that the great artists are exceptional. Each has his peculiarities, and one must not and should not try to imitate any one of them blindly. Rather you must try to catch the reflection of his genius and, utilizing whatever light it may shed, readapt it to your own individual needs. It is often the case, in fact, that when a great artist stresses some small defect or peculiarity in his playing, any number of young students will first of all seize upon the unessential personal quirk and believe that in so doing they have grasper the very essence of the artist's genius. It is much esier, of course, to imitatte this trifling defent than the more substantial qualities wich, at bottom, make up the artist's true individuality."

Thanks for the article Nonado, I really enjoyed reading it.

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