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Is my viola too big?


FromBassToViola
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8 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

I was just thinking that my little finger is roughly pink (if with blemishes), although not everybody's would be

Pinkie and pink entered the American lexicon via different etymological routes.

4 hours ago, Bill Merkel said:

^A "derogatory" term for communists, did you say?

I'd say pinko is pejorative, not derogatory.

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Hi GTone,

good to hear that you were taught the same way as Hempel (with regards the stretching exercise), I have been trying it and I like it, and I can see the benefit of it. Previously I had been stretching my 4th finger upwards from my 2nd, but I can see that stretching the 2nd backwards from the 4th is better.

And I am most impressed that a violist knows the different schools of Simandl and Rabbath. Yes I learned the Simandl way, although I am familiar with the Rabbath method but never practiced it enough so that it comes naturally to me.

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Hi Hempel,

yes you are correct about my musical standards, even though I am not practicing the viola with the aim of playing professionally (like I did when I practiced the double bass almost 40 years ago), I find that I still have the same high standards.

And I understand what you are saying about the correct hand frame and arched fingers, because one day I tried an experiment and flattened my 4th finger and even though I found I could actually reach the E better than when arched I wasn't at all pleased with that approach because once my 4th finger was flat I felt "flat-footed" and less agile and thus decided I didn't want to pursue that approach.

So I am definitely going to stick with the approach you (and others) suggested, and work on the hand frame with arched fingers, in particular stretching backwards from the 4th finger rather than forwards from the 2nd.

Thank you very much for you considerable input, I very much appreciate it!

 

 

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11 hours ago, FromBassToViola said:

Hi Hempel,

yes you are correct about my musical standards, even though I am not practicing the viola with the aim of playing professionally (like I did when I practiced the double bass almost 40 years ago), I find that I still have the same high standards.

And I understand what you are saying about the correct hand frame and arched fingers, because one day I tried an experiment and flattened my 4th finger and even though I found I could actually reach the E better than when arched I wasn't at all pleased with that approach because once my 4th finger was flat I felt "flat-footed" and less agile and thus decided I didn't want to pursue that approach.

So I am definitely going to stick with the approach you (and others) suggested, and work on the hand frame with arched fingers, in particular stretching backwards from the 4th finger rather than forwards from the 2nd.

Thank you very much for you considerable input, I very much appreciate it!

As long as you understand the major concepts I conveyed I think you'll be all right. (arch is structurally strong; "soft" relaxed left hand; position favoring the pinkie & stretching the long fingers back).

Experiment with the minimum downward string deflection you can get away with while playing scales and still get a good tone (light touch), as well as how high/low the left thumb can be on the neck.  This will help you find the ideal frame, minimize tension, and improve finger agility. 

Once you feel sufficiently comfortable, move on to trills.

Patience is required to not succumb to the temptation of over-practicing.  You don't want to risk tendinitis, especially in the beginning.

Playing with a less-than-dependable pinkie is a bit like driving a car with a flat tire.  Just suitable enough to get you limping to the nearest service station but not enough to do anything else. 

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I don't think "just practice" is good advice without some specifics of what, mechanically, might help. That's what teachers are for, and the best ones are great at fine tuning hand, arm, and instrument angles & body position just to solve those issues. The problems and challenges are different for everyone. I think the advice to consider "reaching down with the 2nd finger to play the C natural" is good advice. The idea of "where the hand is balanced" comes to mind - many violists with smaller hands will balance their left hand either on the 2nd finger or perhaps alternate between the 2nd and 3rd finger, depending, whereas many violinists "anchor" on the 1st finger (Julian Rachlin is a big proponent of this). 

My 4th finger, while not as short as the OPs, still gives me plenty of challenges with reaches, particularly in half and first position (I play on a 16-5/16" viola). People often assume that because I'm tall, I should play on a bigger instrument, but these days, I'm hearing more often that anything above 16" is already considered "a bigger viola". Seems everyone wants a really small viola that sounds great. I can understand that!

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16 minutes ago, Zeissica said:

I don't think "just practice" is good advice without some specifics of what, mechanically, might help. That's what teachers are for,

Agreed.  The OP needs to ask his/her teacher, or get one if he/she doesn't have one.

As keyboard warriors, we simply do not have enough information or know the OP's skill level to properly assess the issue(s).  Simply saying "just practice" was not a good response.  Apologies to the OP.

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don't worry vioinnewb - I didn't take offence....in fact...quite the opposite, I found it reassuring that someone else out there has a similar hand shape and can play a 16" viola!

And I certainly will persevere with practicing the viola, I love it, I've always thought that the greatest musical activity would be to play in a string quartet, so that is my ultimate goal.

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