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famous violinists who have their thumb right under the neck


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Thanks. I think my hand brushes there anyway, and probably helps hold up the instrument. I had not thought about it. Keeping up the violin in first position w/o shoulder rest involves some kind of levitation as I see it, meaning that I never analysed it properly.

If I think about anything, it is the interview with Friedman where he remarked that the first time he saw Heifetz close up, his impression was the the violin was held so lightly that if you blew on it the violin would blow away. That does not come over in the videos.

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7 minutes ago, John_London said:

Thanks. I think my hand brushes there anyway, and probably helps hold up the instrument. I had not thought about it. Keeping up the violin in first position w/o shoulder rest involves some kind of levitation as I see it, meaning that I never analysed it properly.

If I think about anything, it is the interview with Friedman where he remarked that the first time he saw Heifetz close up, his impression was the the violin was held so lightly that if you blew on it the violin would blow away. That does not come over in the videos.

It definitely does help keep the instrument up, the thumb merely touches, it does not help support it in any way. It only does so when going up to the higher positions. In my playing at least.

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14 minutes ago, John_London said:

If I think about anything, it is the interview with Friedman where he remarked that the first time he saw Heifetz close up, his impression was the the violin was held so lightly that if you blew on it the violin would blow away. That does not come over in the videos.

I'm pretty sure these reports are usually exaggerated and other than that, it seems to me that Heifetz also could hold the instrument straight with his head. I'm unsure whether he used a pad, but the way he stands straight and turns his head towards the scroll automatically kind of locks the instrument in place. It also locks it in a way that brings the E string higher (try it, the G string side of the instrument will be pushed down and it will become more parallel to the floor) and so he needed a pretty high elbow to play on the G string too.

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3 minutes ago, thirteenthsteph said:

I'm pretty sure these reports are usually exaggerated and other than that, it seems to me that Heifetz also could hold the instrument straight with his head. I'm unsure whether he used a pad, but the way he stands straight and turns his head towards the scroll automatically kind of locks the instrument in place. It also locks it in a way that brings the E string higher (try it, the G string side of the instrument will be pushed down and it will become more parallel to the floor) and so he needed a pretty high elbow to play on the G string too.

I did try, and watched parts of the film where Heifetz plays Tchiak.  It is not hard to hold the violin straight without shoulder rest or pad briefly, even with a long neck (as Fodor pointed out in a video). I use my shoulder and chin usually without noticing it, as with left base joint and thumb--just not the whole time. This does not mean I play well, but keeping a feeling of fluidity seems helpful.

Was watching Benedetti on Youtube talking about her (very expensive) Libero shoulder rest. She looks reasonably comfortable with it.

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16 minutes ago, John_London said:

I did try, and watched parts of the film where Heifetz plays Tchiak.  It is not hard to hold the violin straight without shoulder rest or pad briefly, even with a long neck (as Fodor pointed out in a video). I use my shoulder and chin usually without noticing it, as with left base joint and thumb--just not the whole time. This does not mean I play well, but keeping a feeling of fluidity seems helpful.

Was watching Benedetti on Youtube talking about her (very expensive) Libero shoulder rest. She looks reasonably comfortable with it.

Yeah that is true, but I'm pretty sure he could hold it like that. If you look at 1:31 for a few seconds here, you can see him relaxing his grip momentarily and re-gripping it; the violin snaps into place as it flattens parallel to the ground. Either a pad or the padding of the suit he was wearing, but I'm pretty sure the violin was held there without the constant need of support from the hand. 

EDIT: hmmm the video is gone

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30 minutes ago, thirteenthsteph said:

Yeah that is true, but I'm pretty sure he could hold it like that. If you look at 1:31 for a few seconds here, you can see him relaxing his grip momentarily and re-gripping it; the violin snaps into place as it flattens parallel to the ground. Either a pad or the padding of the suit he was wearing, but I'm pretty sure the violin was held there without the constant need of support from the hand. 

EDIT: hmmm the video is gone

Videos on this site are broken currently. the answer when posting a video is to hit the "display as link instead" option on the black bar.

I looked at some videos of Friedman and of Milstein, who wear jackets which gives a bit of padding, and of Ida Haendel, who does not wear a jacket (e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcyUx4iB-kI).

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John_London & thirteenthsteph: I found your conversation very interesting indeed and I could relate to a lot of what you said, pity I couldn't join in but I'm in a different time zone than you (Australia).

I spent all this week practising using the Yehudi Menuhin method (i.e. ONLY using the thumb for support - rather than base of the index finger AND the thumb) and I found (as you said thirteenthsteph) it is uncomfortable and my thumb & cup of the hand definitely got tense and stiff. The tension in my hand started to put me off practising (normally I really enjoy practising).

Annoyingly though, my fingers did seem more agile and dexterous! But in spite of that, I don't think I'll stick with the Menuhin technique, the tradeoff with the hand tension was just not worth it.

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16 hours ago, FromBassToViola said:

John_London & thirteenthsteph: I found your conversation very interesting indeed and I could relate to a lot of what you said, pity I couldn't join in but I'm in a different time zone than you (Australia).

I spent all this week practising using the Yehudi Menuhin method (i.e. ONLY using the thumb for support - rather than base of the index finger AND the thumb) and I found (as you said thirteenthsteph) it is uncomfortable and my thumb & cup of the hand definitely got tense and stiff. The tension in my hand started to put me off practising (normally I really enjoy practising).

Annoyingly though, my fingers did seem more agile and dexterous! But in spite of that, I don't think I'll stick with the Menuhin technique, the tradeoff with the hand tension was just not worth it.

You have got me at it! I have just watched the whole of Yehudi Menuhin Violin Tutorial - 3. (than you, Youtube!) where the glass violin appears. He is very clear that he is using the pad of the thumb, not the lower joint, mainly on the side, not below, the neck. This does appear to reflect how he played in videos as a young man.

In the video he gives a whole bunch of preparatory exercises, which are harder than they look.

I have tended to use the lower joint of the thumb on the neck. He prefers the pad of the thumb on the neck. This causes the finger to fall slightly differently, and I have the impression that this produces a different sound, which unfortunately I think I prefer!

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9 hours ago, John_London said:

You have got me at it! I have just watched the whole of Yehudi Menuhin Violin Tutorial - 3. (than you, Youtube!) where the glass violin appears. He is very clear that he is using the pad of the thumb, not the lower joint, mainly on the side, not below, the neck. This does appear to reflect how he played in videos as a young man.

In the video he gives a whole bunch of preparatory exercises, which are harder than they look.

I have tended to use the lower joint of the thumb on the neck. He prefers the pad of the thumb on the neck. This causes the finger to fall slightly differently, and I have the impression that this produces a different sound, which unfortunately I think I prefer!

ha ha, apologies John_London for getting you into this addictive mystery!

Look at this old video of Menuhin, during the closeups I was wondering whether I could see a shoulder rest or not (for example, at around 5:00)

and then at 7:40 he tightens his bow and his violin sticks out all by itself like he's definitely got a shoulder rest!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNNp85Fk3Dg

What does this mean? .....don't do as I do...do as i say?

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14 hours ago, FromBassToViola said:

ha ha, apologies John_London for getting you into this addictive mystery!

Look at this old video of Menuhin, during the closeups I was wondering whether I could see a shoulder rest or not (for example, at around 5:00)

and then at 7:40 he tightens his bow and his violin sticks out all by itself like he's definitely got a shoulder rest!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNNp85Fk3Dg

What does this mean? .....don't do as I do...do as i say?

Menuhin gave his name to a shoulder rest which was sold to kids in Britain in great numbers in the 1970s, where Menuhin was a "national treasure". I think he briefly (to use the expression popular among programmers) tried "eating his own dogfood".

If you rest an area around the tail pin on the collar bone, as Milstein seems to have favoured, the fiddle naturally hangs down until you bring in some support from the left hand.

If you bring the left shoulder a little forwards (if necessary with some cloth or leather to prevent a polished instrument sliding), and place an area around the lower left rib on the collar bone, the violin will remain horizontal without a shoulder rest for most people, as it did for Heifetz. One challenge with the "Heifetz hold" is to avoid a stiff shoulder. This hold was popular in the past and is illustrated by Rosand, where you see he brings the left shoulder forwards a little https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAfbBuWb0io

Both methods require  practice, and ideally some teaching, to be comfortable with them, if one is accustomed to a shoulder rest.

 

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5 hours ago, John_London said:

Menuhin gave his name to a shoulder rest which was sold to kids in Britain in great numbers in the 1970s, where Menuhin was a "national treasure". I think he briefly (to use the expression popular among programmers) tried "eating his own dogfood".

If you rest an area around the tail pin on the collar bone, as Milstein seems to have favoured, the fiddle naturally hangs down until you bring in some support from the left hand.

If you bring the left shoulder a little forwards (if necessary with some cloth or leather to prevent a polished instrument sliding), and place an area around the lower left rib on the collar bone, the violin will remain horizontal without a shoulder rest for most people, as it did for Heifetz. One challenge with the "Heifetz hold" is to avoid a stiff shoulder. This hold was popular in the past and is illustrated by Rosand, where you see he brings the left shoulder forwards a little https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNNp85Fk3Dg

Both methods require  practice, and ideally some teaching, to be comfortable with them, if one is accustomed to a shoulder rest.

 

thanks for the reference to Rosand, I actually wasn't familiar with him, so that was good to learn.

Although your YouTube link is for my previous video on Menuhin, did you perhaps mean this Rosand video where he is teaching how to hold the violin:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAfbBuWb0io

 

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1 hour ago, FromBassToViola said:

thanks for the reference to Rosand, I actually wasn't familiar with him, so that was good to learn.

Although your YouTube link is for my previous video on Menuhin, did you perhaps mean this Rosand video where he is teaching how to hold the violin:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAfbBuWb0io

 

That's a very good video. The bit from 3:20 says it all.

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3 hours ago, FromBassToViola said:

thanks for the reference to Rosand, I actually wasn't familiar with him, so that was good to learn.

Although your YouTube link is for my previous video on Menuhin, did you perhaps mean this Rosand video where he is teaching how to hold the violin:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAfbBuWb0io

 

I've corrected the link in my post for posterity.

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1 hour ago, thirteenthsteph said:

I feel like all this unique personality and distinctive tone and becoming one with the violin talk is such bs. Just play however is comfortable. If you have something unique to express, it will show. If not, no shoulder rest or lack thereof is going to help.

"Comfortable" is a bit of a stretch for some of us :rolleyes: 

I just wanted to point out to FromBassToViola that it does not make sense to look at the thumb in isolation from bigger picture of how fiddle is held.

I was also tempted to doubt that looking at pictures of the thumbs of famous violinsts leads anywhere. Playing scales is probably more useful: what I'd be doing now if it were not for the neighbours...

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totally agree folks - I arrived at the same conclusion today...enough studying videos and instead just get down and practise, practise practise! And as you say, play however is comfortable. Also, I liked what Andrew Victor said "let your own body parts instruct you! "

Nevertheless, I enjoyed this thread of posts anyway, so thanks for your input!

 

 

 

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On 4/17/2022 at 6:35 AM, John_London said:

Playing scales is probably more useful: what I'd be doing now if it were not for the neighbours...

By the way John_London, just wondering why you don't use a practice mute so you don't have to worry about annoying your neighbours?

I mean, I know they don't sound good but surely practising on a quiet/non-resonant violin is better than watching television?

I've got one made by Artino and it really reduces the sound a lot, so I can play at midnight (and I frequently do!) without annoying anyone - and I live in a flat where neighbours let you know if you're too noisy.

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4 hours ago, FromBassToViola said:

By the way John_London, just wondering why you don't use a practice mute so you don't have to worry about annoying your neighbours?

I mean, I know they don't sound good but surely practising on a quiet/non-resonant violin is better than watching television?

I've got one made by Artino and it really reduces the sound a lot, so I can play at midnight (and I frequently do!) without annoying anyone - and I live in a flat where neighbours let you know if you're too noisy.

Good idea. I think i will get  have ordered a practice mute, though course I hate practicing muted. Intonation practice involves the bow and sound, arguably. Everything interacts. even thumb position and violin hold interact with the bow.

 

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