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multiple fingers pressing down purposes???


chueh

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Inspired by TenorClef forI creating this thread by his reply on my other thread "Are you putting down your 1, 2, 3 when putting down your 4?  Pretty common beginner mistake to "play the piano" on the fingerboard.  Later on in your journey you might only put down 3 with 4 but right now, all 4 should be put down."

Yes, indeed I "played the piano" on the fingerboard.  After what he said, I watched different tutorial videos for beginners.  I paid close attention to their pressing down multiple fingers while making one note, which I did not notice at all (one paid attention to the single finger for the specific "note created."  These video posters indeed press down sometimes 2, or 3 fingers all together for only one note.  However, they NEVER mention anything about pressing multiple fingers down together.  The cello beginner books NEVER mention about it either.  

*I wonder why it's not mention in the generalized tutorials (i'm sure that it would be by the one-on-one instructors while teaching).

Thus I searched keywords for pressing down fingers together, but the internet did nor populate many links.  Nevertheless, I did see a couple question/answer posts metioning about it.  What they all said was about using the pressing down fingers as reference to remember the finger positions better.  Thus, I totally understood WHY TenorClef told me about now I should press all 4 fingers down, while later might be 3+4.  

OK, so I followed TenorClef's suggestion trying to press down all 4 fingers, yet very uncomfortable, feeling too stretchy and deforming hand/finger shapes.  Thus, I tried only 3 fingers.  Even though I can manage 3 fingers, still I feel the discomfort.  Also, when I have multiple fingers down, for some reason, I misplace finger positions more wrong especially when switch the strings.  Thus, I decrease to only 2 fingers (3+4) to make my skinny lenky pinky less stressfulI.  

OK, so I can see and feel the difference by pressing down my 3+4 by "alleviating" the stress from the 4th, yet I misplace them more than before.  Indeed, when I was only pressing down one finger at a time for each note, I could get the tones much more accurate than pressing multiple fingers, which contradicts what I found online for those who claimed to remember the positions better.  To the contrary, I just feel more "locked" with both my fingers and hand when pressing down more fingers, which [i think] further forces my fingers to tilt or to move around.

So... *what are the purposes for pressing down more fingers to produce only one note????  I understand that everybody's physiological condition is different, which may results in various outcomes and feels.  But really, what are the purposes to do so, for I can only see the sole benefit for MYSELF is to lessen the stress on my pinky.......I don't see other benefits though.  Please clarify.  Thanks.  Any comments, suggestions, inputs would be appreciated and welcome.

 

 

 

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While I am certain the mechanics of cello and violin are different, I can offer you my experience as a learner and teacher.

As a learner, still taking lessons, my teacher wants me to practice minimal effort passage work and only putting down the fingers I need.  For example, I would not leave any finger down to play another finger/note, unless there was some anchor point that I would need to return to immediately.  SImply put, I am being taught to lift each finger when I do not need.  

This was confusing because it seemed like more work and contrary to what alot of other do.  BUT--the idea is that you are exerting ONLY the minimal pressure necessary and avoiding muscle work involved with leaving fingers down.  

As a teacher, I started questioning how to approach this topic with beginners, intermediate students, and advanced students.  Leaving fingers down is my default teaching method.  This is to promote muscle memory for the first position and to condition the finger muscles to remember what the half steps and whole step feel like.  BUT- is this counterproductive when later on, I may start teaching them to lift unnecessary fingers?  Teaching beginners finger independence early on may be beneficial to later stages of learning.  But I still struggle with whether this is the correct approach.

Now, specifically as to the 3 and 4 together...sometimes, I do this too in limited situations.  I cannot recall what those limited times would be, but I know that I do it as well.

Every person is unique in physiology, learning, and playing.  Sorry for using Ray Chen, a violinist, as an example, but if you look at his bow arm and hand, he uses a rather "russian/Auer" type bow hold but his fingers are more spread apart.  He has mentioned that he never really learned this, he just started doing it.  To me personally, his bowing arm and hand defy logic.  BUT it works for him tremendously successfully! Wait, can you use 2 adverbs in succession?

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, violinnewb said:

While I am certain the mechanics of cello and violin are different, I can offer you my experience as a learner and teacher.

...

As a teacher, I started questioning how to approach this topic with beginners, intermediate students, and advanced students.  Leaving fingers down is my default teaching method.  This is to promote muscle memory for the first position and to condition the finger muscles to remember what the half steps and whole step feel like.  BUT- is this counterproductive when later on, I may start teaching them to lift unnecessary fingers?  Teaching beginners finger independence early on may be beneficial to later stages of learning.  But I still struggle with whether this is the correct approach.

...

Every person is unique in physiology, learning, and playing.  Sorry for using Ray Chen, a violinist, as an example, but if you look at his bow arm and hand, he uses a rather "russian/Auer" type bow hold but his fingers are more spread apart.  He has mentioned that he never really learned this, he just started doing it.  To me personally, his bowing arm and hand defy logic.  BUT it works for him tremendously successfully! Wait, can you use 2 adverbs in succession?

Thank you so very much, violinweb.  Very insightful for what you replied!

I'm also a teacher, piano though.  I TOTALLY understand what you said.  I have no problem at all for finger independence.  I guess what's why I felt locked with more fingers pressing down.  In piano playing, we relax every part yet with firm and a direct touch.  Even with multiple fingers pressing down for different notes, we still don't lock one another or stretch.  Every key stroke is a tension-release action.

The older style of teaching piano is to learn one position at a time, making students memorize the hand placement.  Thus, they can remember finger position associating with the key and notes.  Then, once they have enough, they move to another position. That's when problems of adaptation and confusions all start.

New method of piano pedagogy is to make students keep moving their hand positions, so no hand position is fixed ever..  The students have to PAY ATTENTION to every single piece in order to find the hand position themselves, for almost every piece is starting differently.  They develop a better sense of awareness for everything.  It's like, they gradually learn different things every time for every piece.  On the contrary, the older style of learning the fixed position make students lack of awareness, dependent, and accept new techniques slowly.

Thus, even though I watched cello tutorials teaching the first position notes with multiple fingers down, I still don't do what they do, except my 4th finger pressed down with the help of the 3rd, due to the tip hurting.  I found that locking my fingers are more problematic than trying to memorizing the note position.  As a piano teacher, I always teach detached notes first before teaching legato.  Once the students know the connecting method, they are less likely to be successful at making detached notes.  Finger independence is VERY IMPORTANT.  If the piano students can individualize each finger and make it independent, they pretty much can learn everything else fairly easy.  On the other hand, it never works the opposite way......

Nevertheless, I have to say that with more fingers pressing down, the sound seems to be "fuller," "more solid," "deeper," and less scratchy.  Is it just happening to me when I press down more fingers for one note (my fingers do NOT like to stay but like to be spider legs, ahhhh....., or that's indeed the case).  So many variables happening when pressing down a stop, sideway, tippy tip, little to the right, little to the left, all make different sounds.  Therefore, I have a hard time keep track which variation produces the right amount of sound we like to hear.....

 

 

 

Edited by chueh
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On 4/10/2024 at 5:03 PM, violinnewb said:

Sorry for using Ray Chen, a violinist, as an example, but if you look at his bow arm and hand, he uses a rather "russian/Auer" type bow hold but his fingers are more spread apart.  He has mentioned that he never really learned this, he just started doing it.  To me personally, his bowing arm and hand defy logic. 

I think ( and would like to be corrected if wrong ) that having the finger spread apart on the bow was a Galamian "invention". Anybody can confirm ? I noticed Midori and a couple of others doing the same and quite exaggeratedly so. I suppose it is helpful to some extent but in the end I find it detrimental to good tone.  

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On 4/10/2024 at 11:31 AM, chueh said:

Even with multiple fingers pressing down for different notes, we still don't lock one another or stretch.  Every key stroke is a tension-release action.

1. I do not play much piano so my opinion is lay-person based.  My thought is that when piano keys are pressed, the fingers are in a downward plane.  That seems to be the same for all fingers.  So when you press keys with multiple finger, like in a chord or leaving fingers down in a scale, they are all in the same general plane.  BUT-on the violin, and perhaps the cello, there are multiple planes of directional force on each finger because of the position of the notes on the fingerboard.  For example, in the first position on the violin, the first finger can usually just plop down.  Then the second finger goes down, but at a slightly different horizontal plane,  Similar veritical plane, but different angle horizontally.  Third and fourth fingers then move much more on the horizontal plane.  What seems to happen for me, and according to my current teacher, is that now I have to exert different pressures when leaving fingers down.  By lifting and keeping each finger independent, I am eliminating the physical pressures from the multiple planes of finger position of the other fingers.  This sounds confusing when I say it.

2. I really think that "each key stroke is a tension-release action" is my ultimate goal!

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14 hours ago, Victor Roman said:

I think ( and would like to be corrected if wrong ) that having the finger spread apart on the bow was a Galamian "invention". Anybody can confirm ? I noticed Midori and a couple of others doing the same and quite exaggeratedly so. I suppose it is helpful to some extent but in the end I find it detrimental to good tone.  

Fingers spread on bow may be "Galamian" but is certainly NOT Russian/Auer.  Ray Chen uses a hybrid russian/Auer bow hold.  Again, each person is different and adapts differently.  I certainly wish I could at least bow like Ray Chen :D

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sorry, violinnewb, I misspelled your profile name the last time :huh:

Question for violinnewb and all others who would like to reply to it:
I've never been able to feel comfortable when holding the bow.  The pressure for the thumb at the frog with the middle on the stick cuddling as a reverse C shape feels so very UN-natural to my hand.  MY are NOT physically align when I form this particular shape.  My hand and fingers tend to rotate towards my pinky, for my hand feels so out of balanced, with the index finger over the rubber.

In another word, my index feels so stretchy towards my left covering the rubber (is the distance between the rubber and the frog is standard length????).  If I get the concept correctly, I shouldn't have a dead grip, but then at the same time, the bow is wobbling if not deadly griping.  If I just "hold" the bow, as how string players all have to, then I have a hard time to just hold it.  Again, it just does not feel natural to me at all :(

 

According to the Ray Chen example that violinnewb demonstrated, as well as other great string players with all different bow holds, CAN YOU ALL Agree that I can hold my bow however the way I feel comfortable with following my most possible to have the "correct" way to hold my bow???? 

 

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58 minutes ago, chueh said:

I've never been able to feel comfortable when holding the bow.

Who has? LOL This is not uncommon.

1 hour ago, chueh said:

CAN YOU ALL Agree that I can hold my bow however the way I feel comfortable with following my most possible to have the "correct" way to hold my bow???? 

Not really.  The bow hold still has to be somewhat "correct" in order for one to be able to perform certain techniques.  My biggest piece of advice is to get a teacher if you do not already have one.  Remember, what YOU think is "comfortable" may not actually be comfortable.  It may be that you feel the most comfortable with the limited knowledge you currently have. 

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9 hours ago, chueh said:

CAN YOU ALL Agree that I can hold my bow however the way I feel comfortable with following my most possible to have the "correct" way to hold my bow???? 

In my opinion, no. It's better to struggle a bit and get it right. That "right" is the result of pedagogical experience ( result based :) ) of countless teachers. I tell my couple of students what I was told when I started more than six decades ago : hold a pencil like a bow and do it whenever you can, during the day. That usually fixes it quickly because the weight of the bow is not there. I am not informed enough to comment on the differences between the Russian and the Franco-Belgian grip but I can certainly say that I have heard superb results from superb players using either. But I do not remember hearing a good tonal result from an average player ( such as myself ) using the Russian grip. I should also mention that in my youth one could still see old players holding the bow an inch or two higher than our modern usual and it seems to have worked for them well enough. The big problem is not the bow grip but the movement of the forearm and that is a huge nut to crack.

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On 4/12/2024 at 11:25 AM, violinnewb said:

Remember, what YOU think is "comfortable" may not actually be comfortable.  It may be that you feel the most comfortable with the limited knowledge you currently have. 

Ah, so true!  I've always told my piano students about what they THINK they feel, see, hear, and etc isn't necessarily reflecting the reality.  They always tell me that they can't do certain things, but I reply to them that NOT being used to doing something does NOT mean they can't do it.  Everything needs to be practiced on.  violinnewb, thank you for reminding that.  As a beginner, learning something new seems to be totally change all my perspectives.  You are so good on everything you said.  thank you.

17 hours ago, Victor Roman said:

In my opinion, no. It's better to struggle a bit and get it right. That "right" is the result of pedagogical experience ( result based :) ) of countless teachers. I tell my couple of students what I was told when I started more than six decades ago : hold a pencil like a bow and do it whenever you can, during the day. That usually fixes it quickly because the weight of the bow is not there. ......... The big problem is not the bow grip but the movement of the forearm and that is a huge nut to crack.

Very true too, Victor, I again, totally forgot that I am picking up my piano students' excuses and habits by trying to avoid pain, discomfort, effort, and everything all together.  Yes, indeed, parts of arms, hands, and etc connecting to drive movements are essential to create variations.  I have to admit that learning cello is much harder than I ever thought.  At least piano keys do not change the keys from A to G, LOL..... but all strings do

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On 4/12/2024 at 10:03 AM, violinnewb said:

BUT-on the violin, and perhaps the cello, there are multiple planes of directional force on each finger because of the position of the notes on the fingerboard. 

so true!  From my pinky to the 1st finger is always in different interval from the 1st finger to the pinky, even if I try so hard to keep the same distance!  As well as pressing on the wrong string due to different planes.  Now, I bow to you string players sincerely, LOL

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