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tigger_1
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When is it too soon to learn third position?

I am an adult beginner and I have been playing the violin for 10 weeks now. I already knew how to read music before taking lesssons so my teacher has not had to spend the time teaching me names of notes or how to count rhythms.I am her first adult student, so I believe she is not really sure how fast or slow to go with me.

My teacher uses the violin method book by Mueller (and some other author whose name escapes me right now) and because I already new how to read music I started in the last 3rd of the book and finished it within 5 weeks. The second book in the series basically teaches new rhythms (16th notes etc) and she decided to skip this book and start book three which begins third position. I know all of my notes in first position and I play them correctly; however, my bow arm leaves alot to be desired. Unfortunately, my teacher cannot articulate in words how to improve my bow arm. (She can't articulate how to change dynamics with the bow or how to play stacatto either). She has the attitude that the bow arm will eventually fix itself and thus, since she doesn't know what to do to improve my bow arm she thinks it's time to move to third position. [Currently, this is the only teacher in the area that gives lessons that fit into my schedule so finding a teacher who can fix my bow arm isn't an option right now]

My question is do you think it is alright to learn third position even though my bowing is still weak? Any suggestions on how to fix my bow arm?

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Why do you want to learn the third position? >

Because it is there?!<

The reason I like using the Suzuki books for teaching is because there is no reason to skip any books for a new violinist. There is always music to play - even if as a musician on other instruments it only takes a week or so to get through one of the books. Then the reason for learning to play the higher positions becomes obvious through the demands of the music.

In the meantime, you would have been working on bowing challenges of vrious kinds - and when you are finally ready for third position it will be (approximately) as you start to play the 1st movement of the Vivaldi A-Minor concerto (a lovely work) - and you will do the third movement too, but before you are ready for the slow 2nd movement you will be doing some things in the fifth position.

The thing about Suzuki - even if you just use the books and don't follow the approved pedagogical program, is that you are playing fine music all along - and developing technique. Many teachers will add etudes (studies) to increase your "exercises" in the techniques - but sometimes, if you don't have a problem, the "pieces" in the Suzuki books can be enough.

I don't believe that the bowing will take care of itself - unless you know what is wrong and why - that's why one has a teacher - to point those things out and to help you try "cures." Sometimes different cures work for different people. Once you learn enough, a book like Galamian's can help with self teaching - but still there is nothing like a teacher to hear what you sound like and to help you experiment with cures (there are standard things - but somethings work better than others for different people because of differences in arm length, finger agility, etc.

One can use a bow wrong for an entire lifetime- I've seen people do it - and since some of them are no longer living - I attest to the accuracy of my statement.

The artistry of violin playing is in the right arm and hand.

Andy

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I am also an adult beginner. I began a year ago and have worked my way through Suzuki to the point where I have played about half the songs in book three. I also knew how to read music before starting, but my teacher insisted that I play all the pieces as well as working on the Royal Conservatory grades one and two and other exersises as well. I have only recently begun work on third and fifth position. I was also having a lot of trouble with the bowing. I don't think you should move on to the new positions until you get the bowing straightened out because I find that I tend to forget about the right hand whenever the left hand is learning something new. Some of the pieces in Suzuki are challenging enough without adding new position to them. I still work on the pieces at the end of book Two even though I've moved on to book three. It's not the music itself that's hard, it's all of the other technical stuff. Don't rush, your playing will suffer.

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Hello Tigger:

I am an adult beginner too, I have been playing about 8 months or so now.

I also came from a musical background, which makes it much easier because I already could read most of the music, with a bit of polishing.

Your story is similar to mine. I had first position down very quickly and was so anxious to move on. But I knew that my bowing was not strong. My teacher didn't really know what to do with me either. I don't really know what to suggest, except to say that with lots of practice and time, my bowing has become much stronger and cleaner and after 7 months, I am finally into 3rd position. I am glad that I didnt' attempt it too quickly because my bowing was very timid. IT's still not totally THE best, however, it's come a long way. A couple of months back I joined a Scottish Fiddle Club which has helped me tremendously with my bowing because there is so much fast string crossing and there is about 20 other fiddlers, each of us all playing the same thing. I have to be strong to hear myself.

You know what you can do, but I wouldn't rush. Absolutely everything that you could want to play, can be played in first position. I'd stay there for a while and relax and have fun.

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I don't think you should be moving up to third position just yet. When you move up to third you will have to concentrate on your intonation and focus on the new interval spacing (everything tightens up the further up the fretboard you move). This will force you to pay even less attention to your bow technique. Try some of the books with exercises to develop bowing. Give it some time, the bowing will improve and you will know when it's time to move up to third position. I do feel that your teacher should be working with you to improve your bowing. This is why we take lessons.

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Usually when I begin a new venture like this I devote a small portion of my practice to it for a while before " digging In" . This has the advantage of increasing awareness,and gaining initial comfort without becoming compulsive and spoiling progress in other more important areas. this is a fairly harmless approach, IF you

have the additional time

Just a thought.

Bud

[This message has been edited by fiddlefaddle (edited 12-01-2000).]

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The beauty of third position, you will soon discover, is in giving you the option to take the most difficult to play (and worst sounding) notes you played in first and making them the easiest to play (and best sounding) notes in third.

In first position, fourth finger (pinkie)is equivilant to the next open string, two equally undesirable alternatives. An open string is blah, lacks character and is incapable of vibrato. Alternatively, the pinkie (having the tiniest tendon)is the weakest of your fingers and, worse yet, hits the string flattest, that is, least perpendicular to the fingerboard, making vibrato doubly difficult.

In third position, the powerful second finger takes its place, thereby eliminating both the empty-sounding open string as well as the difficult to use pinkie and replaces both with the capability of an effortless and robust vibrato.

I say, GO FOR IT! It's never too soon to sound better than you do.

After you achieve it, celebrate with some C2H5OH!

Lee

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I agree with everything that Lee staed. But don't you think that the open strings have a certain excitement that can't be imitated in position. For example: to play around with the open "e" in the Vivaldi a minor in constrast to the third position fingering? Though we try to avoid the open strings, they often can provide contrast and texture. Yes? no?

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Definitely play positions as much as you can. I don't see why beginning violin students are always under the impression that the positions are so "hard." They take awhile getting used to, but so does everything. Don't restrict yourself to first position; don't restrict yourself to anything. If you want to go into positions, then do them. Don't worry about whether someone says that it "isn't quite time yet."

[This message has been edited by Jascha (edited 12-01-2000).]

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I have to stand by Andrew Victor and DavidB.

You will definitely spend a lot more time on intonation and new interval spacing (not to mention learning which finger plays what)than anything else. And when you become comfortable with third position, you will still have a lousy bowing arm (no offense) that you nor your teacher knows what to do with. And this will definitely affect the quality of any more advanced pieces you will now be able to play. Plus you will not have the sense of personal achievement that would come with getting this monkey off your back. A major problem that I have with Mueller-Rusch is that it does not spend nearly enough time on etudes for what you just learned. they should call it Mueller-RUSH. One alternative to Suzuki (not to diminish it) at your stage right now is the Wohlfahrt Elementary method books 1 and 2. Lots of good etudes in their to help clean up your bowing.

Andrew is right, an important key to being a good violinist is having proper control over your bowing, and now is the time to form the proper habits. It is too hard to unlearn bad habits.

good luck, whichever course you take!

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Oh, I forgot to mention,

As you do your vibrato, second finger, third position, a special bonus will be that the next open string will go into sympathetic vibration, giving you marvelous overtones.

Your violin never sounded sweeter.

Play something schmaltzy!

(Suggestion: "Golden Earrings". Start sliding up to D with second finger on G string. When finished, repeat an octave higher using harmonics wherever possible.)

Lee

[This message has been edited by Lee Essayan (edited 12-02-2000).]

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Quote

She can't articulate how to change dynamics with the bow or how to play stacatto

either. She has the attitude that the bow arm will eventually fix itself and thus, since she doesn't know what to do to improve my bow arm she thinks it's time to move to third position.

Unquote

It takes at least 6 months to acquire the 'Bow Grip'

The first few lessons SHOULD be devoted solely to correct posture, and holding the Violin, the main reason why even professionals have injuries is incorrect posture.

Are you expecting too much too soon?,

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originally posted by tig

quote:

I don't want to be too pushy since she is the teacher (and I think she is already a little intimidated by me),

Why?

There's a difference between being rude vs. being aggressive, both however, by my take on the word, are components of "pushy".maybe you could accept being politely aggressive

After all it's your lesson, it's your progress. Incidently, it sounds like your doing just that!

[This message has been edited by fiddlefaddle (edited 12-02-2000).]

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slipy,

I would not avoid half position. It can solve a small "gymnastic" problem that crops up from time to time better than any individual position, but again, it can be a matter of taste and ability. I had to finger in a half position in thie first movement of Mozart 41 "Jupiter" just this evening.

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As for you bow arm. The most important and one of the most dificult things to master is playing with a perpendicular bow. I suggest starting each practice session with this simple exercise. Stand in front of a mirror and place the bow on the string 1/2 inch from the bridge at the frog. Then adjust the bow angle until the string and your bow make a perfect plus (+) sign. Then pick up your bow to place it at the middle and adjust for the perfect plus sign. Then again at the tip. You will notice that as you move toward the tip your bow hand moves down and away from your body. Repeat this exercise three or four times. Finally start at the frog and pull all the way to the tip keeping the perfect plus sign. It is important to reinforce this everyday so that it will transfer to your music.

Also play with the weight to speed ratio of your bow stroke to learn your limits. Arm weight and speed determine the dynamic. p= small slow light arm movements. ff=Larger, faster, heavier arm movements. Later you will want to play over the finger board for softer sounds and closer to the bridge for louder sounds, but you really need to master the perpendicular bow fist.

Also check and double check your bow grip! This could be the limiting factor for your bow arm. Thumb bent, second and third fringers down on the frog, pinky nice high and bent, and wrist higher than the stick. I you find this helpful but have questions then e-mail me direct. I see what they meant by over-load, but you did ask.

My opinion is that if you have a good ear and a great work ethic it should be ok to learn 3rd position. The sooner the better. Take it easy on your teacher. I think maybe you need two lessons per week? Just my thoughts.

WW

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Learn to develop a good intonation is a much more important than merely memorizing the fingerings, especially in the early stage. Which ever positions employed doesn’t really matter so much, as long you can deliver a good intonation in a musical phrase at ease. If you have the perseverance, you will come to a point whereby position/fingering come by naturally.

As for bowing, you can try facing a mirror at a proper angle and draw your bow perpendicular to the strings with a relax arm & shoulder. Don’t be over worried with your posture as you will tend get tense up instead.

My last piece of advise, always play to your ear and listen with your heart.

Anyone heard of half position. Should it be avoided if there are other alternatives?

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Wow, everyone has really given alot of good advice and information (including some chemistry and physics!).

I'm not really in any hurry to start 3rd position, and I know that good bowing is essential to playing the violin. I just think my teacher doesn't know what to do next. I brought in my own book of etudes two weeks ago and she has been assigning some of those for me to work on.

Now I'm wondering if I should buy some of the Suzuki method books and see if she thinks I should go through those. I don't want to be too pushy since she is the teacher (and I think she is already a little intimidated by me), but I also want to learn to play the violin correctly and well.

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