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Dick Stanley
Beth, I've watched Dr. Yon's videos over and over on keeping the left hand fingers light on the strings and the thumb relaxed. I'm doing her exercises and will keep doing them, even though my hand, fingers, wrist, arm, elbow, you name it, are rebelling.

But I can't help wondering about the thumb. Doesn't it provide some kind of basis (?), not squeezing, I know, but some sort of base for the fingers to work against? I mean if the thumb was amputated, could the fingers play the notes at all? Is that the sort of situation we're to imagine? That the thumb is missing and of no importance?
Dick Stanley
8 Responses
Posted: March 24, 2012
Last Comment: March 27, 2012
Replies

Diane in SOCAL
Posted: March 27, 2012
Hi Dick.....yes, I know what your thinking, having played for a number of years should get it right. Right?  But the problem is that one  private teacher over another one can  shed light on a technique your weak in, thus bringing a player forward.  Having one teacher for a long period of time and then switching can be a real mind opener, as it was for me.  My new teacher focused more on techniques and helped me to realize that I was working too hard.
I feel so much more balanced in my left hand technique now and can progress in my vibrato
and shifts.  I love watching Beth's videos...I revisited the video #27 like she suggested  below and yes, she is right...what a dear.  I can look up something in the middle of nite too
or on the weekends.  Fabulous!!
Stay tuned.  Diane in SoCal

Dick Stanley
Posted: March 27, 2012
My Lord, Diane, if you're having thumb trouble after years of playing, what hope is there for a newbie? Well, if it works for Sean, maybe it'll work for me. I'm working at it, along with everything else that needs doing. 

Diane in SOCAL
Posted: March 27, 2012
Thank you Beth and thanks Dick for posting this thread.  My hand position was changed about 8 months ago with a new teacher I started working with and I was just wondering.  I had read in Simon Fischer's Basics,  about the different positions for the left thumb;  and originally my left thumb was too far forward and pointed more or less towards the scroll (a technique learned or not corrected from a previous teacher) and my intonation was off and flat alot of the time not to mention the stress it put on my left thumb.  So pointing the thumb up towards heaven is good-:>)!
Thanks again.
Diane in SoCal

Beth Blackerby
Posted: March 27, 2012
Diane, 
That's the position for my thumb, but I do have colleagues whose thumbs are more toward the center of their hand, closer to the 2nd finger. Same with the elevation level…some are higher than others. And too, some players bend their thumbs more than others. I've come to realize that the position of the left thumb is one of those individual preferences, but for the most part, I think most players keep their thumbs slightly bent, across from the the 1st finger, touching with the soft pad. There is an early video on thumb placement. It's lesson #27. not sure if you saw that one.

The most important thing, of course about the thumb, and you know what I'm going to say….is that it is relaxed, at least enough that it can "stick" to the neck when you exert that bit of upwards counter pressure.

Try and see if you can lift the violin a little with the thumb only, utilizing the sticky contact of the skin to pull the neck up. If you can do that, whatever it's placement should be just fine.

Diane in SOCAL
Posted: March 27, 2012
Hi Beth.  Speaking of thumb positions...do you have any video's showing the far left hand side of the violin with the thumb position.  Which thumb position do you teach as being the best one for less squeezing with the left hand technique?? I've looked at alot of the videos but did not find any videos specifically showing the thumb side as a video shoot.  I try and keep my thumb up, not bent (relaxed) and in line pretty much with the first finger.  Is this the position that you would prefer for the restructuring?  Thanks.
Diane in SoCal. 

Dick Stanley
Posted: March 25, 2012
Beth, I watched "Restructuring" a couple of times. It does make sense. Making it work might be a different story, but I'll try pushing the thumb slightly up every day, along with the other exercises.

BTW, I had my son videotape me today. The result is much too awful to post here, but I learned some things. My tone is sorry partly because in concentrating on my fingers, I let the bow wander away from the bridge and down to the fingerboard. My string crossings also are ragged. Lots more to practice.

Sean
Posted: March 25, 2012
Hi Dick,

I just thought i'd add that the videos Beth is talking of, in regarding the counter pressure, REALLY HELPED. Before I used to squeeze towards my fingers, which Beth said, is rather intuitive to the hand, but once I had learned to train my thumb to push upwards and the fingers downwards, I was amazed at the help it brought.
Now i find my thumb can stay relaxed while my fingers do the work.
Thanks Beth!

Sean

Beth Blackerby
Posted: March 25, 2012
Hi Dick,

Yes, the thumb does offer counter pressure, support, and a basis for detecting the feel of the hand. I address the thumb in the video series on "Left Hand Squeezing", especially the one on "Restructuring". Take a look and let me know if it makes sense. That was a hard one, and I had to think long and hard about it.