Community
You must be a member to respond to discussions.
Discussion

Beth Blackerby
This discussion includes members-only video content

SIMON FISCHER SCALES

Here's my "informal" input on the new Scale book by Simon Fischer. It's quite amazing.
Beth Blackerby
48 Responses
Posted: April 4, 2013
Last Comment: April 11, 2013
Replies

Armin
Posted: April 11, 2013
Mary and Vicky, 

thank you for sharing your experience with the Basics book. It helped me and I think I am gonna order it too, next month :) 

If someone else also wants to take a look inside, you can google for "Simon Fischer Basics scribd" 

Lily Mo
Posted: April 9, 2013
A search on violinist.com came up with this discussion.  http://www.violinist.com/discussion/response.cfm?ID=12944
So it goes back at least as far as Leopold Auer. I suspect it goes back further to at least the first Leopold, daddy to Mozart. As stated there it is great for fingerboard geography, hand shape and intonation, but also finger strength, rapidity of left hand dexterity.  I was not Suzuki taught but I definitely did it at the beginning. 

Diane in SOCAL
Posted: April 9, 2013
Hi Andrew...yes, thanks I did view the video and your right it does answer some of the questions...but the BIG question I have and I know others feel or think the same.
Is this a common practice in teachers studios of the modern era; progressive teachers
that might not teach Suzuki or is it a tool to use just for scales and maybe with kids..what is the history of this?  From Suzuki?.  Beth even states in the video that you DO NOT USE blocked fingering  in performance. 
So why even teach it as I feel it's very confusing going back and forth for beginners.  Why not just learn independent fingering and be done with it!  Does anybody know the answers to this.  Am I missing something?
I'm just curious about this.  I've talked to alot of beginning players in the string orchestra that I play in and they are questioning it as I am...Mary brought the item up below in this thread and it has me thinking alot between the two.  Thanks for your help.
Stay tuned. Diane in SoCal

Stephen, Los Osos, CA
Posted: April 9, 2013
Hi Diane,

Beth's video # 85 addresses most of your questions.
Have you read that yet?

Diane in SOCAL
Posted: April 9, 2013
Hi Beth...a few threads down...I asked about more info on Blocked Fingering style..history and such. When you have time could you respond.  Thanks. Diane

Beth Blackerby
Posted: April 8, 2013
I think it means to cover note indicated by the x on the higher adjacent string with the 1st finger. So you are "blocking" 2 notes while you play that arpeggio. (You don't have to do that, really. I wouldn't.) 

Mary Reeley
Posted: April 8, 2013
Thanks Rowell for the article on block vs independent fingers.  It makes sense that eventually there will be a combination of both.  I think I already do a combination but my  teacher corrects me if for instance my 2nd finger  F  is not down when I play G. I don't know if this is in my teacher's plan or not, but it is good to know that doing block fingerings now will not hurt me later.

Mary Reeley
Posted: April 8, 2013

Got my scales book a couple days ago.     Question:   On page 18 one-octave arpeggio sequence the 2nd grouping A-flat what does the (x) and the ( 1 1) upder the note A mean.   Also looking over the scales, I truly need to study  the theory on melodic minor and harmonic minor,  why does the sharps and flats change in the key signature. example on page 15 E major has 4 sharps , melodic minor and harmonic minor only 1 sharp. Just curious, I guess I don't need to know this right now.  I'm going to start with the scales I know as Beth suggested and study up on theory,  Oh my,  so much to LEARN! But just think of all the brain cells we all will grow.


Eileen
Posted: April 8, 2013
Simon Fischer scale book is on it's way......thanks for the introduction and run through Beth !   I especially liked your description of how he runs through the one octave scales in each position.  I've always rebelled at learning 2nd position simply because I have always been able to work my way around it.....but I would really like to be more proficient and "able" .....and just more competent in my skills on this thing...so......here goes !  ;-)

Lily Mo
Posted: April 7, 2013
I had never thought of this, but today as I did my scale warm ups, I noted what I do.  Apparently, I hold down fingers going up the scale and don't on the way down.  Especially so in C maj in second position as a means of securing the finger  spacings.  As reiterated in this thread holding down does not mean clutching.  Only the engaged finger has any pressure applied and that one only enough to stop the string.  I do have to be super aware for slurred scales and faster tempos to keep up the idea of minimum pressure and the pianissimo left hand.  

When I play rep or studies, I only hold down the finger stopping the string.

Andreas
Posted: April 7, 2013
Mission completed Deirdre ;))

To put more than one finger down to learn the spacings sounds interesting, I´ll try that with some scales. I can imagine that when you practice block fingering and really concentrate on relaxing the hand and to stay relaxed it must feel like flying over the fingerboard when you come back to independant fingering, perhaps it´s a good way to learn a relaxed "performance-hand"?? Does this make sence?

Rowell
Posted: April 6, 2013

I think just like the different vibratos - learning one then the other then combining, eventually you can choose a combination of block/independent fingers. Later on when it comes to double stops/thirds/chords and whatnot, you'll have to place more than one finger down. I was going to comment more but I decided to just do a quick google search plugin and this is what popped up first regarding these two things: http://en.allexperts.com/q/Violin-2164/2009/10/Block-Fingering-vs-Independent.htm Other resources/teachers that I've come across explain similarly.

I think those who have learned both, or start with block and then transition into independence, eventually get a better/stronger feel of the finger placements.


Mary Reeley
Posted: April 6, 2013
Beth.  Dropping more than one finger at a time is what I am doing. This I know is what causes tension.  I am going to try and just hover and measure without pressure and try again to talk to my teacher.  

Stephen, Los Osos, CA
Posted: April 6, 2013
Hi Diane,

Beth explains block fingering very
well in video #85. Its called "Block Fingerings", Check it out.

Beth,

Great video by the way.  You were right,
I was laying all my fingers down. Now that
I have a decent memory of where the notes
are located, I am concentrating on one finger
pressure at a time. Today I  felt I had
a smooth playing style and my intonation seemed
to sound better.

Your a super problem solver.
Thank You

Deirdre
Posted: April 6, 2013
Hi, again!

Beth, I just wanted to thank you for all your replies -- I think I now really understand the block  fingering thing -- though, Diane, I agree it would be great to know the history of it.

Also ...Calling ALL VIOLISTS! I have some good news (maybe). 

I just wrote to Simon Fischer expressing a desire for a viola scale book. The very lovely gentleman who answered me (and boy! was he quick!) said that there is definitely one in the works, but he had no way of knowing how quickly it would be coming out. He thought the publisher (Edition Peters) might be able to have it out as early as next month -- but he also thought it would be good to let them know that people actually want it, because that might speed the process. So he told me to send an email to Edition Peters. Which I did. (He was afraid that it could take years for us to get this book -- he really couldn't say. It's sitting at the publishers just waiting to be published).

So now, Andreas and other viola friends. We have a mission! Let us send emails to Edition Peters about how much we would love a Simon Fischer Scale Book for Viola! (Well, I assume we would all love it, and not just me). Anyway.... If, like me, you would like to get this book as soon as it exists, you can contact Edition Peters here: 
As you see, they have offices in England, the U.S.A., and Germany. So we can start an international Viola Campaign. ;-D


Diane in SOCAL
Posted: April 6, 2013
Hi Beth...a question for you on this Blocked Fingering technique that has become part of the discussion on this post.
What is the history on this?  Was this an invention of Suzuki's?  Who teaches this technique in the modern studio today other than teachers who may have learned it themselves and are now carrying it forward?  I had never heard of it nor was I exposed to it in my short career except when I found VL a few years ago and it was mentioned in a thread or two.  Is this taught mostly to children?  Why would it be taught to an adult beginner?...what are the advantages for an adult?...I have a hard time getting my mind around this as I see so many disadvantages when one wants to play a piece. Is it used only for scales? Thanks for any explanation  you can give
Stay tuned. Diane

Barb Wimmer
Posted: April 6, 2013

 


I don't think that is a scale book I have and its sounds like it would help on positions-that would be worth it. And notes too?


Ray
Posted: April 6, 2013
Hi Beth,

It's Saturday morning and I'm grabbing a cup of coffee to look at those two videos you found by (coincidence?).  I've briefly looked a 5-10 minutes of  one of them and look pretty good.   
For scale work, at least for now, I'll be sticking a combination of the following and applying tips the ethos throws in my path like how you found on those videos.  Strictly Strings Series, First Etude Album for violin, Wohlfahrt Etude op. 45, and Scaludes (even though I've still only found one very good source for them).  
Looking forward to reading or watching your next coincidence.

Ray

Andreas
Posted: April 6, 2013
Deirdre I just ordered the Wohlfahrt etudes for viola... I think I´ll stick to them for now because Mazas seem a bit too challenging right now... I´m very curious what my teacher will tell me and where she starts  :-O  Going to give a little report then ;))

Beth Blackerby
Posted: April 6, 2013
I want to add a quick addendum to what Rowell is saying about 100% vs hovering. I doubt any teacher (Mary, this is something you may want to clarify again) suggests 100% pressure with all fingers.  The other issue with block fingers is the simultaneous dropping of more than one finger, particularly dropping lower fingers behind a higher finger, when the higher finger is sounding. Even is there isn't sustained pressure on all fingers, there is a greater, increased pressure the moment more than one finger is dropped.  In my experience, Suzuki teachers don't have kids do this. Instead,  they have the student pause, calculate, and drop fingers in ascending order (Twinkle is my example, here) to get ready for the higher finger. This is different than dropping a load of fingers at one time. It's teaching preparation. There are subtle details with the "block fingering" issue. I'll go back and watch my videos and see if I've left out anything.

About the Mazas Etudes: Roy Sonne is doing tutorials on some of those and will be launching his website soon. 

Anne aMaudPowellFan
Posted: April 6, 2013
Very interesting discussion about scales. Thank you, Best, gor the leg-up with the Fischer book. It is interesting how to tune a scale with fourth, fifth and octaves.

Andreas, how exciting about starting in-person lessons. Best wishes with that, and let us know all about it!

Deirdre
Posted: April 5, 2013
This discussion includes members-only video content

Rowell, that's so interesting, what you said. It makes a lot of sense!

My past teacher always said that I needed to keep my fingers down in order to be able to play really fast, and that I would not be able to become an advanced player until I could do that. Which I found a little tension-inducing, like Mary -- but of course I was doing it wrong. Fingers down without weight or tension=hovering=speed -- it makes sense now. 

And Andreas, that's very exciting about your new teacher -- and thanks for the book recommendation!

Definitely, I think the Mazas etudes are good -- I've been having a lot of fun playing through the first one -- but they are not easy. I was trying to figure out their level, and I wondered what people here thought. What I have (sort of) discovered online is that they seem to come between Wolfhart and Kayser (harder than those two) and Kreutzer (a bit easier that Kreutzer). But I'm not sure.

I did find a nice performance of the one I've been working on on youtube. I wish I could play it this well on my viola *sigh*. This is a violin, obviously ;-D It's pretty cool -- maybe you'd want to pick up the book, Andreas?



Mary Reeley
Posted: April 5, 2013
Thanks everyone for your comments and suggestions.   I appreciate you all taking the time . Your comments and suggestions have been helpful.   I will figure this all out.                                          

Rowell
Posted: April 5, 2013

Many people think "block fingerings" mean to keep 100% weight for each finger down on the string, especially when ascending a scale. And many students do this not knowing what teachers mean when you should release tension of the old fingers but still keep their position, while the new finger is the one to focus weight onto the string.This is mostly for isolating and practicing finger spacing/intervals, not really practical for performance playing. There are different ways to learn left hand finger placements. And each has their advantages and disadvantages. I've seen many students who only want to learn putting one finger down at a time, and one of the disadvantage is that they don't always place that one finger down on the right spot because they have no reference of spacing from one finger to the other. Or they will have not as strong hand shape because they bunch all their fingers close to each other or all fingers are contorted spread apart.

I also see a lot of those who don't understand everything the "Suzuki" method has to offer and bash the method or has some kind of prejudice towards it because they just don't know or don't really want to know. The "Suzuki" method does use reading music, just not right away all the time. There is a reason why it's popular and works for many if approached correctly, just like any other method. But if there is resistance to any method, then that method won't work for that individual because they've decided in their head that they won't do it.

 

I believe an individual can grow a lot by learning many different things from different teachers. They will know what they like, what they don't like, and eventually choose their own style of playing/learning/teaching in the end. Those who are already very proficient, like ones who will only take lessons from Heifetz for example, choose to settle with that teacher to learn what Heifetz has to offer. But for beginners, one teacher can only take you so far. And this is from psychological reasons. If students have this way of thinking "well this teacher isn't teaching me vibrato yet! This teacher isn't good!" then you can probably bet a similar way of thinking (frustration) is happening from the teacher's end regarding that particular student. This is just an example and not directed towards anyone in particular. But you have to think, teachers only see students once a week for 30 minutes atleast? That's very little time compared to what students can do/are doing during the week, like watching YouTube videos, and learning from VL videos, etc. I think it's important to let your teacher know about these things so that they don't just have it in their mind that your only materials are from what you have worked on with them the previous week.

Yes there are teachers who have their set ways of teaching the way they want. These teachers choose to stay in their comfort level for consistency. If a student is not getting the hang of the teacher's way of teaching and is unhappy, then that student should find a different teacher who will best suit their needs at that time. And then there are teachers who will go out of their way, out of the box, to help a student with certain goals that's not typical of a page-by-page method book. Teachers can either afford/not mind losing an unhappy student in order to gain one that will be happy/cooperative in learning their ways of teaching, or teachers will do anything they can to keep their students and make them happy by letting students do almost anything they want. Again, these are just examples.

 

I don't know anyone's teacher or how they teach, so I can't really say "that is a bad teacher!" because sometimes students misinterpret what teachers really mean or is trying to get across. And then later actually realize what the teacher (or previous) teacher was trying to get at. But each teacher is different, even within the same method style.

 

As Vicky mentioned, adults students will choose what they want to do.

 

Now about the Simon Fischer Scales, I don't have a copy but I will look into getting one especially if it's at a good price right now than usual! I have the Carl Flesch and Galamian scale books as well as others who borrow from the two systems and add their own flavor to it with descriptions.


Joe P
Posted: April 5, 2013
Hi Mary,
Just sharing my own experience.  I currently have 2 teachers.  My weekly violin teacher is "old-school" classically trained, former pro San Francisco Orchestra violinist.  She is very flexible with respect to what I want to learn, what pieces I want to play, etc.  At the same time, she is very insistent on technique issues, which has actually helped a lot and from what she keeps saying, will help even more in the future.  She has no objection, and in fact is encouraging and helpful in my endeavors to stretch into 3rd position, vibrato, etc.  She does not use any particular method or scale books but every lesson she has one or more new exercise sheets that always keep me challenged.  She is the teacher that I started with when I picked up the violin at the beginning of 2012.  At first I was disappointed in the lessons and like many here, learned much more about how to hold the violin, the bow, basic bowing technique, tone production, etc, here on VL than I did in many months of lessons.  However, now that I've taken a few steps forward, almost every lesson has some gem in it and I look forward to each one.

My other teacher, who I see once or twice a month, is a fiddler.  She can play classical music, but doesn't and fiddle music is why I sought her out.  She also is very flexible and supportive of my desires to push forward.  Though she would like me to play certain styles of music to expand my repertoire (jigs and reels to be specific), she supports my decision to focus on tunes that I might play at my son's wedding this fall, and songs that I just plain like to play.  She is definitely not "Suzuki" in that she is adamant about reading music and sight reading, but often times much of the lesson is spent playing in duet fashion which has pushed my sight reading ahead by leaps and bounds.  We get into specific techniques, ornaments, style issues whenever I ask for it.  She does use a method book but because I'm working with my classical teacher on general violin technique, we've stopped using the method book.

Both teachers know about each other and we have an informal agreement what each will be focusing on.  They also both know about Violin Lab and other on-line resources and support the diversity of learning tools that I use.

I would not have it any other way.

I hope you find a teacher who you can appreciate and look forward to seeing!
joe

Diane in SOCAL
Posted: April 5, 2013
Oh Mary....I found something very interesting in a new bow that I'm reading. I know that your a practicing RN and I found this information and want to pass it along to you and others who are still being taught...finger blocking when playing!   The book is called:   Playing (Less) Hurt. An Injury Prevention Guide for Musicians.  Author:  Janet
Horvath.  Hal Leonard Books. Reprinted 2010.  Available on Amazon and Ebay.
So this morning I was reading a chapter of the book related to: Reducing Arm Tension.  and I quote " For all string players, each finger should be immediately released as the next finger comes in contact with the string whenever possible. In other words, only your playing finger should be in playing tension."  and the book goes on to say..."All non-playing fingers should be tension-free, including the thumb.  Don't be afraid to use open strings"...: >) The book further explains.. "that the power to your fingers (left and right) come from your back and arms.  Your strength is diminished if  more than the playing finger is pressing, and of course this increases tension". Wow!
Here's the key to not doing blocked fingering:  "Finger independence is desirable to avoid tension in your forearms,, the muscles that control the hand, fingers and wrists are located in the forearm.  So beware...violin and viola players...play tension free. Keep non playing fingers released and relaxed.
Hope this helps Mary....maybe your teacher is still teaching from information that has long since expired and is outdated.  I hope that maybe, as independent thinkers and doers,  we can help our teachers to reconsider some of their practices...especially if it is harmful to students and to themselves.
Stay tuned. Diane in SoCal

Mary Reeley
Posted: April 5, 2013
Thanks Deirdre and Andreas.  Good luck on you lessons Andreas, would be interested in you sharing your teachers method of teaching.

Andreas
Posted: April 5, 2013
Another coincidence is that I stumbled across Mazas Etudes you mentioned Deirdre just today on amazon and wondered if they were a good buy :)  And Deirdre I looked for Simon Fischer books for viola today too lol... but couldn´t find any :/  But I found this book by David Dalton which sounds very interesting...
Sorry to hear that you are not quite satisfied with your teacher Mary. I would too suggest to move on to another teacher, you walked the way together for a while and you certainly learned something but now your ways seem to lead in different directions, everything has it´s time :))  (I´m having my first lesson ever on monday 15th and am already excited)
Fiddle hugs from me too :)
Andreas

Beth Blackerby
Posted: April 5, 2013
The previous video lead to this one, where the neurologist/violinist Dr. Stephen Frucht talks about practicing scales slowly to learn motor skills in a relaxed controlled setting.

Beth Blackerby
Posted: April 5, 2013

 Coincidence? I think not. I really don't surf the web or Youtube, but checked into my channel, clicked something else..click..and found this.  Pertaining to the bit on tuning in the Scales video…I found this cool masterclass with Christian Tetzlaff  discussing how to resolve the tuning conundrums we violinists deal with…Compromise.

Deirdre
Posted: April 5, 2013
Mary, that's such a shame that your teacher seems to be holding you back! Where I don't agree that you should change your teacher every two years (I think it can be a good idea to learn as much as you can from somebody good), it sounds like you might want to think about changing, in your case. All of us on violinlab know that you can handle a challenge, and your teacher should be challenging you!

In the meantime, I have 2 questions:

1. Beth, or anyone, do you know whether the Simon Fischer books & methods exist for viola? I can't find them, and they're pricey enough that buying violin and transposing everything would just make me mad :-D

2. And, speaking of études, I wondered what people think of Mazas' Études Speciales? One of my teachers when I was young wanted me to play them, so I have the book. At the time, I thought it was a torment -- but they are looking interesting now. I've just started to play through the first one, which is supposed to be an exercise in dynamics, something I really need. I've got Wohlfahrt and Kayser and I'm working on those, too, as well as vibrato, and the pieces Gabe wants me to learn. But does anyone have any opinion on Mazas? It seems to be the one étude book that nobody on violin lab has mentioned yet. I know all the more advanced people are working on Kreutzer right now -- Anne sounds great playing it! -- but I don't have that, and I do have Mazas. (BTW, I also have Sevcik, but I think it's as boring as all get out -- sorry, Rowell ;-D)

3. On a more theoretical note -- my teacher in the old days, the one who wanted me to play Mazas, was also astonished that I didn't have a vibrato. I think he wanted me to play stuff like this, with lots of shifting, on the theory that it would help my vibrato. Whereas Gabe thinks having a good vibrato -- just working on that a lot -- makes shifting much easier and more solid. It's easy to see how the two skills are related, though, isn't it? Both depend on a strong, but relaxed left hand. So, are my two teachers disagreeing, really? And what do Beth and the advanced players think? Should vibrato come first, and then shifting, or the other way around?

Thanks so much!

~Deirdre

Mary Reeley
Posted: April 5, 2013
Armin   I have the basics book,  it is very helpful and like Vickey says has specific sections on left hand technique, right arm and hand, tone production, key strokes which goes over bow speed , pressure and all bowing techniques like spiccato , martele etc, A section on shiffting and vibrato all section have pictures and exercises.  I study it in small chunks, ther is soooo much information.  Hope this helps. 

Mary Reeley
Posted: April 5, 2013
Vicky     Yes If my teacher knew about me using violin lab, Oh my gosh she wouldn't approve.  'although she may find out because I have turned on a few others in my group about how wonderful violin lab is. I don't mean to bash her, she is a wonderful lady and her heart and soul is in teaching.  She runs the school programs, is chair master in the Carson City Symphony and runs our adult group.  

Mary Reeley
Posted: April 5, 2013

Thank you Diane.    I have been working up to courage to dicuss with my teacher my own agenda, but when ever I bring up something she seems to go into defensive mode and that she can only teach in a certian way, which to her is the right and only way.  You are right I have learned tons more form violin lab than my teacher has taught me.  In fact I have observed one of my friends in my group who use to take lessons just before mine and I listen to her play at her lesson and she is at about the same level as me but she has been taking lessons with this teacher for over 4 yrs.  So this makes me think that I am paying to much money for such slow progress, when I have learned so much on my own.  Thanks for sharing you experience about your teacher,  I am going to get brave and have a talk with my teacher.  I have read somewhere that 2yrs is about right to spend with a teacher and then move on and explore what someone else has to offer.

 


Vicky
Posted: April 5, 2013
Hi Armin - I have both books, Basics is a fantastic reference book full of ideas and helpful suggestions.  Scales is daunting, has good ideas, but I wasn't easily grasping them.... Beth's tutorial was a blessing, a greatly appreciated blessing.  I think I will be able to make much better use of Scales with her help.

Mary-  Your comment about "learning on the internet" made me grin.  If your teacher only knew.....there is internet content (you do need to carefully sort out the good from the bad), and then there is Beth's teaching.   I know Beth is on the internet, but she certainly falls in my category of a "top notch teacher".  Violin Lab is like taking a very good class from an excellent instructor.  (that's my opinion anyway).   Enjoy your self-directed seminar with Beth!

Armin
Posted: April 5, 2013
I ordered the scales and found another Simon Fischer book: 


Has somebody already worked with it? 



Diane in SOCAL
Posted: April 4, 2013
Hi Mary.  I had a similar situation as you with a teacher that I really enjoyed and worked with for over 3.5 years.  She's a Suzuki teacher and we had a bit of a conflict when I decided to not do Suzuki method.  She had me going back over the same book after I finished it..Book One. That's when I became as Vicky said, "an adult" and came up with my own music to do at the lessons.  Then a few months down the road with this same teacher, I started figuring out that I was not learning techniques that really mattered, I felt I was falling behind in my dreams of playing in an orchestra with classical music...to my astonishment I was learning more from Beth and Todd Ehle videos, the community members and others that were pointing out to me how to do this and that; better ways to hold the bow, tone production etc. My own teacher had not pointed these out to me in 3.5 years. I was not doing Etudes.   I started thinking this through...I was paying money and taking my time for lessons and practice to fit into my teachers schedule and her agenda.  I quit the teacher and found a new one...what a surprise to find out that there are other teachers out there who encourage us to step out of  "their" comfort zone and make discoveries, teach ourselves with the aid of the amazing internet, and have a teacher who is creative in her approach and a real mentor. She even mentored me to work with children.
That was 3 years ago!...I'm an intermediate player now thanks to two new teachers, playing in a wonderful beginning strings ensemble, playing classical music, going to fiddle camps teaching children, learning so much about the violin with respect to repairs and building...enjoying my journey.  I hope you can find the confidence to maybe "step out" yourself and have an amazing journey...it is worth it to stop and consider "what's going on here"...sort of like smelling the roses.  Big fiddle hugs to you Mary. 
Stay tuned. Diane


Stephen, Los Osos, CA
Posted: April 4, 2013
Hi Mary,

Beth just helped answer my question on when to lay
fingers down.  She directed me to watch video #85.
If you have not seen it, do check it out. Also 141 to 143.

I started the Wohlfahrt Op. 45, No. 1 this week and although
I'm slower than the snails in my flower bed, I do enjoy the new
fingering action.

Best,
Andrew

Mary Reeley
Posted: April 4, 2013

Hi  Beth  my teacher demonstrates to me all the time how she plays with keeping fingers down.  For instance for playing C on th G string she puts her 2nd finger down for measuring. 1st finger B down when playin C nat.  I've asked her how can you ever play with vibrato with fingers held down and she said that you have to hover, which sound fine but if I'm learning to keep fingers down while I'm playing won't it be hard to transition to this later.  She says it's all about preparing the fingers,   and I can do it if I'm playing slow.  I kind of feel that it is her way or the highway if you know what I mean.   I have found through trial and error that I'm much more relaxed in my left hand and  just generally if I'm not keeping fingers down,  but at my lessons I'm trying to do as she wants,  when I tell her this she says that I need to measure and stops my playing,   if for example I play 3rd finger G without having 2nd finger F down.  Anyway I might just take the summer off from lessons and cont on my own. 

 

     

 


Mary Reeley
Posted: April 4, 2013
Vicky   Thanks for your supportive words.   I think my teacher is pretty stuck in her ways of teaching and doesn't approve of me going  ahead and learning techniques on my own ( especially from the internet) she feels that you can't learn this way and will just make for bad habits that will be hard to break.  But I feel there is more than one way to learn and more than one style of playing, like independent fingering vs playing with block fingerings. so I feel conflict in this area.  I have had 82 1/2 hr lessons in 2 yrs and I'm still at the begining of a second method book #2 at my lessons.  Thank goodness for violin lab!!  I have learned so much from Beth's videos.  I WISH I lived in Austin.  And like you said as Adults we make the decisions,  so I will just take what I can from my lessons and continue learning as much as I can on my own. 

Beth Blackerby
Posted: April 4, 2013
Hey all, Glad to see everyone is practicing scales!  Armin, I think once you start working through the book, bit by bit, you'll see how things are organized and will find the exercises and scales that will be right for you. 

Andrew, I don't know if you've seen these videos, but if not, watch #85, 141-143. I hope they will clarify when to leave fingers down and when not to. It sound like you may be trying to put fingers down at the same time.

Mary, I agree with Vicky. You are in charge of your own learning. Your teacher is for guidance. But I do wish I could have a friendly conversation with her about the block fingering issue. Is there a diplomatic way to ask her to demonstrate how she uses block fingerings in her own playing..



Vicky
Posted: April 4, 2013
Hi Mary,

When I think of the best teachers I have had over the years (from kindergarten to college to mentors in life), none of the really good ones ever told me not to do extra work related to the class/topic if I found something of special interest to me.  As long as I did the core work (read, practice, complete the assigned homework, participate in class discussions, did my job, etc.),  they were thrilled that I was following my curiosity and finding out more about the subject.   The really good teachers or mentors seem to know this; they don’t get defensive if I don’t follow their syllabus verbatim.

I look at learning the violin the same way - I’m an adult, I make my own decisions.  It is a good thing to explore and experiment on my own. 

When I run in to one of the many, many people who do not have the skills to be a top-notch teacher but do have information I want to learn, I quietly listen and absorb what they have to offer; then I continue to quietly make my own decisions about what I do in addition to their assignments.  That's just what adults do.

Enjoy the journey, play Ashokan and enjoy your lessons.  They are both important parts of the same journey. 

Vicky




Diane in SOCAL
Posted: April 4, 2013
Hi.  My dear husband Bob just order me a copy from Johnson Strings...they are on sale for $38.00 plus shipping.  Other sites...like the Strad Magazine is selling them for $80!!!  Yikes.
Thanks Beth for this wonderful video and introduction to his scales.  Bless you and Al for the video!!!!
Stay tuned. Diane in SoCal


Mary Reeley
Posted: April 4, 2013

Thank you Beth.  I ordered my copy of scales.  my teacher gave my a copy of the G scale from the book, the same one you demo in the video and I can see on the scale you keep finger 4 down when you move finger 3 to the D string,  but my teacher says to keep fingers 1,2 & 3 down as well.  she is of the firm school of block fingers and measuring,  in all my playing for instance she says you can't find the  note C on the G string unless you also put 2nd finger down  on B. that you can't find C natural without having 1st finger  B down etc.   I find I'm very tense trying to play this way, with more squeezing. I asked her today about Wohlfahrt # 1 and she thinks this is to far advanced.  I have been keeping a log since I started taking lessons. and looking back through I feel that we are basically going over and over the same things. I mentioned this today at my lesson and my teacher said that it takes a very long time to get the basics down.  Sorry I'm just feeling alittle frustrated, I just think I'm ready for more,  she would have a fit I think if she knew I was shifting in the Ashokan or doing vibrato exercises.  Anyway I feel so lucky to have your videos to help me along.  And I'm not sure what to do about this block fingering way of learning.  In some ways I think it is holding me back. I think as Ian says I need fiddle hugs too.  Thanks for listening.    Best Mary


Ray
Posted: April 4, 2013
Hi Beth;

Thanks for your video review of Simon Fischer's book: Scales.  I am now aware of the range that is possible for each pitch depending on the situation.  I especially found it interesting, when the violin is playing the melody and the piece is a major scale, that you can 'inch' the pitch just a tad sharp to emphasize the major scale.  To make it just a little more uplifting. 
Best,

Ray

Joe P
Posted: April 4, 2013
FWIW, my violin teacher has always insisted on four things:
1)  Always keep my fingers over the string I'm playing on unless there's a darn good reason to do otherwise.
2)  Always keep my fingers down when going up-scale.
3)  Always use open string going up-scale and 4th finger going down-scale.
4)  Always move all the fingers to their new positions together when going down-scale.

Unfortunately, it took about a year to finally understand that when she was saying to leave my fingers down on the string or to move them all over to their new positions at the same time, she did NOT mean to apply pressure with all the fingers at once!  I now have an awful habit to break, but it is so much easier to play without gripping the neck when you're only applying pressure with one finger rather than 3 or 4!
joe

Stephen, Los Osos, CA
Posted: April 4, 2013
Hi Beth,

Thank you for that informative video using
the Simon Fischer Scales. Again, another timely
video. My thoughts in practice this week have been
primarily about what fingers I should be holding down
and when.  Especially now that I am practicing the 
Wohlfahrt Op. 45, No. 1.  I am planning to purchase 
the scale book soon.

I do have a question regarding the order of finger placement
while practicing the C scale: When going up the scale, I 
have no problem, "A String",placing 1st finger on the B and 2nd finger on
the C, 3rd on D, 4th on E, but when going down the scale, when I lay all
my fingers down on the A string, I'm ok on the E,D and C, but have to raise
all fingers to place my 1st finger on the B. In other words, I can place B and C, 
in that order, but not the reverse. Is this something I need to fix or will it
be a problem that I should try to resolve now.

I hope that makes sense, sorry about the verbiage.  I thought that
was easier than posting a video.



Armin
Posted: April 4, 2013
Very interesting. Will you release more videos about how to work with this book. And does it makes sense to just start on page 1 working it to the end. Because I dont have no teacher except you and the community and still practising without any "compass"