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jojo
Beth, I have a 'dilemma' (well it needn't be but I really would like to know why and 'fix it'). I never suffered the thumb 'death grip', as far as I know I don't have a habit to grip with my left hand BUT there is ONE piece of music which unfortunately I had to play for my grade 5 exam where I just CANNOT stop squeezing with my thumb/hand throughout it and my left hand becomes 'death grip', this causes me pain and it makes intonation difficult to keep good throughout the piece. The piece is a baroque piece: Giga by Mascitti and it's on page 8 of the Sheila Nelson's 'Baroque Violinist' book by Boosey and Hawkes. It is meant to be played 'presto' but even in my practice if I practice it really slowly the death grip sets in almost immediately, by the 3rd bar at the most it will be there! This caused me enourmous stress when I was preparing for my exam and I really wanted to 'ditch' the piece but I didn't as I would have viewed it as 'chickening out', I wanted to 'face the challenge and win'. So I did it for my exam, in the exam I did not play it too badly I got a merit! BUT I kept this as the last thing I had to do in the exam because of the tension/pain it would give me to play it. Intonation was not perfect, it never is because of the tension in the hand my fingers will not stretch as far... any ideas why I never suffer with this problem but this piece brings it all out???
jojo
6 Responses
Posted: August 23, 2010
Last Comment: August 24, 2010
Replies

jojo
Posted: August 24, 2010
that's ok Anne, your tips will still come useful :) yes Beth I think you are right, it is a bit like playing double stops I guess, ok here is the examples: all in first position play (on A and E string only): A (open A) - F (on E string), Bflat - F , C - F, D - F, C - F, Bflat - F, then re-do this cycle 2 more times then A - F, A - F, A - F, Bflat - F, C - F, C - E (open E) F and then F on Dstring then 2 lines later in the piece I have exactly the same thing but between D and A string: E (1st finger on D) - C (low second on A), F - C, G - C, A (fourth finger on D) and C, G - C, F - C, then cycle starts again 2 more times then E - C, E - C, E - C, F - C, G - C, G - B - C then low C (third finger on G string) then after 4 and a half lines the cycle mentioned first between A and E string comes back. This piece is meant to be played 'presto' so when I do Bflat - F I will keep my first finger down covering both strings as a low first finger then play all the other notes and keep that low first finger there for for later and for 'intonation guide' same on the other 2 strings. The whole piece gives me tension and I get the 'death thumb grip' but those passages are the WORST and when I am through them my intonation goes to pots a bit as they really do destroy my hand and I cannot stretch as easily :(

Anne
Posted: August 24, 2010

OK, Jo, thank you for clarifying. It seems to me that our issues are not really the same (maybe related). I'll go and follow my own advice more diligently on Kreutzer 2 and 9. I just realized that the pain I get is not really at the wrist but where the thumb joins the palm, so I've resolved to watch it staying loose. Take care!


jojo
Posted: August 24, 2010
Hi Anne, no I don't get any tension/squeezing when I do Kreutzer 2 and I can do it pretty fast too (mind you intonation lapses a bit when I go fast LOL) the main issues with this piece (I think) is a lot of low first finger then passages where there is FAST string crossing (I dont' have the book with me and having amnesia as I am at work right now but will post the notes of the fast string crossings tonight, in these you have to keep some fingers down to aid going really fast.....)

Anne
Posted: August 24, 2010

Jo, don't you also practice Kreutzer 2? Do you have the same phenomenon there? I need to be ultra careful to stay relaxed when practicing Kreutzer 2 fast, otherwise my left wrist starts to hurt.

I believe it is due to spacing (low second finger). I tried the tapping exercise that Beth has for that, and I can do it, but I find it really difficult to keep low second finger down and then do third and fourth fingers (like C D E on the A-String), or to keep the fingers hovering over the fingerboard when playing this finger pattern.

One thing that seems to help is to bring the left ellbow way in and to turn the hand around as far as possible, so that the knuckles are nearly parallel to the strings.

Same thing with Kreutzer 9, C D E on the G string in second position.


jojo
Posted: August 24, 2010
'practicing with harmonic tension'....no, if it's in your technique videos I'll look at it today :) yes you're right I think there is lots of big gaps, there's a lot of F (low 1st finger), but if one day you have the time to look at it and give me an opinion on it I'd be grateful. Come to think of it, there is one more thing which gives me the 'grip from hell' after a while if I practice it fast and that's sevcik Op 1 P2 number 12!!! (in third position)

jojo
Posted: August 23, 2010
PS the piece is all in first position, hope you have the book in your shop and can look it up, it's quite a 'famous book'