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Janet Doherty
Hi everyone.  I have searched unsuccessfully for a video that might address this problem:

You pick up the violin, place your left hand in position, but for me, I am never sure that I am exactly in proper position to execute the first note with good intonation (other than an open string).  I have asked several teachers over the past couple of years and never got a useful answer.  Anyone have a (for lack of a better word) "trick" they use?  Or is this just a matter of so many repetitions, that you always begin at the correct place naturally?  ...I am speaking of first position in this case

...hope I have expressed my question well  :-)

Thanks.

Janet
Janet Doherty
11 Responses
Posted: January 8, 2019
Last Comment: January 15, 2019
Replies

Susan Hollister
Posted: January 15, 2019
One musician told me that he uses vibrato when he is to land on a note with no reference - then he is able to vibrate into the correct intonation. 

Beth Blackerby
Posted: January 12, 2019
Janet, I love that! I had never heard of "waggle" and think"vaggle" is perfect!

Janet Doherty
Posted: January 12, 2019
Beth, GREAT VIDEO!  Perfectly addresses the issue for me.  I have begun my last two practice sessions with seeing how many times I can be spot on....  I love games like that :-)
Already there seems to be improvement and this feeds the confidence, which in turn feeds further improvement.... and so on....

By the way, as an ex-golfer, I appreciated your golfing set up analogy.... in golf referred to as a "waggle".... I had a very specific one that, if interrupted, must be started over again.  I guess we can coin the new word of "vaggle" when it concerns the violin.  So, I now have a vaggle.....which suits me well since I function best with the security of routines.

I really appreciate you help in getting me heading in the right direction....

A big thanks also to everyone who responded.... ALL comments have been helpful...and I find myself playing more with my eyes closed and enjoying hearing in a more helpful way that seems to build a thicker connection between my fingers, bow, and ear.... not explaining this well....but I know everyone understands what I am trying to say.

Much Gratitude!!

Janet




Lesley McCubbin
Posted: January 9, 2019
Hi Janet,

For all things related to intonation, I find it very helpful to periodically play with my eyes closed. Doing this switches my focus dramatically to what I'm actually hearing (as opposed to what I "think" I'm hearing... a bit hard to explain). It never fails to surprise me how "smart" my ear is when I let it take over and direct my hand. When my eyes are open, it seems like they try to dominate... or is it my chattery brain... Anyway, maybe something to try if you haven't already.

Beth Blackerby
Posted: January 9, 2019
This discussion includes members-only video content

Janet, your question prompted me to make a video that I'm going to insert into the curriculum. Tell if this helps.

Janet Doherty
Posted: January 8, 2019
Thanks everyone!  All good stuff....

Beth: I have about 3 years under my belt (with some breaks due to parent care issues), so really less than 3...  I have never used tapes.  I feel quite comfortable shifting into 3rd (from a correct 1st position), but first picking up the instrument I always feel I have to relate from an open string to the next stopped pitch up to be sure I am where I should be and not be a little sharp/flat.  Not a problem unless you are playing a piece for performance, etc.  I have recently upgraded my violin and with the neck being different, the problem has been exasperated somewhat.....and bubbled back up into my thinking about the question again...

Intuitively, I have thought that the instrument markers everyone has mentioned were the key, but funny, in asking two accomplished teachers, neither mentioned that as a solution....but after reading the posts and watching the suggested video ....seems I was/am on the right track.  

Thanks again everyone!

Janet



Dianne
Posted: January 8, 2019
I had this issue especially on an F natural on the E string, but it is getting better through repetition.

Kate
Posted: January 8, 2019
My teacher worked out with me (no tapes) about a thumbs width from the end - so I placed my thumb at the end and estimated the distance. When I changed my violin it took me a few weeks to adjust again as the neck felt so different. I use intonia to pick up/ play a note at least 6 times every practice session both for physical memory of correct thumb/ first finger placement and so I can listen to the note and (try to)  remember the sound when I'm in tune. 

Elke Meier
Posted: January 8, 2019
Janet, for me it is the feeling of where the nut is in relation to the right hand that gives me the clue. 
As for shifting: Normally I feel pretty secure in third position. But there are times when I just cannot get any single shift right. If that happens I found out that it is an indication of tension in the shoulder/arm. I take the arm away from the violin, dangle it to relax it, "tuck" the shoulder blade in as Beth calls it in some of her videos, take the hand up to the fingerboard again - and most likely the magic Barbara talked about is back and all of a sudden the shifting works again.

Beth Blackerby
Posted: January 8, 2019
Hi Janet, good question. Most teachers put tapes on the finger board to use as guides in the beginning. Once the hand starts to "remember", the teacher will remove the tapes. But of course, tapes will only go so far in training the hand. The "magic" Barbara mentioned are the neural networks in the brain that form over time that tells the hand where to position itself. Much of that instinct is based on tactile clues from the instrument. I do have a video about that subject. Watch the first couple of minutes. I talk about 1st position before talking about the others.


 What level of beginner are you? Do you or did you start with the tapes?

Barbara Habel
Posted: January 8, 2019
Dear Janet

When I first picked up my violin 12 years ago my first teacher put my hand in the right position and then asked me to drop my hand down again and then find the right place again. We did this without playing a note. He knew the hand position and I tried to find the place again by looking at the violin and my hand.

But the point was to remember the feeling of the hand reaching for the violin. Kinesthetic is another word for it.

At the time to me it seemed like a magic trick. But it worked and I developed "muscle memory". Something which I did not know about before playing the violin.

Playing the violin is about magic. When you progress toward shifting it will be magic too. The hand remembers. Not your eyes. Your ears my be a guidance but the "invisible" skills will be the master in playing the violin.

God bless and happy practicing.