I was a lazy person, a lazy violin student. I still am. When I had to practice shifting using books, any book, my laziness said, “don’t do that.” I was so lazy to read and Schradieck or any other books available at that time. (This laziness to read may be one of the causes of my bad sight read *cry in G minor Adagio). So I decided to just read more about shifting and find out important points about it.
Simon Fischer explained in various accounts that there are two common mistakes in shifting: the arm move in an incorrect distance and the finger misplaced. Other things come to my mind: we seldom play only a single note after shifting to new position which means our left hand must be ready to play in the new position and shifting must be secure using any finger.
With these in mind, I started to play my own shifting exercise. A very simple exercise. Here is an example of the exercise for first and third position:
With this exercise we practice all important things explained before:
- To ‘measure’ correct distance using left arm movement, and also place finger correctly
- To securely shift with any finger. All fingers are trained to be ‘destination’ of shifting, whether to third and first position
- To be ready to play other notes in tune in the new position.
The exercise is not limited. You can make so many variations and improvisations, based on your own need. You can play A1(first measure of A) then B2(second measure of B) or C1 then A2, A1 then B2 to A1 to C2 to A1 to D2, any combination you like. You can also use it for many other positions, first to third, first to third to fifth to seven, or the even positions first to second, to fourth. You can also jump to ‘not systematics position’ like from first to fifth than to sixth to fourth, etc. I used to play all positions up to seventh. You can also change the key, probably match the with the key you’re currently studying.
- Practice slowly!
- Finger placement must be very consistent. See a demonstration by Prof. William Fitzpatrick
- Sing the notes you want to play to help the intonation
This blog post is of course my own experience in studying violin. May works for you, may not. You probably have better exercises than mine! As an musical instrument student we have to experiment many things, but only pick one or few things that work for us. And more importantly, have a better understanding of problem we face. Happy practicing!