Sliding up to Harmonics: Pinkies Are Useful

I had a great lesson last Wednesday – I played through Humoresque for Teacher and we started some refinements on it.  The piece has so many little moments where subtleties make a big impact.  Dynamics are just the tip of the iceberg.  No piece I’ve worked on to date so fully explores the nuance of a fourth finger (pinky) versus notes played on the open string, for example – two ways to produce notes of the same frequency.  But there’s a different quality to the sound between the two, and this arrangement explores that particular nuance on all the strings, more or less.

Moving into third position on the E string is also part of this piece, something I’m doing for the first time.  I go all the way up to a high C, which previously I’ve approached with an extended pinky finger, but in this arrangement I shift up and play it with the third finger.

And harmonics are back – I was introduced to the concept way back at the beginning of Suzuki Book Two with a little Bach number Suzuki calls Musette – I was shocked at the time.  But indeed I’ve been working with that little harmonic moment for a while now, and this new one is the same note (Musette is also in D Major, the same as this section of Humoresque), but I approach it quite differently.  After using the pinky for the A on the D string, I slide it up to find a D way up the fingerboard while simultaneously pulling all of the pressure out of the pinky, allowing it to end up barely resting in the right spot on the surface of the string.  That’s something that probably sounds as hard as it is, for once!  It will take a while for me to make it sound good.

Overall, Humoresque is full of moments that will take a while for me to make them sound good.  It’s fun to be able to play through all the notes while knowing at the same time that I’ve still got tons to learn and appreciate in this piece.

And, the big lesson of the week – though tough to wield, pinkies are definitely useful.

Thanks for reading.

Ryan

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