Shifting into Third

It’s been a while since I’ve written about my progress on shifting positions.  I have continued to work with a book of exercises, so far on third position only, quite slowly.  The exercises are designed to help me learn to hear the notes up the fingerboard as I read the music.  I’m up to about the 20th exercise.  I’m slowly sounding better as I play the notes, which is tricky – the higher up the fingerboard the harder it is to produce a good tone on the instrument.  The project is challenging for other reasons too; I struggle to know what key I’m playing and what notes.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve finally been making some progress on reading while playing third position – I’ve moved onto an exercise that’s a C Major scale – it goes, using third position only, all the way from low C on the G string up to high D on the E string.  When I pay attention to the music and really play it properly and slowly, it helps me begin to imagine that I might eventually make these position choices deliberately and quickly.  I can start to read the music.

I’m not sure about other instruments, but trying to get my brain to appreciate that there’s more than one way to play a given note is a bit tricky.  1:1 correspondences are nice and tidy.  But that’s not the way we play the violin.

In songs, I’m still only shifting into third position for two – the Book Three version of the Bach Minuet, which is not Bach and which is two minuets back to back, the first in G major and the second in G minor.  The shifts are on the A string during the second minuet.  Humoresque shifts for one spot only, but it’s a very important spot – I shift up to high C then walk it back, still in third position, to a high A specifically to produce a nice effect.  In both of those songs, the shift is the only thing that keeps me from considering them up to the level I can play my other songs.  I’m just not able to make the shift as smoothly as I need to make it in order to produce sounds that pass muster with me these days.

There’s only one recipe for improvement!

Thanks for reading.


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