April 24, 2016 at 10:50 pm #15337
And then there are double stops where my fingers just can’t seem to reach….or is there some way to stretch them?April 25, 2016 at 2:27 am #15340
Hi Christie! I think double stops are hard for everybody at first. I got the impression you were talking about octaves, in particular. Was I right? If so, I would suggest starting on E string, playing first finger, then fourth finger. How comfortable is that? Just get used to that interval on the E string. Maybe make up an exercise designed to strengthen the pinkie. For example:
| E: 3 – 4 | 3 – 4 :|| (hold down 3)
| E: 2 – 4 | 2 – 4 :|| (hold down 2)
| E: 1 – 4 | 1 – 4 :|| (hold down 1)
A steady pace is sufficient. Try to keep tension out of the left hand. Slur two notes per bow. Do this on all strings, noting the added challenges, if any when you move to lower strings.
Now modify the exercise by placing the bottom note on the adjacent string, in this case A. Like so:
| A: 3 – E: 4 | A: 3 – E: 4 :|| (hold down 3)
| A: 2 – E: 4 | A: 2 – E: 4 :|| (hold down 2)
| A: 1 – E: 4 | A: 1 – E: 4 :|| (hold down 1)
Do this on all strings.
Add a twist to the above exercise, as shown below:
| A: 3 – E: 4 | A: 3 – E: 4 | 3/4, 3/4 :|| (the fractional looking notation indicates a double string note, notes played together simultaneously)
| A: 2 – E: 4 | A: 2 – E: 4 | 2/4, 2/4 :||
| A: 1 – E: 4 | A: 1 – E: 4 | 1/4, 1/4 :||
Do this on all strings.
Here’s one more exercise, after all this is easy, which is a pinkie stretching exercise:
Play A1. Hold A1 down, Play E4 (B natural). Play E4 a half step higher, (C natural, still holding A1). Alternate, while holding A1, between B natural and C natural played with fourth finger on E. If you’re a brave soul, add one more half step stretch to the rotation, C sharp.
On that note (pun intended), did you know that the famous Italian violinist, Nicolo Paganini, had Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes sufferers to grow to above-average height, have disproportionately long, slender limbs, weak wrists and long fingers? Besides these and a host of other symptoms, people with Marfan syndrome also often have abnormal joint flexibility, which enabled Paganini to play finger extensions of intervals up to a 14th!! Octaves are 8 steps! He wrote these ghastly intervals into a few of his famous violin Caprices, which made them impossible to play for most violinists. His illness made him feared, hated and famous. Guess who else is thought by some to have had Marfan syndrome? Abraham Lincoln!April 25, 2016 at 12:03 pm #15361
Thanks for your helpful response. The hard part is placing my 3rd & 1st fingers , as in D string: F (3rd finger) & G string #C or D (1st finger).April 26, 2016 at 4:41 am #15405
Let me give you one more tip about double stops. We spend so much time learning NOT to play two strings and then, we are required to PLAY two strings. Maddening, hunh? So now that you play two strings with the bow, naturally instinct tells you that if two fingers are used together on these two strings, we must set them at the same time. So not true. Be sly and try setting them in a ‘rolling’ movement that allows you to set one finger first, then the other. By setting one finger first, it provides a guide and an anchor that makes it more likely that you’ll place the next finger on the other string more accurately. I hope this helps!
April 26, 2016 at 11:15 am #15429
Thanks! I will struggle bravely on!