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Issue Reaching D/G String Fingerings
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Kahlya
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May 4, 2016 - 8:43 pm
Member Since: April 27, 2016
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I got my violin yesterday and I've been trying out a few of the easier songs and I've immediately noticed an issue with reaching the D and G strings with my left hand fingers. I'm sure at least part of this is a simple matter of gaining flexiblity, but I was wondering if anyone had any specific advice.

To give a more specific example of what I'm having happen... I was attempting to play Twinkle from Fiddlerman's video, and while I can successfully do it, I notice a potentially large problem.
I can't seem to find any way to reach the third finger onto the D string without the finger also touching the A string (making the A sound horrid if I happen to hit it with the bow). I can't seem to reach it at all with my fingernail facing the bridge and with my finger sideways I end up pulling the string to the right and/or having the pad of my finger in contact with the A string.

I've already got my left elbow as far to the right as I can get it, to the point the it feels uncomfortably twisted. And I tried moving the violin neck so that it rests just on the pad of my thumb, but I don't think this is having the desired effect because the base of my index finger just collapses against the side of the neck anyway. I'm actually wondering if I'm doing something wrong or if the old injury I have to my left wrist is impeding something (the doctor claimed it was only superficial damage, but I know at the very least it messed up one of the nerves a bit).

I do have short fleshy fingers, but from what I saw in another post on the forums, I'm not the only one with short fingers.

Is there some particular exercise for flexibility or something else I can try to get my hand more on top of the fingerboard?

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damfino
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May 4, 2016 - 9:16 pm
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You mention that you have your left arm as close to your body as you can get it, are you swinging it forward as well? This helps reach, move your elbow forward for G, and swing your elbow back a little for each string change (it also helps keep your fingers in the right position to hit the notes). I'm sure there are videos showing what I mean, but my computer is dead, and my ipad makes searching for links while posting on the forum a little challenging, lol. 

If you're using a shoulder rest, it may need a little adjusting, I know mine was set a little high at first, and even still I've lowered it little bits here and there since my teacher helped me adjust it.

I'm sure more experienced players will pop in with some advice. But since you just got your violin, don't stress over it too much. Everything is going to feel a bit weird and awkward.

~ I'm not torturing cats... I'm learning to play violin! ~

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BillyG
Far North-west Scotland
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May 5, 2016 - 3:01 am
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Yessss indeed - took me a while to get comfortable with that. While this is no recommendation - for my own analyses of the problem I had (and hopefully overcome) I stuck a cam om the fiddle itself, looking down neck - and just messed with a pentatonic improv ( well, had to play something ) to look closely at my fingering on theG and D - 

For me, it's nice to be able to have those fingers nicely curled so the final finger joint is approaching the string in an almost vertical position.  I appreciate that at "full stretch" especially with the pinkie that "rule" may have to be pushed somewhat.

Damfino's reference to swinging the elbow helps make the fingering as natural as possible - and - for me - is a pre-requisite to comfortably playing on the lower strings.

As a beginner, it is natural to have this horrid feeling that you're going to drop the instrument - and (even subconsciously) there could be a bit of the old "death-grip" going on - both with the actual hand itself and the elbow.  Relax the elbow, let it drift out from your body rather than being kept tightly against it.

Another thing that unsettled me early on was the chin rest - I messed with all angles I could until I found something "natural" (for me - we're all different)

Just some thoughts / own experience....   I'm sure you'll get there !

EDIT: This also occurred to me over breakfast - something else I initially struggled with was some of the "basic information" regarding the hold/position of the violin - my understanding was that the fiddle should be more or less parallel to the floor (and specifically, not pointing downwards over much).   That in itself was OK - BUT - I had misinterpreted that, and I was holding the body itself "flat" and parallel to the floor.  That was VERY awkward both for fingering and bowing (huge amount of right shoulder movement to bow on the G). I quickly realized I could tilt the body itself, while still keeping the instrument neck parallel to the floor.  My hold now has the fiddle pretty much parallel to floor, but the body rotated, oh, around 45 degrees, making bowing on the top E almost a vertical up/down motion - and to get to the point - THIS also eases my left hand finger reach on the low strings.   In the short video above, with the cam on the fiddle, you can clearly see the relative angle of the furniture / table on the RHS - it looks tilted - around 45 degrees or so....

But, as I said - we're all different - you'll eventually find a comfortable position....

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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Fidelestre
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May 5, 2016 - 7:13 am
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It all feels very awkward at first. Try not to stress too much about it - I have learned that stress and tension never result in a good sound! Work with what you can to start, and add in the more challenging things a little at a time.

The left elbow does need to swing over more for the D and G strings. Getting the hold right can be very difficult. This is one of those things for which it is a good idea to work with your teacher early on to get a good hold established as your habit from the start.

If you're following the Suzuki method, you don't actually have to worry about the D and G strings for a while. Twinkle and all of the other early Suzuki pieces are played in the key of A, using just the A and E strings. These two strings are easier to reach - at least, I think that is true for most people. There is plenty to keep you busy with just the A and E strings for now. You can add the D string later, after you're feeling more comfortable with the A and E strings.

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Kahlya
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May 5, 2016 - 1:28 pm
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Thanks. I'll try these things out.

As a bit of an update, I had my husband look at it. We checked hold and positioning and tried out a bunch of suggests from the internet, and after passing the violin back and forth between us (and eventually between hands) we've discovered that I actually don't have a full range of motion in my left wrist anymore.

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BillyG
Far North-west Scotland
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May 5, 2016 - 3:44 pm
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Well, even if that is the case - do not give up ( well, don't push to the point of being painful, of course ) - you can still be surprised at what you can achieve....  honestly!

Take your time, don't rush it or push too hard - you WILL be drawing tunes out of the instrument - THEN - it will simply demand more and more of YOU and there will be no end to it....   exactly

Hope it goes well !

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
May 5, 2016 - 5:31 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 11717

Kahlya said

I can't seem to find any way to reach the third finger onto the D string without the finger also touching the A string (making the A sound horrid if I happen to hit it with the bow).

Not a problem at all as I see it.

It's OK for your fingers to touch other strings than the one you are playing on. They constantly do for me. Unless you are using an open string or fingered double stop simultaneously. or similar, and need to clear that string from just that note, which is probably not the case often. If this is the case, you simply cover the string that isn't being bowed, either above or under the fingered string.

Sorry if I am not clear.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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BillyG
Far North-west Scotland
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May 5, 2016 - 6:27 pm
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Yup - @Fiddlerman  - good point made there - I suffered from that at the start ( largely bow angle - hitting the "deadened string" where  - whichever side - either the fleshy finger pad on an adjacent higher string or sometimes the finger-nail on a lower string ).  [ Hahahaha - I could unintentionally play double-stops ( well, open drones ) from day one - hahahahaha - but - see - when I had the darned instrument under control - grrrrr - it took me WEEKS to do it properly, when intended hahaha ]

Yup that's a good point, @Kahlya - as FM says - definitely check that out as well... ( been there - LOL !   Always so hard to recall all the "stumbling blocks" once it all becomes automatic -  sometimes you kind of forget exactly what the original problem was - and it can be difficult to describe - but - you'll be fine !!!)

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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