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Help with slurs
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laserbrainz
SLC, UT
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September 5, 2013 - 12:34 pm
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At least I think that's what they're called.  In the other thread I mentioned I'm attempting to learn Silent Night for Christmas.  I'm using the sheet music I found on Fiddlerman.com, and this version has several slurs.  In case I'm getting the term wrong, what I'm talking about is where I play several notes in one bow: for example, in Silent Night the first two notes of the first refrain are played by placing my third finger and then my fourth finger in a single bow stroke.  My problem is that when I play the second note by laying down my fourth finger, I can't get as clean a sound as when I change bow directions.  I  suspect it might be because my bow arm hesitates when I try it, because my brain is struggling to grasp the "rub your belly, pat your head" sensation of changing my left-hand fingering without changing my right-hand bow stroke, which will probably work itself out with practice.  But if anyone has any insights or practice advice, that would be awesome.  

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Picklefish
Merritt Island, Fla
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September 5, 2013 - 4:16 pm
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I found that with my pinky aka fourth finger, I have to really put it down to get a clean note. Its such a weak finger. as far as playing the slurs, I relate the bow changes to a particular note and say in my head, when I play this note I change direction. Also, slowing the tempo down really helps until you get the hang of it. Try using the staple symbol and V symbols to map out your bowings, its a great visual cue. Keep at it.

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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RosinedUp
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September 5, 2013 - 8:08 pm
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The fourth finger has to make more or less a long reach, depending on how long your fingers are and whether you shift your hand position at all.  I think you should try to avoid doing the latter.

I think notes using the fourth finger tend to sound dull at least partly because it's hard to stay on the fingertip when you are reaching like that.  The finger tip has a tighter curve and isn't as fleshy as the long surface of the finger. 

There is more damping of a string when you finger it with the long surface of any finger.  So in general the sound is clearer if you stay mostly on the tips.  But there are other considerations such as fingering speed and vibrato technique that argue against staying maximally on the tips.

Or such is my understanding.

Specific to the question of slurs, one consideration is that the string tends to buzz against the finger when bringing the finger down or removing it from a string.  That is lessened when moving the fingers up or down quickly.  But don't confuse bringing the finger down fast with pressing the string hard after the finger is already down.

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Ginnysg
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September 5, 2013 - 11:32 pm
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I think it is the "rub your belly, pat your head" thing.  Your brain says if you change notes you need to change direction.  I had that problem at first with vibrato... my right hand wanted to be doing what the left hand was doing... not a pretty sight, or sound!'

I found if I slow down when you do the slurs you'll start to get it, then pretty soon you can speed up and they be just fine.

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent” 

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Fiddlestix
Michigan, USA
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September 6, 2013 - 7:52 am
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@lazerbrainz: Forget the song, just play slur's starting with first finger, second, third and fourth on one string using down bow, then up bow. Practice until your pinky note's are clear and vibrant. Our pinky finger tend's to be the weakest of the four, but with practice it will strengthen.

Play natural scales, using your pinky on the G string in place of the open D string and so on with each string. Play in one continuous bow stroke, see how many note's you can play with one stroke, staying on one string, up and down the scale then moving to the next string. Before you know it, you'll be playing the whole scale with one bow stroke.

 

Ken.

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laserbrainz
SLC, UT
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September 6, 2013 - 1:03 pm
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I'm glad to know I'm not the only one with a weak pinky. :)  I've been doing some Hanon exercises on the piano to try and strengthen all the fingers on my left hand, but especially the pinky.

 

Thanks for all the tips.  I've tried slurring scales before with awful results, but I'll slow it way down and keep trying it.  Yesterday I focused only on the first two phrases of Silent Night (just "silent night/holy night" again and again and again) really slowly and was beginning to feel more comfortable with the slur.  If only I weren't having to focus on intonation and bowing and tone all at the same time.  I've found myself really missing the piano.  The piano is so much easier!  You can't be out of tune unless IT is out of tune. I do like the challenge, though.  Life gets stale without challenges.

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Picklefish
Merritt Island, Fla
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September 6, 2013 - 2:28 pm
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I have been using the 60 exercises for the piano virtuoso by Hanon. Love that book, its a great brain trainer too, all that bouncing around the fingers. Hadn't heard anyone else mention it until now. pretty cool.

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
September 6, 2013 - 11:56 pm
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Everyone's fourth finger is weaker. In any case, forcing yourself to work on slurs is a good way to improve doing them and to phrase more accurately. It might be easier if you practice scales using slurs. For example, play a two octave scale playing 2 notes per bow then 4 notes and perhaps 8.
Economy of the bow is when you space the slurred notes out evenly to give each note the same amount (or as close as possible) of bow.

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

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