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I Do Not Want To Endorce Bad Habits.
For reasons explained in my post, I question how to not forget where the fingers go for first position while waiting to restart violin lessons.
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cid
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March 2, 2019 - 10:31 am
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I had my first cello lesson with my new instructor yesterday. Now I have a question about my violin. A little background will be necessary because the two are connected.

My original cello instructor for three months back in 2013 was my violin instructor that I just let go. I have always questioned whether or not she paid enough attention to proper hold, proper fingering, proper bowing, anything mechanical or technical. But with few options for instructors, I have no choices around here, so I kept plugging along. After all but two violin lessons were cancelled by her this year, I dropped her last Monday, or maybe the Saturday before. At that time the music store owner told me he has a new cello instructor who signed on, who also plays violin and teaches violin. His main instrument is cello, though. 

I dropped violin lessons and signed up for cello lessons that day. I had my first cello lesson yesterday. Apparently, I have been holding my cello wrong, thumb was wrong, my fingers were not being used the right way for fingering - basically because my thumb was wrong, my bowing was not correct. The way I was doing it was exactly as I had been doing it since my lessons in 2013 from my former violin instructor. This instructor never looked at my fingering, holding my cello or bowing. It was pretty much playing this Suzuki song, play the next song, etc. None of the exercises between songs, or text between songs was covered. All of that was skipped. She is an official trained Suzuki Instructor, go figure.

Now, I have to relearn the cello hold and fingering with the left hand, and the bowing with the right. It is very difficult to do this. It is completely different, and it is not just learning it, it is forgetting the bad habits.

Well, my problem is, she was teaching me violin, too. I am now questioning what technical and mechanical aspects did she skip over for violin? What will I have to relearn? I have become pretty good at intonation and can hear how to correct it when I am a bit off. I don’t want to not play it and have to redo that part, and have to use the tapes that I removed.

I am wondering about this because after I get my cello up and running, I will be alternating weeks between cello and violin lessons with my new instructor. Should I not play songs on my violin and just pick it up often enough to just do bowing of the notes for finger placement in first position so I don’t forget that? I don’t want to enforce any bad habits or form that has been allowed since I started taking lessons. I know proper hold, fingering, bowing, etc. was not mentioned during my lessons. I suspect I am making a lot of mistakes regarding that and have created bad habits. I do not want to keep re-enforcing those bad habits while waiting to start my lessons with my new instructor. 

Any opinions would be appreciated, especially if you have had this same experience.

Thank you.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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GregW
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March 2, 2019 - 11:14 am
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cid- I play as a hobby so take this however..

Just go with what you have now and chalk it all up as experience.  Even though it may seem to you that you have lost time and money Im sure you learned some useful info ..I wouldnt call it a total loss of time.  Id play the violin now along with cello and not wait for lessons to start. Practice what you know and let the new instructor correct as needed.  I doubt the time youll spend until then would just totally be wasted.  I think an instrument not being played would be though.

  You asked..thats just how I would look at that situation were I in your shoes given what youve written.  Spend time recording a cello part..then play it back and record yourself playing violin to it.  Rinse and repeat and have fun with it.  My 2 cents. Hope its helpful.

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cid
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March 2, 2019 - 11:47 am
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@GregW That is what I am thinking, but was not sure. I know self-taught violinists don’t have the instructor watching, and that there are also different ways to do it. I also know many successful violinists are self-taught. I am not talking successful as being professional only, but able to play so they enjoy it, also. That said, I don’t think my violin hold is so that it would cause physical injury, which it could if my neck was bent. That is what concerns me most.

I could play long notes on my cello as background so I am not playing the exact notes as the violin. Notes that are appropriate. Maybe half and whole, with the occasional quarter, counting at a tempo I would be able to handle on my violin. I just hate to stop playing my violin completely.

Maybe, it won’t take me too long to get comfortable with the proper cello hold, finger curves and bowing. The problem was that it was going to cause issues as I progressed, which he demonstrated. If that is the case, that it won’t take long to get the proper feel, it should not take a long time to get up to snuff because I have been playing it and can hit the right spots on the fingerboard. That is what I am waiting for before alternating between the two. My violin is quite further along.

Sometimes unhappy situations (cancelled classes leading to dropping the instructor) lead to better circumstances (an instructor paying attention to detail). Hopefully, my new instructor will continue on that road. I can always ask him to check, periodically.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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HP
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March 2, 2019 - 12:03 pm
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I feel sorry for you. It makes me really upset on how unprofessional she seems. She might be a decent violinist, but she doesn't seem like much of a teacher. 

However, on the topic. IMO every experience is valuable when it comes to learning a new instrument. Take it slow, separate the hands and work on them individually. I wouldn't stop playing until your next lesson, unless you're experience pain or discomfort. If you've been thought a wrong method of playing, so what, at least later you know for a certain that's the wrong way to do things. We all do wrong things on the path of learning, even when we have great teachers, that's how we learn. 

'Armed with theory, practice becomes meaningful. Through practice, theory becomes fulfilled.' - Egon von Neindorff.

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cid
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March 2, 2019 - 12:36 pm
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Thank you for the encouragement, @HP. It is hard to teach, even when you are good at the subject, no matter the subject. 

Right now, I feel good. I might watch more online videos, Fiddleman ones for sure, and check them against what I have been doing to double check. Maybe I was taught correctly for the violin. I just thought of that. Such a simple way to check it out! Duh! I want to check the thumb neck position and finger curl. That is the main issue with my cello.

Considering what I learned at that first cello lesson, it just created doubt. 

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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Gordon Shumway
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March 2, 2019 - 1:06 pm
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Maybe you could supplement your lessons with books by Galamian and/or Simon Fischer. And don't forget that, although Youtube contains a lot of rubbish, there are good things there too.

(sorry, I only read the OP, if I reiterated what has already been said)

I always wanted to be a juvenile delinquent but my parents wouldn't let me.

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cid
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March 2, 2019 - 1:42 pm
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My concern was that I may be holding my violin with my left hand wrong, curling my fingers and usimg my left thumb wrong. The same teacher that taught me cello the wrong way, was teaching me violin. She did not say anything about my hold, etc, so I am not sure now since I have to rid myself if the bad habits she taught me in cello. 

It was extremely difficult to hold my cello the proper way, and it makes sense to hold it that way, and not my old way that was so comfortable. I am concerned with maybe having been taught the wrong way for the violin, now. I don’t want to further cement that wrong way for my violin while waiting to restart those lessons. It is so hard to undo it.

I have scale books, song books, lesson books a plenty. Really do not need any more books. I am just concerned about what I was taught by the same teacher whi taught me cello wrong having taught the violin wrong. The techniques and mechanics were brushed over in both instances, so I figured I was doing them right. Turns out cello was wrong.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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pchoppin
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March 3, 2019 - 1:50 am
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@cid

I'm sorry you had a negative experience with a teacher.  But it appears this has not extinguished your desires to learn, and that is the take away from this.  I am very impressed and I have a great admiration for your ability to stick with this and not give up.  There are plenty of stories of beginners who would have just quit under these circumstances. So keep playing!!!!!

Now as far as fingering is concerned, the idea of finger patterns is to create muscle memory so that each position you do not have to think about where your fingers go.  They just do.  So I would be sure to get the proper finger patterns and begin immediately building the muscle memory.  From what I gather you have not been playing improperly for a very long time, so it is just a matter of building good habits and developing your muscle memory.  

Not sure if you have other concerns or if you think there are other areas where you should focus but I would not be too worried.  All of it is correctable.  

Also, @HP is correct in that we all make mistakes during the learning process.  The important thing is to keep working on them and NEVER give up!

Keep playing! It's amazing that you are learning 2 string instruments at the same time!

- Pete -

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cid
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March 3, 2019 - 8:40 am
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Thanks, everyone. 

One of the issues of the old habit, that I thought was the proper way to hold and finger, with the cello is my thumb position and the way my fingers come down onto the strings. I am not sure if that is different than a violin, now.

When I began cello a few years ago my thumb was flat on the backside of the neck going horizontal across the the back. My fingers, hard to explain. They were not exactly flat across the strings, but not curled and coming down onto the strings as perpendicular as possible (the proper way). My hold and fingers had me really struggling to reach the G string (next to lowest) and C string (lowest). My first instructor should have noticed the wrong thumb and finger positions at least at that point. The C string, because of that Suzuki progression of strings (which I detest), was pretty much skipped over for book 1, but the G string was used. 

The thumb is supposed to basically have the cello neck resting sort of on the tip, not the flatter “palm” side of the thumb, like I was doing. It was never mentioned in lessons, and that is what was comfortable, so what I have always done. It is also opposite where the second finger is on the fingerboard.

It is basically there to be a folcum for the fingers and give the fingers stability as they press on the strings. Apparently, the fingers are supposed to not stretch and flatten out and reach to those G and C strings. The thumb can move over towards the G or C string, keeping its “shape”, with the second finger if your hand is too small to “rock” over to the G and/or C string. That is the best I can describe it. It is not what I have been doing, in the class last week, it did make it easier to “rock” the fingers, and was easier to reach that G and C string.

The fingers are curled to touch the strings as perpendicular as possible. Mine are touching the tip of the finger, but due to my thumb, my knuckles are flexed almost straight. That is a no no and will be an issue later, for example, with vibrato and shifting.

Is this basically how the violin is used with the thumb and fingers? If so, I am so doing it wrong. My thumb is showing up a little on the side, not just resting on the backside. I think I am right with my thumb on the violin based on videos here and on YouTube. It really can’t just rest in the backside like a cello. That big cello is supported by resting into the chest, the violin does not have as much support. 

Are my fingers supposed to be curled and hitting more perpendicular like a cello? I can’t remember if that is how I do it, or not. But, it is something I am going to pay attention to. It is hard to see this on videos because it is so fast and usually, the curl of the fingers from the first knuckle to the strings is hard to see. Plus, reading how from people you have been joining in with on a forum seems to stick. We are all in the same boat.

Thank you.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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pchoppin
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March 3, 2019 - 5:55 pm
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The thumb is supposed to basically have the cello neck resting sort of on the tip, not the flatter “palm” side of the thumb, like I was doing. It was never mentioned in lessons, and that is what was comfortable, so what I have always done. It is also opposite where the second finger is on the fingerboard.

Generally, the neck of the violin should rest on the pad of the thumb between the tip and first joint.  This allows for the space between the bottom of the neck and the inside of your hand.  You could rest the tip of the thumb on the neck of the violin, but it would avoid bending the thumb.  Keep the thumb straight, except when necessary to reach high notes on the G and D strings.  The thumb should generally be opposite the first finger in first position.

The thumb can move over towards the G or C string, keeping its “shape”, with the second finger if your hand is too small to “rock” over to the G and/or C string. That is the best I can describe it. It is not what I have been doing, in the class last week, it did make it easier to “rock” the fingers, and was easier to reach that G and C string.

Your left hand should be in the shape of a "C" allowing you to touch only the tips of the fingers to the strings.  This should remain in this position generally on all strings.  If you have trouble maintaining a "C" shape when reaching the D and G strings in first position, move your elbow to the right to bring your fingers over to those strings.  This will not be comfortable at first.  It will come.

My thumb is showing up a little on the side, not just resting on the backside. I think I am right with my thumb on the violin based on videos here and on YouTube. It really can’t just rest in the backside like a cello. That big cello is supported by resting into the chest, the violin does not have as much support.

That is correct.  You should avoid bending back your thumb and resting it on the back of the neck of the violin.  It is proper to keep it on the side of the neck.  But also do not bring your thumb up over the neck above the fingerboard.  it should only rest on the side and the tip level with the fingerboard.

Are my fingers supposed to be curled and hitting more perpendicular like a cello? I can’t remember if that is how I do it, or not. But, it is something I am going to pay attention to.

Yes, keep your fingers curled so that only the tips are touching the strings.  This will also necessitate timing fingernails often.  Sorry, but violinists should not grow long fingernails.

- Pete -

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cid
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March 3, 2019 - 6:17 pm
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@pchoppin No worries about fingernails. Started cello before violin and cellists should not have lonh fingernails, either. I got that right for both instruments.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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Gordon Shumway
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March 4, 2019 - 12:27 pm
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I never did get around to asking about nails.

On the guitar, you have them a little bit long, because the frets keep the strings raised, and nails against the fingerboard help to stabilise the fingertip. But on violin, I keep them filed down. That seems to be OK, but I'm open to advice.

I always wanted to be a juvenile delinquent but my parents wouldn't let me.

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pchoppin
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The idea is to be able to have the ability to move/adjust your fingers as you play without your nails getting in the way.  Also, I have difficulty playing vibrato when my nails are too long.

- Pete -

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