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What is the logical next position to learn, after the original first position?
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Mouse
December 28, 2021 - 9:17 am
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So, i have been playing songs with movements to other positions to get a few notes. I have added those moves to eliminate some open strings, when applicable. I have not stepped into positions deeply, though. 

I remember from when I took lessons, that there was a position you should move to after first, but it was not second position. I have been looking through my books, but there is nothing that actually is structured as far as the next position to work on. There are just songs that occasionally need a string to be played in a different position. 

I am thinking it should be 3rd or 4th? I am thinking that because moving on to 3rd or 4th would get me down the fingerboard more than 2nd. Does anyone know what the logical, or normal, next step would be?

I realize that most likely a complete song would not be done in a different position, but I know there are songs that are done on one string by changing positions. I would like the become more comfortable moving up and down the fingerboard. I am also thinking the next position to become familiar with would be the same for violin, viola and cello.

Ideas, anyone?

The Bumblebee Flies!

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wtw
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December 28, 2021 - 9:27 am
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For me its 'traditionally' 3rd position after 1st. Meaning I think that's what I've read most often (and what I've done). I don't know if there's a consensus about that.

I think the order would be the same for violin and viola, but I have no idea about cello.

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Gordon Shumway
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December 28, 2021 - 10:35 am
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Not 4th!

Whistler's order of preference is 1, 3, 5, 2, 4.

He is basically right in terms of what you need for orchestras and other stuff, but 2nd is very useful for much baroque music in my opinion (the HIP view is that they liked to do things like slide up and down a semitone from B to C or C# to D on the A string or E to F or F#to G on the D string). So my order of preference would be 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, in fact. If you practise a one-octave scale on each string to end on your pinky, you are shifting to 4th. I'm also told violists like 2nd position when it enables a semitone stretch from 3rd finger to pinky, since you play the viola.

Whistler doesn't take violists into account. Don't bother with him. Just have a look at Sitt free on this forum: -

https://fiddlerman.com/wp-cont.....part-2.pdf

https://fiddlerman.com/wp-cont.....part-3.pdf

Whistler uses Sitt for 2nd and mostly Wohlfahrt for 3rd, but Whistler is very sniffy about 2nd and goes overboard on 3rd. Sitt is fine for both.

Andrew

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Mouse
December 28, 2021 - 11:29 am
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Oh, that 2nd position on the viola for the stretch from the 3rd finger to pinky, I think I remember that being mentioned, but, it was just in passing.

Thanks, "Alf" and WTW.

We never really talked much about ahifting in my lessons, just kind of ran across them in songs here and there. I am beginning to want to use them more. I dodge some songs because of it, and would like to not have it spook me off. 

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ELCBK
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December 28, 2021 - 12:34 pm
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...Fiddlerman has 3rd, 2nd, 4th & 5th position tutorials listed in the side margin.

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Mouse
December 28, 2021 - 12:44 pm
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@ELCBK I am slapping the side of my head 🥴. I should have looked. There seems to be agreement that 3rd would be next. I use the exercises for the strings, but never thought to look for the positions.

I think I will put a note on my music stand to the tutorials. Then I will also about what has worked best for others. After I finish my coffee, I will get to it.

Thank you, everybody. 

The Bumblebee Flies!

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Jim Dunleavy
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December 28, 2021 - 1:24 pm
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Yep, the standard sequence seems to be 1, 3, 5, 2 & 4.

Once you have 1 3 and 5 off you can play all the notes up to a top G (with extended pinky).

2nd and 4th are generally only needed to avoid string crossings in certain passages - though once you know them well, they can make life a lot easier when fingering is awkward when you only use the other positions.

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Mouse
December 28, 2021 - 1:33 pm
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Thanks. All these replies are very good for the confidence!

The Bumblebee Flies!

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SharonC
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December 28, 2021 - 2:16 pm
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Definitely 3rd position first (after 1st, of course). 

I learned 2nd secondly because of the music I was playing. 

I know 5th & 4th, but haven’t been using them in the music I’ve been playing as much as 3rd & 2nd (like Jim says above, 2nd is very useful to avoid string crossings/awkward fingering).  So, 5th & 4th are not as comfortable yet. 

I had a really hard time when I was first trying to get 3rd position.  I did exercises, but it made more sense to me when it showed up in a piece of music I was working on (I think the first ones were Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring & Pachelbel Canon).  Then I was able to "see" it (i.e., as naturally as I did 1st position fingering). 

Characterize people by their actions and you will never be fooled by their words.

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Gordon Shumway
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December 28, 2021 - 5:12 pm
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Don't forget about the value of 3 octave arpeggios in familiarising you with higher positions. Scales are less clear because there are more fingering systems.

Andrew

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AndrewH
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December 28, 2021 - 5:55 pm
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There's some merit to learning 2nd position before 5th if you play viola and/or have small hands, because it enables you to play more without stretching. That's what I did.

For me, 4th position feels like a strange in-between position. It's useful to be comfortable in all positions, of course, but for some reason 4th is the only one of the first seven positions that I don't feel very comfortable in. (I still use it routinely.) I would guess this is because it is easier to use the octave harmonic for reference in 5th through 7th. 4th position puts the 4th finger on the octave harmonic, but that's harder to establish a hand frame with than the first three fingers.

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Mouse
December 28, 2021 - 6:26 pm
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Good points, AndrewH. After I learn 3rd, I am going to have to examine tgat. I do have isdues with fingers stretching in certain circunstances when in 1st and thought shifting to 2nd for a short period would help. This is especially true when those circumstances happen a lot in the song,

The Bumblebee Flies!

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Ripton
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December 28, 2021 - 6:55 pm
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SharonC said
Definitely 3rd position first (after 1st, of course). 

I learned 2nd secondly because of the music I was playing. 

  

that's exactly what I was going to say, lol. My teacher wanted me to go from first to third and has a real easy exercise to help learn the transition but when I was playing the song she was teaching me I realized going to second made it far easier (and she agreed). 

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Mark
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December 29, 2021 - 12:03 am
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For me, my 1st teacher had me go to 3rd position first, after being halfway proficient in 1st position,  being an odd duck that I am, and wanting too play a second octave to a song, 4th position made perfect sense to me you could use the same note pattern for a song in 4th as 1st position, hence not having to memorize a different note pattern for a song, lazy man's way to play second a second octave with out extra memorization of a song.

Mark

Master the Frog and you have mastered the bow.

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Gordon Shumway
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December 29, 2021 - 1:56 am
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AndrewH said
4th position puts the 4th finger on the octave harmonic, but that's harder to establish a hand frame with than the first three fingers.  

I agree that there's something strange at work there, but I'm not sure it's just about 4th position - I've met a few pieces that require a harmonic, but then reaching down anywhere for the next note seems to be awkward. Perhaps it's because there's a range of pinky placements, all of which achieve the harmonic (it's a sort of cheat's way of finding the note, and in tune) and this means the hand shape isn't at all precise? And perhaps practising 4th without referring to harmonics is important? Or perhaps stretching for a harmonic with the pinky means that handshape goes out of the window?

Andrew

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AndrewH
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December 29, 2021 - 2:06 am
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In my case, it may just be that I try to avoid 4th finger in general, because I have very small hands. I'm already extending my 4th finger almost to full stretch just to reach the "normal" 4th finger placement.

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Fiddlerman
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December 29, 2021 - 3:01 pm
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Great answers above. 1st, then 3rd. Either 4th or 2nd after that. Don't know that learning one in particular is more beneficial. It all depends on the sheet music and key that you are playing.

I automatically read all positions without thought to probably 7th. After that I can still read but it's more about intervals than knowing automatically which finger goes down. This just came to me from playing professionally for so many years.

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

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Mouse
December 29, 2021 - 3:30 pm
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@Fiddlerman How do you go about becoming familiar with the positions? I have ventured in because of songs, but I never really know whatI am doing. It is hit and miss, and it really does not stick. so I find myself avoiding them. I have the problem of being an extremely structured base learner. 

I took a college course for the fun of it. It was discovering what type of learner you are. It was spot on for me. Videos are nice, but only as a side to actual visual hardcopy learning. Meaning, I really need structure and hardcopy. I can't learn from videos. 

I have looked through my books, violin, viola and cello, and really could not find anything except an occasional piece that ventured into a possible ahift, but nothing geared to actually enforce it. 

Is there such a book that does not have crazy timing, 16th notes (too much black on a page), no kore than 3 or more flats in keys with flats?

Today, on my cello, I did do a 3 octave G scale. It made me shift on the A string. But scales, although probably good to,do, don't put it into practice in a song, so that does not really stick, either. 

I figured that it really does not matter if it is a violin, viola or cello book, because I can always change it to fit either, right?

The Bumblebee Flies!

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AndrewH
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December 29, 2021 - 10:29 pm
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Mouse said
@Fiddlerman How do you go about becoming familiar with the positions? I have ventured in because of songs, but I never really know whatI am doing. It is hit and miss, and it really does not stick. so I find myself avoiding them. I have the problem of being an extremely structured base learner. 

I took a college course for the fun of it. It was discovering what type of learner you are. It was spot on for me. Videos are nice, but only as a side to actual visual hardcopy learning. Meaning, I really need structure and hardcopy. I can't learn from videos. 

I have looked through my books, violin, viola and cello, and really could not find anything except an occasional piece that ventured into a possible ahift, but nothing geared to actually enforce it. 

Is there such a book that does not have crazy timing, 16th notes (too much black on a page), no kore than 3 or more flats in keys with flats?

Today, on my cello, I did do a 3 octave G scale. It made me shift on the A string. But scales, although probably good to,do, don't put it into practice in a song, so that does not really stick, either. 

I figured that it really does not matter if it is a violin, viola or cello book, because I can always change it to fit either, right?

  

Try Whistler's "Introducing the Positions" which is available for all string instruments.

If spending some time on pure technical work is helpful for you, then the Yost shifting exercises (available on IMSLP), if a bit boring, are good for solidifying muscle memory: https://imslp.org/wiki/Exercis.....,_Gaylord)

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wtw
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December 30, 2021 - 2:30 am
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Interesting, Whistler's first book for viola is 3rd position and half-position… I'd forgotten that one, but it's useful for sure. So the order for violin and viola differs a little? (looks like 5th comes rather late with viola)

I can't say I know any position, I'm just more or less comfortable playing in them. I have no idea what notes I'm hitting, in any position. I sort of go "where I need to go" on the fingerboard. For 3rd, it used to be "hit and miss, and does not stick", except that it's started to sink in with time.

But if I ever come across those Whistler's books, I'll have a look…

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