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3rd position
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 

April 25, 2022 - 7:26 pm
Member Since: October 11, 2021
Forum Posts: 383
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I was messing around with my violin because one of the pieces I hope to learn some day is Vivaldi's Spring, 1st movement, Allegro.  It has some 3rd position notes in it and I was, like I said, messing around with fingering in the 3rd position on the E string.  Nothing serious, just messing with fingering where I shouldn't be putting my fingers as of yet.  However, that gave rise to 2 questions.



What's the highest "playable" note in 3rd position on the E string?  D?  E?  Or F?  I realize that F is possible, but is it actually something someone would want to hear?


2nd question:

Can 3rd position be played on an intermediate level violin without it sounding as awful as mine did?  I swear I could beat on a telephone pole support guy wire with a baseball bat and get a better, and more sustained, tone than what I got when I was trying my 3rd position fingering/bowing.


April 25, 2022 - 7:55 pm
Member Since: June 24, 2020
Forum Posts: 1227
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On the E string, 3rd position starts with 1st finger on A, 2nd on B, 3rd on C, & 4th on D.  Depending on the situation (what notes are before & after), it wouldn't be unheard of to extend 4th finger to the E, or even to the F but I'd probably just shift to 5th position because it would be easier.

Finger positioning changes as you shift--the spacing between notes, the angle your hand is in relation to your arm, etc.,, so it won't feel as familiar as 1st position.  That may make it harder to get the tone you're used to in 1st position. 

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


April 26, 2022 - 9:25 am
Member Since: October 11, 2021
Forum Posts: 383
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@ELCBK I'm positive that my bowing is causing a lot of issues.  There's a secret to bowing that I haven't discovered yet, which is often imparted by music teachers to their students, which allows someone to produce those sweet sounds that a violin is capable of.

I almost had it yesterday.  A few notes and then it was gone again but I almost had it.  A hint came from a tutorial video about learning to play Vivaldi's 4 seasons and that it has to be played a certain way, with certain bowing techniques not discussed in any depth, or it ends up sounding like the way I play now.  Basically it was a hint about bow speed. pressure, and length of the bow stroke without speeding up the tempo or causing pauses between notes.  I almost had it but lost it again because I reverted to what I normally do because of repetition.  Bonus was that I stopped strangling my violin neck and my fingering was lighter on the strings.

And then... saw, saw, saw, strangle, strangle, strangle.


As for 3rd position, I'm not ready for it yet.  I have to get through the next 2 Suzuki books before I start getting serious about playing at that level.  At least Vivaldi is on my recital list.  I never thought I would want to play something that complex.  That's changed and, for now, that's enough.

Sacramento, California

April 26, 2022 - 1:13 pm
Member Since: November 5, 2017
Forum Posts: 1527
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Stretching to E in third position is not uncommon. Almost no one stretches to F. It's physically possible for most violinists, but it's easier to just shift to fifth position than to stretch that far.

One thing to consider about bowing: as you go up into higher positions, the vibrating portion of the string gets shorter, so you have to move your bow a bit closer to the bridge to get the same kind of sound.

I would expect an intermediate student violin to have no problems with sound quality at least up through fifth position on all strings.

Fort Lauderdale
June 29, 2022 - 3:17 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 16268

As others have answered, D is the normal highest note in third position but it's common to stretch the 4th finger to an E natural.

Third position can be played on any VSO and may not necessarily sound bad. If an instrument has a bad sound, it definitely won't sound better by playing up in the positions. 😁
Some bad instruments crash when playing up in higher positions but some extremely inexpensive instruments sound fine way up in positions.

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

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