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When to shift and which position?
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Kody
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May 11, 2018 - 6:57 am
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 Hello All,

I've been using this website for the last couple of weeks and finally decided to join. One issue I'm having trouble with is knowing when you should shift and to which position when it isn't notated on the sheet music.

For Example, if i come across notes that are above the high C, I realize a shift is required but I'm not sure how to tell which position you need to shift to. Do you just look at the highest note and shift to the lowest position that would let you hit it?

For a little background; I've been playing for about 8 months and I'm just starting to learn 3rd position. Any advice is welcome; thanks!

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Fiddlerman
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May 11, 2018 - 10:17 am
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Hey KMrgn,
So many factors determine what position to shift to.
The highest note is one of them. Avoiding strange and awkward string changes, shifts that can easily be accomplished smoothly, effortlessly, and not too audibly. Possibility to shift while playing the open string or shift on a rest.... The list goes on and on. It's easier for me to look at a passage and explain why it would be more appropriate to shift in a certain way than to list all the factors.
Over time and with practice you will automatically choose the shifts that work the best for you.

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

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Kody
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May 11, 2018 - 4:00 pm
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Thanks for the reply; that makes sense. I'm learning Crystallize and there are two trouble spots that involve shifting that i'm not sure how to approach. Most of the song is in 1st position so i can handle that; but these spots are kind of intimidating. I went ahead and attached some snippets of the music; maybe someone can give me some guidance on how they would approach these spots?

Thanks again!

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Fiddlerman
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May 16, 2018 - 2:55 pm
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"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
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Kody
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May 16, 2018 - 10:02 pm
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Thanks! That helps out a lot

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Gordon Shumway
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September 28, 2018 - 7:55 am
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Fascinating stuff.

Im looking at The Lark in the Clear Air, arr. T. C. Kelly, which is an ABRSM grade 3 piece.

I don't have a file I can upload, but there are various people playing it on Youtube.

Its second half has some third position work, but how much? The youtube versions vary from all of it to only a little bit of it (with variants on where the shift down to first comes), to most, but not the very end. It's all a bit crazy and perhaps purely a matter of taste. But it's also in F, so maybe I can work something out from the example above.

Maybe I'll try to find a way to upload it and see what FM's preferred way is.

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Fiddlerman
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October 1, 2018 - 9:33 am
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I'll be happy to help out.

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

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Gordon Shumway
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Fiddlerman said
I'll be happy to help out.  

P1000681.JPGImage Enlarger

Is that clear enough? From the C after the 3 bars' rest. I've pencilled in some of the options. I hope they aren't distracting. I'd be really grateful to know how you'd play to the end.

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Fiddlerman
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October 1, 2018 - 2:16 pm
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I like most of your fingerings and could easily use them but can offer an alternative. If you feel comfortable using 2nd position, this is an option worth considering.  You can also tastefully slide with your third finger from the A to the Bb or do it subtly.

Sorry for offering too many options in one sheet. I would experiment with it musically and see what sounds the best bearing technique in mind as well.

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"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
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Gordon Shumway
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October 1, 2018 - 2:31 pm
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Fiddlerman said
I like most of your fingerings and could easily use them but can offer an alternative. If you feel comfortable using 2nd position, this is an option worth considering.  You can also tastefully slide with your third finger from the A to the Bb or do it subtly.

Sorry for offering too many options in one sheet. I would experiment with it musically and see what sounds the best bearing technique in mind as well.

P1000681.JPGImage Enlarger  

Fabulous, thanks, FM. I will practise every option, and see if I can get a feel for the style.

By the way, I'm having difficulty with louré bowing. Is that really for beginners?

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

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Fiddlerman
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October 1, 2018 - 2:37 pm
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Not really. It's like portato, a kind of like petted pulsating bowing. Each not in the slur is emphasized gently. Just make sure to keep the bow moving.

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Gordon Shumway
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Is it more about pressure than bow speed?

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Fiddlerman
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October 1, 2018 - 2:49 pm
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Yes. I agree with that.

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

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Gordon Shumway
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Fiddlerman said
I like most of your fingerings and could easily use them but can offer an alternative. If you feel comfortable using 2nd position, this is an option worth considering.  You can also tastefully slide with your third finger from the A to the Bb or do it subtly.

Sorry for offering too many options in one sheet. I would experiment with it musically and see what sounds the best bearing technique in mind as well.

P1000681.JPGImage Enlarger  

There's a follow-up to this story. It turns out the examining board requires these three lines of music to be played entirely in 3rd position with no shifting!

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bocaholly
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February 11, 2019 - 7:53 am
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I obviously have no clue about the ABRSM progression but the "playing the whole thing in 3rd" position makes sense to me based on how Whistler's shifting book is set up: 

- Intro to 3rd pos. on each string
- Etudes using all strings in 3rd pos. the whole time
- Shifting using the same finger on a given string
- Shifting from a starting finger to a different arrival finger (on the same string so far)

Ie. Staying in 3rd position is way easier (for me) than actual back and forth shifting.

Out of curiosity, Gordon, does the examining board require much shifting before this "all in 3rd position" piece?

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Gordon Shumway
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February 11, 2019 - 8:27 am
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No, ABRSM require a tiny amount of (optional) 3rd position work starting at grade 3, not before. Optional in the sense that not all pieces have it, and you choose what pieces you play. It's only when you do grade 4 that you get more frequent examples of 2nd and 3rd position with easy shifts.

Having said that, for grade 3, I'm pretty sure they require the D major scale over 2 octaves shifting into 3rd position and back on the A string.

And, to repeat what I said about Whistler elsewhere,

Whistler's two books are pretty rigorous, and perhaps not very interesting either.

There's a guy called Mackay who did two easier and more interesting books on 3rd position in the 1960s.

(Whistler vol 1 is about positions 3, 5, 7 and higher; Whistler vol 2 is about positions 2, 4, 6 and higher)

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bocaholly
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It looks like ABSRM is a pretty cool system. I've seen several videos of folks who posted videos of their exams and they're not just making it through the material... they're playing it extremely well. Some self-selection among the Youtube posters likely... none the less, good stuff.

Gordon, what's your guess about the demographics of violinists going through the ABRSM paces: Mostly young people working up to potential conservatory level or is there a good share of adult starters just in there for the challenge?

Now that I've chilled on chasing my golf handicap, I don't think I'll saddle myself up with violin exam stress any time soon... just curious.

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Gordon Shumway
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bocaholly said
It looks like ABSRM is a pretty cool system. I've seen several videos of folks who posted videos of their exams and they're not just making it through the material... they're playing it extremely well. Some self-selection among the Youtube posters likely... none the less, good stuff.

Gordon, what's your guess about the demographics of violinists going through the ABRSM paces: Mostly young people working up to potential conservatory level or is there a good share of adult starters just in there for the challenge?

I'd guess it's mostly kids. They go up to grade 8 then enter music college, which is also audition based, and when I was doing piano, everything I did was aimed at performance standard. Adults can do it for fun, but it used to be the case that your teacher had to enter you for an exam, so you couldn't do it alone, or maybe that was just for kids? Also for grade 6 and above, or thereabouts, it is or was compulsory to have passed the grade 5 theory exam.

But don't forget that's mostly just the UK. America seems to prefer Suzuki.

ABRSM isn't a method or a system, it's important to realise. It's just a series of exams. The method used to pass them is anything the teacher wants to use. For me the ABRSM books are just a yardstick so that I can know how I'm progressing.

I was planning to do two pieces from each book and two pieces from the corresponding Suzuki book at each grade, but I've abandoned the Suzuki books and I'll find four ABRSM pieces to do at each grade instead. They change their syllabus every four years, so you can find old syllabuses and get a larger range of music to choose from.

In theory there's a roughly one to one match between an ABRSM grade and a Suzuki level, but it's more complicated than that, as they stress different approaches and techniques, and the ABRSM syllabus prescribes a piece for an exam, say grade 5, that you might find in a Suzuki level 3 book, because Suzuki is far more rigorous about some things and neglects the ability to read music. I don't see much mention of scales in Suzuki books, either.

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bocaholly
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Hey, thanks for taking the time to share those observations, Gordon. 

Just one little (probably obvious) comment on Suzuki in the USA. There are real, true, bonified and certified Suzuki teachers who mostly work with really young kids, hence the going light on reading music, if at all.

When us adults say we're using Suzuki, we pretty much mostly mean that we're using the material in the Suzuki books. And here too, we seem to use it as a yardstick to let folks know how far along we are... for better or for worse 🙂

"My" deputy concert master has been a Suzuki teacher for decades. I'll ask him how much actual Suzuki method he brings into lessons with adult starters. Now you've gotten me curious. 

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