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Fingerboard tape: Good or Bad
Lots of folks use tape on the fingerboard. Does anybody ever stop?
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sf_bev
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October 17, 2019 - 12:54 pm
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I'm curious about the use of tape on the fingerboard. When I learned as a kid, I never had it. I'm self-teaching now, and figured if I didn't need it as a kid, I don't need it now -- but I'm wondering if I'm making it harder on myself.  I'd like to hear people's experiences.

I'm guessing the use of tape makes it easier to play in tune more quickly.  I can certainly verify that it is slow going without it.  OTOH, I notice people who have been playing 3 or more years and still have tape on their fingerboards.

1)  Does it become a crutch?  Anybody who started with tape on the fingerboard who no longer uses tape?  How long did it take?  

2)  Anybody here who never used fingerboard tape who can play in tune?  How long did it take?

3)  Anybody who used fingerboard tape and wishes they did not, or vice versa?  What's your reason. 

I'd love to hear about all different kinds of experiences, both with a teacher and self-taught.  Thanks!

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Gordon Shumway
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October 17, 2019 - 1:26 pm
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It may be that for little kids training the fingers asap is most important, but adults need to train their ears as well as their fingers, and I think the best way to train both at the same time is to shun tape.

Andrew

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Mouse
October 17, 2019 - 1:37 pm
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Ok, this is something that is up to the person learning. I took mine off too early, and to be honest it had to do a lot with reading how people say it is a crutch and it is a badge to remove them. I have since I put them back in. It is COMPLETELY up to the student, no matter how old the student is.

I cannot tell completely by sound if I am off. I need a starting point. The tapes help me. I am beginning to be able to hear the proper tone now and do have one violin without the tapes. I am finding that I am now beginning to hit my marks better, but I do need the tapes. It depends on whether you need them or not.

One argument is that the strings get out of tune, so then the tapes are not accurate. Tune the strings. Voila. If you need to adjust the tapes, re-tape.

You are going to be told they are crutches, you are going to be told they are not helpful by many. People either love them or don’t. Those that don’t are very set against them. Most who are dead set against them simply do not understand that some people need them. Not everyone learns the same way.

Some people need them simply because of the way THEY learn. If you need them, use them. There is nothing wrong with using them. 

I can feel where the fingers need to be much better now because I am hitting the mark accurately to begin with with the tapes. Not fumbling around to find the sweet spot makes me feel where they belong to begin with. I am beginning to know how it feels and how it sounds when on the mark.

I hope this helps. It is up to you.

The Bumblebee Flies!

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lsm
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October 17, 2019 - 1:41 pm
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I learned the violin with tapes on the fingerboard as a child, but within a year or two all of the kids including myself would get the tapes taken off. As a short term thing it can be ok to get used to the finger positions but sooner or later they need to come off and most violin teachers will remove them. Do I wish I never had the tapes, no, and if a student finds it helpful that's fine. However, I find most people naturally don't use them anymore when they start sightreading properly since you can't read music at look at the tapes at the same time anyway, and people get used to the right finger positions anyway, just like touch typing on a keyboard.

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sf_bev
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October 18, 2019 - 11:53 am
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Thanks to @Gordon Shumway, @Mouse and @lsm for your replies.  Cid, I especially appreciated your sharing your personal experiences.  

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Mouse
October 18, 2019 - 12:15 pm
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@sf_bev You are more than welcome.

The Bumblebee Flies!

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violin_again
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April 5, 2021 - 9:50 am
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A bit late to the topic, but I have one violin, my main practice rig (I’m new enough that all I do, really, is practice) and I have fingering tape on it. I have a second violin (got it at an auction for 20 bucks but it holds a tune and sounds decent-ish) that I play for a bit each time I practice that has no tape. As I get a bit more confident/competent I am going to move the tape to “ol busted hotness” and go tape free on “the new hotness”. It’s a process. It allows me to develop other skills while slowly working on fingering. 

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stringy
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April 5, 2021 - 10:48 am
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I am self taught no lessons, been playing two years,  never used tapes. My own opinion is, you have to train your ears, which isnt easy, in fact its one of the reasons violin is so hard. The only reason I look at the fingerboard is to make sure my bow is straight.

After saying that however, what does it really matter? unless you are aiming to play in an orchestra, as Andrew does, you could leave tapes on forever if you enjoy the playing, thats all that  counts after all, better to have tapes and play, than not have tapes and not have the enjoyment and satisfaction. 

I used tonalities and a tuner, as well as playing scales over and over, I still play bad notes but then again even the worlds greatest violinists practice intonation so I am in good company😉

Do what ever you want, just enjoy it.

Bit more, bit more, snap #*÷?×?@?#?@

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
August 10, 2021 - 4:26 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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I never used any tape when I was learning but I have no qualms about using guides. I believe that the secret to successfully using these guides is to remove them before you become dependent on them. Also, they are simply guides and should not be used by themselves. Your ear must help adjust the intonation.

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

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Frederica
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September 4, 2021 - 5:15 am
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I began to learn the violin at 21, without ANY prior knowledge (and before youtube or online discussions). I had to learn EVERYTHING, from holding, to playing the violin, managing the bow and reading music. All that took me a long time!

I had tape on my violin indicating where the first and fourth finger should go for about a year, I believe. After that, for some time (maybe weeks) I still felt insecure.

But similarly, for the first couple of MONTHS, I had to translate every note into "A1, D3" etc. I had learned to read music in elementary school, but forgotten everything about that at the age of 20.

So, yes, both helped a lot, even if the kids (10 to 12) learning at the same time as me in the music school always wondered at my "codes", because they could read music fluently.

If I had to learn EVERYTHING at once, holding the violin, the bow, reading music, naming the notes, finding them on the fingerboard, I would probably have quit. As it was, it took me 3 months to be able to play a little. In the first weeks, I could not hold the bow longer than 5 min before getting a cramp in my hand.

I think it may be different for people who already know music, have played another instrument, especially a string instrument. For me, knowing nothing, this was very important to even have a chance of learning how to hit the right notes. After the tapes went, it took me a long time again to place the fourth finger in 1st position on the right spot.

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Mouse
September 4, 2021 - 4:55 pm
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@Frederica, First, Welcome to the forum. 

Nice take on this. It is different for everyone. I have to associate the vicinity with the sound. Poking around until I get it just does not work. I just learn to poke around. By the time I have poked around for the second note, the first note is lost. I need at least a clue, the tapes, to help get me in the right vicinity. If the instrument is a tad out of tune, or the strings are a little off, at least I am in the right vicinity. On most of my instruments I have switched to the first and 4th finger tapes. 

It is nice there are options for everyone's learning patterns or needs.

Have you thought to visit the Introduce yourself and introduce yourself, with as little or much as you want, even a simple, "Hi"? Remember to start your own introducing topic, rather than tack on as reply to someone else's. That way it is your topic and the "welcome to the forum" are for you. Great to have you here.

The Bumblebee Flies!

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