Old World or New, Sacred or Profane

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Shift practice

Another topic at the Emily lesson was shift practice.

The Bach Arioso, which I'll play at a student recital on Saturday, has a number of shifts up into the transitional positions. I was not consistent with my thumb, which limited the consistency of the shifts. For the shifts to 6th position, I don't need to lift the thumb up and over (If I was quickly on the way to higher positions, such as in a three octave scale, then maybe I would lift the thumb by then for speed). If I put the thumb in a consistent place and angle, whatever that is for me, then that helps the entire shift consistency.

Another thing I did was straightening and stiffening out the unused second finger, throwing the other fingers off. That's something my regular teacher corrects me regarding my pinkie. We hadn't gotten to the other fingers yet, but the principal applies. Nothing to be gained by tensing out unused fingers.

To practice the shifts, first make sure you know what the pitches should be. Then, in single down bows, practice the shift, sliding from one to the other, and back on the up bow (with thumb and unused fingers also traveling to/from consistent positions.)

Then, practice the shifts with a clear break in-between (No slide) -- just the first pitch---break---the second pitch. Do not correct by fudging, instead, observe whether the tendency is to be high, or low, and make it right the next time. It's really hard to resist just sliding it into place after the break.

Ok, so did following all that stuff Emily told me make my shifts now super accurate and instantly better? Uhhhh..., no. You might even say they took a bit of a hit, they got considerably worse for a couple of days following the lesson, what with all that to think about. Bad? No, good! It's like the guy I quoted said regarding talent. Sometimes change means working through an apparent set back in order to get to the permanent improvement (See? There was a reason for that previous post). All the stuff made sense to me, so I had to just work with through it. Now, I feel shifts are at least as good as they were, maybe better already, but I expect them to be considerably better yet, perhaps within a few days.

We'll see how it goes Saturday!

1 comment:

Emily said...

Oh yeah. It is such a leap of faith to implement new technique. The catch is that if it is truly new, it will at first set you back, because it's a completely different approach to that particular goal.

The second part is the fun one: after being engrossed in this sort of practicing for a while, being able to stop actively thinking about it. Remember, technique is something we should be able to fall back on, so that all we have to do is enjoy the act of playing and truly listen to ourselves.

But it always takes longer than is convenient for this to happen. You seem to have really run with what we stressed, and I enjoy seeing so much synthesis.

Good luck on Saturday. I'll be cheering from a few miles away!