Teaching fifth and sixth positions


Lisa Robertson said: Mar 11, 2015
 Violin, Suzuki in the Schools, Viola
1 posts

Does anyone have a good method for teaching the left hand shape necessary in
5th and 6th positions?

Janse Vincent said: Mar 12, 2015
Janse Vincent
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
Madison, WI
6 posts

A colleague of mine calls it sandwich position. Imagine the violin’s back and top are the bread and the rib is the middle of the sandwich. The heel of the left hand rests in the middle of the sandwich which brings the hand around enough for knuckles to be parallel to the fingerboard. It’s a two for one: tactile and imagery.

Sarah Cote said: Mar 15, 2015
Sarah Cote
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
Nashville, TN
11 posts

I teach an exercise I call “shifting in thirds”. We play, for instance, F# to Ain first position, then with the first finger, audibly glide up to A in Third pos. Then play A to C# in third position, and again audibly glide up to C# with the first finger. Then C# to E, etc etc. At first they learn first third and fifth positions, but we add seven and ninth and even 11th. We do the same ex on 2 an 4th fingers. The student can pick the key, so they pay attention to what notes they are playing. The ideas that I try to get across are the swing of the elbow during the shift to the new hand frame. The way the thumb circles the neck and eventually leaves the neck to touch the fingerboard in thumb position (especially on viola!) The lifting and gliding of the shifting finger on the string. The inclusion of the shift in the bow distribution.

Sarah Cote

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