Repertoire for different hand sizes

Marnie said: Apr 27, 2015
Marnie Thies
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Bethel, MN
8 posts

As I was practicing the Wieniawski Violin Concerto No. 1 in F sharp minor today, I remembered what a college friend had told me. He said that his sister developed tendonitis from playing the Wieniawski Violin Concerto No.1. For students with smaller hands, do you refrain from doing the Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1 (3rd mvt) because of the 10ths involved? Would you teach the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto instead for a super advanced student? Would you also refrain from teaching a very advanced student with small hands the Wieniawski Violin Concerto No.1 for the same reason? Thank you for your insight.

Amy said: Apr 28, 2015
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
50 posts

When I (a small person in every dimension) first studied the Bruch concerto, my teacher at the time had hands that were significantly smaller than mine. We did an official comparison just to prove that you don’t have to have huge hands to play the 10ths.

However, I know from experience that it doesn’t work well to jump right into playing the 10ths without spending adequate time doing appropriate stretches for the left hand so that it does not feel strained while playing. When I initially learned how to play 10ths, I started out playing an octave in 3rd position and sliding my pinkie between the octave and a minor 9th. After keeping that up for a week, I extended my range to a major 9th. After continuing to increase my range by a half-step/week, I spent several weeks doing this exercise with a range of a major 10th before starting to apply the interval to scales in 10th. Since I don’t play scales in 10ths every day anymore, I go through this routine—though not taking so many weeks—in preparation for any piece I want to play that involves 10ths. I have never had any problems with tendonitis or other playing-related issues.

Tip: If you are teaching a student the Bruch Concerto, when you start working on the first mvt, go ahead and show the student the 10ths in the third mvt. That way, the student can have a goal in mind of why they are working to play the 10ths, and you can do the preparatory exercises while the student is working on the 1st mvt.

Does anyone else have other good exercises for appropriately stretching small left hands to be able to play advanced repertoire?

Marnie said: Apr 29, 2015
Marnie Thies
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Bethel, MN
8 posts

Hi Amy,

Thank you for your insight.

The procedure you followed for learning 10ths makes sense.

Not sure if this exercise would be good for stretching hands, it might be, but I noticed better dexterity in practicing the following exercise daily which can be found 2/3 of the way down the page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ann-Fontanella/103193153074664

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