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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: I have a really hard time with my first finger


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.fiddlehangout.com/archive/54117

sbhikes2 - Posted - 10/03/2020:  17:41:09


I have a really hard time putting my first finger down in the right place to be in tune. It's like I can't hear that interval or something. Any tips?

rosinhead - Posted - 10/03/2020:  18:43:43


The only thing I can think of is to practice with a tuner to train your ear.

ChickenMan - Posted - 10/03/2020:  18:49:44


Like the F# on the E string?



Often to warm up, I place that finger first and get it in tune with the A string. Then I add the 3rd finger also against A string (octave). Then I bounce 3rd finger between E and A strings or keeping that F# in tune.



You can slide up into it, for affect, but don't overdo it. 


Edited by - ChickenMan on 10/03/2020 18:50:48

ChickenMan - Posted - 10/03/2020:  18:51:44


Then move those to the other strings. Bowed it sounds nice.

buckhenry - Posted - 10/03/2020:  18:56:14


Perhaps you are not listening or anticipating the interval..? It's amazing how the fingers respond when the actual pitch of the note is in the mind before it is played. And that is the actual exercise done very slowly. Of course the pitches should be sung before they can be heard in the mind, sit at the piano to make sure the pitches of the major scale are known by singing them as they are played. Then sing the notes before they are played going up and down the scale like this for every note. When that is accomplished do the same on the violin with the open string being the tonic note. Sing and hear the next note before it is played by the first finger then play the note, if it is out of tune do not slide the finger to be in-tune but repeat from open string. Do not correct the note by sliding the finger because that would defeat the purpose of hearing the note before it is played. The note wasn't actually heard, hence the sliding. Continue like this for every note of the scale, sing/hear, play, repeat from last note if necessary. Then move on to major scales that begin with first finger then the 2nd, 3rd.

Learn to harmonize the fingered notes with the open string thus; 1st finger with lower and higher adjacent strings, notice how the finger needs to make adjustment to harmonize with each string. Harmonize the 2nd finger with the higher string in high and low position for the minor and major thirds respectively. The third finger is harmonized an octave higher than the lower open string. The next step would be to hear and play intervals from the open string to a fingered note on that same string.

This is the practice of intonation, practice this often enough and the pitches of the notes will be heard in the mind before they are played. This actual process of hearing then playing will become lightning fast where the fingers are compelled to respond to the commands of the mind.

carlb - Posted - 10/04/2020:  05:06:37


Due to playing with friends, the Thornbury Ramblers (where the key of C is the official key), I've had to adapt and play some standard D tunes in the key of C. So for example, the 2nd part of the Arkansas Traveler has an F natural. So if you go back and forth playing the Arkansas Traveler, or any other D tune, in C and D, you might get use to where the F natural and the F# is on the E string.

Peghead - Posted - 10/04/2020:  05:21:40


I trained my first finger (and my third) by using the adjacent string as a drone harmony. Eventually I didn't need the drone. You need to be sure you are in tune.

UsuallyPickin - Posted - 10/04/2020:  05:57:53


IDK ..... It seems to me that if your first finger is in the "wrong place" when you put it down that is because your hand is in the wrong place. Work on playing a scale on a single string with your index finger. E on E, A on A etc. Using a digital tuner will help as noted above. Position shift and then hang on for dear life playing in a closed position until the melody calls for another shift. R/

Swing - Posted - 10/04/2020:  07:56:13


I agree with Usually Picking, the exception is using the digital tuner.... the one thing that digital tuners don't do is give yourself the opportunity to hear yourself in relationship to a tone being played.... it would be better for learning to either record a guitar/piano backup track or have someone join you for a practice session where they only play a chord such as E and you play the scale as described by UP... your hand/ear will find the scales more quickly etc. and you will naturally retain that mental information.... also, don't try too hard, relax and listen

Play Happy

Swing

Brian Wood - Posted - 10/04/2020:  09:03:03


quote:

Originally posted by Peghead

I trained my first finger (and my third) by using the adjacent string as a drone harmony. Eventually I didn't need the drone. You need to be sure you are in tune.






I agree with that. Later you might not need the drone but you'll have that skill as well.

sbhikes2 - Posted - 10/04/2020:  21:30:12


I try to use the tuner on my phone but I can never put that finger down perfectly. The other fingers are so much easier! I'm taking lessons and my teacher doesn't want me to play two notes at once. She says I can train my ear to hear it alone. I think I can hear it but so often I am wrong, according to my tuner. I think I will turn on my tuner during the lesson and ask her when it sounds right to see if it matches the tuner.

buckhenry - Posted - 10/04/2020:  22:46:22


quote:

Originally posted by sbhikes2



She says I can train my ear to hear it alone. 






Your teacher is absolutely correct, and It takes time to teach the 'inner ear' what to listen for.



Don't use a tuner because those are not the notes played on the violin.



Practice tuning the violin to 'it self'; follow the directions I gave in my previous post. Stick with it and you will be playing in tune before you know it.



But, that wont happen over night, so give this plenty of time. 

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 10/05/2020:  06:59:17


When you play the first finger, do you feel that you have to stretch the finger backward to reach the note? Would you be willing to share a picture of the neck and scroll from the side?

Your problem may be purely an intonation one, but struggling with only the first finger is an issue I’ve encountered many times with players. It’s often caused by a specific issue with the setup of the instrument.

Brian Wood - Posted - 10/05/2020:  08:03:04


quote:

Originally posted by The Violin Beautiful

It’s often caused by a specific issue with the setup of the instrument.






Getting used to your left hand knuckle feel the curve of the back of the scroll in first position can be a help. The E string tuning peg can get in the way if it is horizontal to the fingerboard, especially for playing an F note on the E string. You can change the winding to deal with that.

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 10/05/2020:  10:15:05


quote:

Originally posted by Brian Wood

quote:

Originally posted by The Violin Beautiful

It’s often caused by a specific issue with the setup of the instrument.






Getting used to your left hand knuckle feel the curve of the back of the scroll in first position can be a help. The E string tuning peg can get in the way if it is horizontal to the fingerboard, especially for playing an F note on the E string. You can change the winding to deal with that.






I was referring to a different issue.  

Brian Wood - Posted - 10/05/2020:  10:19:37


quote:

Originally posted by The Violin Beautiful

quote:

Originally posted by Brian Wood

quote:

Originally posted by The Violin Beautiful

It’s often caused by a specific issue with the setup of the instrument.






Getting used to your left hand knuckle feel the curve of the back of the scroll in first position can be a help. The E string tuning peg can get in the way if it is horizontal to the fingerboard, especially for playing an F note on the E string. You can change the winding to deal with that.






I was referring to a different issue.  






I didn't mean to imply that's what you meant. Talk about your issue.

Lonesome Fiddler - Posted - 10/05/2020:  15:53:13


As Violin Beautiful says, get used to where the knuckle of the index finger comfortably, instinctively rests beneath the neck when the tip of your finger gets the desired tone.

Brian Wood - Posted - 10/05/2020:  16:50:23


quote:

Originally posted by Lonesome Fiddler

As Violin Beautiful says, get used to where the knuckle of the index finger comfortably, instinctively rests beneath the neck when the tip of your finger gets the desired tone.






Not to confuse things further but I said that, not Violin Beautiful. I don't think he wants my statements confused with his.

Lonesome Fiddler - Posted - 10/05/2020:  18:40:27


quote:

Originally posted by Brian Wood

quote:

Originally posted by Lonesome Fiddler

As Violin Beautiful says, get used to where the knuckle of the index finger comfortably, instinctively rests beneath the neck when the tip of your finger gets the desired tone.






Not to confuse things further but I said that, not Violin Beautiful. I don't think he wants my statements confused with his.






Yeah, son of a gun.  As Ed McMahon used to say to Karnak the Magnificent, you are correct Sir!

buckhenry - Posted - 10/05/2020:  19:28:22


quote:

Originally posted by sbhikes2



 my teacher doesn't want me to play two notes at once. 






If you haven't developed the skill of bowing double stops, tis ok to bow them separately. Just bow repeatedly between the notes until good intonation is achieved.    



But it's important to tune the fingered notes with the open strings of the  violin as stated previously. This is an exercise to be included in daily practice routine, which will eventually develop  a good ear for playing with good intonation. 



 


Edited by - buckhenry on 10/05/2020 19:31:20

Brian Wood - Posted - 10/05/2020:  20:56:33


quote:

Originally posted by buckhenry

quote:

Originally posted by sbhikes2



 my teacher doesn't want me to play two notes at once. 






I'm beginning to wonder about your teacher..



Edited by - Brian Wood on 10/05/2020 20:57:15

sbhikes2 - Posted - 10/06/2020:  06:31:34


What I mean is she is teaching me classical violin and wants clean notes. One note in tune, not played as a double-stop to check the tuning like a self-taught person might do. I'm taking classical violin lessons because I have no basic skills. They are helpful. The giant sweeping bowing is dumb and sounds dumb but still it's helpful to know how to use the whole bow. Helpful to know how to play in tune. Helpful to know a lot of things. She knows it is my goal to play Irish music.

sbhikes2 - Posted - 10/06/2020:  07:04:39


I think also it seems that after a day of frustrating, failing practice, when I try again I'm a lot better. So maybe I complain about these things too soon.

Brian Wood - Posted - 10/06/2020:  08:13:09


quote:

Originally posted by sbhikes2

I think also it seems that after a day of frustrating, failing practice, when I try again I'm a lot better. So maybe I complain about these things too soon.






Is classical what you want to play? (Sorry if this is answered somewhere already). Nothing wrong with that.

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 10/06/2020:  11:31:34


quote:

Originally posted by sbhikes2

I think also it seems that after a day of frustrating, failing practice, when I try again I'm a lot better. So maybe I complain about these things too soon.






It's easy to get frustrated when it feels like you're starting all over when you've been playing a long time. Do t give up the ship!



I'm still curious about the neck. If only to rule it out, could you post a side view of the neck and scroll?

buckhenry - Posted - 10/06/2020:  14:44:29


quote:

Originally posted by sbhikes2



 not played as a double-stop to check the tuning like a self-taught person might do.






This technique is not reserved for the self-taught persons, it's all over the classical violin pedagogy. !



And besides, it's not the only intonation technique I have described. 



 



 

Brian Wood - Posted - 10/06/2020:  16:49:52


quote:

Originally posted by The Violin Beautiful

...struggling with only the first finger is an issue I’ve encountered many times with players. It’s often caused by a specific issue with the setup of the instrument.






I am curious what you are referring to, and why you haven't actually said what it is. Can you describe it? It might even help her to take a more specific picture of what you're looking for on her neck.


Edited by - Brian Wood on 10/06/2020 17:01:54

sbhikes2 - Posted - 10/06/2020:  17:45:15


I want to play Irish music. I already play old-time. I'm not going to wow anybody with my old-time skills. I want better skills so I can play Irish music which is a lot harder for me than old-time music. I'm learning a lot, including being able to follow the directions in my Irish fiddle book.

Here are pictures of my violin. imgur.com/a/gINHjq4 What are you looking for with these pictures?

Yes, there's tape. My teacher put the tape on. I put the black tape on, she put the red tape on.

sbhikes2 - Posted - 10/06/2020:  17:55:35


Weird but the email notifications I got on this thread were totally out of order. So I didn't see previous messages. Anyway, the amount that I'm off is really very miniscule. But my teacher can hear it, even over zoom.

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 10/06/2020:  19:34:34


I was asking because I wanted to see the placement of the fingerboard relative to the chin of the scroll. As a general rule, the nut end of the fingerboard should be in line with the chin. If the board sits higher, a player has to bend the first finger back to stop the string. If you’re playing in half position it can become much more noticeable. It’s a seemingly small detail but it has a surprising impact on playability. The pictures are at a bit of an angle, but the board does look a bit high from what I can see.

I hesitated to go into detail before seeing a picture because I didn’t want to open a can of worms prematurely. What complicates matters is that the fingerboard may have been put in that position to make up for a short neck length and balance the total vibrating string length. I see this done frequently as an attempt to quickly fix an oversight. Unfortunately this makes playing more difficult. If you’ve ever played a fiddle that seemed to make your first finger cramp up, this is the reason.

Diane, I think the fingerboard position on the neck isn’t helping things, but it’s up to you whether to leave it as-is and work around it or have it addressed (if the board is indeed out of place).

As far as the question of pitch accuracy, ear training and careful practice are the way forward. It sounds like your teacher is focusing on getting a sense of the intervals right now. Playing with a drone can be a good exercise later on, but at this point the idea is most likely to focus on the space between notes.

buckhenry - Posted - 10/06/2020:  20:46:57


quote:

Originally posted by sbhikes2

Anyway, the amount that I'm off is really very miniscule. But my teacher can hear it, even over zoom.






It seems teach is being just a tad pedantic. The notes wont be in tune every time they are played because they've been out of tune for so long, and this wont matter if there is a tuner, a drone or tapes, they maybe at times be a little off until the ear is trained.  It takes time to play with good intonation, and that only comes after specifically practicing 'it' as a daily routine. There are pitch references to use and that's why we employ the open strings, so we are not running after the tuner for every note, or setting a drone and we don't have to wait a week before  teacher tells us 'it's a miniscule out'.  Quick adjustments can be made as we play, before and during a piece of music. There are Classical Etudes written specifically for the student to check or make adjustments to the intonation at certain points in the score, which is done every time the piece is practiced until the 'ear' can hear it and anticipate thus compelling  the fingers to adopt the appropriate position to play the notes in tune. 



Instead of saying... " that note is a miniscule out", better maybe.."check the intonation of that note and make an adjustment"... "listen to the sounds wave of each note played together, are the sound waves clashing thus producing 'beats', or are they vibrating together in harmony..."?      

DougD - Posted - 10/07/2020:  02:45:40


Thanks for the explanation, Rich (although I had to dig around to find out what the "chin" is).
Diane, here's an article that shows what he's talking about.: polsteinviolins.com/at-the-ben...tout.html Although its specific to violas, the diagram of the violin is quite clear. Perhaps you could take a straight on photo that would show this aspect of your instrument.


Edited by - DougD on 10/07/2020 02:47:32

sbhikes2 - Posted - 10/07/2020:  07:47:57


Here's another picture: imgur.com/HVY6e5J

Brian Wood - Posted - 10/07/2020:  09:56:37


quote:

Originally posted by sbhikes2

Here's another picture: imgur.com/HVY6e5J






In the first set of pictures I can see that your E string peg is in a position that might hinder your playing, and may relate somewhat to what Rich described. If you feel it isn't in your way no problem.



I don't like the peg in that position especially when I am making an open slide from E up on some fiddles, or even just noting an F. On the fiddle I play the most lately the chin on the peg box is set back a few mms extra and it's not a problem.

sbhikes2 - Posted - 10/07/2020:  10:28:49


I've never felt any pegs with my hand while I play.

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 10/07/2020:  11:30:32


Thank you for the new picture. Now that I have a better view, I don’t think the fingerboard is out of place.

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