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Knowing When Not To Leave Your Fingers Down

Posted by bj on Friday, April 2, 2010

I've been working on sawstroke every day for the last few months. And I had one of those stupid revelations that should be so stinkin' obvious. But it's never that simple, is it?

When I first started in lessons, and watching teaching vids, everyone says to leave your fingers down if you don't need to move 'em. So for over two years I've been leaving my fingers down. You play a scale, you leave your fingers down until you go back down the scale, then pick them back up one at a time.

But what if you're going from a two to an open string? What I was finding was that I'm so used to "going down the scale" that there's an infinitesimal hesitation in getting that first finger off the string, it ALWAYS comes off a hair after the second finger, no matter how often I practice it.

Until I had the lightbulb moment, that is.

I was taught to keep my fingers down because as beginners we need all the help with intonation we can get! Well, as we develop as players, we gain muscle memory and knowledge of our instruments. So I've been trying to just play one finger at a time on passages where I know I'm going back down from a two to an open, or from a three to a one or open.

Timing problem solved.

In a way it's a cheat, since I should be able to train my first and second finger to lift at the same time, but geez, life is too dang short to spend the day doing exercises, and for whatever reason, this is easier to wrap my brain around to get my fingers doing it.

Of course, that's true of me, and the way I learn. Your mileage may vary.

Had a frustrating day yesterday. The pollen starting to blow around caused some sinus stuff to happen, to the point where I couldn't clear my ears by swallowing. This affected the way I was hearing all day yesterday and I couldn't fiddle a right note in a hundred tries, or at least that's the way it sounded. NOTHING sounded right. Today the air is clearer, and I can play in tune again!

4 comments on “Knowing When Not To Leave Your Fingers Down”

Swing Says:
Friday, April 2, 2010 @11:18:26 AM

bj, I can appreciate the ear problems, mine has been off and on again all winter. I am glad that you figured out when to remove yoru fingers from the finger board. Beside helping with the intonation, it also help with the consistancy of intonation, sometimes being off a little bit does not hurt the tune. Play Happy

bj Says:
Friday, April 2, 2010 @5:41:47 PM

The ear thing was bizarre. I'm playing with the tuner on, it was in the green almost 70 percent of the time, the times it wasn't the needle indicator was so close that if the red/green thing wasn't there I couldn't tell the difference. And it sounded like I was way off the whole time.

This single finger playing is getting fun. It speeds me up, as long as I don't tense up thinking about it. And I am starting to relax into it.

fiddlebarb Says:
Sunday, April 4, 2010 @8:36:37 AM

bj now you got me to thinking about how I am playing, I do think that I leave the fingers down, what I need to pay attention to is do I get all those fingers up at the same time when going to an open string, sadyly I admit that I don't play scales very often when I practice, although I have been using the tuner to keep an eye on intonation as I play. It just seems like there is not enough time in the day to do everything that I want to do and what I need to do.

bj Says:
Monday, April 5, 2010 @8:39:29 AM

Barb, I don't play scales anymore except where they naturally occur in tunes in partial runs. I did when I was starting out. I also don't play to the tuner as a rule, it's just a checkpoint I use on a bad day. Not good to do it all the time, just as an aid when you need a leg up.

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