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Nov 10, 2022 - 8:16:41 AM
235 posts since 9/3/2022

Good morning and let me see if I can explain this correctly. Something I learned in my lesson last night that was more difficult than I thought.
I haven't had a chance to see if I do this for guitar and mandolin. However, this exercise will help me greatly but it's something I haven't come across on all the online videos I've watched so far.

So for instance. Seems like D major scale is one of the first to get going on. So once you play the open D, then onto first finger on E then F# then G....When you get to the G, you've kept the E and F# notes down as well and then descending you just lift up the fingers as you go down. Does this make sense?

Is their a technique label for this?

Nov 10, 2022 - 8:23:30 AM
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319 posts since 12/2/2013
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LEFT-HAND FINGER PREPARATION

Nov 10, 2022 - 11:09:18 AM
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971 posts since 3/1/2020

Here is a short article on the subject with some exercises:
simonfischeronline.com/uploads...tring.pdf

There are good etudes that can help to develop the technique by Kreutzer and Sevcik.

Economizing finger motion by keeping the fingers down whenever possible and always close to the fingerboard will help you make considerable advances in dexterity. It takes a lot of work and devotion to develop the habit, but you won’t regret doing it later on.

Nov 10, 2022 - 4:16:39 PM
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2873 posts since 10/22/2007
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Connect your mind/brain to the note not the finger. Sure, there's sort of a 1st position, but put a finger down, and that's Doe. The next is Rae, etc. Run an eight note scale ascending or descending from any finger. Think about the scale and the fingers eventually, will take a back seat. Especially if the tempo is brisk enough, fingers don't have choice but to behave.
Sort of like playing guitar without looking at your hand. Familiarity with the fingerboard is what one wants.

Nov 10, 2022 - 6:17:52 PM
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14137 posts since 9/23/2009

Being the self-taught amateur that I am, to me it's been a matter of ergonomics...I don't always hold my ducks in a row, er, fingers in a row, but when it's more convenient to do so I do...and other times I don't. Sometimes when I'm playing something I realize after i did put my fingers down in a row that whatever I was going to next would've worked better the other way, or vice versa, if that makes any sense...but generally, I've tried to figure out what just works easier and better than whatever else and do it that way.

Nov 10, 2022 - 6:49:59 PM
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3217 posts since 9/13/2009

Good exercise, especially if having issue (as many beginners do) of lifting the fingers way off; or flying fingers. With that, should pay attention to how much lifting fingers off... what want is just enough to let lower note sound. 

One place this comes noticeable is with adjacent string. For example in key of G, on the D and A strings; playing phrases bob/rock around G/a/b; and might tend to lift the third finger (G)  way off when placing first finger down (b). Much more efficient to (good exercise) keep the third finger down on D string for G note. G/a/b/G/a/G/b/a // G/a/b/G/a/G/a/b... and all sorts of variations of that. Can also then make that G/B  a double stop. Lot's of fiddle tunes use these in phrases (similar in key of D on A/E strings). 

---------

That said, some folks take this too far, or have opposite issue... a bit like fingers stuck to fingerboard, holding too much in position; and wrist a bit stiff. A slight release can help, maybe still touching string/or mm above... is not a bad thing... needed for maintaining a flexible loose wrist for fine adjustment and reach.

Nov 11, 2022 - 9:13:02 AM
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6182 posts since 8/7/2009

True / controversial: The string does not need to be pressed down to the fingerboard to be noted. They only need to be pressed enough to note the string. Think of how a capo for a dobro works. On fretted instruments, you only need to press the string down enough for the frets to note the string - not all the way down to the fingerboard.

The string vibrations only need to be "interrupted" at the point where you are wanting play a note. You only need to create a point along the string that will allow one length of string to vibrate when excited on that side. That does not require the string to be pressed down to the finger board.

Strings pressed down to the fingerboard will affect pitch. Try bowing the string while varying the amount of pressure you place on the string - from minimal, to pressed down to the fingerboard. It would be possible to generate a slight vibrato this way (not a recommendation - just an observation).

"What does that have to do with this discussion?"

ConsiderThe more fingers that are pressing down over the length of a string - the more you will change the pitch.

If you are leaving your fingers in a position on the string - try to be aware of how much pressure you are using on the strings. Less is better. 

And certainly - the more you lift your fingers above the finger board - the more effort it takes and the more time it will take to note the string - that equals less efficiency. By the same token, if you are pressing all fingers down, you are also exerting needless effort with the other fingers and wasting incremental time - that is also less efficient. 

Nevertheless - almost without giving any thought to it (my experience)  - on a fret less instrument, you are able to adjust your finger placement to compensate for correct pitch - by placing your leading finger tip in a position to adjust pitch. Ear / finger coordination. 

We are mostly amateur folk musicians, not professional concert musicians. How much of this really matters? That's up to you (not someone else - imo). For me - I don't "fret" it too much. I work on it when I think about it, but it won't let that create issues that will consume too much of my time - or become an obsession. 

This was all probably obvious for most everyone, but there may be someone... 

Nov 11, 2022 - 9:49:01 AM
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Old Scratch

Canada

1091 posts since 6/22/2016

So, basically - ya just can't win ... !

Nov 11, 2022 - 11:13:22 AM
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2075 posts since 4/6/2014

Keeping a "Guide Finger" on a string while shifting is helpful. But that might be another discussion?

Keeping relevant fingers down in 1st position, while playing fiddle tunes, may be helpful with playing double stops, chords/intervals, ornaments or slurring across strings etc?

i think "ergonomics" or "Efficiency" are the words i was searching for.

Edited by - pete_fiddle on 11/11/2022 11:18:28

Nov 11, 2022 - 12:26:35 PM
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2150 posts since 12/11/2008

At least when it comes to First Position, I am now fully satisfied with my left hand technique. The fiddle neck sits comfortably on my left hand in the spot where the first finger will easily give me a proper E on the D string. If I'm in a scale that demands an Eb on the D string, I'll just bend the index finger backwards a little or roll my left hand counterclockwise. Years of playing has made it natural and easy for my other fingers to locate the proper spots to sound their respective notes in the commonly used fiddle music scales. Yeah, hitting the octave with my pinkie still takes a conscious stretch but it's long-ceased driven me crazy. I've become comfortable with the little finger ooches I might need for my ears to be satisfied with the notes that are part of the scales that are slightly oddball when played on the fiddle. In any case, I let my ears tell me if any pitches are off, and my fingers quickly correct themselves.

Nov 11, 2022 - 1:27:12 PM
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14137 posts since 9/23/2009

I do agree with Tony that the more mashing on a string, the more the sound/tone is affected. I sometimes mash harder on a string to get a more mashed effect to my tone...more serious nature to that tone...the ones that vibrate more freely have more of a light, "free" sound to me...this is all the kinda stuff that gives music taste...real taste...don't ya think?

Nov 11, 2022 - 1:42:03 PM
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Old Scratch

Canada

1091 posts since 6/22/2016

Yeah ... I find if I'm pressing hard, and keeping lots of fingers down, I get what feels like a warmer, more intimate sound, like I'm playing for myself in an introverted way. Maybe it's just forcing me to pay closer attention because I'm not as used to playing like that ... I dunno .........

Nov 11, 2022 - 3:50:12 PM
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Swing

USA

2237 posts since 6/26/2007

A friend of mine who studied violin and viola said that you should press on the strings like you were pressing on an egg....in other words you don't need a lot of pressure to get a clean sound...of course that really depends on what you are playing and even how fast you are changing notes...if you are doing a bowed triplet then maybe more pressure, if you are doing an Irish type of roll, then ,maybe less pressure...finger pressure on the strings is variable and not a fixed thing.... ultimately no pressure on the strings means that you have only four notes....if you are playing harmonics then a very light touch is needed.....vibrato requires a different study of finger pressure...the list goes on.

Play Happy

Swing

Nov 12, 2022 - 10:02:37 AM
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boxbow

USA

2745 posts since 2/3/2011

I like keeping my fingers hovering just out of contact with the strings. It's pretty relaxed, so it's pretty quick. I've also found that the arpeggios that make up much of many fiddle tunes leaves fingers set up for double stops if I don't move them around too much. Efficiency is good.

Nov 12, 2022 - 4:39:47 PM
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83 posts since 12/26/2021

"Efficiency is good."
Efficiency = Laziness + purpose!

Nov 14, 2022 - 8:27:33 AM
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17 posts since 12/28/2020

I call leaving fingers down on the string "finger blocking" and using only one finger at a time "walking fingers". Ideally you do both. They are both skills you can practice if you find you are only doing one kind exclusively. Walking fingers is important for tuning and string crossings, blocking is critical for speed and coordination. Slow the skill down and practice doing it until your brain can transfer it into your library of automatic motions, like crossing to the correct string with your bow arm, and then let your unconscious decide.

Nov 14, 2022 - 9:07:38 AM
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Swing

USA

2237 posts since 6/26/2007

Leaving your fingers on the strings gives you a start to doing 'ghost notes' and next you will be playing jazz and other stuff.

Play Happy

Swing

Nov 14, 2022 - 9:22:34 AM

Erockin

USA

235 posts since 9/3/2022

quote:
Originally posted by MeganBeller

I call leaving fingers down on the string "finger blocking" and using only one finger at a time "walking fingers". Ideally you do both. They are both skills you can practice if you find you are only doing one kind exclusively. Walking fingers is important for tuning and string crossings, blocking is critical for speed and coordination. Slow the skill down and practice doing it until your brain can transfer it into your library of automatic motions, like crossing to the correct string with your bow arm, and then let your unconscious decide.


thank you, Megan!

Jan 26, 2023 - 5:46:51 AM

Erockin

USA

235 posts since 9/3/2022

I'm on my way to Ducks on the Millpond and just watching videos of this song, and this seems like a good one to focus on keeping those fingers all together. Something I need to use exercises for I think. Because this is hard to grasp at the moment. I recently found some left and right hand dexterity exercises on YouTube that will help....hopefully!

Jan 26, 2023 - 6:53:23 AM
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DougD

USA

10979 posts since 12/2/2007
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If you want to learn "Ducks on the Millpond," may I suggest starting with Emmett Lundy: youtu.be/7cBGpqe5jc0 There's more to that tune than many people suspect.
Tommy Jarrell also played a great version with singing. No videos though.

Jan 26, 2023 - 6:57:03 AM

Erockin

USA

235 posts since 9/3/2022

quote:
Originally posted by DougD

If you want to learn "Ducks on the Millpond," may I suggest starting with Emmett Lundy: youtu.be/7cBGpqe5jc0 There's more to that tune than many people suspect.
Tommy Jarrell also played a great version with singing. No videos though.


Thanks, Doug...heading there now! 

Jan 26, 2023 - 8:10:41 AM
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2623 posts since 7/12/2013

There is a lot of benefits from learning how to do this:
1. More economical motion which I think can lead to faster playing
2. There are certain repetitive licks that benefit from keeping your fingers down
3. Playing in closed positions (which is great for learning to play in any key)
4. moving Double stops, being able to play double stops and change them as needed, either changing chords, or playing a melody at the same time
5. can help speed up tricky string crossings at speed (kinda like #1)

Jan 26, 2023 - 11:51:42 AM
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DougD

USA

10979 posts since 12/2/2007
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I saw there are quite a few Youubes of "Ducks on the Millpond" by contemporary players like Rayna Gellert, Eddie Bond, April Verch, Rachel Eddy (a little after my time) and Mark Campbell - all accomplished fiddlers. Mark in particular is a serious student of Emmett Lundy's tunes and style. Although its a different tune, I thought you might find his teaching vdeo of "Julianne Johnson" helpful for fingering techniques: youtu.be/rvCo9PaHF5Q

Jan 26, 2023 - 11:57:31 AM

Erockin

USA

235 posts since 9/3/2022

quote:
Originally posted by DougD

I saw there are quite a few Youubes of "Ducks on the Millpond" by contemporary players like Rayna Gellert, Eddie Bond, April Verch, Rachel Eddy (a little after my time) and Mark Campbell - all accomplished fiddlers. Mark in particular is a serious student of Emmett Lundy's tunes and style. Although its a different tune, I thought you might find his teaching vdeo of "Julianne Johnson" helpful for fingering techniques: youtu.be/rvCo9PaHF5Q


Thanks, Doug!

Jan 26, 2023 - 12:06:57 PM

6090 posts since 9/26/2008

You can't go wrong with Emmett Lundy or Mark Campbell.

Jan 26, 2023 - 1:40:53 PM
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10742 posts since 3/19/2009

The first thing I did when I read the OP was grab my fiddle and see how my finger play the D scale. ( I say my fingers, because so much of my fingering is automatic after almost 50 years of playing, and I'll bet that that is so for most of you experienced fiddlers)... Anyway, my Fingers have developed the habit of for example, keeping the third finger of the D string g note (Holding that note down) while other fingers are on the A string... and just hitting that g as a pulse note or drone.. Same with the A string.. I don't know how or when my fingers started fiddling without my knowledge but I really like what they are doing. The good thing is that on many tunes, I can relax and daydream while fingers play the tune..Leaving fingers down when not needed in anticipation of being needed later is pretty efficient !!!

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