- July 17, 2019 at 10:23 pm #26500
…or more accurately, geeking out about exchange shifts…
Is the finger action in an exchange shift essentially the same as in a guide-note shift?
For example, Sevcik #18, on G string BABD, shift to 2nd finger on D:
as an exchange shift, the 1st finger slides from A to B, then slides to D;
as a guide-note shift, the 1st finger slides from A to D.
Is the distinction that I think about the B in the exchange shift and not in the guide note?
Or maybe the point in the exchange shift is to make sure that the sliding is done on the 1st (new) finger, not the 2nd? This would be more important if the notes were BCBD, where the 1st finger had not been used yet, so it might be tempting to start sliding with 2 before subbing the 1. So subbing the 1 first turns it into the same finger action as if it were a 1st finger guide note?
It’s a little more confusing when I think about the same notes as a descending shift D(1)-B(2). Subbing 2 first then sliding seems to create the finger action of E to B with 2. My instinct would be to slide D to A with 1 and drop 2, more like a guide-note shift, but that would be backwards to “sub first then slide.”
Maybe it’s more effective to think about the substitution part as a silent transfer of finger (not thinking about the E-D part in the descending example), followed by a same-finger shift?
Even this seems strange to me on the descending shift, but that’s probably because I am accustomed to thinking about the descending as same-finger on the old finger and dropping the new.
Honestly, I’ve never thought so carefully about the mechanics of exchange shifts before! When the dizziness passes, I’m sure my shifts are going to improve!😉July 20, 2019 at 5:43 pm #26659
My sense is that training shifts with the first finger as a guide is most important because defines the position change, but once that’s in place, training the shift with the leading finger becomes important for making the shift “real world” elegant. So in the first bar of Sevcik positions 18, I would train the first finger guide shift first to fourth position and fourth to first position as the foundational exercise, but in real life, you’re not going to completely remove your second finger B and audibly slide all the way from A to D on your first finger, so to make it more seamless, it would make sense to also train the second finger shift up from first to fourth position (removing the second finger once you’re in fourth position to expose the first finger on the D), and then finally to train both versions of the shift essentially at the same time. In other words, I think the most elegant shift would be something like starting the shift with the second finger, and somewhere during the shift itself, lifting the second finger to expose the first finger, and finishing the shift sliding on the first finger. This will make it a really smooth shift. This would apply for the shift down as well. Let me know what you think of this approach!July 20, 2019 at 6:08 pm #26661
I think the most elegant final version of the shift down would be starting to shift with 4th finger, removing 4th finger during the shift to expose the second finger, and finishing the shift on second finger (with first finger down the whole time). To train for that shift, you’d need to be comfortable with all the elements of the mechanics: first finger shift, second finger shift, fourth finger shift. Does that seem right to you?July 21, 2019 at 6:23 pm #26714
Remember that exchange shifts can be “old” or “new” finger. I think that in our videos and discussions I’ve focused on the new-finger versions more, because those tend to get neglected. They’re most useful with adjacent fingers.
Think of a non-adjacent situation and it may become more clear. If I wanted you to start an A-major arpeggio all on the G string, you could play 1-3-1-4 for that first octave. We’ll focus on that shift from 3-1, C# to E.
Under a slur, you’ll quickly hear and feel that it only really makes sense as a smooth shift, that is a new-finger exchange. That’s the way you’d naturally do it. When you do, you’ll see that you don’t keep the spacing between 1 and 3 as a major third. You naturally bring the 1 up before releasing the 3 and shifting to the E. Feels a lot like “substitute-slide”, right? You’ll notice the same thing on a smaller scale (no pun intended!) if you play an A-major scale instead of arpeggio on the G string. For the shift from 2-1, B-C# (under a slur) you’ll feel that 1 push up against the 2 during the shift. Same thing, substitute-slide. You may not do a complete substitution in either case, but close enough to make it smooth.
The downside of getting it smooth like that is that now your hand frame is temporarily compromised. No worries, just reform it as soon as the new finger arrives! The problems come when you don’t do that…
Descending it’s the same deal, except that there is a very old-school-sounding option to do the descending exchange as an old-finger (we’re back to the arpeggio now, so shifting down 1-3). So there you’d use your 1 as a guide finger, shifting down to A and dropping the 3 afterward.
But supposing that you want to get that smooth instead, you’d bring the 3 close to the 1 (substitute, or as near as) and then slide with 3. You’d reform the hand frame as soon as the 3 was on C#.
Now if we’re not under a slur we’ve got options. Ascending first. If you want to hear the slide, do it as before, sliding with the new finger on the new bow (just as you’d do if the ascending shift were 1-3 for example, rather than 3-1). You’ll have to be sure to reform your frame as soon as you arrive.
If you don’t want to hear it, then it’s old finger-old bow (again just as you’d do for a 1-3 shift). This way your hand frame stays intact. At the end of the old bow, shift using your guide finger (which is actually the upper finger, to G#) and change bows on its arrival.
Descending: only one option here because it doesn’t sound good to do new finger-new bow. You use a guide finger (here the lower finger) and change bows on its arrival.July 22, 2019 at 4:04 pm #26764
I’ve never consciously practiced down shifts in the way you describe (the non old school way). It makes so much sense!July 24, 2019 at 12:54 am #26843
I like your point about location vs style (or maybe it’s location and style), that one has to train to know the distances and “real estate” whether one ends up with new finger or old, audible or not.
Also that if one keeps the frame of hand intact, then the hand is essentially doing all or most of the possible finger actions at once – i.e. if 2 is the guide finger and 1 is left on the string, then 1 is making the same journey it would make if it were the guide finger.
Thanks for your thoughts!July 24, 2019 at 2:31 am #26848
Thank you for the detailed explanation. It’s very helpful!
Especially in making the distinction between preserving hand frame (guide) or not (substitution).
I have not focused much on the substitution-type of descending exchange, so I look forward to adding that whole class of shifts.
One more question if you can stand it😉:
If I have this right, we don’t do substitution-type (hand compression) exchange shifts on the old bow when not slurred (ascend or descend).
Is that because old bow shift is for when we don’t want to hear the slide, and if that is the case we may as well keep the frame of hand and not have to deal with reshaping it?
Thanks very much!
ChristineJuly 25, 2019 at 4:42 pm #26928
I’m so frustrated with the shift in measure 2 of Don Juan, b (4th finger) to E, (1st finger). Am I right in trying to think it as an exchange shift? The interval is quite big, but I’m trying let my 4th finger push up to the 1st finger. Re- reading all the comments, I think my hand position on top is not quite there, so I keep missing that E, or more specifically, the E is flat when I play in tempo.July 25, 2019 at 7:23 pm #26933
Sometimes when I am frustrated by a shift, I change the fingering (either short term or long term) instead of continuing to “press” to fix the old one. Starting with a clean slate seems to help.
Could m.2 start in 3rd position instead?
Another way to look at it (literally): when I played in class, Nathan suggested that there may be a visual point of reference on the violin – the E appearing to line up with the edge of the violin body. That happens not to be the case on my violin, but it might be on yours (there’s always chalk, too😉).
ChristineJuly 25, 2019 at 9:21 pm #26938
Oh my goodness. Great suggestion, Christine! (Haha, chalk) I’ll definitely try and see if I can find that point of reference and see if switching things up, could help with that shift, ultimately.August 1, 2019 at 5:09 pm #27276
Christine, I love your suggestion to start from a clean slate. I do that as well. Alternating between different fingerings can shake things up enough in the brain and body to facilitate moving beyond a temporary mental block/execution barrier.
And I too have never practiced “compression”-style exchange shifts as well…I’ve always done the “old-school” style of keeping the hand frame and using guide notes (that are within the existing hand frame).
Sometimes with large shifts, (thinking about Lisa’s question about Don Juan, for example), I also like to add to my shifting toolbox the technique of aurally imagining the note before I shift. (I believe the term is “audiating”.) For me, this can be very helpful. It actually is a convenient micro-example of the mental rehearsal work I was doing under Dr. Don Greene’s coaching.
If I can *hear* it, I have a better of chance of playing it successfully…August 4, 2019 at 5:32 am #27402
Yes, Lynn, you are so right about audiating! I have been using Schraedick and Sevcik to practice audiating every note deliberately. In those studies that are so repetitive, it’s easy for me to forget to sing ahead rather than just listening.
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