August 2008

To die trying...

August 31, 2008 20:57

One of the biggest enemies of the violinist is `clenching.` I think most players don’t reach their full potential even though they reach really high levels simply because they habitually contract something somewhere in the body when performing a specific action on the violin. And typically of habitual actions, we are unaware of them or have trained our body to think they are right to such an extent that not doing the action feels `wrong.` A lot of it simply boils down to `trying.` We are exhorted to try from a young age in many fields of endeavor and the well meaning criticism of the teacher trains us to be more and more stressed out by a certain passage or note perhaps because we are so keen to please that person and so on. This trying has very little to do with the necessary mental control of playing the instrument. One of my favorite example you might like to play with is from Agopian`s `No Time To Practice,` a real hard core volume for advanced players although not all the exercises are beyond the ken of the less skilled.
Try placing the fourth finger on c in a curved and relaxed shape. Now reach back with a second finger on d flat on the a string and the first on b flat. This is not a hard stretch by any means. Now place the third finger on d. One is going to play four beats at mm120 on the a string. During this time the third finger will slide up and down in 8th notes playing dededede. Really push your self and try and get this movement. I will tell you in advance that the hand does not like this kind of stretch. It is not designed to work this way in the real world. The outer finger are the stretch fingers and the two middle actually prefer to work together as a pillar supporting the outer fingers
for want of a better metaphor. Casals based his whole idea of fingering around this key point of body mechanics…
Keep trying to get that damn side to side movement. You can do it.

Now take a break. Have a shake. Put the violin up. Relax yourself systematically. Check shoulders, neck , wrist, and especially base of thumb and fist finger. Fell how relaxed and soft your whole hand and arm is. Now visualize the finger going from d to e and back retraining this amazing sense of freedom and relaxation.
Now just play it with this amazing softness and flexibility. For many I wonder what all the fuss was about?

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