Beginning violin students often have a hard time being sure where their fourth fingers are going to land, particularly after playing a note with a lowered second finger (in the case of C natural on the A string). Here is a sample pattern.
The open A string that begins the sequence notes tells the student what the stopped A at the end of the measure needs to sound like, so if the fourth finger note is out of tune the student knows it immediately, feels frustrated, and then tenses both hands.
My solution? Spread the hand during the open D so that the fourth finger can simply drop into place.
Yesterday, while I was teaching a lesson, I wrote the words "spread ahead" on my student's music. I was amused by the rhyming catch-phrase-ness of the words, and when she walked out the door I realized that I had forgotten the exact words I had written on her music. I figured that I would see them the next time she had a lesson, so all was not lost.
Fortunately my next student found herself in a similar situation. It involved a shift in position, an open string, and the need to spread the hand. The phrase came to mind immediately, so I wrote it on her music.
Then I forgot it again.
So I'm writing the story of my new catch phrase here. I hope that it is useful to other string players, whether they be teachers, students, or both.