Saturday, October 16, 2021

Dancing on the Fingerboard

I think that shifting from position to position on the violin and the viola should be a pleasure, and think that practicing in order to teach the arm and hand to shift should be an expressive activity rather than a mechanical one.

After years of teaching students to shift by using tried and true methods and materials from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (which tend to bore them), I decided to try my hand writing at a set of twenty-first-century lighthearted pieces with whimsical titles that employ guiding fingers in their melodic material.

Initially I imagined a small set of short pieces to introduce the shift from first to third position, but my project grew into two sets of twenty pieces (one for violin and one for viola) that cover the first six positions and dip a toe into the seventh position.

I thought of having it published, but I am too impatient to wait. Plus, I really wanted to use this cover image, which I cobbled together from two very old books (one about folk dancing, and one about violin making), to celebrate the dance-like joy of moving the fingers of the left hand from place to place on the fingerboard.

I often tell my students that the four fingers of the left hand are like four dancing feet. Publishers like to use the work of their own artists, which I understand completely, but priorities are priorities.

So into the IMSLP it has gone for other violinists and violists to use for practicing and teaching. I did my best to make the titles and tempo markings witty, so I hope that help keep practicing fun.

You can find both the violin and the viola music on this page of the IMSLP.

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