VENGEROV’S VIEWS | Shifts & reference to the fingerboard

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On this, the fourth of eight educating lessons, violinist Maxim Vengerov discusses find out how to shift in essentially the most environment friendly means

To assist have a good time the launch of our new web site, and the re-launch of Maxim Vengerov‘s new web site,, over the approaching weeks the celebrity violinist, trainer, and conductor, will probably be visitor presenting a sequence of unique educating recommendation lessons for our readers, academics, and college students all over the place.


Accompanied by useful educating movies that display key ideas, Maxim will cowl a variety of subjects together with sound, left and right-hand approach, bowing, respiration, concord and construction, and interpretation.

In at present’s fourth lesson, Maxim discusses find out how to shift in essentially the most environment friendly means.

Be a part of us over the approaching weeks, and make sure to share the lessons with your individual college students and pals, and tell us how Maxim’s recommendation has helped you in your journey to be taught extra.



Shifting positions within the left hand is a logistical impediment string gamers should be taught to cope with to navigate easily across the fingerboard. Past the technical facet, a shift may also be an necessary expressive device, particularly in additional romantic repertoire the place portamento is a part of the stylistic vocabulary. The best way you shift ought to replicate your understanding of the deeper musical sense – the fashion, and the context of the interval inside the concord and phrase. 


In an effort to make a profitable shift, you want just a few components. On this put up, I’ll share with you some key rules to bear in mind, that can assist you shift easily and with confidence.



Earlier than a shift

«The key of a great shift is a free left hand, and to not rush.»

Hold your left hand and finger very relaxed through the word earlier than a shift. This helps you actually management the shift – in case your left hand is tense, then you definitely can’t transfer freely. 



You should at all times have a reference while you shift, to maintain your bearings and never lose your orientation on the fingerboard. To assist with this, your thumb ought to transfer earlier than the remainder of your hand, slightly than shifting your entire hand in a single leap. The thumb then acts like a scout, shifting forward to search out the proper place, after which inviting the remainder of the hand to affix.



Maintain the primary word lengthy sufficient to think about the following word earlier than you begin the shift. This is sort of a singer first participating and controlling their diaphragm earlier than singing an interval. Having your vacation spot clear in your thoughts earlier than you begin your journey will assist make sure you arrive on the proper place (i.e. with good intonation!)



Throughout a shift

«Throughout a shift, don’t press your finger into the string: this can be a golden rule.»

Your left hand and finger ought to at all times keep relaxed. Throughout a shift you shouldn’t press an excessive amount of into the string. Your finger ought to solely press midway, not absolutely touching the fingerboard, however by no means dropping the connection. This reduces the friction, so you’ll be able to transfer extra simply to get to your vacation spot.



Usually talking, it’s best to shift on the outgoing finger, after which place the following finger cleanly when you attain the brand new place. The motion shouldn’t be too quick – keep away from leaping, to maintain a great connection and keep in management. Begin the shift very slowly, after which transfer like a magnet to the opposite word.



Shifting together with your finger barely flattened will assist you keep relaxed. In case you shift together with your finger in a extra vertical place, perpendicular to the fingerboard, it’s a lot more durable to maneuver easily, and to maintain a great connection and sound.



The pace of the shift relies on whether or not or not you desire to it to be heard, and this relies on the fashion of the music and what you wish to categorical. If you do not need the shift to be audible, take into account the proper hand in addition to the left hand – i.e. don’t use an excessive amount of bow through the shift. Particularly, you’ll be able to decelerate the pace of the bow after you permit the primary word, after which enhance it once more after you attain the second word. 


Then again, if you need to emphasise a shift, you are able to do the alternative – in addition to slowing down the motion of the left hand, you’ll be able to enhance the pace or stress of the bow. All of it relies on what you wish to categorical within the music.



After a shift

«First left hand, then proper hand – for a clear shift, you want a great reference to the fingerboard earlier than you begin to play the word.»

Lastly, while you get to the highest (or backside) of the shift: first press your finger down absolutely from midway, to make no hole between the string and the fingerboard. Then comes the pace of the bow, to voice the second word of the shift. First the left hand, then the proper hand, and never the opposite means round – they’re like a married couple, and so they should cooperate with each other! 


With out this good connection between your finger and the fingerboard, the sound is not going to be clear. You’ll hear what appears like “sand” or graininess within the sound, like in an outdated recording. Pay attention rigorously and at all times use your ears to information you.



To conclude

Shifting easily and precisely is a vital a part of growing good approach. I hope these suggestions provides you with some concepts about the important thing issues to consider, so shifting is not a technical impediment, however a further useful resource in your violinistic toolbox that can assist you add expression to the music.



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