William Fitzpatrick - violin expert

Where Do I Place My Fingers on the String?

Learn the basics of placing your fingers on the fingerboard

In this video, Prof. Fitzpatrick teaches you the best way to place your fingers on the violin fingerboard, with some very unique and useful tips to improve your finger placement in low and high positions.

Released on January 4, 2017

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

So we talk about a lot of things when we talk about violin technique. But one of the things that we curiously don't talk a lot about is where you put your finger on the string, where you place the pad of your finger on the string.

So with that, though, in mind, my name is William Fitzpatrick. And I am the artistic director of the Musician of Young Artist Program. And the [Inaudible 00:00:33] Professor of Violin at the Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music which is located on the campus of Chapman University.

So why don't we have a look at this finger? Why don't we have a look at our second finger? Now, to help us in discovering where to place the pad on the string, maybe we can use something, one of my first teachers told me about, which was looking at the angle that the fingernail is pointing, to help position the finger on the string.

Here, let's have a look at this. What my teachers told me was that the fingernail should be pointing just over my shoulder to the left of my face. What this does is places the finger about right here on the string. So, it's here and it's over my left shoulder. It's pointing that way. So why don't I try this to help make it more visible on my finger? I'm going to rub my finger so that you can now see where that indentation was while it was pointing over my left shoulder. Here, have a look.

So this is a bit hard to see. So why don't I try a little something that I do with my students? Why don't we use an ink pen to make this line more visible? So, what I'm going to do is take the pen, and I'm gonna use it to make that line more visible, see? You can now see it. Curiously, when I place my finger in that spot on the string, it has an impact on where and what my wrist looks like. So you can see my finger is here, it positions itself here. Now, if I were to draw that same line, it would position my finger here, my fourth finger here, my first finger here. That is my goal. That my fingers are placed to the string in the same place on the pad. This is important if you're gonna maintain any stability if we're going to be consistent in how we put our fingers on the strings.

And oh yes, I remember having done all of this years ago, but I really took it to another level. As I would say that whenever I missed a spot, regardless to whether or not it was in tune or not. If I missed the spot, I would say that it was out of tune. That's how maniac I was about it. I must, however, admit that it did have an effect on my play. As I became much more consistent, it was easier to judge my accuracy or at least it gave me one more thing to judge my accuracy with.

Now, one of the things that we can use to help create this indentation on the finger is Yost. Yost is one finger scales, can be the first finger second. We go all the way up either in one octave or two. So we can do it one finger at a time, we could do four, we can do thirds, we can do fourths, we can do fourths with our second finger. You see, we can go through all of our intervals simply using this method which was created by Yost. Well, Yost is our friend but, on virtualsheetmusic.com you can get it, a book that I wrote called "One Finger Scales" which pretty much does everything that I just laid out to you.

So, as always, I do hope this video helps your practicing become more efficient and effective, that it helps you to learn how to practice wisely, and that this leads you to giving even better performances.
Automatic video-to-text transcription by DaDaScribe.com
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Yacoub Girgis on September 8, 2021 @11:21 am PST
Thank you
Soewanto * VSM MEMBER * on January 10, 2017 @1:08 am PST
thanks i will try to learn
William - host, on June 7, 2017 @11:24 am PST
Thanks, in fact this is what we're all trying to do!
Cheryl * VSM MEMBER * on January 4, 2017 @9:50 pm PST
Lovely video, short and sweet! Wonder about...double stops....some hands might need to depart quite a bit from this angle, momentarily of course. Kind of makes the double stops more fun, perhaps!
William - host, on June 7, 2017 @11:26 am PST
Hi! So I just released a video on my fingeringboard which I believe gets into your query about double stops ... https://www.virtualsheetmusic.com/experts/william/fingeringboard/
Hope this helps! Thanks
Hank Schutz * VSM MEMBER * on January 4, 2017 @10:46 am PST
My 4th finger is annoyingly weaker than the others. Vibrato sounds lame, especially on the lower strings. Double stops using the 4th finger on the lower string are rather iffy. Can you recommend ways to deal with this. hand position, etudes, etc.?

H Schutz
William - host, on June 7, 2017 @11:28 am PST
Hi and welcome to the club! All of our fourth fingers are weak and rely on our third fingers to get the strength needed to play. I will do a video and try to get into more depth about this important subject. Thanks!
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