William Fitzpatrick - violin expert

Three Looks at Shifting

Three different perspectives of violin shifting

In this video, Prof. Fitzpatrick gives you three different perspectives of violin shifting applied to popular violin repertoire, such as the violin concertos of Mendelssohn, Saint-Saens, and Sibelius.

Released on November 4, 2020

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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, I know we've talked a lot. We've looked at shifts in other videos, but I thought might be interesting to take an even closer look at particular shifts. So why don't we start with the shift in the opening theme of the second movement of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, you know the one. That shift. You see, there are a couple of ways to do the shift. Why don't I show you both of them? Here, let's look at the first way. In fact, that was the way I just did it. To do ... There is however, another way of doing that shift and that would be ...

I think the first thing we need to do is to sort of set up the parameters in which we're going to figure out how to best do either of those shifts. One would be shifting with the same finger, another would be shifting with a new finger. Or we could combine the two, start with one finger, shift to the other. We've given names to these shifts, which are sort of like countries, such as French or Russia or a combination of the two. Another thing we have to discuss then, are patterns, such as pressure or weight. How much pressure or weight is put into the shift? Do we slide? Do we jump? Do we release it? Another pattern would be speed. Do we do slow to fast? Fast to slow? Or slow to fast to slow? Slow, fast, slow.

Then we need to talk about choreography. In doing the shift, are we using our wrist? Are we using our thumb? EW we using our forearm or elbow? Which of these things is that the origin of our shift? We need to identify as much as we can to be able to reproduce the shift without fault. So let's reiterate this. We need to look at our pressure. We need to look at our thumb and we need to look at our wrist. We need to look at our forearm. We need to look at our elbow. We need to really be sure that we're very, very loose. Of course, that's always. Ah, here's another favorite, Saint-Saens, the Concerto. We have that shift to the F sharp. We have that shift to the B. And finally, we have ... Let's look at those and see what goes on. So those are the three shifts. First, to the F sharp, second, to the B and third to the D.

So now let's look at my third favorite, there are lots more, but this is my third favorite, which is from the Sibelius Concerto. I remember doing this shift for Miss Delay and it's the one that goes from the B flat. And just like that, I slid, and Miss Delay said, "No, no, no, no, no, no, no, you can't do that, Billy." I protested, of course, but she insisted that it had to be cleanly done. So I did what she said, but I had to figure out how to do that because I wasn't just going to ... I mean, this was a motion I had no idea where it was going to go. So what I decided was what if I did my shift? Except they took my bow away. So that's my little adventure into those three shifts. So there are so many more shifts, but I thought that at least we can determine or try to pinpoint what those metrics are to be able to make the shift, whichever we decide to do, reliable. Have a great day.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Cheryl * VSM MEMBER * on November 4, 2020 @11:57 am PST
Shifting up is very different than shifting down. The arm on up-shift is coming into the body, which feels much more natural than the down-shift where your arm is going away from your body, this is just one of the reasons the down-shifts are often less-successful.
reply
William - host, on November 5, 2020 @9:46 am PST
I like to think that "down-shifts" are "up-shifts" going the other way....
Cheryl * VSM MEMBER * on November 5, 2020 @12:07 pm PST
Yes they do go the other way, but your body feels different, uses different muscles. Maybe I have a more ergonomic experience while performing?
Tosh Hayashi * VSM MEMBER * on November 4, 2020 @10:16 am PST
Interesting stuff re the mechanics of the different types of shifts...appreciate it. However, would also appreciate if if you would do another demo regarding how and when one would use a particular shift for the "musical intention" one has in a phrase, whether to emulate what a good singer would do or what emotion was to be evoked etc. etc. I've noticed that various concert artists are rather individualistic with regard to what types of shifts they will use...example: Fritz Kreisler as opposed to Heifetz, or Milstein v. Stern, etc., because I believe they had rather different conceptions of the music they were playing.
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William - host, on November 5, 2020 @9:49 am PST
Excellent idea! I like exploring the mechanical side of things so as to not influence expressive decisions but from an historical point of view this would be an interesting idea to look into! Thanks!
Hank Schutz * VSM MEMBER * on November 4, 2020 @6:52 am PST
Please address how one might achieve a beautiful 4th finger vibrato.
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William - host, on November 5, 2020 @9:46 am PST
Good thought!!!
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