William Fitzpatrick - violin expert

Advanced Approach to Violin Shifting - Part 2

Second part of Advanced Shifting Techniques

In this second video, Prof. Fitzpatrick extends his teaching on shifting technique with practical applications to popular violin repertoire, such as the famous Czardas by Monti, Paganini's First Violin Concerto, and many more.

Released on December 3, 2014

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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

Hi and welcome to VirtualSheetMusic.com's Meet the Expert. My name is William Fitzpatrick, and I am the Temianka professor of violin at the Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music, which is located on the campus of Chapman University in Orange, California. I am as well Director of MusiShare in Irvine, California.

Okay, so now that we've understood the mechanics of shifting a little better, let's look at specific shifts and real pieces and how to use these areas of awareness to determine the kind of practice needed to assure success in the shift.

So let's look into Monti's Czardas. I have to go from this A to this A. Let's look at Monti's Czardas. I have to go from an A to an A. What kind of a shift did I do? [plays] First finger to the third finger. My finger pressure a weight pattern, less weight to more. Or what about Massenet's Thais? At the end, when it goes from the A to the A, [plays] it's a similar shift. It's a shift in a similar pattern to Monti's Czardas. [plays]

Now we have talked about a lot of different shifts, but we haven't really explored when you totally release, when you jump to the note. Which one could we do? What about Sibelius, from the B flat to the B flat. [plays] I remember having a big discussion with Ms Delay about that, B flat because I wanted to do [plays] and she said, "Bill, you can't slide into it!"

So if you're gonna jump, how are you gonna find it? [plays] Let's see, what could we do? You could use where you wrist is to the violin, where your thumb is to the neck, and where, of course, your elbow is, under the violin. [plays] Oh, there's another one. What about in the Paganini Concerto? The opening string, the D major Concerto. [plays] Again, you have to be aware of where your finger is in relation to the string, to the fingerboard, to the body of the instrument, where your elbow is, to be able to locate that note.

Here's another kind of a shift found in Tchaikovsky's Concerto. Right at the beginning. [plays] What kind of shift was that? Why I believe we call it Russian. Now finally we have a passage that will require quick shifts from Bruch's Scottish Fantasy. [plays] We had to have a place that we were going to, remember that marker, that place in the sand. And that place was the F. Everything [plays] goes to that F. Here, I'll do it again. [plays]

Well, that's it for this video. Now if you have a comment, question, or a special request, please feel free to post them. See you next time.
Automatic video-to-text transcription by DaDaScribe.com
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Billy Boy on November 21, 2016 @6:24 pm PST
Dear Sir,

I am watching your youtube videos and it helps me a lot. I would like to know how to properly apply descending shift. For example I am playing Dm 3 octave scale, my ascending shifts are from 3rd position to 5th, 7th then 9th position. My question is on descending part, from 9th position going to 5th position, lets stop here Sir, will I place first my first finger before placing my 4th finger to get the F note?
Janny on December 15, 2014 @6:34 am PST
I thought this was a very helpful video, especially combined with the previous one! It is a difficult subject to articulate, and Mr. Fitzpatrick does a great job explaining different aspects of shifting that we may not even be aware that we are supposed to be doing. The only comment I would have would be that it could be helpful to have all of the different shifts that were mentioned in the video listed (or mentioned) in the beginning, so that we can sort of 'mark off' each shift as we learned them and help us keep the different shifts in order.
Thanks for putting together such a great series Mr. Fitzpatrick!
William on December 15, 2014 @10:44 am PST
Noted! Thanks Janny!!!
Eleonora on December 14, 2014 @10:23 am PST
Dear Maestro! I think your video is very useful. It shows a lot of important musical examples and explains how we can improve the way to shift. I haven't found absolutely nothing disappointing me! Everything can be used as precious advice to improve ourselves. Thank you so much!
William on December 15, 2014 @10:45 am PST
Thanks Eleonora!
KC on December 5, 2014 @1:13 pm PST
Mr. Fitzpatrick, in regard to what commenter Peter said, I just watched this video, as well as your previous shifting videos, and I can only conclude that the commenter must not have watched part 1.The questions he raises are all answered clearly by you in the first video. To avoid this type of confusion, perhaps 1 & 2 should be joined as one video? Another suggestion I have is to write out the concepts and variables you are talking about, either on a whiteboard or as "subtitles," for the more fastidious-minded among us. Hope this is helpful -
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on December 5, 2014 @3:09 pm PST
Great point KC, we have just added an annotation at the beginning of the video to reference the first-part video of this 3-part series. And eventually we'll create a complete video once the 3rd part will be published.

Thank you for your suggestion!
William on December 5, 2014 @11:15 pm PST
Thanks from me as well! Its really appreciated!
Mason on December 5, 2014 @12:03 pm PST
A difficult topic to teach (especially without a student in front!) and professor Fitzpatrick does a wonderful job covering a wide range of ground in his two videos so far. In these two videos, he discusses many aspects which are essential to shifting naturally and with variety. He is able to articulate them when so many of us do them unconsciously. It is quite important to watch both videos since the first one discusses basic physiology such as shifting from the elbow and shifting like throwing a ball, while this video gives several applications to shifting in real pieces of music.

Also wouldn't hurt to mention that there is another school of thought on shifting which is that the elbow or arm position be already in the position of the "destination note" right before the shift.
William on December 5, 2014 @11:15 pm PST
Very true! Exploring all points of view would be good! Thanks Mason!
Cyntha Faisst on December 5, 2014 @2:32 am PST
I'm so glad to see you talking about the large shifts. I've come to the conclusion that it is better to start with shifting to all the landmarks on the finger board such as the harmonics and ringing tones in order to give students a lay of the fingerboard with same finger shifts before starting say the Yost activities. True shifting is a multi-dimensional experience. You need to see it from the front, the back and from the scroll end to understand how the arm is moving. Changing strings while shifting adds one more complication. It is important to be solidly familiar with all of the subskills behind shifting before doing some of these more gymnastic technics with confidence. But starting with large shifting activities can do a lot to free up the movement of the arm and lighten the weight of the fingers on the strings. I notice that this was only about the left hand and that there are also a few pointers yet to be made in another lesson about bow speed and contact points during these large shifts. So much to do in one video.
William on December 5, 2014 @11:16 pm PST
Thanks Cynthia! Yes there is so much to do!
Chloe on December 4, 2014 @11:52 pm PST
I like how the emphasis on how to practice a shift is based on in- depth and thorough physical awareness. I find this advice more useful than simple repetition. Also, I think there is a very personal aspect of understanding and attention that Professor Fitzpatrick is encouraging. This video provides a great basis for discussing how and why these different shifts can be used and practiced. Awareness is key in practicing shifting, as the message of this video is meant to conclude.
William on December 5, 2014 @11:16 pm PST
Much appreciated!
Chloe on December 4, 2014 @11:39 pm PST
Very well organized, well explained, and concisely put. This is a very useful video that summarizes the most important aspects of a broad range of different shifts. Thank you for this excellent video!
William on December 5, 2014 @11:16 pm PST
Thank you!
Peter * VSM MEMBER * on December 3, 2014 @7:30 pm PST
sorry, but you did not explain one of the shifts you used as an example - that is not enough to call this video "meet the expert"
just going from "a" to "a" or "b" to "b" that does not help anybody.
watch the positions of the elbow, wrist and fingers - well that is just obvious. - I guess everybody who plays the Tschaikovsky concerto knows something about that. Please tell us more about the approach to achieve secure ways of shifting - otherwise this video is useless. where does your first finger go, where is the position of the hand, what is the role of the ear, etc.
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on December 4, 2014 @6:52 am PST
Peter, thank you for your comment. I am sorry for your disappointment, but as a professional violinist myself, I can assure this video is very useful for violinists to understand the basic concept of when using the same finger during shifting, and when not. It may sound obvious to some violinists, but it may not be to others. The purpose of these advanced videos is to offer "in-depth" videos on typically basic concepts, approaching the technique in different ways and offering different perspectives, and I think Prof. Fitzpatrick does that brilliantly. Keep also in mind, this is the second video of a 3 part-series, therefore some concepts could have been covered in the other videos (the 3rd one is coming the next month.) Additionally, the visual approach of this video may just be the way to help many musicians to achieve the perfect shifting. I am sure Prof. Fitzpatrick will have some more thoughts to add about this, and eventually will answer your first question.

Thank you for your feedback again.
William on December 4, 2014 @11:10 pm PST
I am so very disappointed that you found the video useless! As someone who has studied with Dorothy Delay and Stephen Clapp, and with friends such as Perlman, Zuckerman, Mintz etc., I have always felt the need to share what I have learned and have tried in my way to do so. Did you look at the previous video which laid the groundwork for this one and the one to follow? Perhaps this is the reason for such a terrible conclusion? Please let me and others who follow know as it is important to try to be as open as possible! I sincerely regret your disappointment!
Peter * VSM MEMBER * on December 6, 2014 @5:55 am PST
Dear Prof. Fitzpatrick,
I just reread my comment and must say, that my tone was a bit too harsh - I apologize for that, sorry. I also watched the first part of the video again, and of course you are right, that many aspects of the second video have been explained there already. I did not want to be unrespectful, because I know, that it is not possible to explain the complexity of shifts on the violin in one (ore even not in three :-)) videos. So - combining the two (or maybe three) videos in the end by links in the video (as you now did) would be very helpful, I guess. This second part only gives examples.
I totally agree with you, that the movement of the elbow is a very important part of the shift and I always tell my students, that the elbow starts the shift.
You talked about the fingerpatterns when playing in one position. I think this is also very important for understanding a shift, because the distance for the arm-movement depends very much on the understanding of where the whole hand position is before and after the shift (don´t you agree with that?) For me this factor is as important as hearing the distance of the notes before and after the shift in advance, and knowing when to release the pressure of the finger, putting it down again, role of the thumb, starting-gliss or end, gliss. (in your called "french" or "russian" shifts), etc.
I just wanted to say, that I missed some of these aspects in this video.
The aspect of noticing the relation of positions of elbow, wrist, thumb and finger of course is a very good hint, I absolutely agree with you!
Be sure that I am always interested in what you have to say about violin technique, even if I had thought about certain aspects in a different way before, it is good to hear someone else´s point of view, so thank you for your work! best regards
Carrie Kourkoumelis on December 11, 2014 @8:56 am PST
Professor Fitzpatrick offers substantive and meaningful information about how to achieve the technical feat of shifting well. The remark "useless" was baseless and disrespectful, so it is heartening to see somewhat of an apology. Discourse around these topics can help many as long as it always begins from a respectful premise.

This great teacher has made real contributions to the world of music and the violin, as many of the world's most prominent musicians have recognized. Maestro Fitzpatrick's own playing embodies the highest artistic and technical standards. His students are living examples of his effectiveness as a master teacher, and they will carry forward his legacy, hopefully for a long time. Professor Fitzpatrick's videos and publications (including a TED talk) give a window into the extraordinary teacher and artist that he is.

As a fellow musician and parent of two sons fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to learn from this wonderful musician and master teacher, it is an honor to be able to offer commentary here. Any who watch the videos or read the publications will learn (I did!).
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on December 5, 2014 @4:07 pm PST
I agree with Prof. Fitzpatrick, and with other users that have made note of that, that Peter must have missed the first part of the video. I wish also to clarify one more time, that we are here to help, whenever someone has any questions, or doubts about our published videos, or the violin technique in general.

Prof. Fitzpatrick is our top-notch Professor here, and we should really be honored and respectful to have him sharing his precious thoughts with us.
Tosh * VSM MEMBER * on December 3, 2014 @1:40 pm PST
I've always thought that the type of shift to be used should be determined by the musical effect one is trying to achieve...sometimes the shift should be fast and clean (inaudible), other times the shift should be heard to enhance the phrase, such as a slow downward shift to sound like a sigh (for want of a better word) like a good singer might employ. Another comment I would make is that baroque era music edited by 19th century violinists like Leopold Auer has often been ruined by putting too many unnecessary shifts into the published sheet music (which I suppose could be appropriate in a lot of romantic music, but which ruins the clean lines of baroque music, such as in the Handel sonatas...where staying mostly in the first position, or other position, rather shifting up and down, is what is called for). Would appreciate your views on all this. Thanks.
William on December 15, 2014 @10:46 am PST
Perhaps a video on the history of violin notation would be in order! Its now on the list!
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