Another Tumblr blogger reached out to me recently with the following message:
Hi Elaine… I would love to discuss practice techniques & the various complexities that you have found, learning, in your personal practice sessions. What do you enjoy most about the violin? Which position do you find more difficult, fifth position or second position, and why?
Well when people want to get into this subject, I usually steer them to the book, Basics by Simon Fischer, Edition Peters, 300 exercises and practice routines for the violin. He covers everything, believe me! And it is a big subject, for sure!
What do I enjoy most?
Well, I would say, making beautiful music, also playing with other people.
Fifth position or second position, which is more difficult? Fifth position is of course, the same fingering as first position, but over a string and up the finger board to where the hand can get caught on the violin box (it actually doesn’t need to if we are willing to stay free). Second position is not difficult either. It has just been largely neglected in some circles and therefore it tends to be unfamiliar. In the European system, one learns all the two octave scales using all four strings, staying in one position for each scale. If we realize that we are only playing by ear and not aware of what notes are being played, we can play and name the notes as we go. This is a great exercise for learning key signatures!
Shinichi Suzuki basically uses this system in his book Position Etudes. He gives exercises for getting to the position and then the student plays Perpetual Motion in each position, in each key possible. I have the student do the two octave scales at the same time so they get playing the scale while naming the notes, exercises to get to the position, and playing a familiar melody in each position to get used to the feel of the position. I don’t find second position more difficult than other positions.
Thanks for your questions.