Even though the violin does not have visible frets, it is still set up as a grid. To the naked eye it is just one black fingerboard but to an experienced violinist it is home to a beautiful systematic web of pitches.
Positions on the violin is a system of knowing where you are on the instrument. First position is the position that is learned first and is where the first finger is closest to the scroll (except for half position but this is learned later in the violin journey and is really a position of convenience.)
Third position is typically the next position to learn and is found by putting the first finger on the third finger’s home.
In the video, below I describe the positions and how to find them on the instrument.
HOW TO FIND THE POSITIONS ON THE VIOLIN?
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS TO LEARNING POSITIONS?
Violin position knowledge and playing experience allows for more effortless playing of difficult pieces. It allows violinists the freedom of expression and exploring different colors and moods of pitches; for example, an “F#” on the E string is very bright and the same “F#” on the A string in third position is much more mellow.
The same goes for an “F#” on the D String in first position sounds nice but the same pitch on the G string played by the third finger in fourth position has a much richer sound.
Position knowledge is an absolute necessity for orchestral playing and upper position knowledge is a MUST for playing first violin section of orchestras.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE LEFT THUMB IN POSITION WORK?
While learning positions it is absolutely imperative that you know where your thumb lives. The thumb has a home in first, second third, fourth and fifth. After fifth it is only very small adjustments but no more moving. After this it is more of a stretching between the thumb and index finger.
Make sure while playing pieces and moving around in your positions that your thumb is truly in its home. Intonation is completely thrown out the window if you are in third position but your thumb is in second. You are basically setting yourself up for some pretty sour notes if your thumb is not in it’s position home.
Typically a violinist learns first position first, then third and fifth positions and finally second, fourth, sixth and seventh positions.
Enjoy getting to know your positions. When studying positions….make sure to get comfy cozy in the position home. Once you feel like you are curled up in a comfy chair with a hot cup of tea in a specific position- then you know the position home.
I would love to hear from you! What is your favorite position and why? What is the next position on your list to learn?
Happy Magical Practices,
STUDY SEVEN POSITIONS IN EIGHT WEEKS!
Seven Position Study on the violin in Eight Weeks with violinist, Heather Broadbent.
LIVE accelerated programme August 1- September 30, 2017.
Traditionally it can take 3 – 5 years to learn what is taught in this programme in 8 weeks.
Program pre-requsitie: Playing knowledge of one position outside of first position.
Program Pre-requisite: Solid playing knowledge in Third position.
Heather is a classically trained concert violinist performing with the Gabrovo Chamber Orchestra in Bulgaria. She received her BM violin performance degree from CU -Boulder, studied with top teachers including Rachel Barton Pine. Ms. Broadbent has held leadership positions with multiple orchestras in the Greater Chicago-Milwaukee area. She has instructed thousands of violinists globally via youtube videos, online Academy, E-Courses, group coaching and one on one intensives. Heather’s students have won multiple awards, concerto competitions, held concertmaster positions in orchestras and even performed in Carnegie Hall. Heather is an advocate of a holistic violin lifestyle – putting one’s mind, body and spirit as a violin journey priority.