WHAT IS SHIFTING?
The violin fingerboard is setup as a grid and the moving of the left hand from one position to another is what is known as “shifting.”
Never underestimate the importance of shifting and shifting properly. Shifting to higher positions without knowledge or a good foundation can set you up for catastrophic failure and inconsistent intonation.
Below are some Tips for shifting to improve your shifting journey.
USE A TISSUE
In some cases, When I introduce shifting to a student I use a tissue. This helps the student have a feeling of polishing the strings with the finger when moving up and down the instrument and encourages a relaxed feeling.
Do not strangle the instrument. It is Impossible to shift with tension. The tension is actually creating friction on the instrument making it difficult to shift smoothly. If you find this happening use a tissue and investigate your thumb. Is your thumb gripping the instrument? If so practice shifting without the thumb and then slowly bring him back into the picture. When you feel tension in your thumb do what I call the thumb dance. Take your thumb away from the instrument and wiggle it around.
Start from shifting 1st position to 3rd position – easy enough exercise. Play B and D on the A string in first Position. Really listen to the Pitch D, hear it in your head and then shift from B to D with first finger.
Have the Arm hand and fingers work as a team. Don’t just shift up with the finger and leave everyone else behind. It is all about teamwork.
Keep an Eye on that Left Elbow – Let your elbow help you maneuver around to the higher positions (to 5th Position and above). Bring it under the instrument to have easier access to higher positions.
Always HEAR the new pitch in your head before shifting to it. You will seriously be surprised at how quickly this improves your intonation accuracy in shifting.
Practice Shifting down the instrument as much as up. So much time is spent on shifting up. Have you ever started from seventh position and practice shifting down? When practicing shifting don’t neglect the downshifts.
When isolating shifting in piece work make sure to practice the shifts fast. This is a different and difficult concept but just because the piece may be slow you still need to get to the new position just as cleanly without slides in most cases so the shift needs to be practiced fast.