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What Is Violin Shifting?

Learn about shifting on the violin from musician Julie Artzt Becker in this Howcast video.


So now we'll talk about shifting. It's a very important part of playing. There's shifting everywhere on the violin. First position, second position, third position, fourth position, fifth position, sixth position, seventh position, it goes all the way up.

And this is an example of shifting. So I've shifted all the way up to here. Shifting from first position, shifting to second, third position, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh.

Now there's a good way to shift, because when you're shifting you have to be very careful for it to not sound jerky. There's a great exercise that I give my students using guide notes. Now I just shifted from first position to third position. F sharp first position on the E string to B second finger in third position. To get there though, I shifted on the same finger I was coming from and that's very important to learn. You always want to shift from the finger you're coming from. So first finger shifts slides and then you just put down the next finger in the same position you're going to. So that first finger slid from first position to third position and then I just put the second finger down next to it.

The way I shift is very important. You don't want to shift too heavy because you don't really want to hear shifts. You want it to be very light like ice skating and slow. Now on the way down shifting you have to go again from the note you're coming from. So you're playing a second finger B on E string, you want to play the B and shift down on that second finger. That second finger brings you to G on the E string and then put your F sharp which is what we were going towards. So it goes. So again the whole thing together. And you can do that with all the fingers.

And so that's an example of first finger. And you can do it with all the fingers. Again, you always remember that you want to go from the note and you want to shift on the note you're coming from going up and then you want to shift down from the note you're coming from. And make sure that it's light and slow.

And that's good shifting.

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