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Galamian notes that the left hand is concerned with the fingering of notes

and the vibrato. The posture of the body and left hand varies depending on the

size of the player, and the most important feature is the absence of tension.

Galamian discusses the use of modern fingerings that are superior to traditional

fingerings. The modern violin chromatic fingering use fingers 1-2-3 or 1-2-3-4 in

sequence before shifting. The traditional pattern is 1-2, 1-2. The new kind of

fingering system is referred to as “creeping” (Galamian, 1985, pp. 32-33).

Creeping uses the half-step shift with little or no movement of the thumb. This

style of finger pattern allows for smoother phrasing in chromatic passages. The

left hand can extend and contract into the new framework. “The hand follows

[sic] the finger into the new position by a caterpillar-like crawling motion of

adjustment” (Galamian, 1985, p. 34).

Most of Galmian’s teaching is geared toward advanced players, but the

ideas are applicable to any level of student studying a stringed instrument. His left

hand shifting ideas are only a part of the legacy that he left to string teachers.

Kato Havas

Kato Havas was born in Hungary, and she began playing the violin at the

age of five. By seven, she had given her first public recital, and at age seventeen,

she made her Carnegie Hall debut (Havas, 1961). Her philosophy of violin

playing is based on “an approach that eliminates physical disturbances and makes

it possible for the mind to have full reign over the music” (Havas, 1961, p. 2).

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Havas’s method is based on balance. She sees this balance as an

“elimination, through finding the exact balance, of all conscious muscular action,

so that the mind can be freed from the impossible task of concentrating on two or

more things at once” (Havas, 1961, p. 2).

When talking about the development of the left hand, Havas says that the

left forearm should be suspended as straight as possible under the violin. She does

not advocate a forward rotation of the elbow because of the tension that is created

by such a motion. The neck of the violin falls into the space between the thumb

and index finger. Because of this position, the thumb assumes a higher position

(Havas, 1961).

When placing the left hand on the string, Havas says that the base

knuckles should be tilted toward the scroll. The weight from the base knuckles is

responsible for making the notes (Havas, 1961, p. 32). When considering shifting,

Havas says, “just before shifting, the feeling of weight in the base knuckles is

exaggerated” (p. 39). By exaggerating the weight prior to the shift, the hand

springs to next position when the weight was released.

Samuel Applebaum

Samuel Applebaum studied with Leopold Auer at the Julliard School of

Music, and in 1956, he joined the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music. He is

known primarily for his numerous publications on string teaching.

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