Today, I watched Fiddlehed’s lesson called Little Lift. As Jason put it, this is a little lesson on a big technique. Most beginners lift their fingers too high off the strings and press too hard on the strings. Neither is necessary. This lesson is a meditative practice lesson to help play more easefully, more accurately and faster by not lifting too high or pressing too hard.
Without the bow, he had me practice just putting down each finger, one at a time, lifting each one slightly before going to the next, all the while keeping my other fingers just slightly above the string. He also had me concentrate on pressing gently.
I definitely have been violating both these “rules”, and I began to notice as I concentrated on raising each finger ever so slightly, there was a corresponding improvement on placing each finger more gently. That makes sense to me. Up until now, I was raising my fingers higher. I imagine in the “rush” to place them down again, I was pressing too hard.
Next, he had me practice doing the same, but this time, still without using the bow, plucking the strings. Finally, I was instructed to try it with the bow.
I have to admit old habits die slowly, and on top of that I tend not to be a very gentle person when it comes to moving my body around! I do everything intensely. It is just a part of who I am and breaking it means undoing 63 years of habit. (You should see how long it took me to brush my teeth gently, and I still slip back.) Jason did advise not to spend a lot of time each day trying to perfect this, but to concentrate a little part of each practice to this Little Lift exercise and eventually it will rub off. Practice!
Watching is probably better than me explaining, so here is Jason’s lesson.
I watched this video three times. The first time, as I always do, I just watched without my fiddle to absorb the subject matter. On the other two viewings, I practiced along. Then, I spent a few minutes afterwards practicing Little Lift on my own.
Next, I played a couple of simple songs I know using this technique. I not only noticed the fingering was easier, but the sound was better than usual. I think that may have been because, concentrating on a “gentle” left hand actually transferred to my right hand as well, and my bowing wasn’t as intense as it usually is. I actually liked how the two tunes sounded, and got a comment from the peanut gallery in the other room saying that was the best they ever heard me play those two tunes!
One other big thing I noticed was the general tension that I so often experience in my shoulders wasn’t there. Hey, Fiddlehed may just be on to something! ROFL