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Video 6: The Power of Pull-offs

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If you’ve ever had trouble doing pull-offs, watch this video carefully and try everything it says.

Notice that at 1:46 I  say “keep your hand and elbow from helping out.” But I then correct myself, and say what I really mean: “keep them from taking over.” They can help, in subtle ways, by supporting your finger’s movements and gently moving with them if called for.

Just don’t let them “help,”—-by which I mean “do all the work for your fingers.” It’s like parents doing their kid’s homework for them. Your fingers need to develop independently.

If you try to separate everything you’re doing from everything else you’re doing, you’ll cause more tension than you need, and tension makes things harder than easier. Recognize that your hand, arm, elbow, indeed your entire body, help out in some way even when you’re doing micro movements with your fingers. They might be helping out by staying relatively still and thus supporting minute movements. But they might also be helping out by moving with the fingers slightly. Sense into what works in each case. Work hard to train your fingers move independently within the framework of your hands and body supporting them.

At around 2:26 I begin talking about the difference between using your 1st and 2nd fingers and using your 3rd and 4th fingers. This is an important distinction: I learned this from a hand doctor who was also a virtuoso violinist, and he showed me this principle when I was getting over a case of left hand tendinitis many years ago. It helped tremendously.

The last section of this video is a slur exercise that I call the “swiss-army-knife of slur exercises. It’s a simple pattern that covers all the possibilities of slur patterns between the fingers. It starts at 4:20.