I am playing Ravel’s “Pavane” in orchestra.  It’s slow and  lovely and not terribly difficult.  I’m doing well until I get to the part where we’re playing pizzicato:

Strumming slowly and vibrating the top note.  It’s all working fine until I get to the last chord.  There’s an F sharp and I stop.  I’ve been happily playing by one finger on one note and barring two notes.  It works well when the two notes are in the same place on 2 strings, as in the 4th measure.  I barre the A-E with my one and play the C with my 2.  Now I have to play an F sharp, C and A.  I need to use 3 fingers.  It’s not difficult.  The trick is in the finger choreography.  I have to instruct my fingers, one finger at a time, where it is to go and when.   I have to determine which finger goes first and practice the motion  once I decide on the best and easiest way to get where I want to go.  Once this is done and I’ve practiced the motion many times, it feels natural and comfortable.    I sometimes forget that my fingers aren’t proficient at moving around the fingerboard.  They certainly are not as proficient as my brain.  I mean, I knew what those notes were and where they were on the instrument.  Why didn’t my fingers know too?   They just aren’t that smart and they need to be instructed.  I sometimes expect too much from them.   When they’ve had the choreography shown to them and they get a chance to rehearse, then they have learned and they know what to do.  It all works so well.


2 thoughts on “Finger Choreography

  1. David B Teague says:

    Thank you for your remarks. Always useful.
    I’m learning to do choreograph fingers in the Bach Cello Suite 1.
    The chords are killer on my bass in 5ths. That’s like cello, only bigger, and an octave down. That exacerbates problems the cello has, and anything you tell a cellist to do, if I can reach it without injury, helps here. If I can reach it.

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