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My violin teacher makes a very big deal about knowing which position she's playing in and seems to take pride in being able to say which position she's in at any given moment.

Is being aware of which position you're in helpful when it comes to playing in a practical sense? Would it help when improvising to be able to work out fingerings and such on the fly, or is it just a neat trick?

If it is something good to learn, how should I practice position awareness?

  • This seems a bit of an odd question. Certainly you need to know what position you're in, in order to work out how to place a finger to achieve some particular pitch. – leftaroundabout Apr 18 '18 at 22:42
  • @leftaroundabout Actually, I've never needed to know that, because I could hear where I needed to stop the string and use the most convenient finger to do so. It had never occurred to me that I should be constantly aware of what position I'm in. – General Nuisance Apr 19 '18 at 1:08
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    Well, then you did know all along which position you were in, even if you didn't think about what name each position has. – leftaroundabout Apr 19 '18 at 8:05
  • Well, yeah .... you should be playing in groups, not single note-positions – Carl Witthoft Apr 19 '18 at 13:18
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I'm a bass player, not a violinist, but we also have fingering positions.

Is being aware of which position you're in helpful when it comes to playing in a practical sense?

Certainly, because a position includes an entire set of fingerings, which vary according to the position. Depending on the nominal positions, your fingerings changes, so knowing you're in a particular position (assuming you know what that position means in its entirety) tells you how you should be placing and using your fingers for most efficient, effective playing in a particular situation.

how should I practice position awareness?

That's a good question to ask your teacher, who (hopefully) knows far more about the peculiarities of your technique than any of us possibly could. But in general, you need to know the various positions and then pay attention to your fingers when you play and practice and make sure you apply the appropriate fingerings.

When you play through scales, go through the circle of 5ths and play each key in several important positions, especially ones where you are weak. That way you will be sure to be practicing for all the situations you'll encounter in your actual playing.

A rule in all practicing: Focus your practice on your weak points. Practicing the easy stuff makes you feel good, but doesn't help you nearly as much.

I can't give you precise practical advice on the violin, but my bass teacher also gave me fingering exercises to practice, to develop the agility and facility and necessary to play different positions properly. In particular, he gave me exercises that made me use my third finger on my left hand more, instead of always jumping to the pinky when stretching for a note.

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