January 15, 2011 – Finger patterns

The use of finger patterns to teach string instruments has been very beneficial to string students for a number of years. Recently, I acquired a copy of “Bornorff’s Finger Patterns” for violin. The book was published by Carl Fischer in 1948. Apparently, the book was also available for viola, cello and bass. Bornorff used five finger patterns. I would like to see the cello book to see how they corresponded with finger patterns I have been taught for cello.

I have adapted my own finger patterns for teaching, based on the Bornorff model. Although I don’t use the precise method of teaching the finger patterns in the Bornorff book, I do use finger patterns to help students locate the half step between fingers.These can be used on all strings. Below are listed the patterns for violin and viola. (The ^ symbol indicates a half step between fingers. No symbol indicates a whole step between fingers.)

Finger Pattern 1: 0  1  2^3  4 (Major)

Finger Pattern 2: 0  1^2  3  4 (Minor)

Finger Pattern 3: 0  1  2  3^4 (High 3)

Finger Pattern 4: 0  1  2  3  4 (Whole Tone)

Finger Pattern 5: 0^1  2  3  4 (Lowered pattern 4)

Finger Pattern 6: 0^1  2  3^4 (Lowered pattern 3)

Finger Pattern 7: 0^1  2^3  4 (Lowered pattern 1)

Finger Pattern 8: 0^1^2  3  4 (Lowered Pattern 2)

Once my students are familiar with the idea of finger patterns (and possibly only the first four) , I have them do an exercise I like to call walking. It goes through each finger pattern with quarter notes both up and down to gain finger dexterity.

Walking: 0 1 2 3 | 4 3 2 1 | 0 1 2 3 | 4 3 2 1 | 0 1 2 3 | 4 3 2 1 | 0 1 2 1 | 0 –  0 – ||

Running: The same as walking except tempo is doubled.

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