Needless to say, in order to teach fifth position, students must have a firm understanding of third position before proceeding to fifth position on the violin. A good shifting mechanism should also be developed prior to shifting to fifth position. (Unless you must remediate a student on these skills, at which time you may be working on a variety of shifting skills in addition to giving the student an understanding of fifth position.)

  1. Shortcut Shifting Exercise – My version of shortcut shifting has a part that works on descending with the first finger to practice shifting back down. (It is a version adapted from Linda Fiore’s Shortcut Shifting. In doing shortcut shifting, I have the student keep the hand shape and drop 2, 3 and 4 on the string in the position. I start students going to fifth position. Usually, this exercise is done all by ear.
  2. G Major Three Octave Scale with the extra notes (Galamian) at the beginning. The fingering I use is:
    0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 -1 2 3 4 1 2 -1 2 3 4 x4 4 3 2 1 -2 1 4 3 2 1 -2 1  4 3 2 1 4 3 2 1 0
    There are some other ways to play this scale, but I find this one pleasing for the use of instruction. When extending the 4 in fifth position, I have the student keep the lower fingers down (since they will be coming back to them) in order to keep the hand shape. When shifting down to third, hand shape should also be considered.
  3. Play a piece with fifth position. There are numerous pieces with fifth position. I like the Rieding Concertino in G Major from the Barbara Barber books.
  4. Play Introducing the Positions (Whistler) exercise number 181 through 200 if necessary.
  5. Read several etudes or pieces with fifth position spots. (I find the etudes that stay in fifth position in the Whistler book are too challenging for student just starting fifth position.)