Right hand positions

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NutmegCT
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Right hand positions

Post by NutmegCT » Tue Jul 03, 2018 2:23 pm

While I continue my (slow and uncomfortable) recovery from surgery, I've been watching various zither videos.

Take a look at the right hand positions of these zitherists -

https://youtu.be/urr-q4w1jPU

https://youtu.be/04QV0Xi5YTk

https://youtu.be/acsnaLCTPSk

Mr. Vensler keeps his right hand very closed, fingers close together, almost stationary over the strings, with little hand movement. But Mr. Wimmer has a "wide open" hand position, with fingers more "active" than Mr. Vensler. Seems the Kershbam guys also use a "closed hand" technique. (I sure admire zitherists who play beautifully while looking at the camera, and not the strings!)

We all struggle with learning the mechanics, based on method books, personal advice, etc. These zitherists play beautifully, yet use different technique.

Your thoughts?

Tom M.

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Re: Right hand positions

Post by Musicmaker » Wed Jul 04, 2018 6:55 pm

Heres my take on it.
I think if we look at all Zither players, they will all have the same general right hand approach but all will vary slightly.
I think this has to do with feeling comfortable with their hand positioning.
Some play the bass string with both 4th and 5th fingers.
Some use just one.
Ilse Harris curls her 5th finger right back out of tge way.
I personally find this impossible to do but she finds it comfortable.
Some have a light touch, some heavy.
I am too heavy and am trying to be lighter with the accompaniament.
Re ...not looking at what you are doing.
To be able to do this, several years of practise must be under their belts.
To accomplish what I call autopilot with the right hand I often close my eyes and play a waltz right hand only with my eyes shut.
Then alternate from C to G chords without looking.
My right hand is in line with the middle of my body.
The further to the right you go, the more difficult it becomes.
I see by your posts Tom that you are very concerned with the right hand.
In this case, I would forget the left hand entirely for at least two weeks or so and get used to the right hand till it does it naturally.
As said, try closing your eyes and pretending you are blind and FEEL the strings.
Hope this helps.
Only my view on it though right or wrong.
I do not get upset when proved wrong, I just learn by it.
Pete

Rudy Mueller
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Re: Right hand positions

Post by Rudy Mueller » Thu Jul 05, 2018 7:28 am

I'll second that, Thanks Pete.

kenbloom
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Re: Right hand positions

Post by kenbloom » Thu Jul 05, 2018 9:06 am

I try to do what seems logical. I try to move my fingers and not the whole hand as that seems to promote stability. I've noticed that players getting a better sound than me keep their wrist higher than I was. That seems to work. Because I move my thumb in two directions, I keep it in line with the fingerboard strings. I do have long fingers and basically align my ring finger for bass notes and the little finger for contrabass but not always. Following the fingerings in Hintermeyer I will use whatever fingers I have to for playing scales on the contra and bass strings using the idea of alternating fingers as much as is practical. After considering thewer basic guidelines, I just have to practice the Hell out of it until the hand does it naturally. I think the advice of Musashi in the Go Rin No sho is applicable here............practice often. Just my 2p.

Ken Bloom
http://www.boweddulcimer.org

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Re: Right hand positions

Post by Musicmaker » Fri Jul 06, 2018 12:46 am

Sorry to keep appearing again and again but Tom,
I have been thinking about you and your right hand problems.
What I have to say here is only a suggestion that may make your right hand ( and left ) easier to play with therefore easier to hit the notes.
In a nut shell...Are you still standing up to play?
I notice in your May 18 vid that you are standing and your right fore arm is pointing down at quite an angle.
I have therefore experimented with different Zither heights.
I have found that by placing the Zither on a normal dining table and standing up to play is VERY straining on the right hand. Not a problem with the left as it operates at a different angle.
I then added an extra 3" to my zither table by placing a box on it and then my zither.
Wow...I found it a lot easier to play.
It was one of my first questions here on the forum
What height table are you using?
One Zither book mentions a table height of 28".
Most thought this too high .
Mine is about 25".
I will experiment more for my own individual comfort.
I think what I am trying to say is that the fore arms should be parallel to the ground and that should bring the Zither to correct height.
Here's a pic of Anton Karas playing and he was pretty good at it !! !
Note how his fore arms are parallel to the ground.
Sorry it will not work.
Go to google. Zither players. Anton Karas and you should come across what i mean.
He is wearing a white Cravat. It is a perfect shot of correct position.
Hope this helps.
Pete

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Re: Right hand positions

Post by Musicmaker » Fri Jul 06, 2018 2:14 am

Kings Keyes say table height of 27".
I have put some 2" planks under my table feet .
It is a lot easier for me to play.
The Zither is closer to me and It now feels more a part of me.
It is all personal preference but I am an experimenter and will not rule things out till I have tried them.
27" was a height given for good reason.
I will try it out for a few months and let you know.
It does bring my fore arms parallel to the ground which makes good sense to me.
https://flic.kr/p/27u9KM8
Pete

NutmegCT
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Re: Right hand positions

Post by NutmegCT » Fri Jul 06, 2018 8:51 am

Pete - as always, thanks very much for your detailed reply. I think you and I both wish we had more detailed replies from the 100+ forum members!

You're right, I do stand to play. I could make/find a zither table, but it seems that arm positions relative to the zither don't exactly follow a standard.

If you look at Karas, you see his arms are pretty much parallel to the floor, but not resting on anything.

Image

Dieter Vensler, arms not parallel to floor, elbows slightly lower than zither.

Image

Kershbam, similar to Vensler.

Image

Alfons Wimmer, left arm higher, right arm lower.

Image

I think I'll give it a go with using a table, and changing my chair height so arms are lower than I hold them now. (Sitting is problematic for me now, recovering from hernia surgery. Ouch.)

Onward through the fog!
Tom M.

Musicmaker
Posts: 148
Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2018 9:32 pm

Re: Right hand positions

Post by Musicmaker » Fri Jul 06, 2018 6:46 pm

Hi Tom.
I cannot really answer for anyone else not taking part. They are probably very busy practicing whilst you and I write books on how to play a ziher ha ha.
Yes..some arms are lower than parallel and thats a comfort issue.
My point was that if it gets higher than this it gets harder to play.
If you experiment to extremes you will see what I mean.
I sympathise with you after having had surgery. Not nice and very uncomfortable.
I did actually wonder if there was a reason for you to stand rather than sit.
If it is unbearable to sit then try making up a simple plywood box big enough to sit your Zither on and place that on the surface you are already using. Try a 27" height and experiment.
If you make it so it has four square sectioned legs that screw on, you could then make up a few different heights of leg and experiment.
The whole nine yards will also act as a resonator to your Zither.
Most of all.....enjoy every minute of the journey.
Pete

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