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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Tunes for teaching shifting

It has been difficult for me to find music for teaching shifting.  When learning how to play in position, students need music that is somewhat simple so they can focus on developing the muscle memory for solid intonation.  I believe many tunes in method books which emphasize shifting are too difficult - requiring the student to think about too many skills at once (bowing, shifting up, then down, then up, fingering, note reading, rhythm).  I still remember when my private teacher told me that I was ready to learn shifting.  She gave me a technique book filled with page-long exercises in every position.  I hated those exercises!  They had no melody, they seemed to go on forever, and they were not fun to play.  I rarely practiced them, so it's amazing that I ever learned any of the positions.

I will be teaching both junior high and high school this year, so I am building up my curriculum for more advanced technique.  I had this tune in my head and I quickly wrote it down - perfect for learning 3rd position (violin, viola, cello) and 1/2 position (bass).  It's just a quick exercise - with a melody - to be played all in one position.  It would make a great warm-up for solid intonation, tone, and expression.  I named this tune 'Woe is Me' - after my own memories of learning 3rd position.  :)

You may download the score and parts free HERE.


  1. Thanks for sharing this! I tried to find the music to use with my 6th grade students, and I was not successful. Do you have another link? I know this is an old post, but I really am looking for new ways to teach shifting as a class.

    1. That piece is included in my shifting booked called ‘Exploring Shifting.’ It’s a great method for teaching shifting in an orchestra classroom. It has great reviews and highly recommended by many on social media. Here’s the link: