On both sides — heel of hand to heel of viola. If that’s done, it makes the shift much more repeatable. Problem is, I have to keep reminding myself to do it. After three weeknights and two weekend days, I only remembered to feel the shift heel-to-heel early yesterday afternoon. The first shift is going more and more easily as long as I remember to wind up heel-to-heel and drop my thumb a bit. The second shift (2-3 on the A string) is much tougher since it involves moving more “hardware” in the process. It’s tempting to grip the thing with my chin and reposition my hand explicitly, which feels tortured and wrong. It is tortured and wrong. So for now, I’m doing two-octave scales in C, messing idly with the next little Bach piece in Suzuki v1 (the cute one everyone knows, can’t recall the name), and becoming more comfortable with the whole idea of shifting. I need to start just futzing around again, doing improv in something happy and viola-friendly like G major.
The shoulder rest has for the moment been ditched, though. It’s too tall. I like the stability and forward tilt that it gives, but I cannot stand the way it lifts the viola up until it juts into my jaw and then down onto my collarbone. I’m thinking of putting some hardening modeling compound in a ziploc bag and just making one for myself, then sending it off to be scanned and printed at Shapeways, and mounted on what will be the cannibalized bits of my Forte Primo. With 3-d scanning and printing technology, there isn’t a reason not to have customized shoulder and chin rests.
And I’m becoming more and more frustrated at not being able to sit down at the piano and noodle on a composition; the viola is still eating into piano time more than I’d like. I have a wonderful thing in F minor that I’m playing with that is heading in some interesting directions, but too many of them. In order to really sit down and make some sense out of it, I’d have to just do nothing but that for an entire two-day weekend. No viola. Just coffee, tea, and that damn piece. Oh, it’s wonderful. I love the opening, I love the mature, well-developed sound to it, I love the way it gives me nice little motifs waiting to be investigated, seven doors to seven doors. What I don’t love is the time it takes to open all those fucking doors.
I have a strong feeling that I’m going to have to just open them all methodically, write down all the permutations of the motifs, write a couple development bits, and then find a way to stitch together the nice ones into something that evolves well. I also have a strong feeling that I need a first undergraduate text on composition. I wonder what they use in Writing Your Stuff Down 101 at Curtis?