YOST SHIFTING EXERCISES
The wonderful violinist and pedagogue May Lou Speaker Churchill, for many years Principal Second of the Boston Symphony, included in her student packet an abbreviated version of Gaylord Yost’s shifting exercises. I often assign this as a summer project, or when a violinist does not seem to know where he is on the violin. I have included charts so that you can conveniently check off the positions and keys which you have practiced — it is easy to forget which ones you have already done! I have the following suggestions:
Say the names of the positions, both the one in which you are starting and the one to which you are shifting.
Stay in one key and keep your finger patterns either hovering above the string or on the string, changing the pattern at the instant of the shift. For extra learning, say the names of the finger patterns before you place them.
Use the key of your current concerto.
If you know you are insecure in a certain area such as fifth through tenth position, work this area first.
If you are having trouble with a shift in one of your pieces, do the exercise with that particular pair of positions and in that particular key. Say the names of the positions!
Remember that in shifting, releasing the finger you are leaving is as important as knowing the distance you are going to travel. If you are shifting from first finger to third finger, for example, the first finger should release to harmonic level, barely touching the top of the string, before you begin moving, and it should not squeeze down into the string again ever — even though it will arrive in the new position, it will not be pressing, because you are shifting to the third finger!