Dreaded Double Stops

My violin lesson was yesterday, and that particular lesson was another case of “two steps back.” I’m of the opinion that maybe if I skipped every other lesson, I would be congratulated and patted on the back always. Of course, I’m a glutton for punishment, so I go every week, and risk being dressed down as a result.

I’ve always had a problem with double stops. (Double stops means striking two or more strings at once with your bow.) I don’t know why. I have an etude book full of them, and I still can’t do them with any skill. I’ve been playing (if you can call it that) my violin for over three years, and you’d think (or my teacher thinks) I’d be able to do at least the simplest double stops.

As a guitar player, I was always able to strike at least three strings at the same time. Heck, they call that “strumming” the guitar. Of course, I couldn’t read music back then and compensated for my lack of sight reading ability by only strumming. Plus, it’s easier to strum with a pick than it is to try to maintain a melodious double stop with a long narrow stick with one end in horsehair.

Now that I can read music, it takes me a while to cypher where my fingers should go on which strings and why. Because of this, I will sometimes pause ever so slightly just before the double stop in order to find my place. Doing this makes for a choppy performance.

If a piece has a passage with double stops, I work almost exclusively on those. I can play single notes just fine. It’s those damned double stops that drive me nutty.

I can’t figure out if I have a psychological aversion to double stops, or if I’m physically unable to do them. My inability could be the result of skinny arms and weak wrists. Or my brain could be working too hard. I tend to over-analyze everything.