Thumb Position: the entire Fingerboard

A definitive thumb position never made sense to me. That is, if I think of it as I assumed it should be thought of, a definite position.

Just as you are taught First, Second, Third, positions, etc. right on up the fingerboard—usually dispensing with a specific numbered position at about 7th—so I thought of thumb position.

It was a silly thing to think of it as one position even though you begin moving the placement of the thumb. In my student-aged defense, I was in the introductory “thumb position” (on D and A harmonics) for a long time as I recall. So, it seemed that, at first, maybe calling it “thumb position”—as in, we will only use the thumb as a note playing finger on these harmonic notes (in that position)—was in line with all the numbered positions already under my belt.

It wasn’t until later that I really took it in and realized that “thumb position” isn’t in one place but rather using the thumb to play notes.

That brings me to Lied ohne Worte, Op. 19 by August Nölck. At the end of the “Song Without Words” there are three measures where playing with the thumb facilitates the clever LEFT-HAND pizzicato. The self-contained accompaniment requires that one of the fingers be free enough to pluck the G-string.

It has been a very long time since I have regularly played with my thumb. Practicing or re-learning its use will be of utmost importance to play this passage in tune, thus in a pleasant manner.

Pleas don’t judge me too harshly. It isn’t easy to get back the facility of the thumb after such a long hiatus.

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