- To assist beginning violists with correct finger placement, some viola teachers use thin strips of colored tape (e.g. 1/8" graphic chart tape or pinstripe auto detailing tape) to mark where students should place their fingers on the viola fingerboard. Other varieties of tapes used include commercial musical instrument tape; circle sticker dots; or masking, painting, vinyl or electrical tape (cut to the desired thickness). Once beginners know where to place their fingers, the tape is removed. If a sticky residue is left, an instrument cleaner may be used to clean the fingerboard. If the residue is difficult to remove, isopropyl alcohol can be used to clean the fingerboard (do not let the alcohol touch the instrument varnish or it can cause significant damage).
- The tape is typically used to mark a regular 1st finger (such as the note B on the A string), high 2nd finger (e.g. C# on the A string), third finger (e.g. the note D on the A string), and 4th finger (e.g. the note E on the A string).
- Rather than use precise measurements to place fingering tape, it's best to place the tape by ear (after placing each piece of tape, press your finger down on the tape and listen carefully to determine whether or not the note sounds in tune). This is due to the fact that variations in the width and shape of each person's finger may affect where each tape should be placed. It's also important to remember that although fingering tape can provide beginners with an approximate location of where they should place their fingers, playing in tune requires the violist to listen carefully to make sure they are playing the correct pitch. Fingering tape should be used as a temporary aid, not as a long term solution.
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