Any pinkies pointing to the bridge?

October 4, 2016 at 07:48 PM · I often hear complaints of pinkies that curve inward, away from the bridge. I'm wishing I had that problem! I have the opposite. My pinky points very slightly toward the bridge.

This presents great difficulty with 3-4 half steps. Especially 3rd position and up. The other effect is that trying to keep a curved 4th finger on the string causes the side of the first finger to press into the neck! I used to think this was a hand rotation issue (which may be slightly... I don't know...), but on further review, I'm mostly blaming the pinky angle right now.

It seems the only way to play somewhat comfortably is to relax the rotation of the hand so the 3rd and 4th fingers are more parallel and closer together. But this is obviously bad technique and causes other problems (collapsing base joints, straightish fourth finger, etc).

What I'm trying to do is strengthen the muscles that widen out the hand. If I move very slowly and carefully while flexing the muscle on the pinky side of the hand (abductor digiti minimi), I can get that third position 3-4 half step. Still very difficult and too slow to do while actually playing anything. I don't know how much stronger I can make that muscle, as well as the interossei for the 3rd finger, but if those could be stronger and I could keep the base joints spread out with less effort, it feels like that could help my cause.

Just curious how many others deal with this backward pinky angle since I only ever hear of the opposite. What have you done to work with it? Any good ideas for strengthening the interossei and abductor digiti minimi without doing more harm than good?

Replies (9)

October 4, 2016 at 07:54 PM · You don't need muscles to play the violin. It is not a contest for the strongest!

You need total relaxation, otherwise you are f***ed.

Translation f***ed = fooled .. (wink)

October 4, 2016 at 07:55 PM · Don't know why these extra posts keep appearing?

October 5, 2016 at 05:46 PM · The 4th finger is not only shorter and weaker than the others, but also not completely independent from the third finger; they share a tendon. Experiment: place both your second and fourth finger down on a surface and try to raise your third f. This partial immobility is variable and partly genetic. Ideally, your fourth finger should be curved, like the others, moving parallel to the third f. when doing a third f. trill. There are a number etudes that work on the 4th f. trill. Release the 1st and 2nd fingers when using the 4th. ~jq

October 6, 2016 at 12:50 AM · That too, but not as much. :)

October 6, 2016 at 06:02 AM · Exercise for S.L. and experiment Kreutzer etude #9. Keep the 4th finger over the string, where it will strike next. Try it two ways: fingers down as much as possible (actually recommended by some editors!?) and fingers lifted as much as possible. Which is physically easier? Lifting the fingers you are not actually using looks like extra motion, but it is actually a form of relaxation. About 40 % of violinists have this "Lazy Finger Syndrome" ( -"Playing less Hurt"- Janet Horvath, Minn. S.O. cellist)

October 6, 2016 at 05:11 PM · Joel - Lifting is definitely easier! In my case because the third and fourth fingers are easier to use when the first is lifted and therefore not pressed into the neck as much.

October 14, 2016 at 05:27 PM · Somewhat flat, curved will usually not ensure sufficient or consistent contact to play what are called artificial/false harmonics, though this also applies to the natural ones (that use only 1 finger).

October 14, 2016 at 05:31 PM · @Sean: 4th finger taps.

Place 1-2-3-4, half position with 1 on F natural, 2 on C, 3 on G, 4 on D.

Important: Plant 4 first and then the others down, then do slow taps (40 a day). :)

I have the pinky intonation problem because my slightly longer 3rd finger, so I practiced placing my pinky so that it is very slightly overlapping it from the side (think about how you play semitones in about 10th position, but less extreme).

October 15, 2016 at 02:02 PM · Fideli:

Yes, flatter finger for harmonics, and yes vibrato is not as easy or as wide for artificial harmonics, that's what lots of practice is good for. :)

I find that placing both fingers very lightly for harmonics helps with intonation, consistency of production, shifting and vibrato. Instead of a firm 1, just apply slightly more than the feather-light 4th finger, and they magically get easier, and also sound clearer too.

Regarding the finger taps, fingers placed in reverse order, with 4th finger placed on the G string first, then individually place 3,2, and 1.

Then simply slowly tap 4th finger about 40-50 times each day, and your set. :)

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