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Straight pinky - on my left hand!

Technique and Practicing: Trying to learn how to bend my pinky and keep my fingers close to the strings when playing.

From Laura McKinlay
Posted November 20, 2007 at 05:00 PM

I am having real trouble with my pinky on my left hand. Whenever I play it either moves around far too much, or too far away from the fingerboard, or it doesn't bend whenever it is played itself. Also, the rest of my fingers, particularly my 3rd and 4th tend to move to far away from the strings. My teacher has given me Sevcik to try and fix it but I was wondering if anyone else had any other suggestions on how to break this habit?

From Tom Holzman
Posted on November 20, 2007 at 05:27 PM
Your teacher is in the best position to observe the problem and help you. I would not pretend to offer advice since I cannot see exactly what you are doing wrong. One question is how long you have been playing. A lot of these kinds of problems tend to work themselves out with practice of the kind your teacher is suggesting. One question with the pinky is whether the problem is musculo-skeletal or simply technique. If you are concentrating and not playing too fast, can you get the pinky to behave consistently? If not, you may need to investigate the possible existence of some underlying physical problem.
From Penny B
Posted on November 20, 2007 at 05:52 PM
My teacher is trying to break me of it too... heh but I saw her play last weekend and I saw her pinky up =)
From Christopher Ciampoli
Posted on November 20, 2007 at 08:10 PM
This is yet another result of the inevitable encroachment of tension: the musician's nemesis. Try holding your arm in the position you would to play the violin, but without the violin actually there - WITH YOUR FINGERS COMPLETELY RELAXED. Remember this feeling. This is what a neutral or relaxed state feels like. Always strive for this in between moments of effort. The next step is to regain finger independence, as you've (not purposefully) lost conscious control over tiny muscles by substituting larger muscles to attempt to do the same actions. We have to basically re-pattern some things.

Now I would say to take an exercise which I really like for this: Kreutzer 9. Take it very slowly, and disregard the written bowings for whatever slurs are comfortable at your tempo (probably 4 or 8 to a bow). Remembering that neutral and relaxed state you gained consciousness of earlier, bring your left hand up to the fingerboard. Your fingers should more or less fall over the notes for which they are responsible. You may need to bring your elbow around more or twist your forearm slightly or compensate somehow to position your fourth finger better. What you don't want to do is use muscles in your hand when your not even playing any notes. Begin the etude with ONLY the TINIEST amount of finger pressure you can get away with to have the string touch the fingerboard and a note come out. Be aware of your other fingers and make sure they aren't working when they don't need to!

Only do this no more than 5 minutes at a time, ebcause it requires absolute concentration and attention. You want to regain consciousness of what controls your fingers in order to re-establish a habit of relaxation and precision.

From al ku
Posted on November 20, 2007 at 08:25 PM
this has been my daughter's problem from day one. agree it is a symptom of tension. and oh trust me, she knows about it because we have tried many different things to relax it. nothing seemed to work.

so one day we said, ok, lets try something else called finding pinkie's best friend. when you are not using the pinkie, let the pinkie touch the side of the ring finger, so the 2 buddies always hang! within one week, that problem improved so now we are ready to tackle the other 999 problems:)

somehow for many people, our physiology has no respect for intellectual rationalization. often, it only makes sense afterwards, looking back...


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