7/8 violin versus 4/4?
I am an adult female beginner that has been playing about 6 months. I have a full size rental, Eastman 305. I am average in stature, 5’6”, but I have very small hands and can sometimes get away with wearing a Large in children’s gloves. I am struggling with playing the fourth finger notes flat and my instructor took a look at my hands and said I might have to consider going down to a 7/8 violin. I would like to try to play the 4/4, but I am wondering the pros/cons of the choice and if there is anything I should try before I move down. Long term, I would like to buy a good quality violin and wondering if there are better brands to look at if I end up considering a fractional sized violin. I am reading the 3/4 pro violin thread with some interest.
You should make sure that your left hand is properly placed. I think most of the time when beginners have 4th finger issues, their hand placement is wrong. Center the weight of the hand on the 2nd finger, with the thumb placed closer to the 2nd than to the 1st finger.
I agree with Lydia. Also consider a 4/4 violin with small dimensions.
I guess there are 2 things to consider, with a common denominator: motivation
Thank you. This is all wonderful feedback. I really appreciate it. I think I am going to try the hand position and then work my way through the other suggestions. We have been working through Doflein, but we really don't spend that much time on the left hand position.
Some famous pedagogue once said that "the purpose of left hand position is to reach the notes."
Another way to think about LH-position is to first place the fourth finger as you would like it to be and then stretch down with the first finger. This is easier in most situations than to stretch the fourth finger upwards.
I have been following this post for a while, and I just finally have to speak up, because I simply don't understand why people suggest placing the thumb between the first and the second fingers in order to "stretch" the palm and fingers.
'I simply don't understand why people suggest placing the thumb between the first and the second fingers in order to "stretch" the palm and fingers.' (Y Cheng)
OK, Stefan, your explanation is different from "thumb being closer to the 2nd finger." Physically, the first finger stretching back is different than placing the thumb closer to the 2nd finger. I can see how that works, and actually, it does not require a strain in the base of the thumb, which causes tension in the whole hand and knuckles.
I have often wondered about the phenomenon of thumb position affecting 4th finger reach. In addition to what Stefan suggested, I wonder if moving the thumb forward helps to slacken the ligaments that extend across the hand in a transverse fashion, thereby freeing up a little extra reach for the 4th finger?
My teacher phrases the physical placement of the Russian school as this: The hands are based on two circles, made with the thumb and 2nd finger, on both hands. Relaxed in both cases.
Lydia, when my hands are quite relaxed, and I'm touching the fingers with my thumb, it's either between first and second or close to first. Aligning thumb to second is not, at least for me, the most relaxed position.
I think you'll find that there may be ways to manage with a bigger instrument but my experience also makes me want to suggest taking your teacher's advice with more weight than ours, as he or she has actually seen you play.
Wouldnt this alligning the thumb to first or second finger depend entirely on ones handshape? When I realax my hand completely and then raise it my thumb wants to touch the second finger, not the first.
I agree that optimal thumb placement differs from person to person. Maybe one shouldn't over-analyze it. If the fingers are positioned comfortably in a way that they produce the desired sound the thumb will usually find it's place. Sometime's it also helps to simply wiggle it back and forth a bit to see where it feels best.
A 7/8 or "lady's violin" or just more petite full-size model is a boon to smaller players. (I have long wanted a smaller violin, but have never found a satisfactory one at a non-insane price.)