Do you play with a curved fourth finger? Does it really matter that much?
For the professionals and advanced players out there:
- Do you play with a curved fourth finger as opposed to a flatter one or a locked one? If you do, did it come naturally to you or did you have to work to get it? If you don't, how much do you think it affects your playing?
I've heard a lot about the importance of a curved fourth finger, but I've also heard of people who don't have one and manage just fine.
- Is this really something every hand is capable of?
- What aspects of technique are harder/not possible for someone without a curved fourth finger?
My 4 is curved. As a kid I didn't have to work on it besides being constantly reminded by my Suzuki teacher! As I got older, it started straightening imperceptibly and finally at about age 22 I had to work on it again. Then again at age 35...
I think this depends partly on physique. My pinky is partially curved when playing, generally speaking. When I say partially curved, I'm saying that the joint closest to the tip is almost always curved while the joint closest to the palm is only occasionally curved.
If I understand the question right, it refers to normal placement on the fingerboard in typical use. And if that IS the question, then, yes, mine is curved to a certain extent, if somewhat less than the others. Perhaps someone with a really short 4th finger would have trouble with this.
I think it depends on physique, too. If you have a short fourth finger, and you can't play a whole step without making it straight, you just play that way. Think of all the poor violists without a huge hand span who have had to suffer because someone insisted that they curve their fourth fingers while playing a 16+inch instrument. It's baloney.
I got the bad luck of a really short fourth finger. I worked a lot on getting it curved, but there are positions where I dont have any chance but making it flat. Luckily for double stops my index finger is quite flexible, so I can still manage those big ones.
Fourth finger rules! To be flexible for vibrato, and to make extensions without provoking Violin Elbow, it should probably stay curved. The othe fingers should make way for it.
I play with a curved 4th finger. It is the natural shape for the hand to grip a handle. A curved finger (any finger) helps a lot with vibrato.
Nathan, I haven't actually tried the tissue trick yet, but I watched your video and I've been thinking about it while playing, and trying to keep my 4th finger curved. That in itself seems to be helping my 4th finger become more effective, and even get a bit of vibrato. Thanks for the tip!
Curved 4th finger is a must. Every hand can accomplish this as it is not about physiology but technique. Turn the palm towards the violin and bring the elbow forward. Job done.
Barring physical anomalies, the ways I can imagined someone's pinky being flat all involve very poor left hand position.
For me, the knuckle collapses no matter what I do. I have tried everything, and I physiologically cannot make it different. I get by anyway.
I try pretty hard to play with a curved 4th finger, but sometimes it just doesn't happen when reaching. Part of the fun of having your 4th finger be barely over half as long as your 3rd (ignoring knuckle slant) :)
I've always found that if I'm having trouble with my 4th finger, it's because I'm not bringing my elbow around far enough underneath the instrument, so as to keep my hand at a good angle with all four knuckles reasonably close to the neck. Playing scales in front of a mirror may be helpful.
So am i weird for playing tenths in first position?
I read and re-read the original post. There is no mention, nor even a clue, as to which 4th finger the OP is referring.
Scott, you've hit the nail on the head. The original post is indeed ambiguous as to which hand the 4th finger of which is under discussion. Possibly, with subconscious reading between the lines the understanding may be that the OP was talking about the 4th finger of the left hand. Or am I being influenced by the other posters who have read it that way?
I am a violin dummy and I am so happy to learn that a fourth left finger should be naturally curved.
When he talks about a straight 4th finger, he's talking about the shape of your hand; he's saying that if you're born with a longer pinky that is straight up and down, not curved in, it's easier to play. When people in this thread talk about a straight 4th finger, they're talking about having the joint flattened out when you place it on the string, not about the natural shape of the hand.
What Raphael said about having your elbow well under rings true. Unfortunately this itself can be difficult for the adult beginner. I'm a returner and that's one of the things I had to work hardest to get back.
Eh it wouldn't have been referred to as a "4th finger" if it was the bow hand. Would have been the "pinky".
Right. On the bow hand there is absolutly no way to play a flat fourth finger!
Nathan Cole's YouTube video on finger strengthening exercises is fantastic. I've added the rolled up tissue one to my daily routine (I was already doing the rest through Simon Fischer's Warming Up book), and it's been literally transformative. My hand looks like a professional violinist's now after so many previous years of mediocrity, and I can now play much faster and more accurately AND with less tension (really none now, I'm so liberated). I can't recommend taking his advise enough.
Straight pinky is okay so long as you know how to compensate elsewhere. Locked is okay so long as you're able to unlock at will. (For both hands, reversibility is more important than how it looks from the outside.)
My 4th finger is too short to curve much , both in absolute terms and even more relative to my other fingers. I move my wrist a lot anyway - to get my fingers down at angles that feel good : to always curve my particular 4 th finger would require ridiculous amounts of movement in my wrist and elbow for even quite simple passages.
This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.