Is there hope for my bent fourth finger?

Edited: August 19, 2017, 9:35 PM · I've been playing the violin for some time now, and I've managed okay without having extensive lessons and private tutoring. However, I've always had an issue with my fourth finger. I physically cannot reach a full step. I've sort of adapted a mini shift when I know I'm going to use my fourth finger. Vibrato is another can of worms with this, as my whole hand has to accommodate for my finger's curvature.

Let me explain, I have a very bent pinky. Apparently it's called clinodactyly. My hands aren't that small, but they're apparently smaller than most females who are 5'6 and have compared hand sizes with me in the past. Yet, all of my fingers are quite slender, but I do have a smaller palm. Yet, my pinky curves inward pretty drastically, enough so that even when reaching, my finger cannot move up the fingerboard anymore unless being held in place by an outside force. For that reason, if I wanted to have any hope of using my fourth finger without shifting a bit I would have to throw my entire left hand positioning out the window which is far more trouble (technique and pain wise) than just shifting to use my fourth finger when I'm in first or second position. This issue is pretty nonexistent in higher positions because the notes are closer together so I don't struggle at all.

I had lessons as a beginner and I've been playing for six years now, but when I was using my fourth finger with my tutors I was never told anything. (Maybe they were just inexperienced with this and how to approach it, or they figured they would wait until I was more comfortable on the violin to change it)

I'm curious to know if others have had this issue and solved it, and/or if there are any solutions for this that I'm unaware of, aside from pinky reconstructive surgery!

Replies (2)

August 20, 2017, 3:51 AM · I have a student with the same problem.

- As background work, we do stretches at the knuckle level.
- For the "mini-shifts" we can sometimes keep the tip of the third finger on the string, and "rock" the hand rather than slide it (I do this often on my viola.)
- In real pieces, I am teaching her shifting earlier than usual, so we can use a stronger finger for the higher notes, with better vibrato.

Remember, Fourth Finger Rules!

August 20, 2017, 8:00 AM · Depends on the curve or the oddity. Frank Peter Zimmermann has an uncommon 4th finger but he managed

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