Curved fingers

Edited: November 28, 2017, 6:03 PM · I just read a thread about the 4th finger. Which joint do you refer to when you are talking about curving it? Is it the proximal interphalangeal joint, or the distal interphalangeal joint, or both(sry about those bio names)?

Replies (7)

November 28, 2017, 6:15 PM · I think this largely depends on your physique. For me, it tends to be the one closest to the fingertip.
November 28, 2017, 7:28 PM · When I am playing in low positions, ideally they are all bent. I cannot always achieve curvature of the outermost joint when playing up high on the fingerboard because I am reaching. Probably I need to ask my teacher to help me with that because it frustrates my vibrato.
November 29, 2017, 6:03 AM · In the highest positions some players (such as myself) find it easier and more comfortable to use the 3rd, or perhaps even the 2nd finger, instead of the 4th, depending on the relative lengths of the player's fingers and the music being played.

@Paul, it's good to see someone using "reaching" instead of "stretching", a word which in my view shouldn't be in a violinist's vocabulary.

November 29, 2017, 6:41 AM · Trevor....why not? Just out of curiosity. I use reaching myself but for communication purposes doesn't it relay the same thing?
November 29, 2017, 7:06 AM · @Jessy, no, not quite the same thing. "Stretching" has an implication that one is trying to get at something that may be at, or possibly just beyond, one's reach, and could involve stretching ligaments or joints to their limit, with the risk of damage, either in the short or long term, something which no musician wants. "Reaching", on the other hand, implies that what is being reached for is within one's limits, with no straining of ligaments or joints.

Similarly, it is better to talk about "supporting" the violin with the left hand and arm, rather than "gripping" which has serious negative connotations involving unwanted tensions.

Edited: November 29, 2017, 10:05 AM · As far as I remember from reading Simon Fischer's book "The Violin Lesson" the most important one to be curved is the proximal one, although normally both should be curved. The distal one should at any rate be flexible when you want to be able to do vibrato. What you absolutely need to avoid is the configuration where the proximal joint is not curved but the distal one is, i.e., you want to avoid exactly the pinky shown on the cover of the book "The orchestral violinist's companion"! Note in contrast the fingers of the second player in the picture, shown a bit fuzzy, who has it right! Simon Fischer discusses this finger posture in his book.
November 29, 2017, 10:15 AM · I also advocate a round hand. Grab a baseball or tennis ball. The thumb is nearer the second finger, the fingers are separated, the knuckles do not bump into each other, and the finger-tips can land closer together for those 1/2 steps. One of my teachers would put little erasers between my fingers while I was playing! The straight finger inhibits vibrato and adjustments of intonation. I also use the third instead of the fourth finger in high positions. It's longer.


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