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Drew Lecher

“GPS” –– 5.2 Bow w/LH pinky

May 11, 2008 at 4:21 PM

mini-blog re: PINKY

Does your left hand’s pinky "sound" bad?

You do not need a stronger 4th finger, just watch your bow as it is probably trying to help the little one and in so doing it destroys the tone.

The bow will move away from the bridge to help the pinky as we concentrate on the perfect placement and balance and shape and vibrato and, and, and… the pinky is where to much attention has gone.

Solution: Come nearer to the bridge and…

— careful —

The bow will also likely slow down in assisting pinky.

Solution: …keep the flow of the bow.

Remember the contact variables of the bow hair to the string — the 1) point of contact, 2) speed of bow, 3) weight of bow, 4) amount of hair, 5) string selected and 6) vibrating length of string/position number.

Everything affects everything.

Use your eyes to educate your ears and sense of touch. Discrepancy of tone will be more easily heard and understood when the eyes observe.


1. Higher/nearer.
a. Higher strings are played nearer to the bridge, if all else is kept equal.
b. Higher notes on the same string are nearer to the bridge in bow placement, if all else is kept equal.

2. Lower/further.
a. Lower strings are played further from the bridge, if all else is kept equal.
b. Lower notes on the same string are further from the bridge in bow placement, if all else is kept equal.

To be continued…

Hope this helps —

Author of
Violin Technique: The Manual, How to master…
Viola Technique: The Manual, How to master…

Technique is the tool by which we accomplish the artistic.

From Emily Grossman
Posted on May 12, 2008 at 12:07 AM
That bow tip is so true! I started pointing that out to my students and more than half of the time it was the bow that was making their left hand pinkies sound so bad.
From Anthony Barletta
Posted on May 12, 2008 at 3:59 AM
This topic hit me just at the right moment as I adjust to using thicker gauge strings. Thanks as always!
From Ray Randall
Posted on May 12, 2008 at 8:22 PM
What's the secret of a decent vibrato with the 4th. finger?
Thanks, as always, Drew.
From Tess Z
Posted on May 13, 2008 at 3:39 AM
This makes perfect sense. I have said to my teacher that when I play a note with 4th finger the sound becomes 'shy'. Now I can go to work on fixing this.

Thank you Drew.

From Yixi Zhang
Posted on May 13, 2008 at 4:45 AM
Well, I’ve been known for doing all sorts of shifting to avoid using the pinky to get the sound I want, quite against my teacher’s advice. During today’s lesson, my teacher pointed this out to me again that the sound produced by my pinky was not as bad as I had believed. So I guess the problem is in my head rather than in the finger.

Even though I’m still deeply sceptical, I’m prepared to pretend that my pinky can do all the work other fingers can and see what happens, so long as I am paying special attention on the bowing while using the pinky. Thanks, Drew!

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