Printer-friendly version weekend vote: Do you have long fingers, medium or short?

The Weekend Vote

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Published: April 4, 2014 at 9:14 PM [UTC]

There were a number of jealous responses to this picture of Menuhin Competition winner Stephen Waarts:

Stephen Waarts

"Look at those long fingers!"

It's true, certain things (like 10ths, possibly creating variety in vibrato) are likely easier, with longer fingers. But finger length does not matter as much on violin as it does, say, on the piano, where, if you can't reach an interval, you can't reach an interval. At least we have various-sized violins. Those with very small hands can use a 3/4 or a 7/8 violin if needed, and of course children can learn on fractional instruments.

How about you, are your fingers long, medium or small?

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on April 4, 2014 at 9:53 PM
actually there are disadvantages to having both very long or short fingers. The more important factor is the width across the hand. Look at Kogans for example. His awesome technique is rooted in that phenomenal breadth although his fingers are in no way extreme.
The great English violinist Hugh Bean once remarked about Heifetz that one of the vital factors in his technique was how completely ordinary his hands were. Nothing extreme at all.
From elise stanley
Posted on April 4, 2014 at 10:13 PM
I was going to say that finger-length, as for beauty, are in the eye of the beholder. A tall person might think their fingers are short - but they would be as long as, well, an Aye-aye. And vice-versa of course. Thus, it would be interesting to actually measure finger length.

I say 'was' because Buri changed the game twice: hand width (see also Perlman) being key and then our acme-player himself has ordinary hands. Say-it-ain't-so - he MUST have had some superhuman physical advantage..

From Anne Horvath
Posted on April 4, 2014 at 10:31 PM
1, 2, & 3 = Long :-)

4 = Short :-(

From Yinmui Chan
Posted on April 4, 2014 at 10:34 PM
I won't say I have short fingers, but I have short arms.

Posted on April 5, 2014 at 12:57 AM
I voted Medium, although I'm kind of in between medium and long. Certainly not as long as Waarts' though!

My fingers are weird. They are bent at the joints. It has never significantly affected my playing, but it's kind of funny looking.

Posted on April 5, 2014 at 3:12 AM
I have a very short pinky, which causes me to have trouble playing fourth finger notes.??
From Trevor Jennings
Posted on April 5, 2014 at 3:03 PM
I agree with Stephen and Elise. Hand width is more important than finger length on its own. I have fingers of very average length, but fairly wide. However, my hand is what is known as "square" - the width is equal to the length. Just as important is flexibility, which derives from relaxation. As a result, I can reach the G in alt on the Eing at literally the very end of the fingerboard comfortably with my 3rd finger without unseemly arm contortions, although my fourth finger (pinky) is really too short for the job. That G in alt came at the end of a symphonic tone poem by a local composer which we performed a couple of weeks ago.
From Patrick Tinney
Posted on April 5, 2014 at 4:32 PM
I selected medium and that is probably correct. My problem is my fingers a large, or I would say almost fat. My teacher always tells me that "well it doesn't hurt Perlman but you need to be aware of them".

This is most noticeable on my daily scale exercises. My rhythm / bowing set uses a three octave scale and I try to leave the fingers down.

I notices mainly that when I lift the pinky I have to slide the third up a little to be in tune, so I am obviously moving it out of the way when I place the pinky. Third and second also have this issue higher up the fingerboard.

From Robert Knihnicki
Posted on April 6, 2014 at 5:51 AM
Wonder how Paganini might have responded?
From Jinho Kang
Posted on April 6, 2014 at 11:34 AM
LOL There should be a separate category: short, medium, long, paganini!!!

So how would you define long fingers? I can easily reach a tenth and more if I try, and I had no trouble with the ascending tenth scale on the bruch concerto. So does that mean I have long fingers?

From Corwin Slack
Posted on April 7, 2014 at 4:29 AM
I have a friend who is a virtuoso at the highest level. He has exceptionally long fingers and no doubt this is an advantage but he says that it isn't without its problems.

He surmounts them quite well.

Posted on April 7, 2014 at 4:39 AM
My teacher told me it wasn't the length of the fingers that was important but rather the width of the hand. Think of all the past excellent-playing short and wide eastern European violinists.
From Paul Deck
Posted on April 7, 2014 at 7:25 PM
Corwin, those Illenyis are such a musical and beautiful family, all of them! Thanks for sharing that.
From Charlie Gibbs
Posted on April 8, 2014 at 6:21 PM
I remember my surprise when a friend's violin teacher held up her left hand and I saw how short her pinky is. It doesn't seem to slow her down any, though.

As for me, I'm glad I have long fingers; it makes those octaves on my viola much easier.

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