I mean, seriously, relative to the other fingers (esp. the third which may even be a bit longer than 'average'), it looks like it's been partially amputated!
Piano was my major instrument from 2nd grade on. I started violin (and viola, which I don't know how I managed) just before college (music ed major) and played for a few years. Eventually, due in great part to pain and physical problems that I *now* realize stemmed from 2 things; first my short 4th finger and then an incorrect chin rest/shoulder rest combination, I eventually gave up.
Fast forward about 16 years, to 2 years ago...I started to play again. At a certain level, the same old physical difficulties arose. I was able to find a *somewhat* more comfortable setup but eventually 4th finger woes caused me to give up.
Now, recently, I've started yet again (I don't learn LOL). I'm determined to go very slowly and make sure I'm *comfortable and *relaxed. Thanks to the advice found on this website I finally got a good shoulder rest (the comfort/comford cradle) and chin rest combination that makes the violin feel secure and comfortable. My posture, even without the instrument, is much better. The difference is nothing short of miraculous. I hope I can find similar solutions to the 4th finger problem
4th finger is still a problem. As it is *disproportionately* short (which is very different from having a small hand), I cannot follow the 'normal' advice of setting up the 4th finger and making the others fit, as that makes my entire hand twisted, cramped, uncomfortable, tense and really painful.
I've begun to realize that all those years with piano, to 'reach' with the pinky while my other fingers remained curved, I flattened it out and curved only at the tip. I continued to do this with the violin. I may even be a bit double jointed on that finger as it 'pops' when I curve it under tension (if that makes sense)
Honestly, physically, with my pinkie curved (like I now know it's 'supposed' to be), the maximum I can reach is 1/2 step above the 3rd finger. I do have my elbow well under the instrument and even give it a bit of "oomph" to move over even further when I have to use my 4th finger. It's just not enough and pushing it even more is painful (and I'm sure would cause joint and tendon problems in other areas). The extra 'nudge' of the elbow over, and flattening my 4th finger with the end joint bent, *just* allows me to play a step above 3rd finger in tune (just).
It's not uncomfortable to play with my 4th finger that way as I have apparently been playing piano and violin that way my whole life.
Comments? Suggestions? ("play open strings" or "give it up"?? LOL)
I'm almost afraid to admit that, as a grad student (in another discipline) I haven't found a teacher this time (I know what you're all going to say because it's exactly what I'd tell someone else) because I feel I can't guarantee that I'll have adequate practice time each week, and I can't afford to pay for lessons that I'm not practicing for. For now, I hope to just be able to work out the physical problems, get comfortable and do some basic stuff until such time as I can find and afford a teacher who is experienced with problems of this type.
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