Let me begin by saying that I'm an adult beginner (60 years old), learning to play the violin for my own enjoyment -- with no intention of joining an orchestra, becoming a concert performer or getting into highly technical pieces. When I began taking violin lessons (last month), I knew that because of arthritis and some old injuries there might be certain techniques that would be challenging, to say the least. I've already hit a wall.
When my teacher introduced using the 4th finger, I knew it wasn't going to be easy. My hands are small, my 4th finger seems short even in proportion to the size of the rest of my hand, and it's also a bit crooked. When I use my 4th finger, I can't keep the rest of my hand in 1st position -- it just doesn't stretch that far. But I've been trying. How in the world do KIDS do it with their tiny little hands??!!!
Any time my 4th finger is involved, my entire hand goes absolutely rigid. It might as well be carved out of wood. In addition, the tension goes all the way up my arm, and I can feel a muscle spasm in the middle of my chest. I can't even breathe normally while this is going on. And as soon as I can make myself relax (stopping playing), my hand aches severely for several minutes. Yesterday my hand was in such pain that I sat there with tears in my eyes while I waited for it to subside. We're not talking Paganini here, folks -- the pieces I'm working on are little one- and two-line ditties that I imagine your average ten-year-old could rip right through. I've asked my teacher for suggestions on overcoming this tension, but she really hasn't been able to provide any helpful advice.
It's very discouraging to feel so defeated this early in my studies. I know I can get around the problem for a while, simply by using the next open string (e.g., open A string, as opposed to 4th finger on the D string). I also know that this will put anything outside of 1st position out of my reach (figuratively and literally).
I've seen references to a course of study (I can't remember the name right now, but I'll search it later) that addresses relaxation problems. Various folks posting on this board have mentioned there being access to it through YouTube. My problem with this is that we're on dial-up Internet access, and even a clip of a few minutes' duration can take well over an hour to download.
I guess my main question right now is, have any of you found some supposedly simple technique that had you totally bumfuzzled? Were you eventually able to overcome it, or have you had to modify your playing to accommodate not being able to do it?
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