Do double jointed hands affect your playing?

April 18, 2012 at 04:17 PM · Do double jointed hands affect your playing? Anyone out there that's professional and double jointed? I really want to know if this affects your playing because I am very double jointed. Most of the time all professional violinists aren't so I'm worried. Is there anyone out there with double jointed hands that is a professional?

Replies (21)

April 18, 2012 at 04:33 PM · First of all, do you ever have pain in any of your joints? Have you been checked out by a medical professional for a connective tissue disorder? Just throwing that out there because being double-jointed was the first symptom that tipped me off that I had Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

With that out of the way... I'm ridiculously double jointed thanks to the EDS, and over the last ten years or so of playing the joints in my left fingers have gotten even looser. Cons: double-stopped fifths, higher positions especially on the G and E strings, having to use the stronger third finger instead of the weaker flimsier fourth. Pros: Completely effortless finger vibrato, and it's taught me in general to be more aware of my body while playing. So basically, imho, a wash.

I play semi-professionally. If my health had been better and I had gotten first-rate training from an early age, I have faith I could have been a professional performing musician. I don't see why it should affect your career if all you have is double-jointedness, as opposed to an illness causing the double-jointedness.

I also know several professional violinists and violists who have my connective tissue disorder and are double-jointed, so...

And Paganini, the best violinist ever? He was double-jointed.

So I think with the proper instruction you'll be fine.

April 18, 2012 at 04:37 PM · Paganini was double jointed? Wow! I feel better now hehe . No my double joints don't hurt at all except on the fourth fingers they kinda squish but they're in tune. Thanks!

April 18, 2012 at 04:37 PM ·

April 18, 2012 at 04:38 PM · Oops double post

April 19, 2012 at 12:16 AM ·

April 19, 2012 at 01:09 AM · I saw the article now. Wow it's really interesting! I never thought he was a gambler. Thanks for telling me! Now I feel so motivated to practice. :) *takes out violin and starts playing*

April 19, 2012 at 09:24 AM · Angelica,

I have taught (or perhaps "guided"?) a highly gifted, willful, delightful, and double-jointed young lady, who I will call Abbey.

Abbey has very quick reflexes, but her finger-tips can bend back at a near right-angle, causing occasional missed notes, unsollicited accidentals,

and "jammed" vibrato. She is right-handed, and so in every-day schooling her left hand sleeps under her chin or rests on the desk..

Also, like other over supple folk, Abbey will compensate by gripping too tight (in both hands.)

To avoid collapsing fingers in her small, feminine hands, Abbey must adopt a hand-shape, similar to mine when I play the viola: 4th finger curved, 2nd finger very curled, 1st finger leaning back as for a flattened note.

In practising passage-work, I recommend her to start in a soft, slow motion style, with a sloppy vibrato, to re-establish every interval and avoid extending the fingers; then she can slowly re-introduce muscle-tone as she speeds up the practice.

(This is the exact opposite of my own practice, where I play slowly and forcefully, and the relax a little to speed up.)

Hope this helps,

looking forward to more posts (especially contradictary ones!)


April 19, 2012 at 04:19 PM · Aww really? So even if you want to do wrist vibrato the double joints get in the way?

April 19, 2012 at 06:59 PM · I have a similar problem to you. My fingers used to be quite normal; but after playing violin for 2 years they not only bend back more than 90 degrees. The thing is that people with double jointedness can have stunning vibrato because of how both joints in the finger can move easily in harmony. If they are willing to work to get control of a certain swinging motion (arm and wrist) or rocking motion (finger).

April 19, 2012 at 09:53 PM · Wow really? That's so cool

April 20, 2012 at 10:50 AM · Hilary Hahn is doublejointed actually. Some things in the Higdon Concerto require large hands and really long fingers if you havenĀ“t got hypermobile joints.

April 20, 2012 at 02:46 PM · Has she ever talked about her double-jointedness?

April 20, 2012 at 04:45 PM · Hilary Hahn double jointed????

April 20, 2012 at 05:19 PM · Watch your bow hand. The school program I volunteer in is filled with double-jointed kids- I almost think it's something in the gene pool or the water! Anyway, many of them bend their thumbs backward on the bow hand (hitchhiker's thumb) instead of forward. This gives the right hand much less flexibility, and seems to push the fingers higher on the other side of the stick.

April 21, 2012 at 08:17 AM · Don't think of it as being double-jointed. Your joints are hyper-mobile. That means they are especially elastic. Be warned: you are susceptible to injury to your joints if you misuse them by letting them buckle while you play.

Consider strengthening exercises. Many of my beginner students have supple, flexible joints, but no muscle development to keep good form. For some, I prescribe gripping exercises to strengthen their muscles so that they can protect their joints and maintain good form. Over time, misuse of your joints (i.e. letting knuckles fold in on themselves instead of maintaining a nice arch) can lead to arthritis in your later years.

Yes, hypermobility is a gift that has many advantages. Just be sure to keep your muscles strong. Squeeze a soft ball, crumple paper into wads using only one hand, knead dough, or play on the monkey bars. There are many ways to keep your hands strong for total domination of the bow and fingerboard.

April 21, 2012 at 08:19 AM · Lisa, I have a theory that many kids aren't using their hands very much, which is why we are seeing this outcropping of "double-jointedness."

April 21, 2012 at 09:21 AM · A double joint exercise

April 21, 2012 at 03:45 PM · Thanks! A couple of days ago i was thinking of buying a stress ball so I can squeeze to strengthen my fingers. Will that help or lead to injury?

April 22, 2012 at 01:08 PM · My left pinky is double-jointed. The middle joint collapses (except for a few specific spots such as D on the E string in 3rd position.) These are some ideas I've been given by teachers that you could try. For me, I already tuck my elbow well under the violin, and am able to turn my forearm such that all the fingers hover above the strings. My college prof didn't make a big deal out of this. He told me to just be sure I worked things around so piny notes were in tune, and to consider adding shifts when convenient.

April 22, 2012 at 10:14 PM · Whats the difference between Hyper-mobile and Double-jointed fingers? Can a violinist have both? I always thought they were the same thing if the fingers were strong, and did not cave in.

I'm really confused now, because people have been saying you get a double joint from not using your hands. I, on the other hand, only started being able to move both joints in the finger after playing violin 4-6 hours a day! I have always been freakishly flexible in the legs and arms, so does this mean double-jointed people can become hyper-moblie if they strengthen the fingers. Wait, if a doule joint is caused from not using the hands, doesn't strength just correct the double-joint; not make it more mobile?

April 23, 2012 at 04:08 AM · Hypermobility is simply the ability to move joints in a wider range than the average person. This may be due to extra collagen, makes joints more elastic than the average person's. If your joints have shallow sockets, you may also be able to move them in a greater range than most people. Flexibility ranges from person to person. I, for instance, can stick both feet behind my head, but I do not have a "hitch hiker's thumb". My second thumb joint tends to collapse inward, and I have strengthened my hands over the years to prevent this from happening, since it hinders good technique.

I can also easily pull my fingers out of their sockets, and they are incapable of popping. I also cannot sprain my ankles, it seems. They just fold. But since I don't want them to fold when I'm trail running, I strengthen my ankle muscles so that they will keep me from falling off the side of the mountain.

Katrina, you probably increased your joint mobility by strengthening and stretching the surrounding muscles. If they are collpasing on themselves (fingers not able to keep a nice round shape when used), then I would recommend strengthening the muscles so that the joints maintain a good shape.

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