Small fingers and playing violin

October 7, 2015 at 08:11 PM · Hello dear friends.I,d like to play violin but i think my fingers are short because i cant reach my pinky to its true position on fingerboard at violin first position.my fingers size:

Thumb:5.7cm

Index:6.3cm

Middle:7cm

Ring:6.7cm

Pinky:5.3cm

Im a man with 33 years old.my question is:Can I play full size 4/4 violine?

Replies (24)

October 7, 2015 at 08:54 PM · My pinky is only a little longer than that...and I have big hands...

I don't think you will have problems...

October 7, 2015 at 10:31 PM · Your hands would have to be extremely small for an adult man, enough that you would not have any question about their unusually small size, for your fingers to be shorter than those of the 10-13 year old little girls who are just moving from a 3/4 to a 4/4. It is very rare for an adult to require a smaller violin, and I have seen some extremely petite musicians handle a full size. My arms are not technically long enough for a full size violin - I'm about a half-inch short - but I switched to a full size once I was sure I was finished growing. Short fingers are not usually a problem on the violin. There are tricks you can do with your wrist and elbow, and also your thumb if you borrow from viola technique, that will extend your reach. You need to learn those from your teacher, though. It's about a lot more than length, anyway, so if you are still concerned, you should talk to a violin teacher who can look at your hands in person.

October 8, 2015 at 02:16 AM · Not a problem at all.

I know an acquaintance who plays a full size, and her hands are the size of what you would normally see on an 8 year old. :)

You compensate for the shorter fingers by:

1- Tilting your wrist towards you a bit more (this is also used by some viola players)

2- Bring your thumb somewhat under the neck instead of sticking it up by the side like most players do

3- Shape your hand "higher" up the neck so that your fingers and thumb stick out over the neck enough to let your pinky reach (last resort, would not recommend unless you absolutely cannot reach). :)

PS: Option 3 can also be used if you have a long thumb like me to ensure that your hand is not strained by forcing it to hold the instrument unnaturally- your fingers must follow your thumb for positioning and playing.

October 8, 2015 at 03:29 PM · My hands seem to be just like yours, and I play viola, although with only 35.5cm vibrating string length.

Another dimension which makes a difference: the palm width. Mine is 8.5cm.

Fourth finger rules! The others have to lean or curl back. And I set up my fiddles to tilt so my pinky can do a decent vibrato on th low strings: 30° for the violin, 45° for the viola.

October 8, 2015 at 04:14 PM · Adrian is opt-on about palm width.

Ex: My hands are about 17.5 cm long, fingers long with the middle one being about 9cm and the third is a bit longer than normal.

However, my palm width corresponds to my slightly small hands by being about 7 cm wide, so even though I have long fingers my narrower palm makes it more of an effort to stretch wider intervals because my fingers have to stretch out more to reach.

On the plus side, the long 3rd finger comes in handy for certain things, even though it makes playing with the pinky a bit harder.

The main point here is that you adjust to the instrument according to your own hands (right and left) to get the best sound and most natural position. :)

October 8, 2015 at 05:17 PM · Its not just about finger length - other key factors are arm flexibility (if you can rotate and align the hand to the FB you are well ahead of the game) and also hand width. I think that the worst combination is a wide hand (which locates the pinkie base joint further from the keyboard, short pinkie and poor flexibility. This will compromise how the violin is held (if you have long arms you can bring the chinrest - and your chin of course - further from the midline). The other factor is your thumb: you should explore different contact points and crazy ideas like pointing it backwards (like Kogan does) or playing in the 'crook'.

I have medium hands but they are wide with a relatively short pinkie so its been a bit of a struggle - but if you persevere somehow your arm figures it out! And beware the teacher that has only one solution ;)

October 8, 2015 at 05:25 PM · It should be taken into account that the OP is an adult. Playing a full size violin with small hands is probably easier if you started playing when you are still growing. My advice would be to try a full size, using the good advice above about hand frame, and if it is still a source of tension, then move to a smaller violin. However, in my experience (my hand is smaller than yours), if your arm length is sufficient, a full size will likely be OK.

October 9, 2015 at 01:06 AM · No problem. Do as A.O. suggests and curve your wrist so your palm is more parallel to the neck. You'll get a nice new little muscle in your arm and under your pinky as you develop more stamina. Place your thumb across from your second finger to help that pinky. Later, there are plenty of exercises that strengthen the fourth finger.

October 9, 2015 at 01:58 AM · @Kimberlee: I wasn't siggesting palm MORE parallel to the neck, bit that the hand be pulled in towards the violin neck a bit (via the wrist). This makes 4th finger easier, and works on viola too. :)

October 9, 2015 at 05:05 AM · @AO--I think that's what I was meaning, but it's always tough to articulate what you mean in print. There are a couple of easy ways to give the fingers more reach, one of them being turning the wrist towards the fingerboard so the fourth finger is closer ... that's what I was trying to say--are we on the same page?

October 9, 2015 at 06:49 AM · Ja, ja, I see what you mean. I was at first thinking of the hand straightened out, thus making it parallel to the scroll.

We are on the same page. :)

October 9, 2015 at 11:42 PM · Thanks for your helps.I'll try to reach pinky to the fingerboard base on your tips!

October 12, 2015 at 10:34 AM · Amusingly, I had a similar experience - I'm a petite older lady with quite small hands, about the same size as yours. All of my larger, normal sized contacts scoffed at the idea of me needing a smaller violin!

One day, I was at our local string shop, and took the opportunity of playing a few 7/8 violins. Suddenly, everything felt comfortable and my sized!

I am so much happier, comfortable and competent on my lovely french 7/8 violin - and so pleased that I didn't just go along with the advice of bigger friends!

Try one of the smaller sizes - you might find it opens a whole new world for your music!!!

October 12, 2015 at 11:07 AM · Kaveh, I shouldn't go below 7/8. From what I've heard and read it is progressively very difficult to get a decent tone at sizes smaller than 7/8. Sizes less than 7/8 are intended for small children in the early stages of learning, but 7/8 is a small adult size and, as Pamela says, they can be very attractive to play and listen to.

October 12, 2015 at 11:32 AM · Also because there is not a lot of demand for 7/8 violins one can pick up a Strad for a dime.

October 12, 2015 at 11:35 AM · My fingers are not that much longer than yours and I manage a violin that is even longer at 558mm LB.

You just have to put your thumb between the index and the middle finger on the neck.

October 12, 2015 at 01:49 PM · I wonder if modern makers ever accept commissions for fractional violins.

October 12, 2015 at 03:32 PM · The problem with small hands is that one has to built the hand from the pinky down. Rotating the elbow to the right extends the reach of the fingers,

holding the neck with the thumb between first and second finger also helps. In 1st position when I have to have power in the fingers I move the thumb a bit under the neck and then to its usual position. One thing though, in every thing you try, your first consideration should be relaxation.

October 12, 2015 at 03:32 PM ·

October 14, 2015 at 11:36 AM · I agree with Trevor - I tried a few 3/4 violins and they lacked the projection, tone and sound quality that the 7/8's had.

It's easy to find new, relatively inexpensive Chinese 7/8 violins. It's also not that hard to find older French or German 7/8's - Stringers in the UK provided a few for me to try, and I found quite a few others on the internet.

But Kypros, actually 7/8's violins tend to be more expensive than full-size. There are fewer of them around and they seem to be sought after.

October 16, 2016 at 08:00 AM · My pinky is shorter than yours. It's only 4.7 cm. I am a female adult beginner and I started with 4/4 violin and it's been a little over a year. I have never tried 7/8 size violins. I started doing exercises from Henry Schradieck this year. Some of them really requires a lot of stretching. Using my short pinky to do vibrato is really challenging especially in third position and impossible in seventh position. I know my fingers dexterity will improve but I wonder if 7/8 violin is the optimal size. I definitely will check out the 7/8 violins in future.

October 16, 2016 at 03:44 PM · If you are a beginner (it sounds like you are) just remember that EVERY beginner has trouble reaching 4 at first. It seems impossible (like just about everything on the violin) but becomes possible with time and practice. The last trap you want to set for yourself is the assumption that you aren't physically able. You can use this excuse to talk yourself out of virtually anything, and it's not healthy. There's nothing wrong with your pinkie.

Get your left arm around and reach for it. Stretch those muscles and ligaments until it happens.

The entire challenge of the violin is the absurdity of what we're asked to do. Being able to overcome what seems impossible is part of the reward. It's certainly not the money....

October 16, 2016 at 03:51 PM · To help my slender handed pupils, I have set up a 15" viola (14" vibrating string length) as a violin. They sometimes film my hands on their smartphones. Didn't know one could do that! It also means I can practice between lessons without messing up my intonation on the viola...

October 16, 2016 at 09:06 PM · Practice makes perfect. A trick I was shown was to slide your thumb (only the thumb) down the fingerboard a bit and it makes it a little bit easier for the 4th finger.

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