Beginning violin student needs help with fourth finger.

December 21, 2005 at 07:53 AM · I am a beginning violin student. Although I do not technically have a teacher (I am home schooled and I am using a DVD program. It is very detailed.) I am still learning. What are some good guidelines for practicing with the fourth finger. I am having a really hard time. Are there any "gymnastics" or exercises I can do to help increase strength and speed to the fourth finger?

Replies (81)

December 21, 2005 at 09:53 AM · It's not just speed and strength your fourth finger needs. Those come with time - although not necessarily. The main points a beginning player needs to have set up correctly are:

1) Relaxation of the whole left hand. Tense fingers can't move fast, and can actually hurt you.

2) Moving from the correct joint (the base knuckle) rather than the common beginner's mistake of squeezing the fingers together and wiggling the fingertips only.

3) Correct angle of descent onto the fingerboard. The fourth finger should vary its curve from slightly arched to very arched. But in either case, it should fall at a slight backwards tilt, landing on the rear corner (the one touching the ring finger). Under no circumstances should the pinky land with the whole finger reaching up from below the level of the fingerboard, with the third knuckle sharply bent and the rest of the finger straight and rigid. It's a common mistake, and guarantees limitations on speed and intonational accuracy, not to mention quite probable tension-related injuries.

IF all of the above is in place, and if the left hand is correctly set up so as to allow such motion, you should have no more difficulty using the pinky than any other finger. ONLY when overseeing the week-to-week progress of students, have I tried two experimental exercises for hand position and pinky strength. One involves artificial harmonics (which have done wonders for even beginning students as young as six), and the other involves alternating finger exercises more for getting used to involving the correct muscles than for developing those muscles in any sort of iron-pumping way. Please don't try either of these without professional supervision.

December 21, 2005 at 01:56 PM · Thanks for the great reply, Emil. Daniel, I'm currently having a terrible problem with the fourth finger as well. (And no surprise - it looks like we picked up the violin around the same time.)

My teacher tells me not to get discouraged and that it just takes time, but I wanted to SCREAM with frustration at my lesson yesterday. From the thin sounds coming out of my fiddle, it felt like I'd regressed several months. So, thanks for the good pointers, Emil. Good time to hear it.

December 22, 2005 at 12:26 AM · Hi Daniel,

Thanks Emil for excellent advice.

"...involving the correct muscles... " is the key, Daniel (which is why it's useful to have an instructor help you in person). Until you get a teacher try the following:

Your guiding principle should be to do whatever will help free your motions.

Notice what your fingers must do.

1) The fingers must align along the direction of the string (just as the bow arm/hand/fingers must align the bow perpendicular to the string) AND the tips of the fingers must align along the plane of the string/fingerboard. The rest of the arm must aid and not get in the way of this endeavour.

2) The fingers (at their base knuckles) must be poised high enough over the strings, so they can be dropped without having to press them into the string.

3) The fingers have two basic motions: they lift, and they slide.

Try to visualize this. Watch other violinists (there are many wonderful DVDs of great artists available today). The great thing about left hand technique is that there is far more uniformity regarding how it's done than bow technique. The variables to keep in mind are absolute hand size (relative to instrument) and difference in length between 2nd and 4th fingers. The dividing line amongst players regards the balance of the hand.

There are those who open the hand from the 1st finger (usually only possible for large hands with long 4th fingers - Gerald Stanick played this way) - i.e. place 1, then find 2,3,4 - and those that balance the hand - place 3 & or 4 and reach back for 1,2 OR place 2 & or 3 and open the hand from the middle. The latter balanced method is more useful in general, essential for smaller hands, leads to greater facility (flexibility, dexterity, balance).

Try these exercises for starters without and with your instrument. N.B. Never, ever passively stretch, i.e. forcibly stretch the left hand with the right hand, or using any torturous contraptions - learn well the lesson of Schumann's demise. DO stretch actively, i.e. support the stretching with the muscles that actually increase the range of motion (as in yoga or gymnastics). Warm up before you stretch, either with trill/sliding exercises, or if you haven't achieved good alignment yet, do some light aerobic exercise (go for a brisk 10 minute walk). The point is to get the blood flowing to your extremeties.

Always maintain good alignment: along the direction of the string; along the plane of the fingerboard; maintain a straight (but released) wrist from every angle.

1) Note your hand's (including the wrist) shape when you flop it onto it's back.

2) Align the wrist (looking at your palm, draw a straight line from in between fingers 1 & 2 through the wrist to the tendon inside the elbow OR trace the tendons and align them through the wrist.

3) Supinate the forearm (rotate clockwise), maintaining flexibility in the wrist.

4) Rotate or twist the base knuckles clockwise, swinging the 1st base knuckle away from the 4th.

5) Keep the hand/forearm/elbow to the right of the thumb and fingertips (when fingertips are aligned along the direction of the string). Carry the fingers to each string from the elbow (i.e. pivot the hand/forearm/elbow as a unit to take the fingertips to each string

6) Lift the fingers from their base knuckles; release the fingers into the lift, allowing them to curl, neither squeezing nor straightening.

7) Throw the fingers toward the thumb-side of the palm, or the string from the base knuckles. Without the fiddle, this is the 'sound of one hand clapping'.

8) Stretching exercises without fiddle: maintain good alignment.

i) hold the inside tip of the first finger (F1) with your thumb; push F2 toward your face as far as it will go along the line and plane of the imaginary string; do the same with F3, F4

ii) hold inside tip of F2; pull F1 away from you toward the scroll as far as it will go; push F3, F4 toward your face

iii) hold F3; pull F2 away, F1 away; push F4 forward

iv) hold F4; pull F3 away, F2 away, F1 away

v) hold F2; pull F1 away, push F3, F4 foward, simultaneously

vi) hold F3; pull F1, F2 away, F4 forward, simultaneously

9) Lifting exercises without the fiddle: maintain good alignment

i) hold F234; lift F1 quickly and vigorously from the base knuckle; slowly return F1 to thumb; count in 4, lift on 1, return over 2,3,4 (make sure the finger returns to thumb slowly and continuously, no jerking motions)

ii) hold F134; lift F2

iii) hold F124; lift F3

iv) hold F123; lift F4

N.B. Notice that fingers must overlap, fingerpad over fingernail, somewhat to align them along one string. Develop sensitivity between the fingers (amongst the fingers?). Practice brushing the lifted finger over the placed finger. e.g. Place F1. Lift/curl F2 high enough to touch it's inside tip to the second knuckle of F1. Slowly lower F2, brushing the right edge of F1 all the way down to the fingernail of F1. Now feel wholetone or semitone.

N.B. i) To play a semitone, the pad of F2 is on top of the fingernail of F1 (depending on size of fingers); the second base knuckles remain separated, not squeezed.

ii) To play a wholetone, the pad of F2 is in front of F1 by a wholetone; the 2nd knuckle of F2 is near, slightly above the 1st knuckle of F1; the rest of the finger remains released - i.e. no squeezing between 3rd digits of F1 and F2. Later, you'll learn to measure these distances by listening.

10) After reviewing the paragraph below, do 8) and 9) above with the fiddle. Instead of holding with the thumb, place the fingers on the string (at first just place, later place them according to a scale/key). At first place F4 on E, F3 on A, F2 on D, F1 on G. Later, place fingers along two strings, then on one string.

On the fiddle:

Always bring the violin to you. Balance the violin on the collar. Whether with or without a shoulder rest the violin must sit on your skeleton via the collarbone - don't use your muscles to hold the violin - use the weight of the head to counterbalance. (More on this later if you need it) Start with the hand well above your collar; bring the wrist to the level of your collar. Feel the arm folding in toward you like an accordion; never hang the arm by the fingers off the fingerboard. Keep the neck of the violin centred in your hand. Whether you hold the violin with your thumb or not, you must

maintain good contact with the thumb and the side of your first base knuckle. (Of course do this without squeezing. If you haven't already, locate the base knuckles of all the fingers and thumb - N.B. the base knuckle of the thumb is near your wrist!) Depending on the relative size and shape of your hand, place the neck near the 1st joint of your thumb (closest to it's tip) and just above the bump of the base knuckle of F1 (B1), i.e. on the left side of the finger, not on the palm side. Now place F4 on E (don't worry about pitch at first) with only enough pressure to keep it from slipping; maintain a slight curve at all times. If you have proper alignment, B4 (baseknuckle of the 4th finger) should be at or above the level of the fingerboard, depending on it's size, but never below (if it is below, you're wrist is bent to the left, or your elbow is too far to the left, bring it under so that it is to the right of B1). Also F4 should be slightly (or more) curled, depending on its size. If it's straight, release your wrist, release your knuckles, lean your hand away from your face, maintaining alignment. Place the other fingers on the other strings, pulling each finger away slightly from the one before it. With only enough pressure/friction so the fingers don't slip, pivot the elbow/forearm in slightly toward your body; if your knuckles are released this action is enough to curl the fingers into the strings, depressing the strings slightly; this also rolls the tips of your fingers to their inside edge. The flexibility through the knuckles is the cushion in your left hand (just as in the right). Repeat these alignment exercises many times a day.

Depressing the string with the fingers:

The fingers only just need to press the string down. Later, with vibrato, the fingers need to press even less. Your guiding principle for finger placement: always feel the vibrations of the string (try holding someone else's finger as they play; if there is too much pressure, you feel no vibration in the finger; as pressure is released, you feel the fingers vibrating/resonating - this is true of the bow hand as well; always feel your fingers resonating). To achieve this, practice depressing the string slowly until you get a clean sound. Start with the finger on the surface of the string (though the fingertips should remain slightly 'grippy' not 'slippy' - you need friction/traction to glide; no friction and you only slip). Count in 4. Slowly depress the string over 3 counts, release on 4. (Always move rhythmically, following an inner pulse)

Do 10) above.

11) Repeat 10) in the context of a scale/key. Everyday, tune F4, F3 to open strings. Sing the scale down from F4/F3 to open string - play.

Ex.1 lifting exercise: F4 I/B (4th finger on E string, B); F3 II/D; F2 III/Fsharp; F1 IV/A

i) hold F432, lift F1 quickly, from the base knuckle, release into the curl, lift well above second knuckle of F2, return to IV/A over 3 counts; lift on 1, lower over 2,3,4 (counting in 4)

ii) hold F431, lift F2

iii) hold F421, lift F3 (most difficult, try to raise it above the 1st knuckle of F2) - this helps strengthen F4

iv) hold F321, lift F4

Also, do over two strings (F4 III/A, F3 III/G, F2 III/Fsharp, lift F1 IV/A; F4 III/A, F3 III/G, F1 III/E, lift F2 IV/B; etc....)

Also, do in rhythms, duplets, triplets, quadruplets, sextuplets, eights, sixteens, etc. with a metronome.

Ex.2 sliding exercise: F4 I/B (4th finger on E string, B); F3 II/D; F2 III/Fsharp; F1 IV/A

i) hold F432, slide F1 between a) IV/A and IV/Aflat b) IV/A and IV/Asharp; release finger during slide; slide over 4 counts, 2, 1, 1/2 (eighth notes in 4/4 time), triplets, dotted rhythms, sixteenth notes in 4/4 time

ii) hold F431, slide F2 between III/Fsharp and III/Fnat

iii) hold F421, slide F3 between II/D and II/Dsharp

iv) hold F321, slide F4 between a) I/B and I/Bflat b) I/B and I/Bsharp c) I/B and I/Csharp; maintain alignment; use the inside edge of F4 as much as possible; as you push F4 toward your face it will rotate out a bit; keep leaning on the inside edge, especially as you pull/curl it back toward the scroll.

Also do in rhythms as above in Ex.1., until you get what Primrose called a left hand staccato (but always start slow and measured)

There are countless variations to the above. Do it on all scale practice, lifting each degree of the scale, or sliding to and from all chromatics

between diatonic notes in a scale. Start slowly, and in small doses; focus on alignment and balance. Do Bytovetski, Sevcik, Schradieck, Flesch, Dounis, Yost, Sammons. It's advised that you achieve good alignment and balance before spending much time on any repetetive left hand

exercise, including the following (so that you build the proper muscles, while learning how to release others).

Here's a Dounis exercise for building strength in F4:

i) duples: 04 (open, F4), 14, 24, 34, 24, 14, 04 etc.

ii) triplets: 040, 141, 242, 343, 242, 141, 040 etc.

iii) quads: 0414, 2434, 2414, 0414, 0414, etc.

Do with separate bows, then one bow per beat, one bow per two beats ... one bow per each sequence

Add complexity by playing all the chromatic notes in between.

Here's a stretching exercise (don't overdo; stop if there is the slightest strain and comeback to it next session; make sure you begin with a warm and supple hand):

Place F4 on I/Bflat, F1 on II/D; hold F4, slide F1 (release during slide) slowly down to II/Bflat and back - maintain alignment, count over 4 beats

Place F1 on II/D, F4 on I/Bflat; hold F1, slide F4 slowly up to I/D and back

Place F4 on I/D, F1 on II/D; hold F4, slide F1 down to II/Bflat and back

Place F1on II/Bflat, F4 on I/Bflat; hold F1, slide F4 up to I/D and back

Place F4 on I/Bflat, F1 on II/D; simultaneously slide F4 up to I/D and F1 down to II/Bflat, and back

Do other such stretching exercise between every combination of fingers. N.B. to move the fingers in this exercise, the hand/wrist must remain soft

and flexible. The fingers must curl and release at will. The hand must open and close freely.

Here's a finger replacement exercise to develop sensitive fingers:

On the same pitch, play:

i) F1,F2,F1, etc; F2,F1,F2, etc.

ii) F2, F3; F3,F2

iii) F3, F4; F4,F3

iv) F1,F2,F3; F3,F2,F1

v) F2,F3,F4; F4,F3,F2

vi) F1,F2,F3,F4; F4,F3,F2,F1

Don't shift. Move the fingers within the frame of the hand. Release fingers during slides. Replace the fingers; push one out of the way with the other. Make it sound like your holding one pitch.

This may all seem a bit too involved and complex at first. But carefully aligning, balancing, moving, feeling with the fingers themselves, will pay in dividends for all higher left hand technique. Hope that helps. Let me know how it goes.


December 21, 2005 at 03:35 PM · And let's not forget about the double-jointed among us! The reality is that double-jointed hands have a much higher rate of injury due to their inherent tendency to...well...bend where they're not supposed to! So, double-jointed v-commers, it is important that you experiment away and try to find and strengthen a position for these fingers that is stable for you. Oddly enough in the cases of both the left and right hands I have had to pronate the middle knuckle of the pinkies sort of away from the rest of the hand to keep the pinky fingers from collaping. Sounds crazy, but it works for me... Hope this helps too!

December 21, 2005 at 06:40 PM · Wow, Jeewon - great, detailed info. Thanks for taking the time to share it.

December 21, 2005 at 11:54 PM · Greetings,

getting a bit of sensory overload here. But...the position of the fourth finger is very importnat for the set up of the whole hand. Veyr often the hand is set too near the scroll and then the player is always making a slight stretch towards the nose in order to play third and fourth fingers. Thus from the beginning stages it is helpful to practice positioning and keeping the finger shaped nicely curved and relaxed etxc as so well explained above. A good exercise for this is to place the fourth finger on the g string, nicely curved and relaxed and basically in a straight line with your forarm. This means the elbow is a fair way udner the instrument. Pluck the string withg the fourth finger. Then place it on the d string in a confortable and correct shape etc. Notice that the elbow has ot move a litlte more to the ;left in order to hang down in a striaght line. Pluck the string with the little finger. Move over to the a stirng kepeing the same points in mind. You can go across all four strings in eithe rdirection any number of times with this exercises.

Another idea is to consider the problem of a simple left hand exericse like 01234. You might begin by by setting the fourth finger comfrtably in place as desctibed above and just playing that long sustained note, memorizing the feeling of ease and the posiiton of the hand. Now go back to the exercvises but try and retian that posiiton and ease in the hand even though it may mean stretchign back slightly with the first finger (at leats it may fele this way because you are used ot having your hand too far back.



PS a lot of fourth finge rproblems have their origins in tension in the base jopint of the first finger or thumb. Masking a pint of pausing before using the fourth finger and conscioulsy relaxing these areas can be useful.

December 22, 2005 at 12:21 AM · Your most welcome Terez.

Janie, I'm also double jointed (the second joint of my pinky used to collapse at the most inopportune moments). It's taken many years for me to realize that there's nothing that helps except proper alignment, balance and strengthening of the proper muscles (the muscles that open and close the hand). Your solution may help stabilize the pinky, but (sorry if I'm being presumptuous) I would guess that you have trouble opening the hand - 4th finger extensions, fingered octaves, tenths - tuning double stops, parallel octaves, playing in high positions, 4th finger trills, double stop trills, 4th finger vibrato (oscillations are probably sharp in pitch and quite narrow). I would also guess that you have excessive tension through the base knuckles and on the back of your hand, especially in very high positions. The method I described before is designed for maximum release of muscles and allows for balancing on each finger. If I'm correct in any one of my presumptions (and if you believe me), try the following:

1) Learn to release the first knuckle. This may be frustrating at first, but I haven't seen anyone (who's double jointed) who has not been able to do it. Hold the pinky with your thumb (you may want to start with hand on a table like a pianist) and slowly add pressure from the pinky. Allow the first joint to bend backward, keeping the second joint stable. Repeat this exercise until it becomes second nature.

2) Try the opposite of what you're currently doing (i.e. if I understand you correctly). Lean the pinky (along with the other fingers) on it's extreme inside edge, so that the joints fold almost sideways. Notice that if the joints are sideways, they can't collapse when you place the finger. Keep the fingers leaning away, never curling over toward your face. This will allow you to place the fingers with strength yet maintain the ability to flex it (curl/extend) as you need for low 4, high 4, vibrato, etc.

3) For full vibrato on the pinky, allow the 3rd and 2nd fingers to hang loosely over the A, D, even G strings; completely release the first finger - often it stands up all by itself. Some people think this looks rather awkward, but this rebalancing of the hand gives great strength to the pinky (this applies to 3rd finger as well). Pretend that you have no 1st finger, allow the base knuckle of the 2nd finger to act as the first base knuckle, supporting against the side of the neck. Regardless of how pronounced this balancing act is (some stick up their 1st or 2nd fingers more while using their 3rd or 4th - Heifetz, Shumsky, Perlman - some less - Kogan, Rabin, most are somewhere in between - Milstein, Oistrakh, Szeryng, Grumiaux, Francescatti, Stern, etc.) most, if not all of these great artists balance their hand in a similar manner. And they don't have the physical handicaps that some of us mere mortals do. Balance. That's the solution to most problems on the violin.

Again, I apologize for presuming. My guess is that you tend to hold the bow with pressure from both the pinky and first finger at the same time with base knuckles almost parallel to the stick. This creates rigidity throughout the hand in many bowing motions. The fingers must lean into the stick diagonally (as with the left hand) so that the base knuckles angle into the stick, first base knuckle being the closest. The bow, and the 4 fingers on top of it, must pivot on the thumb (fulcrum). When the tip drops, the first finger follows it (without pressing in to the stick) and the 3rd and 4th fingers release, curling from their base knuckles. To raise the tip, release the 1st finger and press with the 3rd and 4th fingers, but again not into the stick. You should feel no counter pressure from the thumb in this pivoting motion. The 3rd and 4th finger press along the stick, diagonally (the same motion as in the left hand - there are very many symmetries between the two hands) so that the joints are sideways.

Hope this works for you. And I'm sorry for all the assumptions.



December 22, 2005 at 12:30 AM · You guys should put some of this stuff into the wiki section, this is very good material and the question is asked often.

edit: I mean the FAQ section

December 22, 2005 at 01:12 AM · Daniel, I am not sure if Luke suggested this but- maby you ought to get one more piano student. That could probaly pay for your violin lessons. Maby your dad could pick up the gas money or something. :)

December 22, 2005 at 02:54 AM · Jeewon? Huh? Merely wanted to point out that for double-jointers it's trickier to find the position that allows for the most stability and flexibility and to encourage those with collapsing pinkies to keep on trying.

It seems that my keeping the middle knuckle of the pinky *sort of* away from the hand conjured up crazy images for you, but I should emphasize that the positioning is indeed quite subtle and works just fine. No hand tension, no inflexibilities. I've put in the time and the years on the violin to have figured out that this works for me, but that doesn't mean your tips won't come in handy for someone else. Thanks!

December 22, 2005 at 03:07 AM · One last apology Janie. Didn't know your experience or how you came to your conclusions. The image I conjured is one I'd seen many times before with the results that I presumed. JK

December 31, 2005 at 07:19 AM · Hi Janie. I wanted to thank you for pointing out your solution to the double-jointed pinky. I've been experimenting with it and have found that that's what I do as well when I flatten out my pinky to get more fleshy pad onto the string for a fuller sound. My posts were geared more toward building the proper muscles. The crazy image in my head was of the hand that totally curls over, with the knuckles almost parallel to the strings. I guess I was in a 'writing frenzy' from my previous post. I still regret spewing on like that AT you; I should have simply asked what you do instead of assuming. Anyway, thanks again for the reality check.



December 31, 2005 at 07:04 PM · I have a wonderful suggestion, GET A VIOLIN TEACHER! It will really help.

September 11, 2006 at 12:22 AM · My daughter's right thumb collapses sometimes when she tries to hold her bow. It's at the base knuckle where the thumb meets the palm. Her bow hold is stiff and many teachers have noticed the problem without suggesting possible solutions. Someone mentioned that she is double jointed. This thread seems to address her problems, but I don't quite follow. Does this mean she has to learn to place her fingers differently to prevent collapsing or exercises would strengthen her fingers enough not to collapse? Thanks.


September 11, 2006 at 01:32 AM · Greetings,

I have been following up on your quesitons on the other thread, but this also throws interesitng light on the problem. Again, it is connected to language use. The langugae people use to describe what the body does accurately refelcts the mental picture of what they believe about the body. Unfortunately, it has been discovered in recnet years that this mental picture of `what my body does@ is often wildly inaccurate. The result is that when a teahcer gives an isntruction such as `bow from the wrist` the student tries as hard as posisble , but since their idea of where the wrist is (most people get this wrong!) false they are unable to comply which cause tension in the bow arm. That just one of humdreds of differnet examples I have come across.

So, you are talking about the `base knuckle where the thum meets the palm` but actually that is not the base of the thumb. The thumb is unique in that it has a joint below that so it conncets directly to the wrist. The effetc of not having this more accuarte mental construct is the body physically begins to limit the mobility of the thumb ,thereby shortening its length and causing stiffness. This is very common among pianits who `stretch` for a not from the joint you are refrring to instead of wrom the connection at the wrist. It really reduces mobilty and stretch drastically.

I do not know if this is necessarily what is going on here but it might be that if you got an anatomy book and studied the structure of the hand with your daughter and then had her vizualizing the thumb as origination at the wrist it might help the problem.

Another example of the same thing that may be occuring here. The base joints of the hand are actually below where the knucles protrde from the back of the hand. many people beliebve taht when they bend and unbend the fingers the movement occurs from directly beneath the lumps. this is false. In my case for example, the bend IE the actually joint, is about one and a half cm below where the fingers @meet the palm` of my hand looking at the front of hand. If you help you daughter find oput where these joints really are and help her vizualize bending and unbending from there rather than too high up that may also help with releasing some of the tension and immobility form her hand.

Finally I would suggest a basic strengthening exe4rcise in which a sheet of newspaper is crumpled up as small as possible from its original flat state done by each hand many times a day.



September 11, 2006 at 02:27 AM · SIMPLE EXERCISES FOR BOTH PINKIES

For left hand, put two fingers from the right hand between your left hand and the pinky and the finger right next to it. Then set it down pressing as though you are curling your fingers. Keep on doing that over and over again while watching TV -- it will become a habit and you'll do it everywhere. After a month, you'll be good.

Right hand --- take your bow and hold it parallel to the ground with your right pinky curled, and the tip of the pinky touching close to the end of the bow. Now lift your two middle fingers, and put pressure with your left hand on the other end of the bow. You will feel pressure, a little tense with your right pinky. But it will fix for now, any problems you will have. You will see a willingness of it to at least "stay" on the bow.


September 11, 2006 at 02:46 PM · Thanks, Buri. I was following up on your suggestion in the other thread to search for previous threads in this regards. My daughter has been doing paper crumbling, spider and a few other exercises. We found those in your reply to another mom of double-jointed daughter posted a while ago. In doing the spider exercise, she holds her bow with the left hand while her right hand climbs up and down. Would it be just as effective? Supporting the bow weight with the right hand as well as climbing up and down seems to make her thumb collapse. To me her hand seems pretty relaxed until the thumb collapses. The thumb brings down the pinky, and after that her hand looks as if she is squeezing the palm not to lose the bow. And she can't do finger strokes like other people do. She imitates the motion of curling and straightening of fingers and the bow moves, but it comes from her wrist moving sideways, not from knuckles where fingers join the palm, as I have seen her teachers demonstrate or my understanding of it anyway. Generally, her fingers seem to be locked in at joints third from finger nails or first from wrist. Is it just a matter of strengthening her muscles or something more complex like having to find her own way of a bow hold? Thanks.


September 11, 2006 at 02:49 PM · Wow, my little brain is on overload, but I'm printing all this great stuff out so I can analyze it later. So far my hand does what I want it to do, but I never took a look at what I was doing before. Maybe I need to consider a few things.

September 12, 2006 at 06:26 AM · Greetings,

Ihnsouk, yep, people with very collapsing joints do have to do the spider exercise supporting the stick with the left hand. The solution seems ultimately to be patience, correct vizualization or what one is trying to achieve, strengthening exercises and so on, plus more patience. A lot of work on small finger movements with a pencil rather than the weight of the bow may be useful.Articial aids to keep the fingers bent are, in my opinion unhelpful.

Sorry I don`t have much else to offer.

Presumably there is no suggestion of hypermobility syndrome?



September 12, 2006 at 12:49 PM · We'll expand paper crumbling, empphasize visualizing, and keep up what we've been doing. If she's still playing in two years, we'll let you know. I checked on her hypermobility syndrome with a rheumatist. She is OK.


September 12, 2006 at 10:48 PM · Greetings,

that`s great, but two years? Couldn`t you like, reduce it to six month bulletins?

I hope she keeps going for ever. the violin is such a source of joy and comfort whatever else life brings.

I recently took on a student who had been rejected by every local teacher because as a result of an early attack of hydrocephalitis (?) he is unable to speak, just about able to drag one leg behind him and has little or no control of his fingers. He`s 20 but it would be hard to place any age between 10 and 25 on him. But he loves the violin; has inherited perfect pitch from his mother; is smart as hell, and absolutely refuses to coperate with anyone. That`s my kind of student. You`d have to be nuts -not- to teach him



September 13, 2006 at 12:43 PM · What an interesting story! In comparison, my daughter is a robust athlete, just a few collapsing fingers. If anything happens in six months, that'd be nice. With growing children, that's possible. But I am afraid she has a work cut out for her. A lot of basics she didn't know how to approach, like finger strokes. She was imitating finger curling motions of her teacher without realizing the up and down wrist motion you mentioned in the other post. When we tried that yesterday after school, it worked. For the first time in four years, the stroke looks and sounds like what we have seen. Same with her vibrato, she really needed step by step instructions. She thought vibrato was a collection of nervous shakes and was making her fingers as tense as possible. That was her perception of what her teacher demonstrated. Or she may just have been fighting collapsing joints. Her vibrato is good now, 6 months after working on it properly. I am sure there are many other basics she is lacking that we are not aware of. I hope she continues but the past neglect in her basics may prove too frustrating. We will do what we can and keep you posted as things develop. Thank you.


September 13, 2006 at 02:59 PM · Pinkies are a tricky subject. Technically, I play the "wrong" way for the pinky. I'm 4'11" have tiny hands for my size AND I'm double jointed. It doesn't get much worse that that! I could play on a 3/4 violin with a nice curved pinky, but I'm not going to do that. I tried Janie's way a few years ago (slightly angling out and placing the pinky more on the outside corner.) That caused tension in the base knuckle and was painful for me. If I'm in first position, I cannot reach the pinky and keep it curved. Even if I balance my hand rather than having the balance towards the 1st finger, I cannot reach. I'd have to be in 2nd position at least to keep it curved. Keep in mind that although I have fairly flexible fingers, I had trouble in piano proficiency even reaching octaves (on the piano) without hitting extra notes. My hands are just that tiny. Unfortunately, in first position, I've found that a collapsed pinky is just a necessary evil. It's an easy reach as long as I've straightened out the finger. Now there's a difference between this and a locked finger though. The pinky should NEVER lock. My pinky is strong enough that it can stay curved in other positions, but the reach is too far in first position. I have had no trouble with tension in that finger at all though. I have no trouble with trills or other techniques with my 4th finger. It doesn't prevent me from doing 10ths, fingered octaves, etc. Yes, it's technically not the best option, but if it's your only option, it can still work. Some of the greatest violinists have done things that are considered "wrong" and still play well.

Basically, I'm saying that yes, you want to work on keeping a curved pinky, but if it is a physical impossibility as in my case, I wouldn't get too worked up about it.


September 13, 2006 at 03:28 PM · For us, the main problem is the thumb, hyperextending and collapsing. It's impossible to have a relaxed bow hold witha collapsing thumb.

After hearing what everyone has to overcome, it actually seems that my daughter doesn't have many problems. Ours is more logistic than physical in a way, only if we knew how to approach the issues. My feeling is that many good violinists do not remember how they learned to play. Either they are naturally so talented that everything just came to them or they learned many things so young that they no longer remember. Struggles make good teachers.


September 13, 2006 at 08:31 PM · I have a hard time with my fourth finger also. Mainly because my fingers are short and i'm pretty lazy when it comes to really stretching my fourth finger.

December 2, 2006 at 02:25 AM · Hello every one, I also have recently taken up the violin and while I've been progressing fairly steadily, I am really have a problem with the fourth finger. Especially with my bowing hand, I know that the fore and pinky finger is used to balance out the bow, while the two middle ones are to hold it. However, when I hold the bow with my pinky on it, I can't seem to keep it from locking. I've even tried to hold it just using the first three fingers, but because I'm double jointed in all four fingers It doesn't really help much. If any of you have any suggestions I'd really appreciate it. Thanks

December 6, 2006 at 06:01 AM · Juanita,

Your frog is probably too far from your pinky tip, or your pinky is too far from the other fingers. With all my students who have had the same problem, it's been one or the other. I hope it makes sense to you though. Let me know if it doesn't.


January 15, 2007 at 09:44 PM · I think I understand what you mean Laura, although further explanation would be more helpful and what if anything can be done.

January 16, 2007 at 01:45 AM · I'm right in the middle of learning 4th as well. It's been tough and intonation is still iffy. What has helped the most is relaxing the left hand and wrist. When my hand is *totally* relaxed my pinky falls right into place. Getting the hand to relax and stay that way is the real challenge, at least for me.

Best of Luck,


January 18, 2007 at 05:41 AM · Buri thinks everything is unhelpful unless it comes from him, when he's in Japan, teaching...

Don't listen to him -- take what you can from everyone, and the best to you.

Just make sure you don't strain your muscle -- your pinky muscles must be conditioned to relax as Chud mentioned.


January 18, 2007 at 05:49 AM · I have flagged this post as another offensive attack on me for no reason.

I am bored by his rank stupidity but I am quite happy to put his comments to public test.Itherefore offer the following.

This person claims I consider everyone unhelpful except me. Good. I will @put up 5 thousand dollars to go to a chairty of V`s choice if he does likewise. Only one of us pays. The criteria for payment is as follows:

We prove or disprove the truth of V`s remark by finding one single case in which I note that advice offered by someone else is good. If I can do this V pays.

The loser also leaves this site for good.

I wonder if V will take the challenge? Or is he as gutless as he is dishonest and foul mouthed?

(Incidentally, neither of these epithets are slander since he lied about what I said and attacked me with four lette rwords in a previous post)

January 18, 2007 at 06:00 AM · This is not the first time for Vince, nor the first screen name. Once a troll...

January 18, 2007 at 06:12 AM · Dunno, he just always attacks what I say. Sure he's a smart guy, but he doesn't need to go around discrediting everyone and threatening to flag everything.

They aren't attacks -- I said everyone should consider everything as a whole, while he's the one saying oh no... don't listen to him. But when I say, "don't listen to him" in a rhetorical manner, it becomes an offense.

This forum is meant for sharing not censuring.

I point out discrepencies while he just openly says, "I think - not helpful... therefore"... what?

I think that in itself is unhelpful, because it discourages people to not try what might just be the thing that does the trick.

I should flag him actually, for verbally attacking me all the time and calling me stupid? Not once did call him stupid or anything -- I defended other people and I defended myself from his words is the general case.

To tell you the truth, I think tolerating this behavior just creates an unnecessary hierarchy and chism between people. People are here to learn, so let them -- I'm trying to be helpful. I can't be with a guy that puts me down every step of the way.

So Buri, once and for all, just leave me alone and simply, don't refer to my posts when you post your comments. Make them objective rather than subjective. It makes sense to me. I think you're smart enough to give it a try.


January 18, 2007 at 06:34 AM · From Nathan Cole

Posted on January 17, 2007 at 11:00 PM (MST)

This is not the first time for Vince, nor the first screen name. Once a troll...

Seriously, Nathan, I don't know who you are and I don't know what you're talking about but constantly calling someone a troll and marking them that way consistutes harassment.

I flagged you for that reason.

Sorry, but I'm kind of sick of being called that and being called people I'm not.


January 18, 2007 at 06:54 AM · Here is my final response to V. My apologies to everyone for the continuing annoyance. I asked V to make an agreement with me so taht one of us leaves but he is unable to respond to an objective test.

perhaps he will consider the following errors in his recent post?

>Dunno, he just always attacks what I say.

Always? How many of your posts have I responded to? Objective question answered by basic numeracy.

> but he doesn't need to go around discrediting everyone

Read this list and you will find this to be untrue. Objective evidence.

>and threatening to flag everything.

I don`t threaten to flag. I ask Laurie to flag because you use the language of the gutter.That is the code of this list a sfar as I know. Try reading it. Its objective.

> when I say, "don't listen to him" in a rhetorical manner, it becomes an offense.

Interesting. Rudeness stops being rude when the user claims its rhetorical? Incidnetally, why would you say this to yourself?

>I point out discrepencies while he just openly says, "I think - not helpful... therefore"... what?

I have never used this expression without providing an alternative. Happy to offer another wager if you wish...

>I should flag him actually, for verbally attacking me all the time and calling me stupid?

Certainly. Drop Laurie a line and ask her to judge what you and i say accoridng tho the rules of this list. They are perfectly clear and she always applies them, with integrity.

>Not once did call him stupid or anything

Gosh. You called me `dick` stuck up, and butt to mention a few. Memory gone for a little walk somewhere perhaps. Fortunately all this stuff is objective

>-- I defended other people and I defended myself from his words is the general case.

I`m sorry? Which other people did you defend concerning what?

> I can't be with a guy that puts me down every step of the way.

Now you are getting the idea...

>So Buri, once and for all, just leave me alone and simply, don't refer to my posts when you post your comments.

Would that be censureship perchance?

>Make them objective rather than subjective.

Your not apparently that good at telling the differnece between objective and subjective as I have indicated above.

The test to benifit charity still stands. If its too much money for you to lose lets drop it to fifty dollars.

January 18, 2007 at 09:27 AM · yikes, sometimes these discussions go pear shaped so quickly.

Its worth going back throguh the archives. Yeah, Buri can be arrogant and confident, but he's never said that his suggestions or opinions are more than that - he has experience and often cites his sources for why he would adopt a particular approach.

I for one have never come away from reading this board thinking that he is suggeesting that we should abandon all other suggestions and only listen to him. and he can be funny.

VV on the other hand, has two characters. One moment helpful, focussed and appropriate, but many occasions of becoming in my opinion stunningly rude and offensive - I'll cite the threads if requested.

VV, if you have an ongoing problem with some of the most prolific and generous participants on this site, maybe you caould always private mail them.

I'm publicly weighing in here now in support of Buri, but will try to stay out of it now.

January 18, 2007 at 02:06 PM · I second Sharelle. I am a partent who doesn't play violin. Many helpful suggestions are usually lost on me since I can't try them out to see how they may help my daughter's playing. Buri's suggestions are concrete and often to the point that have a convincing quality.

My daughter has been doing a few exercises suggested earlier in the thread since July. Many of her basic problems are gone. Her bowing is beautifully straight, her bow fingers are moving individually. Her bow hold isn't perfect yet but very acceptable. I don't know how far she'll go with violin. But quitting violin is no longer an issue, which I was considering seriously only a few months ago.


January 18, 2007 at 03:56 PM · buri being helpful is a given, so i will not give him the satisfaction of getting another accolade from here:) seriously, how good a violinist can he be when his fourth finger pushes down 2 keys on the keyboard all day long?:)

i think vince made a very good post on his own version of techniques. as long as people are sincere, who cares if there are some ego clashes or personality conflicts? i mean, aren't we trained to bicker since kindergarten?:)..."i am going to tell on you unless you let me keep that choo choo train for today, and also i want half of that, the bigger half, actually, the whole thing!"

one thing i do want to share is this: some of us are not from the performing art industry so we do not give sheet of seaweed paper on what we say and how we say it because, one, we have nothing to sell here, and two, more importantly, we have nothing to lose.

this board is read by people all over the globe. trust me, they know who you are. they may not know your music yet, but they know you by the way you communicate. if you think you have a future as a performer, if you think you will be judged by the way you play the fiddle, and not by the way you carry yourself, think again.

if there is any concern or care about finding an audience when you are on the stage, consider this as the triage hall.

January 18, 2007 at 03:45 PM · [Seriously, Nathan, I don't know who you are and I don't know what you're talking about but constantly calling someone a troll and marking them that way consistutes harassment.]

That's just it, you do know something about who I am from my profile. Most other folks here do the same in some fashion. It makes for a better community. Now my advice is not always "better" than yours, but frankly I have a lot more at stake when I post than someone who is basically anonymous.

If you'd like to join the group and help people as you say, then really do it. It's fine to disagree, but doing so constantly means that either you're looking for it, or that you believe you know more than everyone else.

If that's not the impression you wanted to give, I'm sure it's water under the bridge.

January 18, 2007 at 09:50 PM · What do you mean join the group? And who says I'm disagreeing with anyone? Where are you getting this?

I'm on here, participating... trying to help.

I'm sober and serious. But I'm never discouraging.

So stop calling me Troll, and I don't even know why you call me that.

To tell you the truth, I just thik you're a horrible person, and I would like you to just LEAVE ME ALONE. Don't even refer to me in your posts.



January 18, 2007 at 09:25 PM · Get over yourselves-- people

January 18, 2007 at 10:08 PM · Vince, great achievement! You got Nathan mad. Nathan's posts are always pleasant with personable chats. I never thought he could get mad at anyone.


January 18, 2007 at 11:00 PM · Oh I just read the posts.

I think I can be blunt and sobering.

It is true... if you are out of tune, I will tell you, you are, but I will always help out until you get it and can teach yourself adequately.

It is never an ego thing -- but that's kind of my point Sharelle. You should leave your egos at the door -- we're all equal here.

Like I've pointed out, I'm here to read about problems and problem solve them because I learn this way. Don't think I just come on here to make a fool of everyone and make everything seem complicated. I really try to help and if you can't understand it -- ask further, but don't call me stupid or dishonest because it's not comprehendable.

I think I have great ideas and sure, Buri has been on here for a long time and I personally think he's a very smart guy -- I agree with a majority of his posts though I don't write, "I agree" all the time -- why would anyone have to; but sometimes people just need a blunt answer. I give it blunt answers.

And personally, I found that they work... for my former students and for me. It is not stuff I read in a book, it's not stuff I learned from teachers (though I do relay stuff I learn from attending masterclasses). It just stuff that I feel has worked really well -- and I don't give advice that even works just somewhat remotely well.

Of course there is an issue of credibility, but that shouldn't be dispositive to allowing a person to post things.

I mean, maybe Buri really does feel that everything I write is totally off and wrong... if so, then I'll take that to heart and try to cite more somehow, or whatever.

I am here to make peace, for the benefit of the community. is a very awesome site, brings people together and I've learned a lot (and I have to say, mostly from the beginners). I would gladly help out in my spare time, whoever lives in New York. I am serious about it -- music is a labor of love for me, and I don't want to ever come off like I'm superior or something. If I'm too blunt, call me on it. I'll happily edit my post.

But don't flag me, take it personally, or grudge.

Moment of honesty - Though I always think in the back of my head, "man, what is he talking about" or "she is way off" or "This is really bad", I tend to always follow up with "I wonder what he or she is thinking". I might be really critical, but I have the utmost respect for everyone, especially those NOT in the "music industry" or whatever, as someone put it.


P.S. I really don't know Nathan and I don't know why he makes fun of me. But I give up. I'm a troll, and I'm green, and I have warts... very ugly. Oh and I live under a bridge, so don't be walking over my bridge because I'll just end up giving you bad advice and being rude.

And Buri -- I'm a coward, I give up as well. I'm a gutless coward and I don't want to be hurt by you... At your mercy. I willingly lose to any duel or challenge or bet.

Now it's all settled! Yay.

January 18, 2007 at 11:29 PM · I don't want to leave on a bad note, so I'm sorry for exacerbating a situation. I jumped on late to support Buri. Also, "troll" is internet slang for someone who waits to stir up trouble on a discussion board, and was not meant as anything more. It is an ugly word, and I apologize for using it and for any mischaracterization. Much like playing I guess, a clash in style sometimes distracts from substance and provokes an inappropriately strong reaction.

I do wish every one of you the best, and as the world is small I'll see you again!

January 19, 2007 at 12:46 AM · Nathan, I am so with you. You've earned my respect many times over and all your comments are bang-on. Please don't go anywhere - let's let the administrators take care of Vince V./Vincent Vuong/Keith Hernandez/Name that Troll and then the rest of us can keep talking about what matters.

On the fourth finger issue, because, I may be mistaken here - I'm seeing a little red, in fact, but I THINK we were talking about the fourth finger and those of us who care about fourth fingers and not other issues that really, have nothing to do with fourth fingers at all, well, I'm happy to report that a year after this thread originated, my fourth finger is getting stronger, thanks to the fine advice offered here.

So, many thanks to those of you who consistently offer helpful advice. That is why I come here. Although the high entertainment provided by inflammatory posters (eliciting my first flag ever, after posting here for 13 months) does provide for a chuckle now and then.

January 19, 2007 at 04:20 AM · Yes Terez Mertes, I'm a troll, very ugly, live under a bridge, I should be thrown in jail, hit by a car, spit on, flagged all day whatever you like... all that good stuff, thanks! I'll accept my fate if that's what you're aiming for. I don't know who those other people are, but duh I'm Vincent Vuong. Vincent V., that's pretty close.

And certainly I don't know you... I'll make sure to avoid you somehow -- actually I don't know how --since you obviously hate me for no reason.

Sounds great! See ya.

Vince the troll, Thanks Mertes/Nathan, again...

P.S. It's not a sorry situation, just leave me alone, at peace -- all of you "troll" hunters. I'm not here to be stoned or picked on. Sorry the rest of you... I really don't know why they keep on picking on me like this. It is too depressing, so I'm going to take some time off.

January 19, 2007 at 07:28 AM · I’ve been visiting this site for only a few weeks and I’m very touched by the warmth and brilliance people show here. I’ve also noticed that many of you are very, very passionate and tend to use very strong words. I guess being musicians, your best language may be musical rather than the written words, and when you write, sometimes your words don’t truly convey your messages or intention and consequently people’s feelings get hurt. Can we say sorry and move on? Can we be generous and cut everyone some slack? I don’t like to see anyone leave because I believe deep down we all meant well, even though we can’t express ourselves in a same manner.

January 19, 2007 at 07:20 AM · I'm not really sure whether or not to take sides on the Vince vs. Buri match, as I'm fairly new and don't really know all of the particulars. Also, it has been a long time since I've even seen a fight so maybe I'll just sit back and follow the carnege. Although, Vince you should know that it's not particularly nice to disrespect trollz by calling them people, which they are not, as they are infact a species of elf.

January 19, 2007 at 07:39 AM · Looks like two bloody pulps, one suicide, and a couple people standing around in a circle. Keep driving, Jeeves.

January 19, 2007 at 07:39 AM · Juanita, as a short person, now I feel like the caveman in the Geico commercial--jeez thanks ;-)

P.S. Popcorn is 25cents--I need to order Simon Fischer. al

p.s.s. Oh, yes, I told Geico marketing this too! ;).

January 19, 2007 at 07:50 AM · Lol Albert you compare short people to trollz? You do know that trollz are single minded self, serving little worms right? This is of course a fact which they are very proud of, but all the same. Besides, to a troll your probably a giant, as they're usually even shorter than the below average height male.

January 19, 2007 at 08:00 AM · Thanks Juanita--now I feel better... I was warming up a little while ago, and hadn't turned the TV off, and the commercial just as I hit the remote communicated "you have not talent"...

Now that I'm a giant though, on to Partita!!!!...

January 19, 2007 at 11:58 AM · I would like to note that Nathan apologized in a sincere manner. I am not taking sides. I don't know Nathan in person and I am not saying that Nathan's presence on this site is more valuable than Vince's. But he apologized for his minor transgression. Isn't that enough?


January 19, 2007 at 12:43 PM · >...I am not saying that Nathan's presence on this site is more valuable than Vince's...

Okay, then I'll say it.

Nathan's presence on this site is more valuable than Vince's.

For starters, check out Nathan's bio. (And, as he mentioned, note use of real name). The presence of skilled, knowledgable musicians like him serve to enhance's reputation. Second, he's a helpful, considerate, honest guy and I've profited from his wealth of information.

What's still making me chuckle and shake my head, however, is the lack of response to the query that spawned this thread. I'm struck by the horrified notion that maybe some of the posters don't have fourth fingers and that is, deep down, the reason for the vituperative spew that is marring this otherwise fine and informative thread.

So, let's hear it. Anyone else have any struggles with the fourth finger? Or perhaps it is an adult-beginner thing. As is an intolerance to inflammatory posters.

January 19, 2007 at 05:32 PM · i thought the issue with 4th finger has long been answered on December 21, 2005 at 2:53 AM:)

i am not going to side with nathan since he has not helped me with my playing:(

what is educational here imo is not what nathan did but what he did not do. when pressed, nathan did not throw his weight around, drop names and such.

that is class and depth.

January 20, 2007 at 04:55 AM · LMAO Albert, most people that catergorize themselves as short are usually 5'8 or so which is still 4" taller than me. Unless of course I'm wearing heels, but still you know, it's all good.

January 20, 2007 at 05:41 AM · alright, alright, loan my your heels!. ;). boy, this oughta be a pretty sight.

January 20, 2007 at 12:36 PM · al 2 al:

which partita are you working on?

January 20, 2007 at 04:59 PM · I'm not--I was dreaming in another thread of playing no3 in E (Long Term Goals); and, was kidding with Marion. I'm only in Suzuki 3, and still have a ways to go, but when I saw Milstein playing it on youtube I was trying to bring my ambitions into the stratosphere.

Last night though I watched some young people playing it, so I feel it is at least reasonably achievable--but I'm not taking any more big diversions--I'm already hitting 4-5 hours a night and just picked up adapting bvw 997 Sarabande to violin from classical guitar. If you haven't ever heard it, Segovia (and I) do it on guitar.

I started putting it to violin this week, and it's excellent.

January 20, 2007 at 05:19 PM · al, with your dedication and number of hours, it is a scary thought how far you can go.

we are also looking at that one. make sure someone can guide you through the correct fingering.

January 20, 2007 at 05:44 PM · One of my oh great one mantras is watching Milstein play it--someone was talking about the double stops being terrible, but what I see is the detache runs and strings crossings as being: 'oh Jeez'....

I would never approach something like that without hands on help Al.... The Segovia/Bach/Sarabande, I've played for years and when I started picking it out (e instead of b for now--though I play it in both), it should have been a piece for violin.

On guitar, not only for me, it is a piece that has to be completely treated, every note, well or it falls flat. On violin, there are expression points in measure after measure.

Anyway, the point is that I simply 'know' all this music, and I don't mix my 'me' time with my practice time in terms of fingerings--or--bowings. I'll 'never' make my goals if I do that. And, I cheat!.


January 20, 2007 at 06:02 PM · keep at it, al, i am more interested to hear you play than that milstein guy play:)

January 20, 2007 at 09:07 PM · Thanks Al... I'm just hoping to play well some day--no Xanadu's here...

January 20, 2007 at 09:52 PM · Hello I'm a new entry here..:)

I'm italian but my english is good.

I've a question about the right arm, because I believe this is very important for singing..Someone knows a good studies for right arm?I'm seeking a thing good but I've not founded nothing interesting.



January 20, 2007 at 10:11 PM · Greetings,

Eliana, welcome to the board. You have inspired me to write a new blog...



PS Where in Italy are you from?

January 20, 2007 at 10:24 PM · Hi Stephen!

I'm happy for a new blog about the right arm..I'm from Bologna.

I'm waiting for..



January 21, 2007 at 04:52 AM · just throwing your elbow under the instrument (left arm that is)gives your hand and fourth finger alot better angle to just plop down your fingers

January 21, 2007 at 05:17 AM · I second that JohnPaul....

January 21, 2007 at 06:46 AM · I was wondering if anyone had any advice about a problem I'm having. Being so virginally new at all of this, I've have just gotten into learning the legato. However, sometimes when I'm switching cords, I hear this annoying almost plucking like sound. I hammer away at it sometimes for 2-3 hrs at a time yet I can't seem to fix it and it's driving me stark raving mad. Therefore, If anyone has any insight on this problem it would be really great. Also, because the joints of my third and pinky finger are connected, I was wondering if there are further exercises to make the transition between the fingerings and the cords easier.

January 21, 2007 at 07:01 AM · Generally speaking, there's at least five elements you may wish to review at

1.bow changes


3.finger dropping

4.bow speed

5.bow pressure.

in the masterclass sections.

And then, view the legato exercises.

Long slow even smooth legato strokes and passages, are oddly one of the most challenging things about violin--it's poetic justice--first she seduces you, then she wears you out, then she whispers in your ear--play slowly and smoothly.

January 21, 2007 at 08:38 AM · Thanks for the info Albert, I was not at all aware of the need for attention to the bow arm. Which has me a bit worried, as my instructor really should have mentioned that. In any case, I will certainly being working on those just as soon daylight breaks and the neighborhood is up. To bad I don't have the money for a highly sound proof room, then I could practice whenever the heck I wanted to, especially since I think better at night.

January 21, 2007 at 12:52 PM · Hi,

I think that some problems for the right arm is to play in third string especially in hight position because I can hear other string (second or fourth you know)and the sound is not very good, then I'm seeking some studies for sincronize the left hand with the right (detachè)'cause I think this is a good point for having a good control and sound.

What did you think about?



January 21, 2007 at 08:51 PM · Greetings,

if you want to work specifically on syncronizing left hand and detache (dont we alll...) then the Galmian scales are invaluable.



January 21, 2007 at 08:54 PM · Eliana, balancing the instrument in higher positions is one thing, and adjusting the bow pressure, angle and height of the right elbow while in upper pressures is another. I'm just now getting to where I don't sound awful, and though the bowing conventions remain pretty much the same, there does seem to be some bow pressure considerations--as well as sounding point.

January 23, 2007 at 06:42 AM · Recently, I've begun to notice that right after I play, there's a discolored indent on the thumb of my bowing hand. Although it does go away after serveral minutes, I was wondering how common this is, or if I may be holding the bow a bit to tight. I was also wondering if anyone has heard of a Nicolas Laoureux and where I might find some information on him.

January 23, 2007 at 06:23 AM · Greetings,

purple sounds a bit extreme! If you are gripping the bow too tighly an exercise that can help is to drawe a slow bow and as you are doing it actually roatate the bow between your fingers and thumb back and forth. In other words the stick turns towards you and then away from you, then towards you and away from you. You don@t need ot do it that many times in the stroke. Experiment with it. Also pracitce holding the bow with no thumb at all. I no this sounds silly but it is possible with practice . One is not actually changing the position of the fingers or hooking the forefinger under the bow or anything. By leanring to take the thumb off the fingers seem to work out some veyr subtle ways of providing a means of supporting the bow although it looks like magic. It does have a little to do with th degree of moisture on yur fingertips. In veyr dry weather when your hands are cold it may be almost impossible. In a warm concert halfway through a rehearsal t, taking the thumb off and lifting the bow above tyhe head provides hours of entertainment.Start praciticng this over a bed because you will drop the bow a lot to begin with.Incidentally

this exericse was highly recommended by Primrose who did it as a kind of part trick to show the degree pof contatc he wnated studnets to have with the bow



January 23, 2007 at 08:27 AM · Juanita, concerning your problem:

If I am understand you correctly, you are having trouble keeping the little plunking noises away when switching strings during a legatto line. Yes?

This drives me nuts as well. This is what I discovered: Say I was playing a "D" on the A-string, and then an "E" on the D-string. I found that I was releasing too quickly my 3rd finger on the A-string. When you pop that finger up too soon, and too fast, you'll here the note, no matter how careful you are with your bowing.

If that's what you refer to, practice holding the "last" finger down until after you have started bowing the next note. Also practice, without bowing, fingering a series of notes and releasing each "last used" finger as slowly as possible. This will drastically cut down on that noise.

If anyone here has other suggestions regarding this problem, I would love to hear them!

January 23, 2007 at 08:35 AM · Oh yeah, regarding the OP's problem:

I never had 4th finger problems as a beginning cellist. My teacher was surprised, but believed it was because I was already a fairly accomplished pianist. I used to spend 2+ hrs a day just playing Hanon excercises, on a stiff American Steinway.

If you have access to a decent acoustic piano, I highly recommend this. (think of it as cross-training for the fiddle) Hanon builds strength, flexibility, and independance like you wouldn't believe, as long as you go slowly and concentrate on making every note as even as possible.

January 23, 2007 at 11:21 PM · Greetings,

Allan`s right. What he is talki abotu is what Auer calle dthe secret of legato on the violin , in the left hand. That is the finger on the preceding string stays down until the next note is actually beginning to be played. This description is adequate but I think there is a more refined way of conceptualizing it which helps some people. Think of the left hand a sone action. The first half of the action is placing the nes finger, the second half of the action is releasng the old. Pracitce slowly to absorb this.

You may also have the finger tips too vetic and not removing the fingers with an action from the base joint, somethign a surprising nyumber of good violinist still have trouble with. To emphasziee that the movement is form the base joint stop frequently when you are practice and place then hand in fourth of fifth psition so the palm of the hand is on the upper bout of the instrument and thus immobolized. Now tap the finger son notes on various strings without drperessing the satirngs a greta deal. Check carefully the action froim the base joint. Next, pracitce the passage in question using left hand only, but immobilze the hand below the base joints by placing the right hand thumb in the palm of the left hand and the right hand fingers on the back of the left hand. Squezze gently to immobilize evrythign belowe the base joints.



January 24, 2007 at 12:25 AM · Many, many of the greats said the best way to practice finger strength and dexterity was to practice trills. It has definitely helped me.

January 24, 2007 at 05:08 AM · Buri said: "That is the finger on the preceding string stays down until the next note is actually beginning to be played."

That's what I was taught too. Even on something as simple as the little Bach minuet, my f3 was doing worse than left-spiccato at one point. I think I'll add these images to my routine, including a little trill work.

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