2-4 minor third - does it get easier with practice?

October 18, 2019, 5:33 PM · Hi everyone,

I'm starting practice scale in thirds and I run into a big problem with 2-4 minor third in lower position. My pinky is disproportionally small and it curves inwards more than normal due to an injury. So when I play minor third, either the 4 or the 2 get flat, and I have to stretch really hard to get both intune, which means lots of tension and smooth transition from 1-3 to 2-4 is almost impossible. My teacher has long and skinny hands so I dont think she can help much.

Which solution u think I should do?

1. Keep practicing, fingers will be able to stretch easier with practice.
2. Do a 1-4 minor third instead. This one is unconventional but it kinda works for me to play up the scale
3. Looking into 7/8 violin

Thank you. I can take a pic of my hand while doing minor third as a reference if needed

Replies (12)

October 18, 2019, 5:54 PM · A bit more context: I'm at beginner-intermediate stage so it will be a year or two before I play pieces with lots of thirds. But my teacher wants to practice scale doublestop early. Now I do double stop scale only 10 mins a day
Edited: October 18, 2019, 7:32 PM · Take it slow. Yes your hand will adapt to the particular stretch that it needs to do there. You MUST learn how to relax your hand when you play thirds or you will just be fighting yourself. That's hard so be patient.

There is a spot in the Bach B-Minor Sarabande where the C#-E double-stop on the G and D strings is fingered 4-2 (thereby saving the first finger for an A# on the A string)!

My teacher taught me to practice scales in thirds like this (example is G major):

BD(20), BD(20)-CE(31), CE(31)-DF#(42), DF#(42)-EG(31), etc., using as few open strings as you can with a gap in between each pair, so that you can really focus on a smooth transition between the two double-stops in pair-wise fashion, especially when you have to shift -- you want to do smooth, deliberate, "classical" shifts.

Take it slow. Very slow.

October 19, 2019, 6:30 AM · Daniel, a minor third 4-2 in first position *is* difficult. Just keep practicing. However, practice in the correct way. Place the 4 finger first, nicely soft and rounded. Stretch back with the second finger trying to preserve the soft shape of 4 as well as possible. Your hand needs to trained to become soft and flexible. Then on the other hand you say that your hand was injured once. So of course there I cannot give you sound advice and it is possible that indeed you have to do something special. If you could post a photo of you doing the 4-2 thing as well as possible as described above, that could be informative for the more experienced teachers on this forum. Finally it is bizarre to say that your teacher cannot help you only because *she* has long fingers. It is her job to teach you, not to play those minor thirds herself!
October 19, 2019, 7:24 AM · I'll bet the teacher didn't have long fingers when she started playing thirds.
October 19, 2019, 11:15 AM · One can start to spread the spacing of the hand by practicing the harmonic minor scales in all keys. That requires a minor third between all three combinations of adjacent fingers. Later - do octaves with 1--3 instead of 1-4.
October 19, 2019, 1:36 PM · Everything gets easier with practice!
October 19, 2019, 2:10 PM · "Everything gets easier with practice!"

Only if it's the right sort of practice!

October 19, 2019, 4:02 PM · Actually no, not everything gets easier. Fingers don't grow longer with practice. Minor thirds with 2,4 are hard and I for one try to find a way to play them 1,3 rather than 2,4 if at all possible.

Some people are born with perfect violin hands, others have difficulties to overcome; life isn't fair.

Edited: October 19, 2019, 5:19 PM · Thanks for everyone's replies.

@jean: my teacher is of course helping me solve my issue :) I'm just asking for another perspective, I definitely will prioritise my teacher advice.
she is also suggesting placing the 4th finger first then stretch for 2nd finger, same as you did. But the thing with my hand is when I stretch back for 2nd, I have to really swing my elbow forward to ensure both notes are in tune, which makes my hand very tense. Even with that tension, most of the time the notes are still flat :-(. I will edit this post with picture later today.

@Albrecht: does minor third with 2-4 get used a lot in advanced pieces? Have u ever run into pieces that it has to be done with 2-4, aside from the Sarabande that Paul mentioned?

Edited: October 19, 2019, 7:28 PM · Yes it's not too uncommon. And usually you cannot shift so that you can hit it with 3-1. There is risk in such a shift.
My own experience is that you just get better at finding it which results in a lower overall level of general stress. This, just by itself, will help you relax your hand. You also learn how to position your hand better and faster. This helps you compensate for the fact that your fingers are not growing. So I respectfully disagree with Albrecht.
Edited: October 20, 2019, 12:20 PM · I have a short pinky and I play viola, so...
my middle finger must curl under itself (well-trimmed nails!) and push the string to the right rather than down onto the finger board.

If the tone is really not satisfactory, I'll opt for the 1-4 solution.

Patient practice will loosen the joints to a limited extent.

October 20, 2019, 6:19 PM · Daniel make sure not to push your wrist away from the neck, but, on the contrary, initially, allow it to ease in just a tiny bit towards the neck, if only to make sure your wrist remains relaxed. Also, like you are reporting, it is fine to search and experiment a bit for the ideal location of the elbow.

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