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Small hands, short fingers
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Fiddle4Fun
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January 31, 2012 - 6:10 pm
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I did a forum search but this particular challenge didn't come up.  I apologize if this is a repeat topic.

 

I have small hands and short fingers which is making using my fourth finger particularly difficult, especially on the G-string.  If my first three fingers are on the G-string, at A, B, and C, for example, I cannot reach D without those fingers sliding out of position.  The problem also exists with the other strings but it is most pronounced there.

 

I've tried rotating my arm more in order to get a bit more reach but it ends up pulling my shoulder and elbow uncomfortably far forward.  I tried rotating my hand more at the wrist instead but that then resulted in a very sore, stiff wrist (and I've had problems with my wrists in the past so stressing them unnecessarily is something I try to avoid).

 

It might be that I just need to keep practicing with it over short periods of time until that finger stretches out more on its own and I build up a little more strength in my wrist but I'm not really sure.

 

Anyway, I'd appreciate any feedback y'all might have.  (I can also try to take some pics if that would be helpful.)  Thanks!

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Oliver
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January 31, 2012 - 6:27 pm
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Pictures always help particularly where you seem to have an extreme situation.

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sdsalyer
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January 31, 2012 - 8:45 pm
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Have you tried a smaller instrument, say a 3/4 or 1/2 size?

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Fiddle4Fun
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January 31, 2012 - 9:25 pm
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Here are some pictures.  I've put them on Photobucket so as to save our host a bit of server space.

http://s1254.photobucket.com/a.....iddle4Fun/

 

I've considered a 3/4 or 7/8 size instrument however I hear that it's hard to find a good one.  Even if I found one that was well built and comfortable to play, I'm not in a position to buy a new instrument at this time.  My fiddle also has a very nice voice (in my opinion) and I'd be sorry to not play her.  Therefore, right now, I'm focusing primarily on adapting as much as possible to what I have in hand.  I think that if I work slowly and carefully then I can probably do it without too many problems.  That said, if in the future I ever run across a smaller instrument that I like and can afford then I'll probably purchase it just to add some variety to my life. smile

 

Thanks!

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Aleive
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January 31, 2012 - 10:02 pm
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Aha! Keep your elbow under the fiddle. Not twist it all around to almost touch your nose^^ It should help you. Admittedly this takes some getting used to. But it _WILL_ help 😀

 

Edit: You might also want to avoid holding the violin parallel with your shoulders. In most cases. If you stand upright and look dead ahead. The ideal way to point the fiddle would be somewhere between 45 and 75 degrees to the left. I notice Fiddlerman holds it around 75 degrees, and 60, depending on his mood 😀 So not straight ahead, and not straight to the side. Try at 45 degrees, and work out what fits you best from there. 

I mention this because I saw the first picture you uploaded to photobucket. And holding the violin that way would only work if you had 2" longer fingers, with an extra joint^^

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Sofia Leo
Lebanon, Oregon
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January 31, 2012 - 10:58 pm
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I agree with Aleive - try rotating the fiddle more towards the front. If you watch fiddlers on YouTube you will see that they use a variety of holds, and not many of them are considered Classical wink

I have short pinky fingers, too, and my teacher recommended that I build strength by stretching it only a half step until it becomes comfortable. She also gave me permission to shift my hand to hit that fourth position note and then shift back - not usually recommended as it can lead to a bad habit...

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Fiddle4Fun
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January 31, 2012 - 11:01 pm
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Thanks, Aleive!

 

I actually do keep the fiddle at probably about 50 degrees and my elbow tucked in when I'm not trying to place my fourth finger.  The extreme rotation in those pictures is the resulting contortion I go through to try and keep stress off of my left wrist.  Of course, as you noticed, it pretty much transfers it everywhere else and is apparently somewhat counterproductive. smile

 

Now I'm thinking it's not so much a problem of reach but just that my left hand from fingers to wrist is fairly weak (I'm not left hand dominant so it doesn't get a lot of use) and just needs to be stretched out and strengthened over time.  Yup. 

 

Thanks again.  I really appreciate the feedback.  If you have any more insights, I'm all ears.

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Fiddle4Fun
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January 31, 2012 - 11:03 pm
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Starting with the half step stretch is a really good idea, CatMcCall.  I'm going to give it a go.  Thanks so much!

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
January 31, 2012 - 11:16 pm
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It doesn't look too bad. Don't bring your arm under all that much. Keep you arm a little more in front of you than you do now. Elbow should be almost perfectly straight down under the violin. This should be a little more comfortable. Have patients and your reach will become better soon enough. Don't over do it now for risk that you may injure yourself.

G string is always the biggest stretch.

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Aleive
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January 31, 2012 - 11:18 pm
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I would reccommend going to a music store and getting a specialized equipment to train the fingers. If you can't, using some string attached to a weight of some sort, and weightlift with your finger isn't a bad alternative. Also, part of the reason why you use the left hand when you are not left hand dominant is precisely because you have smaller musculature. So your muscles does not hinder you in any way. But with practice (Which doubles as physical training for instrumentation) You will find it going smooter and smoother with time.

 

When I started with the guitar, man did I ache, and have issues reaching all around. It is just something you have to train your fingers to do. Do it whenever you have the spare energy. You don't have to play.. Just hold the fiddle and press down on the strings. Moving around.. Pretend you are playing something. Whenever. Maybe while you are watching TV or something. Just make sure to stop when it hurts your joints or muscles.. Because as you might know; muscles are built up by tearing them apart, then letting them heal. Which is why it is not ideal to start out with 9 hours a day with practice when you have never done anything like it before. Exceeding 2 hours would be bad generally speaking. But it varies from person to person. 

"Art, as far as it is able, follows nature, as a pupil imitates his master; thus your art must be, as it were, God's grandchild."

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Fiddle4Fun
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February 1, 2012 - 1:10 am
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Hey, thanks, Fiddlerman.  I appreciate the feedback.  I'm certainly in no hurry with my playing so I figure I'll adjust to using my fourth finger eventually.

 

Aleive, my roommates like your suggestions. wink The mute can only do so much and our house has very thin walls and floors.  (I try to wait until they're watching TV or something so they don't hear me squeaking away but I'm not always successful.  I love it when they're all out so I can play without the mute and not worry about disturbing anyone.)  Silent drills are definitely a good idea for those times when everyone else is studying or sleeping.

 

Thanks again, all.

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Oliver
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February 1, 2012 - 8:28 am
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The BEGINNERS video has a lesson about 2 octave C major scales and is pretty interesting also for left hand finger/elbow positioning.

Fiddle4Fun I don't think your hands are all that small and I have wondered about having smaller hands because my hands are too (viola) big.  I've also noticed that smaller hands are typical for violin players.

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Fiddle4Fun
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February 1, 2012 - 11:26 am
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@ Oliver

 

Hah!  It makes sense people with smaller hands would go for the violin.  They take one look at the viola and say, "There's no way I could ever hang onto that much less play it!" smile (OK, that's what I said when my undergrad suitemate was extolling the virtues of viola.  She was at the school on a music scholarship for it.  Much to my joy, I got a live performance every day since she liked to practice in her room.)

 

Thanks very much for the suggestion.  I'll go watch that video again.  I think with time, practice, and conditioning. I'll probably be able to get to the point where I can use my 4th finger comfortably.  One just keeps working on it a bit each day and eventually it "clicks."

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