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Fourth finger
Came across this video…
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (11 votes) 
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Katie L
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January 24, 2023 - 2:26 pm
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Which I thought was really good especially the exercises..

t=682s

I’ve been finding a very weird thing happens when I go to play my fourth finger . Basically it’s straight all the way up to when I’m about to put my finger down and then as I go to press the string it curves . It kind of snaps into a curve which is the opposite of what he is talking about in the video. 

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Jim Dunleavy
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January 24, 2023 - 2:34 pm
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It's not bending as described in this video is it (I've linked to the appropriate place on the video)? I got a lot of tips about left hand placement (in particular the pinky) from this one.

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Katie L
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January 24, 2023 - 3:40 pm
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Thanks Jim I think I need to make sure it keeps its curved shape from the start. I need to watch that video a few times do it goes in. Even though it’s the wrong shape I think I’m doing sort of ok with my fourth finger.

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ELCBK
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January 24, 2023 - 5:34 pm
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@Katie L -

THANK YOU! 

You hit the Jackpot!  That video helps with several of our recent topics! 🤗

I always need to remind myself to use my 4th finger more!  Been meaning to work on keeping my little finger over the strings, instead of curled up, but the best part (for me) starts at 12:54 - "#4. Find the correct hand and thumb position for your hand."  Helps a lot with the discussion in the Left Thumb Thread! 🥰 

Really wish I'd seen that video when I started learning to play!  I even slowed the video down to watch more carefully. 

 

@Jim Dunleavy -

Glad you shared that video! 

I remember watching it a couple years back, for help on the little finger, but there's just as much about using the thumb in that video!  

I like how Julia shows about using the thumb relaxed & farther away from the scroll - had forgotten about The "MILSTEIN" Exercise"

 

The one thing that hurts my playing, though - she talks about & shows the thumb pretty high on the side & I can see her index finger is touching the other side of the fingerboard.  I'm trying to avoid this and do more like Tobiah's video in the OP. 

 

Thanks again - all this is very helpful!

- Emily

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Gordon Shumway
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January 25, 2023 - 3:12 am
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Typically Corelli Op.5.1, 3rd mov is a fourth finger exercise, but Suzuki puts it in book 7, so that no-one ever goes there, or they assume it's harder than it really is. In O'Leary's book it's #36, implying it's grade 4 (low intermediate). But it's also very much a string-crossing exercise. There's one measure where Suzuki recommends using the open E string. There's no point at all in that. There's a little finger motif(phrase) that occurs about a dozen times in the piece. What's the point in playing one of them on an open E string instead? None. If you want open E strings there's plenty of Vivaldi you can try.

I'll watch that last video some other time (I have a hospital appointment in a couple of hours). If it's about the ring and little fingers and the major 6th interval, then I'm interested, as that interval is tricky and takes practice.

BUT.... A 10 minute video on an exercise should have the exercise FIRST, then an explanation of it. I HATE videos where what they are discussing isn't demonstrated until the 8th minute!

There is a much shorter answer than infinite exercises (badly performed?) - if your pinky won't stretch, then your thumb is too close to the scroll. If you practise these exercises with your thumb jammed against the scroll, then you won't derive any benefit from them.

There'a a Galamian suggestion - without a violin, wiggle and relax your left hand by your side then raise it to playing position and see where your thumb wants to go naturally. It is different for everyone. For most it will probably be between their index and middle fingers, for others it will be different.

Andrew

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ELCBK
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January 25, 2023 - 7:17 am
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https://cdn-webimages.wimages.net/050e28b06eb41c7906831b6d5b2e0c470bfc5-wm.jpg?v=3

@Katie L -

I don't know how you manage to do it, but you make me have to work harder!  

🤔... think that's a good thing. (lol)

I can't believe I let this slip by me - thought I was only letting my little finger collapse once in a while, like when I'm tired (no excuse), but just caught myself (again) letting it happen while practicing! 😳  I checked my last couple videos & found I also did it there! 

Geez, I can't seem to get one thing fixed before something else pops up! 

The bright side - thanks to the videos here, I can work on my little finger and my thumb at the same time, now. 🤗 

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Katie L
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January 25, 2023 - 8:39 am
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Ha ha Emily I’m kind of glad !! I feel the same 1 step forwards 2 steps back!

I found another video from professor V who I like a lot. I’ll find and post later . 

I don’t think my reach is too bad it’s more the dreaded curve.!!

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Gordon Shumway
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January 25, 2023 - 8:49 am
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Gordon Shumway said
  if your pinky won't stretch, then your thumb is too close to the scroll.  

Maybe the best exercise you can do is learn to play in 3rd position asap?

Andrew

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Katie L
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January 25, 2023 - 2:12 pm
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Gordon if you are referring to me I won’t be learning third position for a long time ..!

I think … after watching various you tube videos an reading up on the fourth finger , my strategy is to practice getting my fourth finger to the string and keeping the arch sharp. Then very slowly pressing down and building strength. Also I like the drumming exercises in the vid Jim posted. I can do that whenever. 

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Gordon Shumway
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January 25, 2023 - 4:20 pm
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Katie L said
Gordon if you are referring to me... 

No, I normally use the pronoun "one", not "you". This time I was slacking.

But you could consider 3rd.

études in C major in 2nd position can be tricky on the G string - the stretch from 2nd finger to 4th is still quite big and one can still have one's thumb too far back out of oversight.

3rd forces you to go up the neck a bit further, and I often find it more comfortable, and there's no longer any excuse for leaving the thumb behind.

Andrew

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ELCBK
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January 26, 2023 - 12:06 am
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@Gordon Shumway said:

BUT.... A 10 minute video on an exercise should have the exercise FIRST, then an explanation of it. I HATE videos where what they are discussing isn't demonstrated until the 8th minute! 

I was just wondering if you have any internet speed/quality issues?

Why not take a couple seconds to run your cursor over the timeline to find where demonstrations begin, take a peek - then decide if it's worth listening to the explanation & tips?  This can even be done on a phone. 

@Gordon Shumway said:

Typically Corelli Op.5.1, 3rd mov is a fourth finger exercise, but Suzuki puts it in book 7, so that no-one ever goes there, or they assume it's harder than it really is. In O'Leary's book it's #36, implying it's grade 4 (low intermediate). But it's also very much a string-crossing exercise. There's one measure where Suzuki recommends using the open E string. There's no point at all in that. There's a little finger motif(phrase) that occurs about a dozen times in the piece. What's the point in playing one of them on an open E string instead? None. If you want open E strings there's plenty of Vivaldi you can try.

I appreciate your references to specific book exercises, but don't you rely on a teacher to set you up correctly for these exercises? 

I'm having trouble seeing where those book exercises, alone, show people how to fix a collapsed 4th finger, how to practice using your 4th finger without playing, how to change your hand while in 1st position, so the 4th finger can always be curved (even when a person's little finger is short or hand small), or HOW to actually relax & use your thumb while playing. These topics are all covered in the videos shared here, in this thread.  They are part of the benefits I reap watching them that help me relate to all the kinds of music I like to play - not just Classical. 

Can you help me understand more specifically what the Corelli, Suzuki & O'Leary exercises taught you?  Stretching the 4th finger?

 

Like in the OP video, violin/fiddle tunes can also be used as 4th finger exercises if you choose not to play open strings.  I noticed I'm more prone to playing open strings for tunes I originally memorized over a year ago - a lot.  I'm noticing it enough now I hope I can start making it a point to use my 4th finger, instead.  Argh! 🤨 ...another bunch of stuff I need to do-over!

My tune choices in different genres usually have several #'s/b's, which can mean some wider intervals to play that cause me to stretch or shift.  I find playing tunes in standard tuning, that are written or are normally played in Baroque tuning, are great 4th finger workouts.  

 

...so, I had several '❤ to ❤' discussions with my proximal interphalangeal joint today, before sending it off to boot camp! 🙄😏

 

@Katie L said: 

Gordon if you are referring to me I won’t be learning third position for a long time ..!

Consider learning 3rd position - you won't fear the rest of the keyboard once you realize you are using the same hand shapes as in 1st.  The notes start getting a little closer together as you go toward the bridge, but you can hear well enough to help with this. 

Personally (for me), I think 3rd position can be easier to play in.  It's harder for me to overcome my thumb, 4th finger & vibrato issues next to the scroll - so I feel I need to make myself concentrate there. 

Been wondering if playing the VIOLA might have exacerbated my problems.  Hate to admit I'm getting spoiled with the narrower Violin fingerboard right now, but I'll have to spend extra time fixing my Viola playing, too. 😖  ...I might even envy 4-string players a tiny bit. (lol)

 

🤙👆🤞👍👏

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Gordon Shumway
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January 26, 2023 - 1:29 am
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ELCBK said

 Why not take a couple seconds to run your cursor over the timeline to find where demonstrations begin, take a peek - then decide if it's worth listening to the explanation & tips?   

That's what I always do. But it's not the video-maker's intention, is, it. Video makers don't put enough thought into the viewer's needs.

 don't you rely on a teacher to set you up correctly for these exercises? 

No, I self-diagnose and self-observe. You have to if you don't have a teacher.

I find that an odd question considering I've always been in the minority here when it comes to recommending teachers!

Can you help me understand more specifically what the Corelli, Suzuki & O'Leary exercises taught you?  Stretching the 4th finger?

Perhaps it's time to abandon the idea of "Stretching" (stretching implies aiming, which implies missing, which is not technique, it is gambling). They teach you to put the hand and thumb in such a place that the notes the pinky requires are within its reach. Comfort. They teach other things: as I said, string-crossing and so on.

My pinky is much shorter than Julia's or that student's. That's why I often say everyone's hands are different. You don't put your thumb where Julia's thumb is if your pinky is shorter than hers. You tailor everything to your needs. A teacher, even Julia, would do that for you.

I think 3rd position can be easier to play in.  It's harder for me to overcome my thumb, 4th finger & vibrato issues next to the scroll...

Yes, that was my point.

Andrew

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ELCBK
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January 26, 2023 - 2:24 am
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@Gordon Shumway -  

 

🤣 I can't expect any kind of presentation skill level from anyone - feel lucky if I find any good tips or even a fresh perspective. 

I'm really sorry, I could've sworn you talked about having an instructor somewhere & I wondered if that helped with hand issues like this - not that I'm looking for one. 

If I need to consider playing something outside of my list of favorites, I need to know what it's meant to do for me - so I can try to find those same qualities in a piece more to my liking. 

...takes a big carrot to get me motivated these days.(lol)

serenade

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Gordon Shumway
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January 26, 2023 - 2:33 am
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I've had a dozen lessons in the last 4 years, but my teacher has now moved too far away, and she was a violist anyway, which wasn't ideal. I am living on a partial pension and the UK's economic problems mean I won't know if I can afford a proper teacher until after the Spring.

When you have an instructor, you should try to learn their teaching skills from them. I learnt as much as I could from two good piano teachers in the 70s as well as my violin teacher.

As I often say, play music, and only play études when you have to (during 8 years of piano lessons I was only ever set 4 études max, probably fewer). Play music listening. If you think your legato string-crossing sounds bad, work on it. If it is very hard to work on it, look for a study in it, as a last resort. Only play studies you can sight-read. If they are too difficult for that, you will find it harder to learn from them than from the music you were wanting to play in the first place.

The Corelli is not a study, it is a piece of music that just happens to exercise your pinky. In the same way you can go out jogging for the scenery and the fresh air in your lungs without needing to do circuit training in a gym or shuttle running. If your aim is to get fit, then you don't need to train to win a medal in the Olympics.

Until you get to conservatory, it's worth having a compendium such as this one and ignoring all those people who tell you you have to play all of Dont and Kreutzer and Mazas and Beriot etc etc.

===

To summarise in a way that's probably cruel but probably fair, if your thumb is glued to the scroll and you work on exercises to stretch your pinky, then you may be doing it all wrong.

Andrew

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AndrewH
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January 26, 2023 - 3:50 am
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There's also the reverse approach, which is to place your fingers starting from the fourth finger, and see where your thumb wants to go.

Placing the hand beginning with the fourth finger is something violists seem to do much more often because of the larger instrument. I believe Kim Kashkashian mentioned it in the big seminar video that I posted some time back. You might get more out of it now that you've spent more time thinking about your hand position.

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Gordon Shumway
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January 26, 2023 - 4:10 am
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AndrewH said
There's also the reverse approach, which is to place your fingers starting from the fourth finger, and see where your thumb wants to go...

It's a valid approach as long as people aren't tempted to treat the thumb as an afterthought. Which it might validly be in some ways, but not in all ways (it might be left lying along the neck pointing towards the scroll impeding future movement, particularly if the hand shifts down for a Bb or an Eb).

Perhaps relaxation is the keyword. Starting with the pinky, as you describe, should lead to relaxation. Starting with the thumb on the scroll and stretching the pinky will lead to tension (mental and physical).

Andrew

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ELCBK
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January 26, 2023 - 6:49 am
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@AndrewH & @Gordon Shumway -

Thank you both!  

Will keep everything in mind you've mentioned.

 

I'm confident I'm headed in the right direction after watching the OP video. 

My collapsing 4th finger joint is a bad habit & it will take time to fix.  The video gave me a path to start on, so I've shifted my focus from my thumb to my 4th finger joint - the chapter starting at 12:54 in the video will also help my thumb. 

I'll have to reassess everything when I get back to viola.  I'll make sure my 4th finger is in better shape by then, but again, I think my problem is still more about rotating my hand/arm - not stretching my 4th finger.  I may be at my physical limits there, because I'm doing better with the violin size (hate to admit it, but not giving up). 

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/5d/88/38/5d8838b05459c598c86559ee70343110.jpg

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