Violin beginner here (67 years young).
Very few violin players, myself included, seem able to keep right hand finger #4 curved (instead it flattens out aparrently straining to keep the bow balanced).
Should the “windshield wiper” exercise alone cure this problem? Do these fingers need more strengthening?
Almost all online instruction i have seen (A LOT) says keep finger #4 curved, but only the best of the best seem able to keep it curved.
Your not on your own mate, I have to consciously think of keeping it curved, and along with everything else its just one more thing to go wrong.
Personally Ithink its more important to keep the bow straight and pivoted with the thumb, but saying that, I dont know anything.
I have seen videos of people like heifetz and on some their finger is straight, and I have seen others were its not even on the bow, Oistrakh for instance.
Agreed, it's not a matter of strength (of which I don't have much).
I also use the 4th finger mostly for balancing the bow. It's important especially near the frog ; when bowing near the tip (or say in the upper half of the bow), I find it less useful, there my 4th often leaves the bow altogether.
Actually it's not "just the finger", but rather the whole hand I think, and the flexibility of the wrist. As you draw the bow across the string, up or down, the curve of the right wrist changes (and it's not easy to explain in words but there are videos). The vertical position of the wrist relative to the bow (high above the bow, or level with the bow, …) has an influence on the way the fingers can or cannot be curved. Not sure I'm being clear there…
It's a personal thing.
They teach beginners one thing, then you can suit yourself when you feel comfortable.
I believe that the main reason they teach you the curved pinky is NOT because that's how your pinky should be, it's because that's the best way to make sure you hand doesn't become a claw. Relaxed hands are essential for musicians. You can control a relaxed hand, but a claw will control you.
Note Perlman's pinky here between 1:35 and 2:45 (in addition to noticing how relaxed his hands are. 33:30-34:30 are also instructive).
It's everything from straight to curved to bent back on itself to hiding in the palm of his hand. The pinky is the weakest finger and there are techniques that restrict its use on either hand on every instrument. The main bow control is the thumb and fingers 1 to 3, with the index applying more pressure when you want to play louder.