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I'm really struggling with my 4th finger, I keep trying and I know exactly where it needs to be but I just can't reach! I can manage it if I only place that finger down but that means I have to lift off my other fingers. I can easily do it on my daughters 1/2 size lol! I have quite small hands (16cm long and just under 8cm across the palm)
I make sure my elbow is not too far back too. I'd really appreciate if anyone has any tips?
You need to measure the length of Your arm, to see what size fiddle you need. if its the correct size its a matter of technique and practice, your hand will gradually become looser and be able to stretch more, I think fiddlerman has some tutorials on hand positioning if I remember rightly.
This is very interesting and will help you
I have the smallest hands of any adult I've ever met in person, only 2 mm longer and 3 mm wider than yours, and I play a 15.75" viola. I'd suggest taking some tips from the viola community in general. Violists are used to making adjustments to their technique for the larger instrument, and I have to use every single one of them.
Start with posture: you may find that you can reach farther if the violin is angled more in front of you rather than to the side. You may need to adjust your chinrest and shoulder rest setup to facilitate this.
With smaller hands, it's best to balance your hand closer to the center. Traditionally many teachers tell you to put your thumb opposite your first finger; violists tend to place their thumbs closer to the second finger, and in recent years it's been more accepted in violin playing as well. You may also want to learn to adjust your thumb while playing. Here's an article (aimed at teachers but still useful to students) with some good photos of what this looks like.
You also don't absolutely have to keep your wrist straight -- violists often play with a slightly rounded wrist to allow them to reach more easily.
Finally: instead of starting with the first finger and reaching up the string, consider starting by placing your fourth finger and reaching back toward the scroll to place your first finger. This will help with hand balance, and can also show you where your first finger can help stretch a bit more.
My hand isn't that much different than yours - .5cm wider and a little longer at my Middle finger, but my Little finger is 4cm shorter than my Middle (I have no idea if that is even unusual).
And, I have FIVE strings I must reach with my 4th finger!
I didn't start out correctly when I began - never had my elbow under my violin and I never practiced moving my thumb under the neck.
So, I'm paying for it, because it feels VERY unnatural/uncomfortable to do these things now - but I must get used to if I want my fingers freed up over the fingerboard. This is what allows my fingers to stretch differently - to use my 4th finger better.
It's probably inaccurate to just say "elbow under the violin" - mine has to actually swing PAST the opposite edge and I have to tilt the violin some, also.
This all has me rethinking my strings, too. I have very warm ones, which I think may make it more difficult to get a good clear tone with my 4th finger on the lower strings - food for thought.
Anyway, it's still a struggle for me, but you have to find the combination that works best for YOU - the earlier, the better.
YOU CAN DO IT! 🎃
...nothing scarier than learning to use the 4th finger... except VIBRATO!