Violin Tips: Working That Pesky Fourth Finger

violin fourth fingerMastering finger coordination when you’re first learning how to play the violin can be tricky – but it’s not impossible! Even when it should be simple, however, sometimes keeping that pesky fourth (pinky) finger in line can be a chore. Here are a couple of helpful exercises to take control and gain strength…

Finger Raises

Perfecting your violin technique can be a life-long process. Leopold Auer, author of the book Violin Playing as I Teach It, explains that it can take years for you to overcome “certain muscular weaknesses” in your fingers. Auer recommends independent finger raises to strength your fourth finger and help develop proper technique for trills.

Place your violin in playing position. Raise your left hand up and place your fingers in first position on the “D” string. Raise your fourth finger off the string and drop it back down into position. Listen for the ping of the string to be assured that you are coming down with enough force. Practice on the D and G strings before moving onto the A and E strings. Each string requires a different wrist and elbow angle, and practicing finger raises on each string reinforces the strength and independence of your fourth finger.

Pizzicato Exercises

Pizzicato is usually done by plucking the violin strings with your right hand index finger. Carl Flesch, author of the classic violin book The Art of Violin Playing, states that when playing the violin, you need adequate finger strength to finish lengthy pieces. Left-handed pizzicato exercises will strengthen your fourth finger. Hold your violin in playing position and anchor your first finger on the A or D string. Curve your fourth finger around the string and pluck the string. Keep your hand still and move the fourth finger independently. Do not strike or touch the other strings. Listen for a clear, ringing sound. Pluck loudly and softly to vary the resistance from the string to the finger. Repeat on other strings, and in third, fourth and fifth positions.

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Readers, what other exercises do you work on to strengthen your fourth finger? Leave a comment below, and don’t forget to Like us on Facebook!


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Photo by claire.shovelton.

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