Pinkies Up: Giving my Violin the Finger (Exercises)

28 April 02017 (4 weeks ago)3 minutes of your time

Day: 228
Practice Logged: 140 hours + 20 minutes
Feeling: Inflexbile

It’s time to acknowledge another violin studying roadblock.

My pinkie finger, the one on my left hand, has revolted, methinks, and doth protest too much.

See, apparently it’s important for all four of the fingers on your left hand to maintain precise, strong, and hair-trigger control on where and when and how firmly they land on the strings. While your right hand is delicately balancing the bow and those fingers are carefully maintaining a grip, applying pressure, and doing both these things while remaining relaxed and loose, your left fingers are dancing across the four strings somewhere on the neck of the violin hitting millimeter-precision targets to accurately shorten the string and articulate an in-tune note.

Index, middle, and ring are all playing nice.

Pinkie… well, pinkie seems to want to do his own thing. He’s always jumping up and out of the way, knuckle-locking in an awkward place a bit too far from the string to be useful or hovering up in the air trying to get a look at his counterpart at the other end of my right arm (or something?)

This is something I’ve been acutely aware of for a while now.

This is something my instructor recently pointed out as (a) not usual but also a bit weird and (b) something I should work on, even when I don’t have a violin in my hand.

Of course I Googled “violin + pinkie control”.

And, of course the suggestions tended to all fell neatly into two categories: (1) practice more, and (2) strengthen your fingers. Then also a few people suggested that there was a bunch of music that was particularly good at this, particularly some of the old classical etudes. One person even posting that “a real workout for the fourth finger is etude #9 by Kreutzer.”

To which I Googled “Kreutzer + Etude” and discovered that all 42 of Kreutzer’s etudes were available as a one-day free shipping item from Amazon for about seven bucks. Not that I need anymore sheet music, but, honestly, that works out costing about 10 minutes of instruction time, so at this point I figure I’ll probably buy it eventually anyhow.

Undoubtedly the music will be miles above my ability level, but if I can get one or two bits of finger patterns that turn out to be the equivalent of power-workout, hill-training, tempo-runs for my pinkie finger, it will probably be worth it.

Hey, I’m not trying to win the violin equivalent of the Boston marathon here, just negotiate a peace treaty with my rebellious finger.


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