I have recently received a number of questions regarding the frame of the left hand and the position of the first finger. I thought I would share one of my favorite exercises which sets the hand and the first finger, increases dexterity … and strengthens the fourth finger as well.
As violinists, we search for a comfortable playing position. Since many of us lack that ‘perfect hand’, we need to find and mentally set our our basic position so we are able to reach all of the notes with the greatest economy of motion. I believe that the fourth finger, being the smallest finger, must be set on the fingerboard for this to happen.
Try the following exercises and see if they help you. I have adapted Sevcik’s School of Violin Technique, Opus 1, Part 1, # 1, by adding a silent 4th finger to stabilize and mentally clarify the inner and outer frame of the hand.
To begin, place the fourth finger on the E string. Play the four notes on the A string slowly, I suggest you repeat that first measure 4 times, adjusting the intonation and feeling any stretches between your fingers. Remember that the bow plays only the notes on the A string while the fourth finger remains silently on the E string.
The following rhythms should then be repeated 2 times each. Remember to release any tension in the thumb at the end of each measure. The fourth finger remains on the E string.
If there is difficulty with the second finger stretch you may want to begin with a C#.
More advanced players can experiment with other finger patterns.
This exercise strengthens the pinky isometrically while the first finger is
extended backwards to reach the B or Bflat.
By the time one reaches the third measure, the fourth finger moves to the A string and is able to play effortlessly as the hand is now balanced with the fingers over the notes.
With practice, hopefully the hand will soon ‘remember’ where it is supposed to be.
For more practice tips, visit firstname.lastname@example.org, Online Violin Lessons