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Bridge Adjustment


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I have an ongoing issue. When I play on the C string of my viola

with my 4th finger (G) in first position, I always hit the open D

string with my pinky. I also do this slightly but not as much when

I use my third finder (F). No amount of supination or raising of

the fingers will help, they are just too short to hit the C string

without also touching the D. It's because my pinky is too short! Is

there some kind of bridge or other adjustment that will help this.

These two notes always sound muffled or dead because of the D

string being touched at the same time. It's pretty darn

frustrating. Until now I have always just lived with this

problem... Any ideas?

Thanks, Lark

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it'd be great to see you play in person, but i'm faiirly confident that this is a positioning problem with the left arm/hand/fingers. even if the strings are too high off the fingerboard...if you can clear them with your first and second, and third (somewhat)...you should be able to clear it with your fourth even if it's "too short".

1. rotate the left elbow all the way to the right so that you can get your left hand knuckles up and over the fingerboard and closer to your c string.

attached is a famous picture of heifetz doing just that on the violin.

(see attachment)

or you can go to images.google.com and type in heifetz...and you'll see the picture come up a few times.

2. most students build their hand position by setting the first finger and working their way up...by the time they reach their pinky it's out stick straight and can't even hit the proper note. not good.

rather, it should be the opposite.

build your hand position around your fourth finger and work backwards. set your fourth finger on the note so that it is nice and curved. then set your third, then second...etc.etc.. this way you reach back to the first finger....and you won't have a problem with the pinky. and that's how you set your hand position.

3. check where your scroll is pointing. the more it points to the left...the more you're limiting the reach of your arm/elbow/hand/fingers....rather, bring the scroll all the way right...to the center in directly in front of you and you'll find you can wrap up and over the fingerbord

a *proper* implementation of 1-3 is going to do it for you. i can imagine that an improperly used shoulder rest is going to affect (in a bad way) how well you can do #1-3 too.

also, the more tight or tense your left hand is...the more your hand will get smaller. so loosen it up completely.

it's common to feel that the pinky is "too weak" and "not strong" too. however, pressing down with the pinky muscles can make things worse. instead, go completely loose in the pinky, and allow your hand and arm weight to push down the pinky for you.

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it's common to feel that the pinky is "too weak" and "not strong" too. however, pressing down with the pinky muscles can make things worse. instead, go completely loose in the pinky, and allow your hand and arm weight to push down the pinky for you.

Back up a second! I "caught" myself using hand and arm weight to push the pinky down and thought it was a mistake due to a "weak pinky" that I would need to correct. So this is actually o.k.? If this is o.k., then you might have inadvertently shed light on a technical problem involving the lifting part of the equation: I tend to lock up in certain passages involving 432 and have been stymied for weeks. It's all the more frustrating because these passages are ultra-simple and should present no problem.

My thinking is this: supposing that a large part of a person's putting the pinky down involves this transfer of hand weight into the pinky. The moment of lifting the pinky comes, and the person tries to lift the pinky using the finger's muscle or tendons under the assumption that the finger itself has been doing the "down". It would stand to reason that if hand weight provided the pressure to the string, removal of hand weight would have to be involved in removing that pressure, rather than an action in the finger alone. If I'm applying hand weight, and then try to lift the finger through the finger, there's going to be a lot of tension in the hand. It would almost have to be something like a rolling on and a rolling off?

I am curious now whether different violinists would handle the pinky differently, and whether there would be a variety ranging from using the pinky only for pressing down, and various ratios of how much depends on hand weight versus pinky "strength".

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yes, you would experience added effort if the pinky was the only thing in contact with the string. fortunately this is not the case.

some things to consider:

1. the lh fingers are generally kept down on the string or are hovering just the slightest fraction above the string....so that the frame position of the hand is maintained. you generally aim for no sightly gaps between any of the fingers and the string... with the emphasis on "generally".

in that manner, the lifting action of any finger is very very slight...just about impercetible really...and any hand weight that goes into the pinky, will also be supported by another finger that is kept down...or by the finger that will be playing when the pinky is lifted. in other words, all the remaining fingers that are down will free up the weight that went into the pinky.

2. the required hand/arm weight that goes into the fingers is very miniscule. it's mainly hand weight but since the arm is connected to the hand everything is involved. remember that you always want to be focusing the weight OVER your target...you never want to be hanging the weight down FROM the target (i hope that makes sense).

the idea is to use as little muscle work as possible, and any muscle work that you do use...is done with the largest muscle group available. you generally move or impulse your bow with your upper arm...leaving the lower arm/wrist/hand completely loose.

similarly you move your fingers only with the main base joint attached to your big hand knuckles...and leave the two smaller joints completely loose.

in regards to difficulties with 4321, etc. i find it is often a lifting problem, not a pressing problem. and it's not that one cannot lift fast enough, it's that one is lifting TOO fast between some of the fingers (likely between 4->3)....leading to 4321 passages which are all jumbled up and not in rhythm. consciously slowing down the lifting between those two fingers will help even things out rhythmically..

in the case that you mentioned, any locking up of the fingers may be due to a number of factors...:

too much tension, too much pressure, too much muscle usage. and/or too much finger movement.

keep the fingers down, curved, and LOOSE. let the hand add that slight weight into the fingers (this equals less muscular effort)...and move those fingers from the base joints only....and only move that slightest impercetible amount...

hope this helps.

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