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That darn'd fourth finger............


Omobono
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The April issue of 'the Strad' has an interesting (short) item on studies of violinists' hand in relation to the mobility of the fourth (litttle) finger. It appears to suggest that the majority of elite players possess an additional tenden which allows extra flexibility of the little finger.

Most people do not have this - (I knew there was a reason for that dreaded fourth finger trill problem!)

Guess I'm "digitally challenged"!

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The April issue of 'the Strad' has an interesting (short) item on studies of violinists' hand in relation to the mobility of the fourth (litttle) finger. In appears to suggest that the majority of elite players possess an additional tenden which allows extra flexibility of the little finger.

Most people do not have this - (I knew there was a reason for that dreaded fourth finger trill problem!)

Guess I'm "digitally challenged"!

Very interesting Omobono, but what exactly is meant by "flexing the middle joint of the small finger"? I have three joints in each finger, one where the finger joins my hand. If the next one along is the middle joint, I don't have any more difficulty flexing that with 1, 2, 3, immobilised than I do in flexing the same joint in the first finger with 2, 3 and 4 immobilised..

 

Does this mean I have the elite equipment? I continue to struggle with "cuts" and "rolls" involving the little finger in the Irish traditional music I play.

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Well, I most certainly don't fit into the elite bracket but I've been playing since I was a child.  What I can see is that my left hand has independent FDS whilst my right hand has FDS-common function (to use the language of the article).   So can the independent function be developed?

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Well, I most certainly don't fit into the elite bracket but I've been playing since I was a child.  What I can see is that my left hand has independent FDS whilst my right hand has FDS-common function (to use the language of the article).   So can the independent function be developed?

 

"Can this function be developed?"  Perhaps not - my wife just demonstrated the very same left versus right hand ability.  And all she plays is bleeedin' golf (which she's just about to do despite it snowing!).

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I think this study is silly.

 

To start, never in the history of the teaching of violin and viola has independent FDS ever been considered an issue or advantage, so now we need several hand surgeons to suggest so.  In other words, in the violin/viola world,  no string players need to put their left hand to the test in such a range of motion complex as suggested by the FDS testing as illustrated in that picture.  We never ever put our index finger, middle finger, ring finger into severe extension while trying to flex the pinkie in the distal inter-phalangeal joint (middle joint).  The presence of this additional muscle-- the availability of this muscle's function--is never put into use in violin/viola playing.  Therefore, what was tested for, at best, is a non factor.  Unless, of course, there may be other factors associated with the presence of FDS not yet discovered by that group. For instance, is the presence of FDS associated with a higher degree of hand dexterity or a faster finger reflex, etc?

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 What exactly is meant by "flexing the middle joint of the small finger"? I have three joints in each finger, one where the finger joins my hand. If the next one along is the middle joint, I don't have any more difficulty flexing that with 1, 2, 3, immobilised than I do in flexing the same joint in the first finger with 2, 3 and 4 immobilised..

Since I can neither flex the top or next to top joint of little pinky independantly it's irrelevant to me...... <_<

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I think this study is silly.

 

To start, never in the history of the teaching of violin and viola has independent FDS ever been considered an issue or advantage, so now we need several hand surgeons to suggest so.

I don't follow your reasoning. If it's true that FDS is an issue and the relevant ability gives an advantage, as the study suggests, then teachers of violin and viola should be grateful to these surgeons for discovering something that the teachers hadn't realised.

 

 In other words, in the violin/viola world,  no string players need to put their left hand to the test in such a range of motion complex as suggested by the FDS testing as illustrated in that picture.

 

That isn't suggested by the testing. The testing is intended to identify whether the test subject has the ability in question, not to show that this ability is necessary to play the violin to a high standard.

 

However, none of the 90 professional violinists in the survey lacked FDS function, while it was absent in 20%, 1 in 5, of the general population.  

 

The presence of this additional muscle-- the availability of this muscle's function--is never put into use in violin/viola playing.

Therefore, what was tested for, at best, is a non factor.  Unless, of course, there may be other factors associated with the presence of FDS not yet discovered by that group. For instance, is the presence of FDS associated with a higher degree of hand dexterity or a faster finger reflex, etc?

 

Well it's a tendon rather than a muscle I think, which matters because you can strengthen a muscle but you can't develop a new tendon. As for dexterity, the authors of the study say this:

 

 

The violin is a challenging instrument. Rapid,

independent motion of the digital joints in the left
hand is desirable. We hypothesized that absence of
independent FDS function in the small finger might
compromise the dexterity of the player, because the
FDP would flex both small finger interphalangeal
joints in unison and cause concurrent involuntary
flexion of the ring finger by mass action. Once the
small finger actively engages the string, the FDP
would tether the ring finger into flexion, acting as an
antagonist to any active, voluntary, independent ring
finger extension that the player might try to execute.
This causes difficulty and discomfort, as our young
patient indicated.
 
They conclude by saying:
 

Not having independent FDS function should

not preclude a young player from taking up the violin,
as not everyone needs to reach a professional level to
get enjoyment from their playing. If a student is
struggling, the standard test is easy to carry out. If absent
FDS function is confirmed, an explanation about why
certain movements are difficult to execute might be

more helpful than giving the advice to practise more.

 

Doesn't seem silly to me.

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I can't read the article so I won't argue on the results, but I can easily guess that it might harm many young children whose dream is to become violin soloist, since a simple flexing test saying "You don't have this extra tendon so you won't be able to become a great soloist..." is likely to deter them from even trying.

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I don't follow your reasoning. If it's true that FDS is an issue and the relevant ability gives an advantage, as the study suggests, then teachers of violin and viola should be grateful to these surgeons for discovering something that the teachers hadn't realised.

 

 

That isn't suggested by the testing. The testing is intended to identify whether the test subject has the ability in question, not to show that this ability is necessary to play the violin to a high standard.

 

However, none of the 90 professional violinists in the survey lacked FDS function, while it was absent in 20%, 1 in 5, of the general population.  

 

 

 

Well it's a tendon rather than a muscle I think, which matters because you can strengthen a muscle but you can't develop a new tendon. As for dexterity, the authors of the study say this:

 

 

The violin is a challenging instrument. Rapid,

independent motion of the digital joints in the left
hand is desirable. We hypothesized that absence of
independent FDS function in the small finger might
compromise the dexterity of the player, because the
FDP would flex both small finger interphalangeal
joints in unison and cause concurrent involuntary
flexion of the ring finger by mass action. Once the
small finger actively engages the string, the FDP
would tether the ring finger into flexion, acting as an
antagonist to any active, voluntary, independent ring
finger extension that the player might try to execute.
This causes difficulty and discomfort, as our young
patient indicated.
 
They conclude by saying:
 

Not having independent FDS function should

not preclude a young player from taking up the violin,
as not everyone needs to reach a professional level to
get enjoyment from their playing. If a student is
struggling, the standard test is easy to carry out. If absent
FDS function is confirmed, an explanation about why
certain movements are difficult to execute might be

more helpful than giving the advice to practise more.

 

Doesn't seem silly to me.

 

It is as silly as someone daring enough to come up with a study that suggests that because over 90% NBA players are black therefore in grade school gyms pre-select them to be basketball players, and that if a non black kid struggles with basketball, duh, read that study.

 

That "study" is very poorly constructed to start.  It attempts to compare a select group of specialist against the whole general population and then makes a conclusion out of it.  At least do more work by comparing against other specialists:  secretary, nurse, pianist, plumber, pilot, etc.  As a start!

 

I don't think you truly understand what I am saying in terms of the anatomy, so there is no point arguing over it.  And, judging by the doctors' description of how violinists use their fingers,  I conclude that they don't know what they are talking about, and they should not :)  

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It is as silly as someone daring enough to come up with a study that suggests that because over 90% NBA players are black therefore in grade school gyms pre-select them to be basketball players, and that if a non black kid struggles with basketball, duh, read that study.

 

 

 

No it isn't that silly, because in the hand study they  identified a relevant anatomical feature that would cause someone with that anatomy to struggle. And there isn't any anatomic reason why a non black kid would struggle with basketball.

 

 

 

That "study" is very poorly constructed to start.  It attempts to compare a select group of specialist against the whole general population and then makes a conclusion out of it.  At least do more work by comparing against other specialists:  secretary, nurse, pianist, plumber, pilot, etc.  As a start!

 

I'm no great expert on the design of scientific studies, but this one seems to follow exactly the pattern I would expect, in fact it seems quite elegant to me, whereas your suggested approach would seem likely to lead to chaos.

 

I don't think you truly understand what I am saying in terms of the anatomy, so there is no point arguing over it.

 

If you don't think someone understands what you are saying in a discussion forum, the proper thing to do is to explain where you think they are misunderstanding.

 

And, judging by the doctors' description of how violinists use their fingers,  I conclude that they don't know what they are talking about, and they should not :)

 

Will you give an example of what you mean, where it looks like they don't know what they are talking about?

 

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No it isn't that silly, because in the hand study they  identified a relevant anatomical feature that would cause someone with that anatomy to struggle. And there isn't any anatomic reason why a non black kid would struggle with basketball.

 

 

 

 

I'm no great expert on the design of scientific studies, but this one seems to follow exactly the pattern I would expect, in fact it seems quite elegant to me, whereas your suggested approach would seem likely to lead to chaos.

 

 

 

If you don't think someone understands what you are saying in a discussion forum, the proper thing to do is to explain where you think they are misunderstanding.

 

 

Will you give an example of what you mean, where it looks like they don't know what they are talking about?

Seriously, I don't have time to go over every little detail for you just because it is a discussion forum.  From your way of writing, it does not sound like you want to learn, rather argue, when it seems to me you do not know what you are talking about.  You keep on saying, "to me, to me".  Well, to me you do not have enough experience and understanding of the subject and therefore whatever your opine even to you seems rather questionable.

 

As I said, it is a silly study, you said it is not.  Fine.  Instead of arguing against me, why don't you ask yourself to think a little and see if you understand where i came from.

 

The way I look at it is that if those guys did that study, what they should have said is: gee, what shall we do with this finding? :)   That will be the honest thing to ask and not to suggest and conclude anything!

 

You write very sloppily:  you wrote "relevant anatomical feature  that would cause someone with that anatomy to struggle"

 

relevant?  Because they said so and therefore you think so, too?

 

cause?  that is a very loaded word.  Where is the evidence that it CAUSEs anything?  Because they said so?  Where?  Because you interpreted as such??

 

How many violinists in this world do they know that have this condition (lacking the function)?    All quiet.

 

How many out of those are interviewed and studied by this group of doctors?  All quiet.

 

Can we use 30 violinists we found to extrapolate into a broad conclusion?  I say no, you probably say yes because to you it makes sense because the doctors said so.

 

Could you please think a little???

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Could you please think a little???

 

I’m guessing we can think enough to understand that:

 

A. The study got published,

 

and

 

B. The Strad thought it was noteworthy.

 

That seems to have more weight than a single opinion on MN.

 

We can also notice that people who don’t have time to explain often have the time to flame.  O tempora O mores! bored.gif

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I’m guessing we can think enough to understand that:

 

A. The study got published,

 

and

 

B. The Strad thought it was noteworthy.

 

That seems to have more weight than a single opinion on MN.

 

We can also notice that people who don’t have time to explain often have the time to flame.  O tempora O mores! bored.gif

Nothing can stop the herd mentality :)

 

My bad, should have said, I don't have time to explain AGAIN!  I did explain once to someone who does not seem to know the difference between a tendon and a muscle and still manage to argue and waste my time.  Take that! :)

 

You are right, published 2 times must be something, haha!  Strad?  oh, another reputable hand journal.

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This issue has to my knowledge never been brought up in the field and in the history of violin teaching dating back 200 plus years.

 

Never was promising violin student pre-selected based on this type of thinking.

 

All of a sudden, several hand doctors decide,,,wait a min, look ma, look what I have found!

 

WHAT A JOKE!

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Ouch!  

 

 

Addie = virtually chastised.   :lol:

more like swiped off with a hand with either the extra tendon or not :) thanks to your thinking that if it is published and again published in Strad that it is not flamable.  Don't get too close to your glue pot,,,it's getting to you as well so it seems.  

 

Think enough?  No, think harder! :)

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"We hypothesized that absence of

independent FDS function in the small finger might

compromise the dexterity of the player, because the

FDP would flex both small finger interphalangeal

joints in unison and cause concurrent involuntary

flexion of the ring finger by mass action. Once the

small finger actively engages the string, the FDP


would tether the ring finger into flexion, acting as an

antagonist to any active, voluntary, independent ring

finger extension that the player might try to execute.

This causes difficulty and discomfort, as our young

patient indicated."

 

In other words :). what they are saying is that, when you press down your 4th finger on the string, it would be a problem--namely, difficulty and discomfort-- if your 3rd finger cannot stick up and point the ceiling.  Not making this up.  Read it.

 

Yup, that is exactly what concerns them.  Published.  Picked up by Strad :)

 

As a violinist, ask yourself if that concern is warranted.

 

Can you find any instance during your playing where you press down your pinkie on the string and that your ring finger is NOT also curved downward, either on the string or hoving over the string?  I cannot think of even one!  Perhaps Paganini Caprice #34554.

 

That is why this study is silly to the core.

 

So excuse me for losing patience with this sensational piece of research that I fail to appreciate and fellow posters who are jumping with pompoms!

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Not having independent FDS function should

not preclude a young player from taking up the violin,
as not everyone needs to reach a professional level to
get enjoyment from their playing. If a student is
struggling, the standard test is easy to carry out. If absent
FDS function is confirmed, an explanation about why
certain movements are difficult to execute might be

more helpful than giving the advice to practise more.

 

Doesn't seem silly to me.

 
 
:) very silly to me.
 
The first sentence in essence is saying that one needs to have this extra tendon to be taken seriously as a potential pro.  Silly, very silly.
 
The second sentence is even more silly.  If a student struggles, perform this test, if positive, that explains it (that the student struggles with violin) but don't be practicing more.  Huh???  :)     Me think a lot of kids would love these guys!
 
 
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I agree that reading this paragraph (this is a backing to heritage post 23 about the fingers being flexed) was a little bit disturbing (especially since I remember my first teacher 6 or 7 years ago asking me why I was leaving my index, middle finger and ring fingers up while pressing down the pinky. He added, jokingly,  if it was some kind of medical situation... :)

But since I am not an even remotely good violinist I won't argue that this FDS thing is really an advantage or not. But what disturbed me the most was the first part of the last paragraph where (as I had thought) it was said that "recommendations" should be made to children who didn't pass this FDS test before taking on violin or viola. And I don't think it should go that way. A child wants to start violin, fine! Let him/her do and encourage him/her without even hinting that he/she might have a "potential" issue with the fourth finger.

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