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Pinky Locking up


PaxDomini
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Im going back to the basics with my vibrato after realizing that my pinky is locking up in the knuckle closest to the nail. If it helps i use a combination of wrist/arm, and im working on trying a little finger vibrato. Any suggestions?

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See a hand doctor; it is imperative to take care of your fingers.  You may have stenosing tenosynovitis, commonly called trigger finger.  If a doctor immediately recommends injections and/or surgery, see another specialist; it is best to start with the least invasive, least painful treatment, and work up from there.  When I had this condition, one treatment of dexamethasone via iontophoresis fixed me up.  In the meantime, it won't hurt to try hot water soaks to see if that helps.  Good luck!   

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 Fingers do not contain muscles (other than arrector pili). The muscles that move the finger joints are in the palm and forearm. The long tendons that deliver motion from the forearm muscles may be observed to move under the skin at the wrist and on the back of the hand.

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I have seen some exercises on line for improving mobility of that finger joint that we use for vibrato; I will find a couple and post a link.  If you do not have a permanent problem bending that joint, it's a different matter...

 

 

 

 

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  • 5 months later...

4th finger vibrato in 1st and 2nd positions on violin can be very difficult for some people. If one has trouble with that wait until you can play the note with a different finger in 2nd or 3rd position before attempting to vibrate it.

 

I recall some of the music I worked on many years ago that was edited by Menuhin and he often favored 3rd finger instead of 4th (pinky). I figured it was for this very reason.

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It's not uncommon to see fingerings that shift to avoid the 4th.  It's equally common to see fingerings that look like they were done by people who never played violin.

 

Something you can to to establish the curve in the 4th that is missing is practice 3rds, which forces the 4th finger to bend to clear the higher string.  Also, Dounis's Fundamental Technical Studies has a lot of exercises to get 4th finger vibrato going.  The 1st exercise is good.  I think it's a matter of fine muscular control, and maybe strength, that takes some time.  Something to try for an experiment could be holding the 1st finger in the air, I think the weight up there away from the tip of the 4th finger adds some inertia to the movement

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8 hours ago, Bill Merkel said:

It's not uncommon to see fingerings that shift to avoid the 4th.  It's equally common to see fingerings that look like they were done by people who never played violin.

 

Something you can to to establish the curve in the 4th that is missing is practice 3rds, which forces the 4th finger to bend to clear the higher string.  Also, Dounis's Fundamental Technical Studies has a lot of exercises to get 4th finger vibrato going.  The 1st exercise is good.  I think it's a matter of fine muscular control, and maybe strength, that takes some time.  Something to try for an experiment could be holding the 1st finger in the air, I think the weight up there away from the tip of the 4th finger adds some inertia to the movement

i found a finger splint on amazon, anyone tried those?

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I would take a few steps back in time and go back to practicing vibrato with the scroll padded with a towel against the wall, this way the violin is suspended completely your hand will be free from any need to support the neck....

at this point loosen your grip by relaxing the thumb contact and pinch , keep it in proper place , but completely lighten the contact,then do the same with the pinky where you are touching down lightly  on the string as if trying to play a whistle harmonic...at this point no hard pressure down, just try to work the vibrato motion , not concerning with tone at this point, gradually increase pressure after 1 minute , now trying to touch down only as hard to be able to sound the note clearly, but no harder, no vibrato, just dial in the lightest pressure that will sound the note properly, then go back to trying to sound a note while adding a slow rate vibrato.

often times "we" are clamping down much harder than needed and the pinky is the most prone to "over pinch" of all the fingers the pinky needs to be right at the "just hard enough down pressure" which often entails lightening the thumb and not "trying to "pinch with your thumb/pinky but more of a shift to the pinky just pressing down , then inducing the wavier

To see just how crappy of a pinch "you" have, practice picking up light objects with your thumb and pinky , it is rather awkward 

Next, while sitting in a chair at a table , place you left hand flat on the table palm down, then perriotte your pinky and thumb , as if they were two little legs of a ballet dancer , so the tips of your thumb and pinky are now propping up your hand with you other fingers pointing straight out, now wiggle the thumb and pinky together and note how akward it feels when they are "linked" but then remove the thumb and see how easy the pinky will wobble back and forth.

It is important that you decouple the thumb pressure to allow for freedom of movement in the fingers, particularly the pinky , this table exercise is to show you how when you engage a thumb with the pinky how awkward and unflexable the system feels when trying to do something dynamic with two points of contact, and that you will still need to use your thumb, but by being able to shift the majority of the force to the pinky so the thumb is more cradling than pinch/supporting the neck, you will see much more freedom in your hand motions 

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On 3/19/2021 at 2:31 AM, GoPractice said:

Great that you are experimenting. Honestly, I have no idea how Heifetz sounded the way he did on the Sibelius. The re-mastered RCA recording sounds a little "soft." I often question if the artifacts of the tone had to be partly due to the closer miking of the soloist. Listening closely to Heifetz's sound, I hear intense sizzling but smoothly controlled and delivered phrasing.

We have strings in common. The GB 26 and 27, Wondertone Solo and Gold Label are on most of my instruments. The purpose for each e- string are different and the WT Solo is sweeter so the changes in bow velocity are more noticeable, more color in the clear range. The GB 26 pushes easier ( thus the pairing with the gut? ) while the GB 27 can be intense and work better for technical works. The gold label is installed when there are fast high passages. 

I try almost everything on the market. But have mostly used EP mediums on g-, d-, a- strings for chamber music for availability and its predictability, say for a decade or so. They can be slightly boring in character now. Have not switched to any EP gold, though many students like them. My perception of the EP Gold was that they were weaker on the upper d- string when last used. Have tried the GB variations with different coatings and like them as they last longer. Hopefully, that offers you a reference.

The last gut sets purchased were Gamut, regular- type varnished. Silver g- string can be a bit too strong to blend, but that will depend on the instrument. Silver sounds great to me, and even prefer Silver to Tungsten on my cellos when not playing symphonic material or sitting in section. As for the Heifetz set, the presumption is for post- baroque music?

I borrowed/ traded a slightly used set of the Tricolore and was not very easily able to create that intense sound throughout. The strings were installed on a bright, powerful Vieuxtemps - DG copy. Playing closer to the bridge with nice even strokes ( very precise modern bow ) produced a little sizzle. But the already brightly tilted tone of the instrument tipped the overtones into a deafening haze - even on a slightly played set. The pitches were not necessarily loud, just noisier that expected. Not warmer like the David.

The less than pleasant sound/ playing was not the string's fault. The attempt was to achieve that intensity, and with too many expectations just could not pull nice long tones or fast, blazing arpeggios or register leaps. I kill off gut e- strings quickly and this particular a- string did not last long. Since these strings were installed once before, I did not break in the strings slowly. 

Rosin types do matters. Some will scoff, but when you start to rate the strings, one starts to identify strengths and weaknesses in the strings, your playing, the bow and the instrument. The sound might have been warmest with the Andrea cake and noisiest with an older harder cake of Liebenzeller Gold 1.

Since I am performing very little, there has been degradation in my playing this past year. I am trying to burn off my Dominant sets but are truly enjoying them in doing so. Actually, the strings might be burning me. They do go wild quickly and are both chaotic and easy to play on - a byproduct of familiarity for a better part of 20 years. The pianist who is willing to work with a clear polycarbonate ( expensive ) divider between us comments that the soft passages lack clarity and focus, as does the cellist who has received the vaccine. They like the punch and clarity ( immediacy? ) of the EP better. The pianist does not play harpsichord but commented that the Dominants might be fine for baroque duo sonatas. Lately, though, I am finding the EPs a bit of a disappointment. My guess is that she would also find the Tricolore sound weaker or less present.

On a borrowed ancient Italian instrument that had to be returned a little more than a decade ago, rather than gut, an early set of Warchal Brilliants were used with better result ( than wound gut - gold label ) for the duration of the loan. I think the Passione were just being released to the public at that time. The music was performed at a= 440+hz on music to about Brahms - era. 

Look forward to reading your observations. Hope they work well. The pricing is not bad, but would likely break more a- stings. I would definitely try the Tricolore again but on a much more fuller sounding instrument.

thanks this helps alot

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