How to Keep Your Left and Right Pinky Round in Playing Violin or Viola

by | Mar 26, 2014 | Bowing Technique, Play in Tune | 4 comments

Keep your pinky round, your teacher might have told you a hundred times. A round left pinky will improve your intonation. A round right pinky will improve your bowing and tone production. It’s easier said than done as your pinky needs strength (muscles!), flexibility and balance.

Sylviane wrote me the following on this topic:

Hello Zlata,

I just watched your youtube video on the Pinky Training Program that you posted at the violinist.com!
What a marvelous idea!

I have an 8-year old daughter who has been playing the violin for almost 4 years, under Suzuki method. I myself started learning violin just to accompany her. One of the challenges that my daughter has is her pinky, on both hands!

Her left pinky would stay curled until she needs to use it. Her teacher and I keep reminding her about this, sometimes it works but when we stop reminding her, that she would fall to the bad habit again.And her right pinky, is often doing the exact position you showed on the video: sky slope rather than curled pinky. She used to have a pinky tube on her bow when she started, but now she doesn’t want to have any of these ‘aids’ as she believes she is quite advanced. She might be more advanced than 4 years ago but she definitely needs remindings.

I will show her the video, most of the times she listens to others better than her mother! I will check out your website violin lounge and the free workshop as well. Thank you again and hope to see you soon on your video!

Sylviane

How to keep your pinky round?

Are you also having problems with using your pinky? In my video I discuss several tips to help you improve your playing with both your right and left pinky. These tips are also helpful for children, but bear in mind that the motor skills of children are not fully developed yet and they function differently, so don’t be too hard on them.

 

Tip 1. Choose the right size violin

To start with your left pinky: First, make sure that the violin you are using is not too big, especially for children, because then you can’t reach that fourth finger properly. Therefore, if you are doubting between two violins, I would recommend you choose the smaller one.

Tip 2. Practice the fourth finger separately

Secondly, practice the fourth finger separately, by focussing on the fourth finger while playing a piece, or do an exercise.

Tip 3. Keep the pinky above the string

Thirdly, focus on not pulling away your pinky when you are not using it, but always keep it just above the string.

Tip 4. Fall the pinky directly on the string

Fourth, focus on letting the left pinky fall directly on the string. A lot of children have troubles with this, because they place their fingers too soft. However, don’t forget that the motor skills of children are not fully developed yet and they function differently, so don’t be too hard on them.

Find your balance and strenght again after using the pinky tube

For your right pinky you could indeed use a pinky tube. However, I would not necessarily recommend this. Using a pinky tube can be very helpful, but the problem is that with this aid you do not need the same balance and strength as without it.

So, when you stop using this aid, you need to find your balance again and improve the strength of your pinky. You can train this with large and small movement exercises.

Toiletpaper role exercise

For example, pretend to hold a toiletpaper role in your left hand and move your bow through this hand. Watch that your fingers stretch with down bow and bend at up bow. On the violin you could play with almost a whole bow and focus on the same.

You can also do this movement in smaller movements and exaggerate the movement by focussing on finger bowing. Here, you keep your hand steady and only move your fingers. Note, that you do not have to sound good whilst doing this exercise. It is just a motoric skill exercise. 

For more help, take a look at My Pinky Training Program. Good luck!

Love,

Zlata

 

PS: Do you want to see YOUR question answered in a Violin Lounge TV episode? Post a comment below!

4 Comments

  1. Sylviane

    Dear Zlata,
    Thank you for the wonderful movie!! My daughter and I watched it over and over again. What she liked the most is that as if you were talking to her directly!
    No, she didn’t use the aids during all this past 4 years, it was only during her first year playing.
    We have tried your tips, and will keep on practising them. So hopefully next time I can send you video of how round her pinky’s are, on both hands!
    Have a nice day, Zlata!
    Tiena Lyn and Sylviane

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata

      Hi Tiena and Sylviane,

      Thanks for your comment and great to hear that my video has been useful to you.

      Happy playing and good luck!

      Zlata

      Reply
  2. Ann

    Hello Zlata,

    I have been watching all of your tutorial videos and enjoy each and every one. I have signed up for your Weight vs Pressure Workshop, but I cannot figure out how to access the workshop. That is my first question. My second question is this: Could you please let me know what shoulder rest you have on your violin?
    Thank you,
    Ann

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.