Child complains about “painful” fingers

Wei Fen Chu said: Jan 30, 2018
 8 posts

So we’ve finally managed to get the 1-minute practice in during the day, but my 4.5-year-old now complains that her fingers are painful just trying to play the first line of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. We know she’s not used to pressing her fingertips against the strings, but the very act of playing now seems to be a turn-off for her. She’s only interested in playing open strings. How do teachers encourage the young ones to get past this initial discomfort of violin playing?

Barb said: Jan 31, 2018
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
685 posts

If it was a cello I would check to see if the strings are too high. Could be same on violin??? has anyone ever tried a bit of moleskin on fingertips? I know cellists sometimes use it on thumbs before developing callouses when learning thumb position. Some people are just more sensitive, too. My sister said “Ow!” when trying my cello, but none of my students ever have.

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Jodie St Clair said: Feb 1, 2018
Jodie St Clair
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Eugene, OR
19 posts

I often would love for my students to play more open strings at this stage! Sometimes students will feel that it’s too tricky and feel afraid of trying. Did you guys do any pre-twinkle pieces? Barb is also right that checking the instrument for any flaws and sized correctly. Playing violin is hard and we don’t want to be fighting our instrument for comfort or playability.

Here are a few ideas that should still help you progress without focusing too much on the finger pain. You may already be doing several of these things, and continuing will help.

*Finger jumps—hoping the finger on the string. Should press the string down, but it’ll be quick. Will also help with fine motor coordination.

*Hands separate—Have your daughter just do the fingers or just do the bow while you do the other hand. If she is doing the violin hand, don’t worry about doing a bow hold the correct way for yourself. You’ll be holding at a different angle. If you haven’t done it before, your teacher can show you how to do it in your lesson.

*Small sections—No section is too small. Just build up to it. Play a little twinkle, then do some open strings in between. Adults often want to move to the larger section sooner than the child is ready at this stage, so don’t worry about keeping sections small.

Hope that helps!

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Wei Fen Chu said: Feb 2, 2018
 8 posts

Thanks for the comments. Yes, we’re going to the repair shop tomorrow to see if the strings are indeed too high.

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