flinging fingers

said: May 30, 2006
 104 posts

My daughter (just turned seven) has long and very soft, double jointed fingers. When I say soft, I mean the feel of her hand—the best analogy I can give is that when you hold her hand, it feels like you are holding a baby bird—the fingers are always soft and “collapsible” and she can practically tie those fingers in knots like pretzels —they are that flexible.

Lately, her fingers are giving us problems and actually halting her progress. She is in Book 2, on Musette, and she simply cannot go on to Hunter’s Chorus unless she can get on her thumb-side corners, and stop flinging her fingers FAR back after she plays a note. Right now, when she plays, her first knuckle collapses quite often, she plays on the pads of her fingers instead of her corners, and she has developed this mannerism of flinging her fingers, way far back and away from the fingerboard. She cannot play fast passages when her fingers go that far back—the fingers are just in the wrong place.

I have her doing finger exercises to strengthen the joints (to compensate for the double-jointedness) and I have put ink marks on her fingers to help her identify the thumbside corners, and we have named each finger so we can remind them individually as well as collectively about not going so far back. But it is two weeks now. I have her playing mostly review pieces right now, because I don’t want her focusing on playing the right notes, but just the right positioning.

Any advice for correcting this kind of mannerism?

Charles Krigbaum said: May 31, 2006
Charles KrigbaumTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Allen, TX
71 posts


Have your daughter play Perpetual Motion with long stops like this:

A—stop the bow—set 1 on inside corner—bow first finger—-stop the bow—set 2 on the inside corner—bow second finger—etc.

This process is called prepared fingers, or “finger before bow”. It is so important to follow this “stop, prepare, set, play” process when rehabilitating an important skill.

Your daughter is likely suffering from “fly away fingers” because her hand frame is not properly set. The remedy? Put your fingers on the inside corners…make sure your teacher is also happy with the left thumb placement as all of the parts of our hand work together as a unit to create facility and ease.

Etude is another excellent piece to use this procedure on.

Best of luck to you, it is often difficult to “take a step back” from moving on in the rep. when re-building is needed. But, I can tell from your posts that you will have no trouble guiding your daughter through this process.

This message has been brought to you by:

Charles Krigbaum, Director
North Texas School of Talent Education

said: May 31, 2006
 104 posts

Mr. Krigbaum,

Thanks for your suggestion—we have gone back to playing very slowly—we’ve done “Stop-prepare-play” exercises in the past and I see we need to go back to that.

You got it exactly right about her left thumb, by the way. It is way, way up. Our teacher has been trying to correct her left thumb placement for quite some time, and she consciously decided to let my daughter progress, but she kept telling her that the thumb was going to hold her back at some point—and now we are here! I think two or three weeks of concentrated focus on this issue is much needed—and I need to remember “never hurry, never rest” so little by little, we can fix this issue.

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