Small Fingers and stretching the 4th Finger

I have several students who have difficulty stretching the 4th Finger due to their small fingers. I have a few suggestions that can work:

1. Play on a 3/4 size violin as the right one can sound as good as a full-sized 4/4 violin.

2. Get “Flesch” Chin rest or a “Wittner Chine rest, which are both centred over the tailpiece. This will make it easier for your fingers to reach the G string as your arm can be centred on the right side of the violin. Here is the “Flesch” Chin Rest below:










Here is the “Wittner over the tailpiece” Chin rest:

Wittner Chin rest



3. Tilt the angle of your violin to give it more of a slope. I have noticed Itzhak Perlman has started to tilt his violin much more as he ages. It definitely makes it easier to reach the lower strings.

Itzhak Perlman tilting2

4. Use a Kreddle Chin rest which tilts side to side. If you tilt the violin like Itzhak Perlman does in the photo above, you will find that your chin does not fit securely on the normal chin rest. An adjustable chin rest such as the Kreddle, allow for your angle of the chin rest itself to be adjusted to give you the right fit for your chin so the violin won’t feel like it will slide out from under your chin. There are some difficulties, however, as the height is probably too high for some and the shape of the chin rest may be too flat for others.

Chin rest kreddle

5. Have your knuckles parallel with the strings so that your 4th finger will have greater reach.

LH-straight knuckles

This will happen when your forearm has the elbow vertically under your hand.

LH-vertical arm
















6. Have your wrist straight on the side of the 4th finger. This will enable your 4th finger to be above the string to extend its reach. See the photo above.

7. Have the left hand thumb placed opposite your 2nd finger rather than opposite your 1st finger. This is more natural for those with small fingers. However, you will need to reach back more with your 1st finger.

LH-Thumb opposite F2

8. Finally, you will need to make sure you have turned your arm/hand to have your fingers lined up near the same string. Many students have difficulty doing this because they have not allowed their THUMB TO TURN !!! Yes the thumb is part of the hand and it must turn as well so that the side of the thumb will be touching the neck. For a small hand, your thumb may even need to come under the neck so you can stretch your 4th finger.

LH-turned thumb & hand

9. One last finally! You must RELAX while you do your stretch which does sound like an oxymoron. Some parts of the hand need to remain flexible while other parts do the stretching work. Your thumb must be very relaxed. Other fingers which remain on the string need to be flexible enough to curve more to allow the 4th finger to stretch more. The wrist also needs to bend forward slightly as the 4th finger stretches.

All hands are unique! Some have short 4th fingers, so following the rules that work for most people will not always work for everyone. Be adventurous and take charge of your own playing to make it work for you – go ahead and break a rule or two. And try to enjoy your playing, this is the main thing 🙂

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