Lilting Fiddle

Learning to Play Fiddle as an Adult

Fourth Finger Fun

Posted on February 28, 2019

I knew that the day would come when I’d add the fourth finger to violin practice. Sure enough, this week, my lesson book has led me to just that – using the fourth finger to replicate the sound of an open string. The book says this is to promote smoother note changes due to not having to cross strings with a bow. I’m not so sure smoother is the result of this for me at the moment!

I read that other folks tend to have a bit of trouble when first implementing the fourth finger. I find it a bit more difficult, mostly because it really forces you to have to twist your hand to be as parallel the fingerboard as possible. I definitely feel the effort I have to make for proper arm posture, especially up and down the length of my left arm.

But like all things, I also know this will get easier with time. When I first began playing, I could hardly endure a full five minutes off playing without having to shake out my left hand out and give it a break. Now days, I might have to take a single short rest during my 30 minute practice sessions. I’m certainly seeing improvement.

Part of my issue is that my fourth finger is quite short, and like most folks, not quite as strong as the other three. This seems to be a common trouble, in so much as you can find a LOT of videos out there with tips on how to strengthen the fourth and make it do as you need.

As of yesterday, I started to practice exercise #86 in the Essential Strings book, Ode to Joy. This is one of those songs I played on keyboard as a kid, and on guitar when I noodled around with that. This is the longest song the book has introduced me to so far, and I have a feeling it’s going to take a few days of practice to get it where I want to be, especially since it asks me to use the fourth finger for the A note.

Here’s a sample of a teacher playing this tune as it’s presented in the exercise:

I can see by looking ahead in the book that I’ll be adding a new string to my toolkit soon, too.

I’ll post about practice sessions and how I approach them next time around. I’m going to be doing plenty of that, I can see!

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Archived Comments

Jim Guinn - Thursday, February 28, 2019

Hey, I'm stating on a simple version of Ode to Joy today. The 4th finger is going to be a problem for me as well. Let me know how you do.

Aywren - Thursday, February 28, 2019

You can certainly play Ode to Joy without the 4th finger, but based on how this book is structured makes this song a part of 4th finger exercises. I could cheat, but I won't. I'll keep practicing. :)

Jim - Thursday, February 28, 2019

No cheating allowed! Yes, the simple version I'm working on now uses just 3 fingers. Going to have to cut my practice short today. I spent too much time setting up the new forum. Not good to cut practice short.