The pinky... our nemesis or friend?
by: m. moser
We should probably consider it our friend, since it is attached. I believe it was Jasha Heifetz that was quoted saying that the only way of making the left pinky stronger was to use it. True, very true. Of course, it is a little more complicated than that too. I think that in looking at making the pinky work efficiently (one of my favorite words) we must create a connection to the balanced thumb. Now in discussing the pedagogical approach to anything, one is opening themselves to debate because there are many approaches. So at this point I re-emphasize this is my opinion. One of our primary exercises is finger taps, in which we tap each finger to the thumb and then we try to recreate that motion with the violin. That's the simple version.
Now, the complicated and longer version is not in description but in execution. If we're going to balance our thumb as in our finger taps that means that the thumb will need to float and not grip the neck. I like for the thumb to begin balanced across the first and second fingers and as the third and fourth approach, then the thumb will move more forward toward the second finger. In addition, as the fourth finger is used, the base knuckle must also approach the neck and not be left behind as this causes the fourth finger knuckles to buckle or lock. Easier said than done.