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I play piano, guitar violin and other instruments.

I have a little weakness in my ring finger, especially the left one.

Instrumently-agnostic speaking, to reproduce what I'm talking, place your left hand on the table as if you were holding a tennis ball in it. Raise each finger individually. How high are you able to lift your ring finger?

I'm able to life all my fingers high (all the fingers go up, third finger straight), but the ring finger wont go any higher than 1 inch (I have long fingers). And this disturbs my playing, and I'm sure if I take care of this, my playing will definitely improve.

Any advice?

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Your ring finger and little finger share a tendon, that's why you can't raise it more than an inch whilst your little finger is still on the table. –  Doctor Jones Feb 3 at 12:08

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

There's no such thing as finger independence(read finger equality most of the time). All our fingers are different, and they're all connected too! For instance, would you ever expect any of your fingers to match your thumb in strength? Or take your index finger and press it to your palm. Your other fingers will move as well.

The key to evenness and equality in your playing is being aware of the differences in your fingers' strengths and movements so that you can balance the sound by adjusting how you move them.

Typically you wouldn't need to lift a finger very high at all. Just even to clear the string, key, etc. Lifting any higher than that will slow you down and introduce tension.If I move my finger in a range this big:

<------->

I can move it much faster than if I move it in a range this big:

<-------------------->

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I really agree with the explanation about height. I think this is a key to finger speed. Focusing on finger strength not lifting it high. –  Shimmy Apr 5 '13 at 8:54

I am not an expert in human physiology, but I believe the constraint you describe is completely normal. I think it has something to do with a shared tendon? Needless to say, my hands behave the same way. You should be able to lift the fourth finger higher if you raise the pinky at the same time, yes?

What I do know about human physiology is that each joint has two muscles that contract at different times to actuate the joint in one direction or another. So, an inability to raise the finger alone very far is using a completely different muscle from that which would close the joint, as if to fret a string or press a key.

What technique specifically are you having trouble with, that you feel this physiological constraint is hindering? Chances are you will see this improve with time and continuous practice. The Hanon exercises can be good for basic muscle building.

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Thanks. It's just I'm trying to work on finger independence and wanted to make sure I'm not crippled. –  Shimmy Apr 4 '13 at 7:04
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Yes, completely normal - in fact, place your hand on the table, fingers spread out, with your middle finger tucked right in under your palm. You'll be able to raise all your other fingers independently, but your ring finger won't budge. –  Widor Apr 4 '13 at 15:35

Just to clear up on the confusion wrought by the other answers, for the future readers of this question: exercises for finger independence DO exist, and some experienced guitarists actually can move their ring finger much more freely than we mortals.

In fact, I came upon this question while googling for 'ring finger exercises'. I'm sure that the original author has done his research by this time, but as an example, here's a page on some guitar exercises: http://resource.takelessons.com/guitar-exercise-strengthening-the-ring-finger-pinky/
Most probably there also are exercises that are not related to any instrument at all and just let anybody improve finger agility and control.

My friend, who isn't even a professional musician but has played classical guitar (by chords) for many years, can move his ring finger practically as good as any other. He has shown me another pretty impressive test for finger agility: from the closed fist, move your pinky up at the lowest joint while keeping it bent otherwise. Then, keeping all other fingers in place, extend the ring finger and straighten it all the way up. (Alternatively, from the ring and pinky straight, try to bend the pinky without moving the ring finger.) Chances are that a non-musician like me won't be able to do it more than halfway through—and my friend can do it all the way.

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