I've read that: A common violin fingering problem is the result of excessive tension: not lifting your fingers using the base knuckle. When you look at your left hand, each of your fingers (except your thumb) has three knuckles. Proper fingering technique requires that you lift and drop your finger(s) using the base knuckle, the one all the way at the bottom. Using the second joint to drop your finger onto the string is wrong and will negatively affect your progress.

However, I've realised, I always use my second joints to move. Is this really an issue? Also, practicing has turned the base of my left fingers (especially index) into a round bubble of white. Is that okay?

3 Answers 3


There is nothing to be gained by isolating movements to single joints. If you were to set fingers only by using the base knuckle that would imply that the other knuckles are locked in the action, meaning the finger is one large chunk that has to be moved at the base. Rotational inertia grows with the square of the distance from the joint.

With larger units of movements, the absurdity becomes more obvious: does a fast runner flex his legs at the hips or at the knees?

Obviously while different movements have differing involvements of differing parts for differing goals and targets, locking a joint may temporarily project progress because it results in fewer variables you have to consciously control at a given point of time. However, as this control becomes automatic and "muscle memory" takes over most of the kinematic processes, the initial advantage of needing to control only one thing at once for one purpose turns into a mechanical disadvantage.

Movements need to be efficient and organic, and while that mean that certain kinds of movement are mostly focused around the joints most effectively dealing with them, it would be a mistake to try locking everything else down. It has to react just with the right kind of suppleness and support that makes the principal movement not waste any energy on keeping things unmoving that would naturally be involved in the movement.


I always use my second joints to move. Is this really an issue?

If you only ever play on one string then it's not so much of a problem. It really only becomes a problem if you want to quickly move from one string to another. Then this action requires movement from the base joint. Since it makes little sense to develop two different techniques, one for moving between strings, and one for playing on the same string, the standard advice is to use just the one technique, the one which works for both cases.

practicing has turned the base of my left fingers (especially index) into a round bubble of white. Is that okay?

We would need much more detail to have any idea, but in any case we can give musical advice but not medical advice. If the "round bubble of white" causes pain or discomfort then you would do well to consult a doctor.


I don’t have much to say for your first question, but I have answers for your second. When I first started playing, also got “round little bubbles of white” (with a little liquid inside them, yes?) on my left hand fingers. This is just you practicing a lot and your fingers getting used to clamping down on your metal strings. Don’t worry, these will go away soon enough. This is your fingers getting tougher!

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