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When learning where to place your fingers on the violin, common advice I hear (especially if you have a short pinky) is to first place the 4th finger down so you know you can reach it comfortably, and then let the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st fingers follow. This is because it is better for the 1st finger to reach back to hit the 1st note than to stretch your 4th finger to reach the 4th note.

But in doing this, how is one supposed to reach low 1? To play low 1, you must bring your 1st finger back, but if you are already doing this to reach, say, the E on the D string, how can you go even further back to reach E flat? The hand collapses.

Is the advice to place the 4th finger first misguided (particularly for people with short pinkies)? Or is there another way to play low 1?

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In my experience as a violin teacher, I have seem many students struggling to place their fingers in the right position, in order to reach all notes. The main issue I noticed is the way they position their hands under the violin neck. They normally bend the wrist (see image below), reducing the fingers mobility. It commonly happens because the students are not able to hold the violin weight only with their neck, letting the hand sustain part of it.

Avoid it at all costs --> enter image description here

Keep the wrist straight --> enter image description here

Additionally, in my opinion, the hand should be positioned in a way where the 1st finger will reach its original position (i.e. E note in the D string). Then, the others fingers must follow its own positions, being able to transition into flat, natural and sharp notes. About the 4th finger (pinky), my experience demonstrated that the exercises with the 4th finger (lessons where it is used many many times) make it way more flexible and you will start developing the "finger independence" (when the finger could move without really affecting the others).

In summary, I suggest you to keep the 1st finger as the 1st to be positioned, and focus hard in training your 4th finger to become more flexible.

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