My difficult Problem


Today I had my lesson, during which we continued to tackle my extension problem. My skippidy-hoppidy-shifts in lieu of extensions really just aren’t cutting it and she can’t figure out any way of helping me with my stubby inflexible finger problem. It’s gotten better, but it’s certainly not where it needs to be and things need to be addressed before my difficulties extending turn into a Really Bad Habit. So, she asked her old teacher, who she still sometimes has lessons with, about me. She couldn’t figure anything out just by talking, so she wants to meet me and see exactly what my finger problems are. So, the two of us are going to go over to this other teacher’s house and this will apparently happen sometime next Saturday. Hopefully she has insights into what’s going on with my tense inflexible weak fingers and how to fix the problem. My teacher has given me a few specific exercises to do to help with strength and flexibility in places where she could identify the trouble, but she doesn’t want me doing them more than two minutes a day, so any progress made will be slow.

She tried to reassure me about the whole problem by 1. telling me it’s something we can work with because I’m not flinching away in pain, I’m just uncomfortable and can’t currently play with correct technique. And 2. this is something that she doesn’t entirely understand how to teach because she has insanely flexible fingers and her other students who are kids have flexible fingers too. She does this thing that’s totally crazy and alien looking where she can place down fingers 1, 3, and 4 in extended position then gracefully move 2 between half a step and a whole step away from 1. It’s utterly bizarre looking, almost like a spider’s leg. I tried doing it myself and either couldn’t get more than a twitch out of 2 or the other fingers all popped up when I moved 2. Apparently I’m supposed to be able to do this alien spider leg trick, but I get this feeling I may never be able to.

I’m glad my teacher is being so awesome on her end, trying to figure out what to do for me even if she can’t figure it out herself. However, I can’t help but feel disappointed in myself as a student. I feel like I’m defective and despite her assurances I’m worried that my body will refuse to overcome this particular hurdle. I suppose if worse comes to worse I will just have to spend my whole life shifting instead of extending, but I do hope there’s a solution that at least allows me to extend in 3rd position. It’s rather ridiculous to have trouble reaching between D and E with 1 and 2 on the A string.

Here’s to hoping that with two teachers at my disposal this extension issue will be solved.


4 responses »

  1. Any luck with the hand exercises? Does your instructor do the alien spider leg trick from a square hand position? I can’t do it from either a square or pronated left hand. I can’t imagining ever being able to do that.

  2. A lot of stretching the fingers out, which I hope your teacher shows you to do. I also have this strengthener that has adjustable tension for each finger, which is specifically designed for string players. Only a couple minutes a day, but it helps. I also put 1, 3, and 4 on the cello in extended position and do my best to move 2 back and forth between extended and not positions. It’s hard and I fail, but it strengthens the muscles.

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