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Anne Akiko Meyers on the Fourth Finger Swing

"How can I get better amplitude on my 4th finger vibrato?" We threw the question over to American concert violinist Anne-Akiko Meyers.

Given the nature of our shorter pinky finger, oftentimes, string players struggle with the dilemma of a weaker fourth finger vibrato. The lack of amplitude and strength in comparison to the other fingers presents a challenge for most, if not all string players. VC reader James wanted some advice. 

How do you approach achieving a greater amplitude on your 4th finger vibrato? Please leave a comment below, we are keen to know your thoughts.

Anne Akiko Meyers violinist

Photo credits: David Zentz

Anne Akiko Meyers Shares Her Advice on Approaching 4th Finger Vibrato

Hi James,

4th finger vibrato is a tough one. It's the 'no man's land of vibrato!'

I would first practice building up strength in the finger by practicing scales and Schradieck exercises. I love the first 2 pages of Schradieck. I used to practice this on each string and all different speeds. By the time you get to the G string, you feel like you need a Gatorade and some cheering fans to get you to the finish line! It's a great workout for the pinky.

Please go slow though and don't overuse it as it can easily get strained.

The mechanics of the hand are such that the 4th finger is a helpful soldier but the 3rd finger is the Lieutenant Commander. Be nice to it but know there are other fingers that can take over if need be.

After thorough muscle building of this more delicate finger, practice vibrating with the other fingers before working with the 4th. Vibrate in 8th's, triplets, and 16th's-slowly and gaining speed. This way, you will feel all the variances and build up the strength needed to have confidence to throw your weight into your pinky and 'voila'! Having a stronger finger to help with vibrato.

Good luck, James!

- Anne


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Born in San Diego, Anne Akiko Meyers worked with Alice and Elenore Schoenfeld as well as Josef Gingold before moving to New York at the age of 14 to study with Felix Galimir, Masao Kawasaki, and legendary teacher, Dorothy DeLay, at the Juilliard School. She is the recipient of the Avery Fisher Career Grant, the Distinguished Alumna Award from the Colburn School of Music, and the Luminary Award from the Pasadena Symphony. Meyers is also on the advisory council of the American Youth Symphony Orchestra. She performs on the Ex-Vieuxtemps Guarneri del Gesù, dated 1741, considered by many to be the finest sounding violin in existence.

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