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Hi Beth and the Gang,
(Hey, that sounds like the name of a 70's band!)

To my question...

In one of your vibrato videos I think I recall you mentioning something like the "natural adhesion of the skin of the thumb" to the neck of the violin. And your point was that this flexibility allowed the thumb both to stick in place, and flex a bit without actually losing its connection to the neck. I'm paraphrasing very loosely, of course.

I don't seem to have this 'stickyness' at all in the skin of my fingers. In fact, the skin of my fingers is so dry that I cannot make them stick to the fingerboard on the strings, and my thumb can slide all up and down the neck with only the tiniest bit of resistance.

However, I can lick the tips of my fingers and the pad of my thumb (much like you would do to turn the page of a book) and viola, vibrato!

Clearly the adhesion of the moistened fingertips overcomes the lack of rubbery-flexibility (which I'll never haver at my age) of the finger-joints. But picture me in front of my audience licking my fingers every couple of bars of the Meditation! People are going to think, "What the... Did this guy come right to the recital from KFC?"

Anyway, although I continue to work on the vibrato exercises, I am anticipating the future-frustration when I can never get my finger-tips to stick while my hand is vibrating.

I've even thought of getting some of that sticky stuff that people use in office environments to make their fingers sticky when working with a lot of sheets of paper.

I'm open to suggestions. Anyone? Bueller?

3 Responses
Posted: January 24, 2012
Last Comment: January 25, 2012

Beth Blackerby
Posted: January 25, 2012
J, you paraphrased beautifully.  In the winter my hands can feel dry, usually my right hand though, and it feels like the bow is going to slip away. A quick fix, like Linda suggested is rosin.  I run my fingers up and down the length of the bow in between the hair and the stick. This helps. I've also blown warm breath, as opposed to licking..lol, on my hands, like when you fog up glasses to clean them. I have a colleague who puts lotion on her hands before she plays for the same reason. However, in performance, my hands have never feel dry, but get annoyingly clammy and sticky.

Posted: January 25, 2012
Hi J,

I used to think the same thing as you...that my fingers would "never" stick as they should.  I started doing finger strengthening exercises and .....voila !   They are definitely getting stickier.   Beth has a video and a pdf file with an exercise that will help you strengthen your fingers...I bet that helps !

Posted: January 24, 2012
I really enjoyed reading your post particularly the part about licking your fingers and KFC. The mental picture is so funny! As I am not up to the vibrato stage I cannot properly help you with your problem. However, there is a rosin based ear powder that we sell to our dog grooming customers to help them pluck the hair from dogs ears. The rosin powder is extra grippy! Or maybe you could rosin your thumb with your bow rosin? LOL But seriously though, I am sure Beth or other VL members can give you a proper answer to your slippy thumb problem. Cheers.