"RING" FINGER INDEPENDENCE
FOR HANDSHAPE 7


A user writes, " Having difficulty with handshape 7. In Handshape 2 ring finger held down towards palm with thumb. In Handshape 7, with thumb extended ring finger pops up to 90 degree angle to palm. (This is with my non-dominant left hand.) Do you know of any exercises that might help?


ANSWER:
I'm not so sure that holding the ring finger at a 90 degree angle to the palm is THAT much of a confusion -- but let's tackle it head on.

Hold your left hand in arc as though you were holding a tennis ball. All your fingers will be slightly curved. Then, resting your "paw-shaped" hand on a table (fingers down), attempt to raise each finger (starting with the thumb) as high as you can WITHOUT MOVING THE OTHER FINGERS. You will notice (unless you are abnormal -- or a concert pianist!) that raising the ring finger -- without the pinkie and middle finger moving as well -- is almost impossible. I've been playing the piano since I was four years old and I can't raise it more than a half inch! What I'm trying to show you is that NORMALLY the ring finger has an independence-of-movement problem.

Now, hold your hand in the same "tennis ball shape," but this time attempt to LOWER each finger without moving the others. Pretend you are pressing down piano keys or keys on a computer keyboard. It shouldn't have been quite so difficult to LOWER the ring ringer independently. So practice this independence of fingers exercise a few times a day. Try not to tighten up your wrist and arm muscles while you are practicing. It should help within a week or so to give you a little more control.

Then, after you have been doing the "independence of fingers" exercises for a few days, try these for carryover into actual cueing skills. Notice that the first set of tasks take advantage of the fact that your ring finger is first anchored by your thumb:

keg [2-c,7-s]
cog [2-c,7-s] or if you say /kahg/ [2-s/f,7-s]
vogue [2-s/f,7-s]
Vega [2-m,7-s/d]
Keith [2-m,7-s]
Kathy [2-t,7-t]
verge [2-m,7-s]
zig -zag [2-t,7-s,2-t,7-s]
virgin [2-m,7-t,4-s]
veggie [2-c,7-t]

Then, move on to these more difficult tasks:

irk - urge [5-m,2-s] - [5-m,7-s]
work - worth [6-m,2-s] - 6-m,7-s]
heck - hedge [3-c,2-s] - [3-c,7-s]
lock - lodge [6-c,2-s] - [6-c,7-s]
Mick - Midge [5-t,2-s] - [5-t,7-s]
Mack - Madge [5-t,2-s] - [5-t,7-s]
Mick - myth [5-t,2-s] - [5-t,7-s]
Rick - ridge [3-t,2-s] - [3-t,7-s]
have - hag [3-t,2-s] - [3-t,7-s]
rack - rag [3-t,2-s] [3-t,7-s]
razz - wrath [3-t,2-s] [3-t,7-s]
back - badge [4-t,2-s] [4-t,7-s]
bicker - bigger [4-t,2-m] - [4-t,7-m]
you've - youth [8-c,2-s] - [8-c,7-s]
Hughes - huge [3-s,8-c,2-s] - [3-s,8-c,7-s]

After you have practiced these for a few days, note which combinations are MOST DIFFICULT for you to keep the ring finger folded back.Let me know. Perhaps I can suggest further strategies. But I still think that as long as you are holding your palm parallel to your face when you cue, it won't be significantly confusing for the viewer if you slip a little! (WJB)

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