Basic Finger Patterns

The four basic finger patterns are Low, Mid, High and Open:

Low - 1st & 2nd fingers close, making the interval a half-step (semitone)
Mid - 2nd & 3rd fingers close for the half-step
High - 3rd & 4th fingers close for the half-step
Open - All pairs of neighbouring fingers are apart, each interval is a whole-step (whole-tone)

Most violin fingerings can be described in terms of these four finger patterns.

The Low, Mid and High finger patterns all have the interval of a perfect fourth between 1st and 4th fingers. The Open finger pattern with a whole-step between every pair of fingers has an augmented fourth interval between 1st and 4th fingers (one half-step larger than a perfect fourth). Reach back with your 1st finger.

Different teachers may have different names for these patterns. Whatever you use should be unambiguous and, ideally, able to be pronounced in words of one syllable, so you can call out the finger patterns as you play.

Analyse the fast runs in your repertoire and make these patterns a focus in your practice of passagework.


Resources - Bibliography
- for The Art of Practising the Violin by Gerle, 'Just Say 2-HI, 2-MID, 2-LO' by Abler
- and Fingerboard Geography by Barber
Diagram - Finger Patterns

Please login to view this video.