Hi Christie! I think double stops are hard for everybody at first. I got the impression you were talking about octaves, in particular. Was I right? If so, I would suggest starting on E string, playing first finger, then fourth finger. How comfortable is that? Just get used to that interval on the E string. Maybe make up an exercise designed to strengthen the pinkie. For example:
| E: 3 – 4 | 3 – 4 :|| (hold down 3)
| E: 2 – 4 | 2 – 4 :|| (hold down 2)
| E: 1 – 4 | 1 – 4 :|| (hold down 1)
A steady pace is sufficient. Try to keep tension out of the left hand. Slur two notes per bow. Do this on all strings, noting the added challenges, if any when you move to lower strings.
Now modify the exercise by placing the bottom note on the adjacent string, in this case A. Like so:
| A: 3 – E: 4 | A: 3 – E: 4 :|| (hold down 3)
| A: 2 – E: 4 | A: 2 – E: 4 :|| (hold down 2)
| A: 1 – E: 4 | A: 1 – E: 4 :|| (hold down 1)
Do this on all strings.
Add a twist to the above exercise, as shown below:
| A: 3 – E: 4 | A: 3 – E: 4 | 3/4, 3/4 :|| (the fractional looking notation indicates a double string note, notes played together simultaneously)
| A: 2 – E: 4 | A: 2 – E: 4 | 2/4, 2/4 :||
| A: 1 – E: 4 | A: 1 – E: 4 | 1/4, 1/4 :||
Do this on all strings.
Here’s one more exercise, after all this is easy, which is a pinkie stretching exercise:
Play A1. Hold A1 down, Play E4 (B natural). Play E4 a half step higher, (C natural, still holding A1). Alternate, while holding A1, between B natural and C natural played with fourth finger on E. If you’re a brave soul, add one more half step stretch to the rotation, C sharp.
On that note (pun intended), did you know that the famous Italian violinist, Nicolo Paganini, had Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes sufferers to grow to above-average height, have disproportionately long, slender limbs, weak wrists and long fingers? Besides these and a host of other symptoms, people with Marfan syndrome also often have abnormal joint flexibility, which enabled Paganini to play finger extensions of intervals up to a 14th!! Octaves are 8 steps! He wrote these ghastly intervals into a few of his famous violin Caprices, which made them impossible to play for most violinists. His illness made him feared, hated and famous. Guess who else is thought by some to have had Marfan syndrome? Abraham Lincoln!