Holding the Violin
How to hold the violin or viola
Holding the violin or viola correctly can pose some challenges. However, getting the foundations right will get you into the right playing habit for years to come. Here are a few tips to help you hold the instrument more comfortably.
Stand with both feet roughly hip width apart. Feel a solid connection to the ground through your feet. Become aware of the body’s system of natural springs rising up through the legs, spine and neck. You could imagine a piece of string attached to the top of the head pulling you skywards. This will give your joints more space to move freely.
Ensure that every part of your body is relaxed and free to move. Rigidity in any part of your body will make holding the violin more difficult and tiring.
The violin rests on your collarbone with the chin sitting lightly on the chinrest. The violin neck rests on the base of the first finger with the thumb offering some gentle counter-pressure. Holding a violin or viola comfortably is about subtle balance rather than a forceful vice-like grip. If you elevate the scroll slightly it helps the violin to settle back onto the collarbone so that you don’t need to grip with the chin.
The scroll should point out to the left with the bridge tilted slightly to the right. To find the right position play a down bow on the G string (C string for violas). You should be able to comfortably reach the tip of the bow without having to move the violin. Likewise, you should be able to do an up bow all the way to the frog without your right arm and wrist becoming too scrunched up.
Shoulder rests can help some violinists and violists to hold the instrument more comfortably. For others a piece of cloth or chamois is perfectly adequate. Essentially, if you have a long neck you will probably find a shoulder rest very practical.
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This post was written by Stylus writer, a former professional violinist/ violist who has taken his gift for phrasing and tone into the world of words. You can learn more about his work at https://styluswriter.com/