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The Position of the Left Hand in Violin Playing

The position of the left hand in violin playing.

The position of the left hand in violin playing

The development of a well-balanced left hand and fingering action will free up your violin or viola playing and greatly increase your playing pleasure. There are three critical aspects to the position of the left hand in violin playing: the thumb position, the hand shape, and the finger action.

Remember to let the violin neck rest against the thumb pad or the notch formed by the first thumb joint. A gentle upwards pressure from the thumb gently presses the violin neck against the base knuckle of the first finger to provide a secure platform for the violin.

Ideally, the thumb should sit opposite the first or second finger. Avoid letting the thumb slide too far back towards the scroll as this can generate tension and discomfort. Let your wrist and forearm form a beautifully elegant straight line. Letting the wrist collapse and trying to support the neck with the wrist will interfere with the effortless function of the fingers.

Rotate the wrist until all the fingers (including the 4th) can easily maintain a natural curve shape on all four strings.  The curved finger shape offers a number of advantages:

  1. Efficient strength to weight ratio for each finger
  2. Pinpoint accuracy for playing on one string at a time
  3. Shorter distance from raised finger to string i.e. greater speed
  4. Maintains supple joints for vibrato

Allow the fingers to drop down onto the strings with a plop. Although you want to maintain the curved finger shape each joint should remain supple. With a well-balanced left hand you need little more than the weight of the fingers to press the strings for clearly articulated notes.

Lift the fingers from the base joint—think of the finger springing back from the string. Ironically, speed comes from lifting the finger off the string rapidly, not by hammering the fingers down onto the fingerboard.

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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/

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