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Violin Left Hand Position
A Beginner's Tutorial

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Establishing Correct Violin Left Hand Position for Beginners


Lemuel Huang, May 6, 2011

There is undoubtedly much material out there on solving problems of the violin left hand position. The following simple and effective exercise will establish the orientation of the left palm in relation to the violin neck. This will automatically solve two main problems:

  1. Bring the shortest finger of the left hand (i.e. the pinky or end finger) closer to the fingerboard.
  2. Make the fingers rounded over the finger board to prevent touching more than one string at a time.

(For more detailed information on these problems, see "Common Problems with Violin Left Hand Position for Beginners"


Steps for establishing Correct Violin Left Hand Position

Step 1 - The Violin Neck Grip

Objective : Establishes correction orientation of the palm to face the violin neck and brings the pinky closer to the fingerboard.

First, hold the violin in place as if you are about to play. Begin by placing all the fingers over the fingerboard by gripping the entire violin neck with your left hand as shown to the right.. Notice how the left palm is in complete contact with the violin neck.

The left palm is now facing the violin neck at this point, and the pinky is as close to the fingerboard as the other fingers.

Before proceeding to the next step, make sure your entire left wrist, arm and elbow are relaxed as possible. Notice even though you are still holding the entire violin neck , your left arm is suspended vertically to the ground.




Step 2 - Relax From Violin Neck Grip

Objective : Allows fingers to be rounded over the fingerboard instead of flat. This prevents touching more than one string at a time with a single finger (Many beginners think their fingers are too wide).

When you are satisfied with this sense of relaxation, gradually relax and very slowly release the left hand fingers of your left hand. Notice how all your fingers are still rounded at this point and your left palm is still somewhat facing the violin neck as shown in the photo to the right.

This is the point of what I would call the natural violin left hand position.

Try moving your fingers up and down on the strings while maintaining the left hand's orientation (left palm almost parallel or facing violin neck). Notice that your fingers are able to touch only one string at a time, even on the G string. If you find yourself losing this orientation, repeat step 1 above, starting from the violin left hand neck grip.

Once you can move your fingers freely in this position, try playing a sequence of notes starting with the first finger and ending on the fourth finger for each string, checking to see if the fingers are still rounded. So for example, on the G string, play first finger (A) , second (B), third finger (C), fourth finger (C#).

Do not worry about intonation at this point. Your second, third and fourth fingers will more than likely be close together for this exercise.

The objective is to establish the physical (and perhaps mental) habit of maintaining the natural violin left hand position as shown in the last photo shown to the right (i.e. Rounded fingers with left palm almost parallel to or facing the violin neck). If at any time you lose this orientation, repeat step 1 above


Establishing Correct Violin Left Hand Position

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