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Violin Left Hand Position Problems
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Common Problems with Violin Left Hand Position for Beginners

 

Lemuel Huang, May 6, 2011

The following photos and video clip, illustrate some of the common problems most beginners face with their left hand position, and the unsuccessful attempts made to solve it. If you happen to find yourself in any of these situations, there is a very simple and effective exercise which will help you to establish the correct violin left hand position. So let's first point out some of the common problems.

 

The typical beginner's violin left hand position.

Notice how the face of the left hand palm is facing towards you, and not the violin neck. Notice also how far the pinky is from the fingerboard, compared to the index finger which is right next to it.

Common logic dictates that the further the finger is away from the fingerboard, the longer the finger should be in order to reach it. At yet, the pinky is the shortest of all.

Just looking at the photo to the right, you can tell the pinky has a long way to reach to touch the E string, let alone the G string. Even the ring finger looks far from the G string.

The next photo shows just how far the pinky has to reach in order to reach the fingerboard.

 

Beginner's attempt #1 to correct violin left hand position.

As shown in the photo to the right, the weakest pinky finger has the most difficult time. Notice how both the ring and little fingers form a straight line when extended. The middle finger is also somewhat straight by the time it touches the G string.

This causes the fingers to touch more than one string. The fingerpads cover more surface area in this position. Many beginners mistakenly blame their "wide fingers" when they only want to play on one string.

Notice also how the face of the left palm seems to slightly rotate to face the violin neck. As you will see shortly, the orientation of the left palm is a key factor in establishing the correct left hand position.

Essentially there are two problems that need to be solved.

  1. First of all, the pinky needs to be brought closer to the fingerboard.

  2. Secondly, the fingers would have to be rounded (to have an arch or bridge like shape) over the fingerboard to prevent the fingers from touching more than one string at a time.

Many beginners attempt solve these two problems by the following ways shown below.

 

Beginner's attempt #2

When they realize that their fingers are touching more than one string, they try to round the fingers by bending their wrist and tucking it against the violin neck underneath.

This works somewhat for playing the A and E strings. However, in order to play the D and G strings (especially the pinky on the G string), the fingers need to reach further causing the fingers to flatten out a little and touching more than one string (blaming the "wide finger" again) as shown in the photo to the right.

 

Beginner's final attempt #3

Finally, in an attempt to avoid touching more than one string at a time (especially on the D and G strings), beginners bring the left elbow much more to the right in front of the body in order to give the left hand and fingers extra height over the fingerboard.

Many will find that the whole left arm is no longer naturally suspended vertically to the ground. Anyone trying this left hand position will quickly find out how tiring this can be as shown in the photo to the right.

Notice also how the palm is further from the violin neck and the biggest knuckes of the fingers joining to the back of the hand is raised excessively high.

This second photo shows the front view.

Notice how the left hand is raised excessively higher over the fingerboard, and the back of the wrist down to the elbow is slanted at an angle relative to the ground. What an awkward position! As you can see, you even have to arch your entire back in order to do this.

 

 

SHORT VIDEOCLIP PRESENTATION - Common Problems with Violin Left Hand Position for Beginners

The following brief video clip will illustrate these problematic left hand positions and the beginner's attempt to solve them. For information, photos and video clip on how to correct these problems, please see "Establishing Correct Violin Left Hand Position for Beginners."


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