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