Beginner Violin Lessons Home
Left Hand Position
Learning the proper position of the left hand is another tricky task for
the beginner.  This is another position that feels very awkward to us,
and because we are unfamiliar with it we tend to clench the neck of
the violin, sometimes in a death grip!  So be constantly on the lookout
for tension in your hand as you learn this new skill.  Patience now will
save hours of frustration later!
    Step 1.  Create a stop sign with your left
    hand and turn it away from you.  See
    pictures for example.
Step 2.  Turn the stop sign so that it's facing you.
 This is your basic left hand position.
Step 3.  Slide your stop sign up and      
down the neck of the violin.  Do this a    
few times, and keep your hand loose    
and relaxed!

Step 4.  After sliding a few times, come to a stop near the scroll of
the violin.  Notice the open space in Christina's hand?  That's good!  
Do you see the space between her thumb and the violin neck?  This
can be clearly seen in both pictures. This means that the thumb is
relaxed and soft.  The hand is not squeezing the violin!  Use the mirror
often to check for tension.  You should be able to see daylight
between your thumb and the neck
Step 5.  Place the index (also known as 1st) finger on the
fingerboard.  It should come down on the tip with the knuckle pointing
up.  Don't let it land flat.  You will need to cut your nails!  Sorry ladies,
but it's worth the sacrifice.  Violinists
must have short nails.  
So now you know how to correctly place your left hand.  Practice in
front of a mirror and keep an eye on your hand!  There are many
mistakes to be made without even realizing it.  And they will severely
handicap your playing, so try to get it right from the beginning.  It's
much easier to do it now rather than later!  
Below are examples of common errors  that beginners will make.  
Examine the pictures carefully and then be quick to correct yourself if
you notice any of these flaws in your position.

    Here is an example of the most common error.  The
    wrist has collapsed and is supporting the weight of the
    violin. The violin needs to be supported by the thumb
    and the base of the index finger.  The beginner should
    never have their wrist touching the violin.

This is the 2nd most common error.  The finger is flat with
the knuckle pointing down.  This will result in poor intonation
and sloppy playing.  To fix this, point the knuckle up and
make sure you land on the tip of the finger, right by the nail.
    Another common error.  Notice how her elbow is
    pointing to the left, this will throw off the position of her
    hand and cause tension.  The elbow should just hang
    naturally from the hand.  And as the hand moves over
    the strings the elbow will follow. For example, when
    playing on the G string, the elbow will be much farther
    around than when playing on the E string.  But it should
    never point to the left in an awkward position.  Rule of
    thumb - if it looks awkward it probably is!  
    Another mistake.  The scroll of the violin has drooped, throwing
    off the balance and causing the wrist to collapse and support the
    instrument.  This can lead to injury if it is not corrected.  To fix
    this lift the scroll and find the balance between thumb and index
    Sometimes after I correct a student with a drooping
    scroll the opposite happens!  Then they point the violin
    too high.  This makes you lose the balance of the violin
    because now you are fighting gravity.  This will strain
    the arm.  The solution?  Simply lower the scroll a little,
    it will feel much better!
Wow!  So much to remember!  But don't give up, you can do it!  It
just takes patience and time.  And patience
now saves hours of
later.  I'm telling you this from experience!  I developed a
lot of bad habits in my left hand during my first couple years of
playing.  And trying to change those habits later on was
not fun!  I
was very frustrated at not being able to advance in my playing due to
problems with my hand.  So take the time
now to get it right!  And if
you have questions send me an email.

Email Kim