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
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
frustration 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.