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I have started violin lessons last September with a private teacher, and I learned only today through one of your tutorials that only the thumb of my left finger should be in permanent contact with the violin. I'm shocked!!! I've tried to play in this manner the simple tunes that I normally can play, and I feel like I have to start everything all over again!!!

4 Responses
Posted: January 21, 2012
Last Comment: January 22, 2012

Posted: January 22, 2012
Olivier, I think also that Beth's video and exercises on left hand finger strengthening will help you out a great deal as well.   I have found much benefit from doing those exercises every day...first...before I get into my practice rep.  Strengthening the fingers on your left hand will help a lot to get rid of that "squeezing" tendency.   

They have also helped my right hand as well.  I don't need to look at notes while doing them and can focus on everything else, not just the left hand, but right hand as well.  

Beth Blackerby
Posted: January 22, 2012
Oliver, have you watched the Left Hand squeezing series yet? The on called "Restructuring" best explains what the thumb should be doing. In fact, I recently saw a video where Menuhin also demonstrates what I refer to as an upward force with the thumb produced through friction of the skin of the thumb. Here's the url link to the Menuhin masterclass:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvV4A6lz-0w.

Scoot to the 8:20 mark and watch the thumb and then the fingers and thumb exercises. That's the principle at work.  Now I don't advocate holding the violin up with the thumb, but that's a whole other discussion.

Posted: January 22, 2012
Hi Beth,

Thank you for your detailed answer and the useful link to the video. As a matter of fact, you have put your finger on exactly how I feel about removing contact with my index finger: insecure, and I have realized that I actually did squeeze the violin, the resulting grip compensating for the pressure from the thumb. Another thing is that I feel like I was finding the notes more easily.
Now, I have to focus on not putting too much pressure on the thumb, as I can sometimes feel the violin moving inward a little, when my index does not play its compensating role.

Beth Blackerby
Posted: January 21, 2012
Oliver, I suppose that you're saying the inside of your index finger has a comfy home against the neck of the instrument, and that moving it away makes for some serious insecurity.   This, along with the issue of shoulder pad/no shoulder pad, are controversial topics in the violin technique world. My position is this: If you're first finger bas knuckle is touching, and only touching (not squeezing) the neck of the instrument, then it can go ahead and touch. If it really is only touching, then your hand will be still be able to make adjustments freely, for instance when:

  • changing levels for playing on various strings,
  • vibrato
  • shifting
  • making a little room for E string passages

The problem is that most often (always in my experience) a beginner play uses the contact for the purpose of counter balancing the pressure of the thumb, hence unnecessary and unwanted squeezing. The squeezing in turn produces a frozen position of the left hand, one that is not able to adjust, or reshape when it needs to because the finger is glued in place. SO the question is: Are you squeezing or touching the neck with the inside of your left hand?  Here is a video that is totally buried in the list that has a few close ups of this very thing.