Posted: February 9, 2012
HI Laurie, Your question is asked by many. Also by your statement “…neck lie against the knuckle of the index finger?”, it sounds like you are using the inside of your hand to support the violin.
There are a few schools of thought in this subject. 1.) The neck rests against the inside of the hand, sharing with the head, the support of the violin . 2.) The violin is comfortably situated on the shoulder and fully supported by the weight the head. My teaching methodology is based on second style of violin posture, which allows complete freedom of movement of the left hand. Now this does not preclude touching the IOH (inside of hand) with the neck. The occasional to frequent touching and brushing against the neck is perfectly acceptable. We use the IOH as a GPS locator, to geolocate the hand so that we can feel where to place the fingers. The players and teachers who advocate the first method, (using the IOH for support) most often do this because they are not using a shoulder pad. These players however, have been playing for eons and have mastered a whole set of complex actions and responses that allow them to release contact at precise moments for shifting, vibrato, etc. transferring support to the head and shoulders. It’s a total team sport between the head and IOH, which, I promise, takes years to develop well.
I don’t feel this method is wrong, it just takes longer to master, and in the case of beginners, is a recipe for what I think is the most destructive bad habit there is for left hand technique: squeezing. I have yet in all my years of teaching, seen a beginning student develop strong independent finger action when there is a dependence on the IOH for support. The compulsion to squeeze is just too strong. My sincere advice is to first work with the security of your shoulder pad/support system. Then, as you practice, be extremely mindful of the kind of contact you have with the IOH. Keep working on finger strengthening exercises, and finger action exercises. Here is a list of videos for you to watch as well.
this second video is the first on a whole series about left hand squeezing. Go to the Video Library and click "Left Hand Technique" under the category column to see the rest of the series.
Hope this helps!