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In the directions on the left hand hold, it sounds like you are saying that only the thumb is touching. Does the neck not lie against the lower knuckle of the index finger? When I try this the violin wants to slide forward?


5 Responses
Posted: February 8, 2012
Last Comment: February 10, 2012

Beth Blackerby
Posted: February 10, 2012
I totally agree, Vicky. I have a higher chin rest so that I can lower the shoulder pad. It does allow the shoulders to hang more naturally, and it definitely helps with tone.

Posted: February 10, 2012

First I tried building up a couple different chin rests (woodworking is another hobby so I have the tools to do such things), but I didn't get the comfort I really wanted.  Currently I use an SAS chin rest - with a slightly sanded top edge so it doesn't push in to my neck/chin quite so much.  The SAS has been very comfortable for the past 9-10 months or so.  The angle of the  SAS can be adjusted to reflect the shape of my jaw, also.

Your videos on fitting the shoulder rest were very helpful - the Bon Musica has so-o-o-o many options for adjusting - it's wonderful if you can be patient while trying different adjustments. 

I like the shoulder rest set really low and the chin rest higher, my shoulders both feel like they are in a more natural position that way.

Beth Blackerby
Posted: February 9, 2012
Vicky, I'm glad to hear that your shoulder rest/chin rest set up is much better now! How did you elevate the chin rest? Did you have someone build it up, or did you order one online..?

Posted: February 9, 2012
Beth, from personal experience (oh my, very painful personal experience) I fully understand why you feel that squeezing is the most distructive habit available.

Early on, I picked up the idea that the neck of the violin should "rest securely" on that little shelf on the IOH.  I have paid dearly for that little habit ever since.  By the time I found Violin Lab I had developed a world class Death Grip. 

My Death Grip has been reduced to excess squeezing, but it seems every time I hit a plateau, it is always related to my squeezing the neck!  I get nervous, frustrated, tired, distracted, etc, and I revert to the squeezing habit.  At least now I know the first thing on my self-assessment list is to check my left hand squeezing.  And I am getting much better at relaxing. 

As I think back, the squeezing also occurred because my shoulder rest set up was so poor.  I was squeezing with my left hand to keep the violin from skiing off my shoulder.  I now use a Bon Musica and have a chin rest that is high enough for my long neck. 

Thank you!


Beth Blackerby
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!