Sore finger tips

October 9, 2017, 8:03 AM · I'm learning violin from the scratch, it's just been 5 lessons so far and my fingertips have been sore and hurting very bad. I practice for a couple of hours everyday with breaks in between. I was wondering if the pain is a part of the learning experience or maybe an error in my left hand position or finger positions? Also, is there a way to deal with it? Thanks.

Replies (15)

October 9, 2017, 8:16 AM · You may be practicing too much for this stage of your development. Also, you are probably pressing harder than necessary. Callus material develops on the finger tips and pads, but it is best to have it develop slowly rather than fast enough to be painful. When I started (generations ago) I was only 4 and for the next several years my practice-time goals were 30 minutes per day. Even with that limited schedule I still recall personal pride in the "string lines" that showed in my finger tips. At this stage you should pause or stop when it hurts.

Over time the finger tip/pad areas will harden and thicken so that they will become less sensitive, eliminating painful fingertips when you play (and safe-cracking as a future pursuit)

Edited: October 9, 2017, 5:17 PM · Agree with Andrew. It takes time to develop those calluses. I have at times not played for a week or two and when I come back hard I can really tell that some of my calluses have gone away because the fingers become overly sensitive and hurts. But I get it back after a few days.

A couple hours of practicing each day for a beginner is commendable! Keep up the good work and take breaks in between and allow for those calluses to develop. Also watch out for cramped necks or chin sores due to clamping down too much on the violin. A well adjusted violin with proper chin rest and shoulder rest should not cause you pain or even discomfort.

Incidentally I have seen where a violin player's fingers hurt when playing in higher positions due to higher string levels and/or sometimes incorrectly adjusted string height. But that's very likely not your reason.

October 9, 2017, 6:20 PM · When I've been away from playing long enough that the toughness in the fingertips disappears, I hold my practice sessions to 20 minutes for 3-4 days after I resume playing, then increase the time incrementally till I'm back to 3 hours a day after 10-14 days.

You might consider reducing your practice time for now to short periods like this for a few days and then gradually working your way back up to your usual time. You want to develop the fingertip toughness over time, not all at once. If it hurts, that's nature's way of telling you something is wrong.

October 10, 2017, 12:30 AM · Thank you for the advises! I think by reducing my practice time a bit as well as taking longer breaks, the calluses would develop at their own pace better and overall it would hurt my fingertips less. Also, I think I don't relax my bow hand enough because I get shoulder cramps sometimes while playing. Fortunately, I haven't faced cramped neck or chin sores yet and I will try to prevent them from happening in the future too.
Edited: October 10, 2017, 7:32 AM · Regarding chin sores: One device I started using at 18 y/o and haven't been without ever since is the Strad Pad. If you haven't used one yet, you might want to try it. They're quite economical, easily detachable, easily washable. Mine attach to the chin rest with an adhesive strip and Velcro -- very simple and quick.

I can play up to 3 hours a day this way -- that's about all I have time for -- without any soreness or skin irritation.

October 11, 2017, 6:48 AM · Thanks Jim! I'm pretty comfortable with my present chin rest that came along with the violin but I'll still look up the Strad pad. Does the adhesive strip leave any glue residue on the violin? Because earlier I had to remove my finger position stick-ons and they had left terrible residues on the fingerboard. It was quite scary. Luckily, I found some helpful threads on here to solve that problem.
October 11, 2017, 7:14 PM · It's possible that you are pressing down harder on the strings than is actually necessary. If you experiment a bit, you might be surprised at how little force is needed to give a clear tone.
Edited: October 11, 2017, 7:57 PM · What is the value of your violin?

EDIT: and maker/model, if applicable.

Edited: October 11, 2017, 8:09 PM · It gets better with time.

I was lucky and already had callouses from guitar when I started violin/viola.

Also like Guglielmus mentioned, you don't really need to drive the string into the finger board, it takes very little pressure to actually get a tone. If you're clenching too hard you'll have other problems down the road as well - shifting and vibrato will be very challenging. Experiment and find the least amount of pressure required to get the note solid.

edit: Re-Adhesive and chinrests: Your chinrest can be cleaned a little more aggressively than the rest of the violin. I wouldn't worry so much about a little adhesive as you can probably scrub it off without damaging it, unlike something that came into contact with the finish.

October 12, 2017, 2:32 AM · Hi

I am a Product Design at the University of Derby doing a research on challenges violinist's experience in order to design a product to help. I would appreciate it if you took a few minutes to fill in this questionnaire This is the link to the questionnaire

Thanks

Josiah

October 12, 2017, 3:46 AM · Why do you post this questionnaire in several threads on other subjects? I hate spam and will NOT answer your questionnaire because you chose to spam with it. Had you opened a new thread and explained what it is about and why I would have considered it....
October 12, 2017, 7:14 AM · I'm leaving this up as an example of what not to do. Bo is right, create a separate thread but don't spam other threads with something off-topic. Thanks.
October 12, 2017, 6:56 PM · OP: I'm going to reiterate my original question: what type of violin are you using?
October 12, 2017, 8:57 PM · I'm with Erik, are you using diamond-plated strings?

You may just be pressing too hard. It takes a while to loosen your grip on the violin, and it needs to be monitored constantly.

October 13, 2017, 5:19 AM · Thank you for your responses!
Hello Erik, It's a Chinese label student violin. I wanted to buy the Stentor 1500 but it was out of stock when my classes began so I ended up with the present violin. I'll mostly buy another one in a few months, hopefully of a better quality despite my shoestring budget.
Christian, they are steel core strings.
I think I'll follow Michael's advice for now of experimenting with the amount of pressure I need to apply on the strings to get the correct note. Thanks!!


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