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Zlata Brouwer

What if You Can't Rotate Your Arm/Wrist/Hand Enough to Play Violin?

September 8, 2013 at 2:05 PM

Violin Lounge TV Q&A about rotating your right arm, wrist and/or hand enough to play the violin or viola:
"Hey :)

I am after my first month of learning and I occurred an issue I just can't rotate my left hand enough, even my violin teacher does not know how to solve that.

Would you like to see a pictures or video of my left hand while I am holding a violin?

I am really worried that I won't be able to play because of that."

Oooooh, it's a problem violinist struggle with on ALL levels (beginning to really advanced), lot's of teacher don't know how to solve it... while it's SO simple.

In this video I will share a simple exercise that will learn EVERYBODY to pivot their lower arm enough to easily play the violin... even with a nice round fourth finger.

Please share this with the world, because I don't want people to struggle if the solution is SO simple! (it hurts me deeply to see people struggling unnecessary)

Is it useful to you? Please let me know in the comments!



PS: Do you have questions for me on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to

From Arnie Cohen
Posted on September 9, 2013 at 12:29 PM
I had similar issues for years, until I figured out a non painful fix. I repositioned my thumb from underneath the finger board to the side, so the tip of the thumb comes up a little higher than the finger board. That reduced the stress on by arm/shoulder. Prior to that my teacher would tell me to get my hand more up and over, but it was simply too painful.......
From Mendy Smith
Posted on September 10, 2013 at 12:55 AM
This was very timely for me. I've been playing for over 30 years and recently developed an extraordinary amount of tension in my left hand that resulted in an extremely painful first finger knuckle pain, even when not playing. This video was my "aha! THAT's what I'm doing!" moment.

Thank you !

From Cody Andrews
Posted on September 10, 2013 at 3:14 AM
Thanks for all the helpful videos. I would, however, add that if you have experienced a broken left arm at any point, the problem may go deeper than your muscles being too short.

I broke my left arm when I was 8 years old, less than a year after I started playing violin. I later found out that as I grew, my ulna (the arm bone on the same side as your pinky) did not grow as quickly. My left wrist is actually considerably smaller than my right now that I am fully grown. This has left me unable to supinate my arm completely and has been a constant struggle through my years of playing. To get my arm fully around, especially when playing chords or on the D or G string, I have to grip with my thumb and force my hand around the last few degrees of rotation. This was actually not noticed until I was a 17 years old and had been doing it for a very long time, because I learned the instrument with this handicap and always thought it was normal. I have tried all manner of stretching exercises and work-arounds, changed shoulder rests, chin rests, and nothing really helps the problem. I cannot play for extended periods of time and it makes shifting (especially shifting down) and vibrato (particularly in first position and on lower strings) difficult.

Despite this, I still majored in music in undergrad and still enjoy playing on an almost daily basis. You have to learn ways of dealing with your particular "anomalies", which often takes a good deal of experimenting. In general, though, if it hurts, you should take it slower or try something different. In general, things that I've found helpful are 1) good posture. Like many many musicians I have naturally poor posture and have to consciously remind myself to stand straight up, but this does help with rotation. 2) I've found that for me in particular a center-mounted chin rest helps me have more freedom of movement in my violin and allows me more flexibility to work around. 3) Whenever I play in 3rd position or higher, I rest the palm of my hand against the violin's body. I've had many teachers, some have been okay with this and others have not. For me, at least, it gives me much more freedom of movement and allows me to play much more fluidly and expressively. 4) Shop around and get a shoulder rest that suits your body. Try a bunch out and buy the one that fits you best. Don't just go with a specific brand because that's what everybody uses. I did this for years, and I found I was much more comfortable with a different brand than the one I grew up with.

Good luck!

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