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How To Hold Your Arm (left and right) when Playing on the G String

Zlata Brouwer

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Published: April 3, 2015 at 10:59 AM [UTC]

In this episode I’m answering a question from one of my viewers.
I’m Thiago, 31 years old and from Rio de Janeiro - Brazil, I play the violin for about 5 months. 

My question is about playing on the G string. What’s the best arm position to play on it?

See you on the video, thanks for reading!

Making these tutorial videos and answering questions from players worldwide feels to me like traveling the world without leaving my desk :).

Let’s first go into your right arm... (further below I teach something about the left arm)

You might already have learned that the position of your upper arm depends on which string you are playing on. When you go to the E string (for violists the A string) your arm goes down and when you go to the G string your arm goes up.

Pulling your upper arm up too much when playing on the G string (for violists the C string) can really hurt your back and shoulder.

Your elbow should be slightly (!) lower than your wrist. Different violinists and violists do different things. Find out what works best for you... just a little up or just a little down from this standard position.

This position is comfortable and won’t cause injury while you are still able to transfer the weight of your arm into the bow. What more do you want? ;)

Changing the position of your upper arm when changing strings is just a movement of your upper arm (think ‘chicken wings’). Don’t pull up your shoulder to your ear. I sometimes tell people ‘shoulder low’, but the danger in this is that you push your shoulder down too much to an unnatural and tensed position. Keep your shoulder relaxed and in a natural position.

For more tips on the position of your shoulder, please watch this video: Should You Lift or Rotate Your Shoulder when Bowing on the G String

Now something about your left arm, as I’m not sure if you mean left or right arm in your e-mail...

Normally your elbow should be straight under your violin pointing to the ground. Your left arm should be relaxed and should be able to move.

When you play on the G string you can take your elbow slightly (!) more under the violin to the center of your body. In this way it will be easier for your fingers to reach the notes in the G string.

When you play on the E string you can take your elbow slightly (!) more to the left.

Before you apply these tips, please watch my video to see exactly what I mean.

I hope this helps you to play on the G string comfortably and with a beautiful tone.

Is this video helpful to you? Please let me know in the comments below! If you like it, share it with your friends!



PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to and I might dedicate a Violin Lounge TV episode to answering your question!

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