Holding The Neck Properly?

October 25, 2006 at 04:44 AM · When I hold the neck and press my fingers down (in 1st position) the back of my hand usually is touching the violin. I've become really conscious as to whether or not this is right, lately, mainly because all the videos I've seen lately the violinists have their hands way back, almost completely erect.

So, is there a 'right' way to hold the violin, or does it not really matter? If there is, pictures would be very helpful! I've experimented, but I am so used to my current hold that my intonation is way off on any other holds....and using my 4th finger in 1st position is a lot more awkward without my hand so close to the violin.

Replies (22)

October 25, 2006 at 11:35 AM · You wrist/palm should not be making contact with the neck of the violin (until you get to very high positions).

October 25, 2006 at 04:40 PM · Emily is right.

You might think that it's easier to hold the violin this way now but once you let go of the neck you will realize that you can move more freely on the fingerboard.

i teach myself the violin and i used to hold the violin like that until a violinist.com guy (Kevin Huang) told me to support the violin on my thumb instead of the wrist.

I tried it a couple of times and my intonation was really bad and i couldn't play that way so i got tempted to go back to the way it was,

but i knew that it wasn't the right way to do it so one night in my sleep i just thought: that's enough!!!

so the next day i could play supporting the violin on the thumb with no problem!

and i have found that i can play things i could never be able to play if my hand would touch the neck.

As Emily said, in the high positions the hand does touch the violins body.

Don't give up Rachael! when learning the violin you have to take the hard way, cus if you do you will get the results you want.

October 25, 2006 at 05:02 PM · So should my hand be horizontal or almost vertical? Pictures would be very helpful, thank you!

October 25, 2006 at 05:06 PM · Your hand should be straight with your arm.

DB

October 25, 2006 at 05:58 PM · The problem with posting a photo is that your hand may not work exactly the same way as the one in the photo.

You need a good teacher or at least a good book such as Simon Fischer’s “Basics”, or the Galamian book.

This site will give you the right idea regarding the grossest aspects of hand position, although one might debate the fine points:

http://www.fssd.org/PGS/web_pages_PGS/laura_reed/practicephotos.htm

October 25, 2006 at 05:57 PM · So what are the reasons that the back of the hand can't touch the violin? I keep trying to do different holds but my intonation is truly terrible in them! And I can't get through a song the sound is so bad...is it okay for the hand to be very near the violin as long as it isn't touching?

October 25, 2006 at 06:30 PM · If you learn to type with your hands crossed so that your left is on the right, you will have a tough time trying to type the right way.

But that doesn’t mean it won’t be better for you in the long run to learn to do it the right way. :-)

A straight hand is easier on the tendons, and is a more flexible foundation for the left hand fingers as technique advances.

How long have you been playing? Are your hands unusually small or short-fingered?

You're really talking about the palm touching the violin, right? The back of the hand is facing out away from the neck.

October 25, 2006 at 06:44 PM · Yeah, I mean the palm...hum, well this is frustrating since I've been holding the violin incorrectly for as long as I can remember. And when I asked my teacher about it years ago he said it didn't matter how the violin was held.

Are there anyways to speed up the process of getting used to this new hold?

October 25, 2006 at 06:55 PM · First off, I hate to see you re-invent your hold based on some descriptions in a web forum. It would really be best if you got an opinion from a good teacher, or at least consulted the books mentioned above before going forward.

Once you commit to the change, the way to approach it would be to go from the simple to the complex, playing with the corrected position carefully in finger-pattern exercises and scales, then simpler pieces, etc.

October 25, 2006 at 08:30 PM · Rachael,

I recently started a thread concerning this same subject. (see "Vibrato without a shoulder rest?") You might want to take a look, as there was some great info posted there.

I am a (mostly) self-taught violinist, and had been also holding the violin with my left wrist. This made shifts easier (having a physical anchor-reference point) and allowed for a GREAT finger vibrato. However, like you I was concerned after studying instruction DVD's and pics of great players. A teacher also told me my hold was a non-no, but couldn't really tell me why.

Luckily, the folks here unanimously convinced me to switch. It has been about 3 weeks now. Although I am still experiencing significant shoulder pain, and intonation is harder to nail, there is no doubt that I am able to produce a more beautiful tone. this is partly due to the angle of the fingers on the f-board, and partly due to the possibility for a more fluid arm vibrato. I must say, I'd rather have a nice arm vibrato than a finger vibrato.

October 25, 2006 at 10:54 PM · Greetings,

1) although it is generally held that the wrist should be ina straight line with the forearm , and this is usually the most efifcient way to teahc beginners, the most relaxed positon of hand comes from a evry slight bend od of the wrist towards the nose. This bend is -very-slight. The worts thing you can do is bend the wrist in the oppiste direction.

2) One cannot often attribute intonationb problems to one specific componet. The whole package changes when one thing is changed. In your case , as in most people in the early stages, the intonation problems are often cause by

a)the psoiton of the left elbow. The further over to the g string the further to the right. The pinkie should feel like it is over the elbow all the time. Also as you place higher number fingers on the same string as in a scale IE1234 the elbow moves fractionally to the right (very small movement)

b) Your left hand is palced too close to the scroll. The optimal use of hand occurs when stretching backwards with the lower number fingers away form your your nose. You should not be stretchign up to reach the fourth finger which should be in a nice curved psoiton.

c) You are exercting horizonal pressure with the thumb against the side of the neck. The pressure (what litlte one uses as a counterpressure to the fingers) is actually upweards.

d) Tension in the right shoulder will mes sup evrything.

Cheers,

Buri

October 25, 2006 at 11:51 PM · Thank you, Buri! That is insightful, and I'll try to work on those things.

I've been experimenting and I think I've found the most comfortable position, but it doesn't seem...well..straight enough, compared to what I've seen in videos. Could you take a look at this picture of my hand position and tell me what to fix?

http://img227.imageshack.us/my.php?image=hand1xo6.jpg

October 26, 2006 at 12:04 AM · Greetings,

a -very small , dark, image indeed-! ;)

It is possiuble from that picture that your wrist may need ot give inwards veyr slightly but one photo is very decpetive and there are some ocassions when it will go in the direction away from your nose for a brief moment. Some chords for example.

One thing I do think is perhaps your little finger is curved too far away from the string.

One way to begin working on this is when you play scales. As you change from a lower to upeer string keep the fourth finger down for as long a spossible.

Also play exericse where the fourth finger is kept down ona lowe string while the thre eother fingers do something one the upper string. its a little uncomfortable but very good for one. Also check out your pieces. Where are the examples of going from a foutrth finger ona lower stirng to 1 on the next string. Can you islota thos epoints and work on them slowly keeping the finger down on the lower sting until the fist has beasn playing. Many players acquire the habit of releasing too soon.

It is aslo possible the curing away is cause by tension in the base of your first finger joint. Practice stopping before shift or difficult passage sand consciously releasing tension in that patr of the finger. Usually the blame is pointed at squeezing in the thumb but actually a more insiduous diseas is tension in the bas eof the firts finger and it is often less apparent to both player and observor.

Cheer,s

Buri

October 26, 2006 at 12:37 AM · You're a bundle of knowledge so I might as well ask you more questions.

I feel a strain in my left forearm when playing on the G string and when using 4th fingers, so what is causing this?

October 26, 2006 at 12:44 AM · It appears that you are not getting a good light balanced hold. Make a backward C with your thumb and 1st finger. Now let the violin lightly rest about half-way down in that cusped-C formed, never letting it rest completely in the c-cradle.

All the other wrist discussion still applies.

al

October 26, 2006 at 12:58 AM · Greetings,

> feel a strain in my left forearm when playing on the G string and when using 4th fingers, so what is causing this?

Tesnion in the left shoulder? May have origin in the neck. Try practign a lot with the head off the violin and compeltley upright for much of your practice time.

Practice the simple but fundamental exericse of putitng the violin up. But do so in astate of calm awareness. When the violin is slipped in, do you feel any movemnt of the left shoudler upwards? It should not be there. Do you fele any reaciton in the neck? It should not be there. Working on eliminating these misuses of the body cna paty dividens.

I also think you may be using the muscles of the forearms to move your fingers to much. To remind yourslef not to do this place the palm of thehand against the insturment and just tap out a few notes with each finger on any string or even on the wood of the violin itself. By placing the hand against the violin (in fourth position or so) one has made it only possible to move the fingers using the minimum effort.

It is also possible your violin is too flat.

Cheers,

buri

October 29, 2006 at 05:51 AM · I am a rank beginner in violin. However, I know from other instruments, and from contexts outside of music (such as touch typing), that if you do not keep your wrist reasonably straight, you risk developing carpal tunnel syndrome.

Keeping your wrist cocked back so that the heel of your hand touches the neck is akin to allowing your wrists to touch the table when you type. You can hurt yourself that way, and I imagine the same principle applies to the violin.

October 30, 2006 at 04:01 PM · I would urge you to find a way to watch yourself practice/play. Either use a mirror or (conditions permitting) look at your reflection in a window pane. Every once in a while glance over to make sure your left wrist (as well as general posture) is "behaving". I do this all the time. It helps create and maintain good playing form.

October 30, 2006 at 05:59 PM · The usual rationales for the wrist position classical players use are: 1) To avoid strain and pain from pushing the wrist up. This can lead pretty easily to carpal tunnel and other ailments. You might even be reducing your circulation. 2) So that the hand and arm are ready to shift and do vibrato when needed. If your wrist is up touching the neck, you have to get it down before you can shift, adding extra motion and time. This also probably means you'd be doing two different contact points on fingers, something for 1st adn maybe 2nd, and something else for 3rd up. 3) So that your fingertips can do clear and concise attact and release motions. A surprising number of fiddlers play with the wrist up. However, many fiddle styles rarely leave 1st position, almost never employ vibrato, etc. I've started studying how these folks play, to watch for tension and to observe when they may be altering where their wrists are. I should start asking them about pain and injuries. If I was looking, there's probably a great thesis topic in there somewhere. :) Sue (who fiddles, but with very conventional, Suzuki-ish hand position and ESPECIALLY bow hold/control.)

October 30, 2006 at 07:14 PM · Alright, I've gotten it to where my wrist no longer touched the violin, but I feel am very self-conscious about how I hold it. Could someone give me an example of how many inches the gap between the hand and violin should be? I've seen that Perlman has very large hands, and his hand is sometimes pretty close to the violin in 1st position, so would how close it be really effect vibrato as long as it's not touching?

October 30, 2006 at 07:40 PM · I think you've answered your own question Rachael... Similarly, I was getting help with the space between the first finger and the neck that frees the resonance in vibrato. I was told it doesn't matter how much space--just that it exists. I think the guy said, just enough to clear the strings and the neck.

I also think though that you might want to watch your wrist for a little while though to make sure it is not raising, but staying relatively straight.

Finally, I think it was Sue who pointed out some of the finer details on this in a post somewhere--about the wrist. I'm learning vibrato too, and after much agony, am finally learning to slow down, be patient, and only play it on notes I can do well--also advice from Sue.

Good luck... al

October 31, 2006 at 12:16 AM · Hi,Rachael, This thread is proving how difficult it is to put this topic into words. I hear frustration in your responses. Do you have a teacher, and is he/she really good for where you are right now? It seems to me that it might be good for you to do some teacher-shopping, to find someone who can really teach/investigate this with you. Sue

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