Violin Exercises w/o a Violin

April 30, 2010 at 04:07 PM ·

I saw a video on a while ago regarding Colle. The beginner viedo was primarily focused on flexibility of the fingers and suggested an exercise to do without the violin or bow (simply forming a 90-degree angle with the right hand fingers and extending). I find myself repeating this motion with a pencil while I'm sitting in class listening to a lecture, watching a video, etc. I wanted to know if there are any other exercises like this that improve technique but don't involve an actual violin. Any ideas?

Replies (14)

April 30, 2010 at 05:34 PM ·

I used to do the colle exercise during math class.  It works, but my math grades weren't ever all that great.  (Smile)

For the left hand, you can make the tip of a finger touch the flat inside tip of the thumb, and gently wiggle the knuckle closest to the fingernail back and forth.  This is a really nice vibrato exercise.

I'm interested in hearing what tricks other people have...

April 30, 2010 at 08:41 PM ·


these are not violin exercise sas such but I do thes ea lot these days:



May 1, 2010 at 09:14 AM ·


I applaud your efforts to seek other ways of improving. Beware though! Learning anything well requires complete focus on the exact and proper execution of the technique. If you do your violin exercises in class or while otherwise involved, you'll cheat yourself in both areas. It's my experience that most students (of anything) try to advance too quickly. Especially with a seemingly easy movement. However, it is just  when we think we've mastered it that errors start to creep in as we try top build upon our new technique. Without this high level of attention and focus we end up practicing our mistakes. So, my advice is, save the finger exercises for a time when you can truly pay attention to what you are doing!

May 1, 2010 at 01:05 PM ·

Absolutely top notch advice David! You're not joking Buri, even the warm ups have an amazing effect. I got some excersises to share with you, the first one is just flicking the left hand fingers 'up'. Think I made that up but this one I got from a book and I think it good for flexibility of bow's called the 'swimming ex' because it looks like the kicking back-legs of a frog swimming!

Hold your right hand in front, palm facing the wall, looking down at the hand and bend the knuckes with straight fingers so that the pad of the thumb touches the  pads of the first and second fingers. Bend the fingers and thumb which remain lightly touching, then 'spring' them back straight again. The wrist can be incorporated and the fingers and thumb may momentarily release their touch. Speed will depend on relaxation. But it looks like a    




May 1, 2010 at 01:07 PM ·

Do you think about your college lectures when you're at your violin lesson?  of course not...

In all honesty.....concentrate on your lecture or class video...and practice your finger exercises during your breaks, or other spare time..

May 1, 2010 at 03:25 PM ·

 You could check your phone obsessively like my college students....

May 1, 2010 at 03:48 PM ·

I practiced vibrato while driving by knocking on the car window.

Also, I did (still do sometimes)  this exercise that my teacher taught to loosen the first joints of my left-hand fingers for hand vibrato, and it has been very helpful  -

1) make a fist with the right hand - the thumb faces you, knuckles face up, and make sure the formed surface is flat (so it resembles the fingerboard).

2) have the left hand wrapping the right, the left finger tips sitting on top the middle of the "fingerboard" (so the fingers are curved), the right thumb holding the left thumb in place, and the arms & elbows closed together.

3) work on one finger at a time - flex the first joint of the finger backward and back to the original position so the hand (wrist and above) is pushed to the left then springs back, but keep the finger tip firmly on the "fingerboard" (make sure it doesn't move) to complete the vibrato motion, then repeat.

May 3, 2010 at 03:27 AM ·

Thanks for all the input. Although I do feel I should have stated more clearly what I was looking for. The colle exercise I was talking about is a matter of simply hanging my fingers over the edge of a desk and lifting them up and down. It doesn't distract me from my schoolwork (high school by the way; someone mentioned college earlier) at all. I  was asking for more simple finger or hand motions like this that aren't terrifically challenging or difficult to understand. I know that learning something requires full attention, but I don't belive that practicing hand techiniques in class will distract me from either. Just wanted to clear that up.

May 3, 2010 at 04:20 AM ·


Felix, I agree. I enciurage studnets to practice clle with a pencil during class. Can`t see the distraction although it often has more content than what the teacher is drizzling on about,



May 3, 2010 at 01:10 PM ·

 >I practiced vibrato while driving by knocking on the car window

This is hilarious - I'm going to have to try it!

May 4, 2010 at 01:47 AM ·

I hate to admit it, but I LOVE it when my students can do some of their exercises in class. My favorite (because it doesn't necessarily distract the student from school) is the clothes pin exercise for strengthening fingers so that they remain "arched" instead of caving in. (mainly pinky and thumb, and mainly for double-jointed students)

I also have colle type exercises with a pencil, I think we all understand them. Todd Ehle demonstrates this in one of his YouTube videos, but he left one out....if I get around to doing a video on it, I'll post's so hard to describe this stuff. But basically, I like to do both a VERTICAL colle exercise,l and a HORIZONTAL colle exercise, because when you combine the two, it gives a fabulously fluid bow hand....I'll try to do that vid soon.

May 4, 2010 at 02:16 AM ·

Yes, please, Lora, a video would be very welcome!

May 8, 2010 at 01:49 AM ·

Ok Guys, after wrestling with technology for an entire day, I finally got my Colle' Pencil Exercises on video and loaded it onto YouTube.  I'd welcome comments, and I hope it can help some of the students out there. Here's the link:

Lora  (I'm about to check out the link Buri posted....more later)

May 8, 2010 at 02:45 AM ·


very nice video. Thanks for posting.



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