My son has problem to play on the E string

April 14, 2015 at 01:24 PM · My son has problem to play near the bridge on the E string, on the frog.

His thumb bump on the edge corner of the violin.

Anyone has thought about this? Any suggestion?

Thanks in advance

Replies (33)

April 14, 2015 at 02:26 PM · How old is your son, and what size violin is he playing on?

April 14, 2015 at 03:01 PM · He is 13. Did not have the problem when he play away from the bridge.

But I want him to learn to play on the point 1, nearest to the bridge like the book says. But cannot find the solution how to avoid the thumb not bumping on the edge.

Any idea, please let me know, would appreciated very much.

April 14, 2015 at 03:06 PM · That sounds like the angle of the bow relative to the strings is much too steep -- almost vertical. Tilt the bow more towards the A string (probably much more towards the A string).

April 14, 2015 at 03:20 PM · Have a luthier check the setup of the violin. If the bridge height is too low this can happen.

April 14, 2015 at 05:13 PM · Thank you.

Should he play a little away from the bridge?

April 14, 2015 at 05:40 PM · This is a question his teacher should address because many variables are involved.

However, here are 2 general thoughts.

1. Yes, he should eventually be able to play with the bow hair right next to the bridge. This is necessary for very high notes, and certain "colors" to the sound. Your son may or may not be ready for this kind of playing.

2. It is likely your son is using the beginning, simplified Suzuki bow hold, in which the frog is vertical all the time. If so, his thumb is going to hit the violin when the bow hair is near the bridge. Its a simple matter of geometry. More effective, professional bow holds rotate the wrist and hand before the hand gets near the violin. With these holds, the thumb is above the violin edge when playing that close to the bridge. Excellent bowing is one of the most complex movements that the human body can do. There are several styles, and many things to debate. He needs a good teacher to get excellent professional bowing.

April 14, 2015 at 05:55 PM · I'm voting for Lydia's answer as having identified the main issue.

April 15, 2015 at 02:23 PM · Lydia's solution might be the easiest one, or maybe not. I tried it on my violin and it does not work for me - with my hand.

This is the reason I said that his violin teacher should work this out. The teacher can see the problem.

April 16, 2015 at 01:26 AM · The teacher is the one to ask; s/he can see & hear what is happening.

April 20, 2015 at 02:05 AM · Thank all of you for your help.

His teacher says play a little away from the bridge, but I don't quite agree, that way.

Because I watch youtube on the great performers, they play very near the bridge sometimes, that should be playable, especially on the high position.

She was Galamian's student for a few years, I trusted her. But don't know what to do. However, she is really old now.

April 20, 2015 at 02:35 AM ·

Is his violin the right size? Maybe it's time for a 3/4 or 4/4 violin. If the violin's C-bout is too small, then all you can do is play farther from the bridge.

April 20, 2015 at 02:46 AM · Similarly, has anyone had the issue of their index finger scraping at the farther corner of the right C bout? I've experienced it mildly a few times, and witnessed the dismay of a fellow violinist at youth symphony rehearsals when he managed to scrape a good bit of varnish during a particularly fierce attack. I'm pretty careful about it nowadays, but once in a while it'll catch and then I will whisper apologies to my instrument for the next two days or so.

April 20, 2015 at 03:51 AM · Why they put corners on fractional kiddie violins i dont know. Kids lop em off with their bows.

The edge of the violin inside the treble side c bout is called "the B string".

April 20, 2015 at 03:59 AM · Na You, what grounds do you disagree with his teacher's perfectly sensible advice?

If his teacher thinks a slight move of sounding point is fine in his case, it's probably fine. Yes, there are times when being closer to the bridge is necessary, but there are plenty of violins that pull a good upper-position sound with the bow being a little bit further from the bridge. (Not all violins sound well right next to the bridge.)

April 20, 2015 at 04:41 AM · What is he having trouble with specifically? Is he producing an excessively edgy sound or is he having trouble with intonation? In either case I think playing scales pretty regularly would be helpful. On the e string, I also like to play very close to the bridge most of the time. T I think I get a much better sound in that region. This may or may not be everyone else's preference, but I think its fine to experiment and see what he is most comfortable with.

Also, if he has trouble with articulation when shifting into higher positions, the key is to relax the arm, and kind of like your bow sort of float on the string.

April 20, 2015 at 02:01 PM · A video is worth a thousand words.

Cornerless or top-cornered violins are possible solutions. :)

April 20, 2015 at 03:10 PM · Na You,

Though I don't have a picture or video of your son's playing as his hand approached the violin, I think the most likely source of the problem is the way he holds and moves the bow. Did you ask the teacher about the bow hold?

If the problem is the bow hold, the decisions are complicated by at least: 1. the debates about bow holds, 2. his current skill level, 3. his and your objectives, 4. the teacher's preference.

My thoughts on some guidance are as follows. If he uses a simplified bow hold, has 4 or 5 years of playing, plays better than most kids his age, and intends (at least at the moment) to pursue a music career, then its likely he would benefit from a new teacher who will teach him 'professional' bow technique. Your current teacher may think he is not ready for that step and will get to it later. This is where it gets very tricky.

On the other hand, if he shows no interest of a career in music, then in my opinion, playing further from the bridge is a small compromise. Playing further from the bridge is fine for 95+% of the music he will ever play in high school. The chance to work with a Galamian trained teacher is worth it for many, many other things he will learn from him/her.

April 20, 2015 at 03:46 PM · For a student to be playing right up against the bridge can be hard because it requires very much control over the other aspects of the bowing (the pressure and the bow speed) and also if you are not bowing perfectly straight then you are going to be playing ponticello sometimes. Maybe the teacher has in mind working back toward the bridge gradually? That would seem pretty reasonable to me.

April 21, 2015 at 04:28 PM · Now I found it's not his thumb bump (middle joint) bump on the violin corner, it's his base joint bumps on the corner, isn't that wired?

How to upload a video for my son's playing?

I thank all for your helpful discussion.

I would need more help for my son's playing from time to time.

April 21, 2015 at 08:30 PM · Na You,

Embedding a video is a multi-step process.

1.Make an account in They call it a channel.

2.Upload a digital video to your channel/account

3.When its there, click on Share, more options appear and click on Embed

4.Copy the long address from #3 and paste it into a post on

April 22, 2015 at 03:55 AM · This happens to the best of us (even with perfectly set-up violins), but obviously it can happen for many reasons. Yes to a video if you're able.

April 22, 2015 at 04:22 AM · Na You, clicking on your profile and its link to your website, I just realized that you're actually a violin teacher yourself. I take it you didn't want to teach your son yourself (not surprising, since it can create a lot of friction). But I'm curious how you would handle this if you were objectively thinking about your own student with such a problem. (Your background makes me curious about your Lalo post too.)

April 22, 2015 at 05:36 AM · Raise the wrist a little when approaching the frog? I noticed this on some of my student where they had their wrist too low. Probably the bow is tilted a little towards the tailpiece. A good neutral right hand posture shouldn't make this happen, except a bridge/string height that's too low/extreme.

April 22, 2015 at 09:06 AM · It's not unusual that some don't play all the way to the frog, when playing hard, close to the bridge on the E string. Reversing the bow direction before the thumb joint hits the violin is one way to deal with it, rather than reshaping or rotating the hand at the end of the stroke to get it out of the way.

With some wide violas, shortening the bow stroke is about all you can do.

April 22, 2015 at 11:07 AM ·

Sounds like your son is holding the bow with a constant tilt: the pinky is on the shelf instead of the top edge. =

April 23, 2015 at 03:15 PM · Na You,

Here's video going in the opposite direction! Todd Ehle has many video lessons about violin technique on Youtube. I suggest you and your son watch his lessons about holding the bow and straight bowing. You can find a list of bowing lessons by clicking on this link:

Todd Ehle's Bowing Lessons

With your son playing Lalo, some of these lessons will seem "too simple". The fundamentals always seem simple until one has to do them under pressure with fast reactions. I urge that he watch and follow along with his violin. You can help your son by watching the videos and then watching your son's bowing versus Todd's instructions.

Watch Holding the bow – parts 1,2, & 3 which are Lessons #1,2,3

Then watch Straight bowing technique parts 1 & 2 which are Lessons #11, 12. Part 2 specifically mentions the problem of the bow hand hitting the violin.

Only after watching and trying out technique from these lessons, watch Getting to the Frog, which is way down on the list. If you start there too early, you won't really understand how his hand is getting to the frog so easily.

April 28, 2015 at 04:34 PM · Thanks, everyone for advising me.

I am a violin teacher myself, but I did not have a good teacher to start, I missed some fundamental techniques. Also my son does not coorperation with me.

I checked on the Practice book of Simon Fisher, he talks about the wrist support the hand, that really helps.

Becaus eI ask my son bend his fingers for down bow, he collaps the whole hand include the write. He needs to raise his wrist to support his hand.

I am learning with him, and from you too.


He does has a video on YouTube, the Accloay concerto.

Would you mind yo watch and give some comments and suggestion?

Thank you.

April 28, 2015 at 05:13 PM · There seems to be a bit too much bending of the wrist when using the top half of the bow. This could cause injury in the long run.

Watch how Szeryng plays.

April 28, 2015 at 09:35 PM · Na You,

Your son plays expressively. Congrats.

To avoid hitting his right hand on the violin, he does not use the bottom 6 to 8 inches of the bow. He also does not use the top 3 or 4 inches of the bow. Overall, his right wrist and hand strike me as somewhat stiff, not fluid. This reduces the ability to get a fluid, melodic sound, IMO.

I talked earlier about factors affecting a decision to change teachers to improve his bowing. He and you have to make that decision. IMO, if his bowing stays the same, he has little chance of getting into a top ranked music conservatory. But that may not be his objective.

Take a look at the violin section of the Eastman school orchestra and notice how all of them use full bows, bend their wrists, rotate the hand near the violin, and overall have very fluid motions.

Eastman playing Mozart No.29

April 28, 2015 at 10:56 PM · Greetings,

I think your son is very musically gifted and I enjoyed listening to his playing.

I agree with Mikes comments and would also add he is not yet using soundpints to maximum effect. Too much near the fingerboard. It seems to me, allowing for crummy eyesight and ipad, that the bow hold is model led to some degree on the Russian/Heifetz type and I do not fell it suits your son who has very long levers. The hand is slightly high up the bow and not holding it deeply enough. As mike notes there is a lack of movement in the hand which is being compensated for by an awful lot of wrist movement. I would prefer thus kind of physique to use a point lower down towards the tip of the first finger. less turning in of the wrist and a more curved little finger. then a great deal of work on colle and detache using only the fingers plus lots and lots of daly work right at the heel of the bow. The sevcik school of bowing books 2 and 3 would be good I think.



April 28, 2015 at 11:48 PM · Yes, he`s getting away with a lot because everything is so long. But the body movement is also an indicator of compenatio rather than just `feeling` the music.

BTW there is one thing he can correct instantly. He has a habit of not vibrating on the final note of a phrase because he is wanting to tail off very sensitively. But they should not be white notes. Add a small less, intense vibrato



April 30, 2015 at 06:42 PM · Mike,

I watched the Estman orchestra, know what you say. I agree.

About changing a teacher, yes. But do you know any teacher could teach online well?

In here, there is no top teacher. My son's teacher has a very strong background, graduated from Julliard. However she is so old that she is losing her eyesight and hearing, so, I could not trust her sometimes. And she is a half year away too from the town.

I do need a very good online teacher.

Dear everyone, any recommendation?

May 2, 2015 at 09:35 PM · Greetings,

I have never visited the school, but try Nathan Cole's online school. he is a master violinist and someone you can trust.



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