How to release tension in left hand?

April 10, 2016 at 06:30 AM · Sometimes I get really tense when I play the violin, and I don't know how to fix it. My hand has gotten so tense that my teacher tells me that I have ruined my vibrato which used to be great. He also says that the tension might be caused by the emotion I put in my playing. I've tried so many exercises but I can't seem to find something that will be effective for releasing tension. BTW, the tip of my ring finger tends to get numb after prolonged hours of playing.

Replies (23)

April 10, 2016 at 06:34 AM · I would recommend finding an Alexander Technique teacher in your area. And this is another indirect thing, but you could try starting a meditation practice. It sounds like you may be practicing with lack of awareness in some areas, and that at the very least, building in more breaks might be helpful. Warming up slowly, and splitting practice into smaller tasks may be helpful, so that you know exactly what you are going to do for the next x minutes, and that you will stop if y happens (y being some habit of tension you have). You have to start recognizing what makes you tense and stopping yourself before you get back into that old habit. It can be really tough to catch.

April 10, 2016 at 09:49 AM · Well, violin technique is not about math............ Fiddlerman has excellent videos on left-hand technique. The idea is to have a hand shape for every key, so that eventually one is able to put down he fingers without adjusting them.... the fingers go down by themselves. I can actually have the shape of the hand, and put down the fingers simultaneously, and they're in tune :)

Alexander technique and breathing exercises and meditation is great, once You have the bio-mechanics (good technique), but Your body still remembers then tension you had before :) good luck : k

April 10, 2016 at 09:50 AM · red desert violin is also good :)

April 10, 2016 at 07:16 PM · A few weeks ago I had some minor issues with my ulnar nerve in my left arm (see here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulnar_nerve ) . My hand was tense, stressed near the elbow area (and the shoulder as well and this resulted in tight grip and some numbness in the ring finger an the pinky. I did some minor exercises, cared not to overstress the whole arm and the situation has dramatically improved.

If you don't find out quickly what stresses you and you are serious about your playing I would also consider seeing a physiotherapist or a relative physician. You can describe him your movements and posture and he may show you some exercises to alleviate the symptoms, and relieve your stressed areas. Anyway, I am trying to say that it could not be just your emotion, but a strain, or a nerve or muscle being stressed, and of course we should prevent this from going further. It could also be other tasks besides music, i.e. the way you sit on your desk, or the way you sleep etc.

I don't want to cause any panic or something, but we just have to be careful with such issues

Keep us posted

:)

April 10, 2016 at 10:52 PM · Krisztian, I have to disagree. The benefits of these things are not in being relaxed, but in being more aware, so you can catch yourself before habits of tension creep in.

The poster seems to already have a teacher, from whom he should be learning proper technique. The issue seems to be bad habits of practice.

April 10, 2016 at 11:07 PM · I had the similar problem, a week with Viola solved the problem.. I'm serious!

I was forced to stretch my left hand a lot, and my grip just loosened up to compensate for changed finger spacings and etc.

April 11, 2016 at 12:04 AM · I surmise that many of these problems, especially with adult students, come from trying to work on stuff that's just too hard.

April 11, 2016 at 08:16 AM · Hermes, You're right..... consulting a physician for advice on practicing time is a good idea.

April 11, 2016 at 08:18 AM · also, putting away the violin for a few days is good :) the goal is not to play like a robot, without emotions.

But, they say, that to express Yourself, you have to be able to play with the same dynamics on all the strings :)

Also, listening to the sound of the violin while playing is a good advice :)

April 11, 2016 at 08:20 AM · I used to take antipsychotic drugs with adverse effects, and I know how bad is it when your hand trembles, and stressed out :(

now I just smoke a cigarette, when I'm nervous :)

April 11, 2016 at 08:23 AM · http://www.catalog.md/drugs/ciprocin-farmsintez.html

drugs like this have similar effects (similar side effects, it is not) like atropine (nerve poison) :)

April 11, 2016 at 08:31 AM · Steven, yes, finger spacing is good, since the middle finger is the axis finger, which acts like a turning joint when switching hand shapes (even in microtonal intonation) :)

April 11, 2016 at 08:32 AM · the left hand is turned more towards the chest at the G string, and gradually gets turned out while moving up to the E. hope that helps :)

April 11, 2016 at 01:07 PM · Hi,

Tension is caused by many things, but there are some common things. For the left hand, in my experience the most common to be avoided are:

1- raising of the left shoulder.

2- pressing the neck into the chinrest to hold the violin between it and the shoulder; affects tension all the way down from the neck to the fingers.

3- a hand position that is not natural for a particular hand; if the hand is setup with the base of the first finger as the guiding point, with the thumb allowed to come up opposite to its natural height for that hand, it will be balanced and less likely to be tense.

4- pressing of the thumb into the neck; the thumb should never press and be relaxed and released at all times.

5- the rotating of the left elbow to the right; very common and commonly taught, but actually creates tension as the body is meant to be balanced vertically with gravity. This imbalance is compensated by tension to restore balance to the vertical axis, usually by tension in the back between the shoulder blades that radiates throughout all the way to the finger tips.

6- pressing of the fingers into the bow, which creates a sympathetic reaction to the left hand.

Hope this helps! If one can find the source of the general problem and fix it, tension will be greatly reduced. The answer is not in fixing a detail in my experience but the big thing(s) behind the problem.

Cheers!

April 11, 2016 at 08:00 PM · Lesniak, as for the math, You could imagine violin left hand technique as a movement coordination in three dimensional axes..... one axis is the placement movements parallel to the fingerboard, another axis is the shifting into a position, amd the third (which is actually a function of that two latter) is intonation. But this site I think is too shallow for such a wide-spectrumed individual, You should instead change emails with Mr. Perlman ;-) best: Krisztian

April 11, 2016 at 08:00 PM · Lesniak, as for the math, You could imagine violin left hand technique as a movement coordination in three dimensional axes..... one axis is the placement movements parallel to the fingerboard, another axis is the shifting into a position, amd the third (which is actually a function of that two latter) is intonation. But this site I think is too shallow for such a wide-spectrumed individual, You should instead change emails with Mr. Perlman ;-) best: Krisztian

April 11, 2016 at 08:07 PM · otherwise, well said Christian :)

April 11, 2016 at 08:28 PM · I meant math axes, not this :) well....... whatever ;-) háháháháhá

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcFzPBzwFUE

April 12, 2016 at 05:18 PM · Instead of entering several posts in a row, you can edit your previous post and add to it.

April 12, 2016 at 08:44 PM · Doesn't

April 12, 2016 at 08:44 PM · Have

April 12, 2016 at 08:44 PM · The same

April 12, 2016 at 08:44 PM · Impact.

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