Proper Finger Position on the Left Hand

June 24, 2018, 1:46 PM · I have been playing violin for 6 years now and I've gone over my posture and grip of the violin and bow with my teacher several times. She has now given me conflicting information about how I position my fingers on the neck and fingerboard of the violin and now I am questioning if I even know how to hold a violin when I have an audition at a college of music in 5 months. This is infuriating and discouraging and I don't even know if I am practicing the right way or not or if I am wasting my time now. The way I have always played is represented in the first image, with just a bit of space between my fingers and the neck. The way she is showing me now is like the second picture with no space between my fingers and the neck, with the insider of my fingers touching the side of the fingerboard. Which of these is correct, or are neither of them correct? What should my fingers look like on the fingerboard?

I have several books with diagrams that are unclear for this and videos online are not helping me either.


Replies (57)

Edited: June 24, 2018, 1:48 PM · Neither, but the 2nd picture is definitely worse than the first.

You should not be looking directly into the palm of your left hand. It looks to me as if your elbow needs to come a little more under the violin, with the base knuckles of your left hand roughly level with the fingerboard. Your forearm should be rotated a little bit more so that the side of your hand under your pinky is facing you.

June 24, 2018, 1:51 PM · I had the palm of my hand positioned that way so that it would be easier to see what I am referring to as to the position of my fingers specifically. Maybe this is a more accurate representation of how I would hold it.

Edited: June 24, 2018, 1:55 PM · To be more clear, should my fingers be touching the neck or not? Should the fingers be flat or curved? If you notice in that third picture there is a slight gap between the neck and my fingers and they are curved which apparently is wrong ?
June 24, 2018, 1:55 PM · The side of the index finger may touch the neck in some contexts, not in others, but should never be pressing against the neck. Mine usually does not touch.

I'm not sure what you mean by asking if the fingers should be flat or curved. They should always be curved. How would you even play with flat fingers?

Edited: June 24, 2018, 1:59 PM · This is exactly my issue. She was showing me that my index finger should be touching the neck, which if I force myself to do that makes my fingers flat and I feel like it's impossible to play that way.
June 24, 2018, 2:02 PM · This is a little alarming.

I spend a fair amount of time trying to get my students' index fingers detached from the neck, or at least unglued.

June 24, 2018, 2:04 PM · I think you're too caught up with the aesthetics of your left hand, and not thinking enough about functionality.

If you watch good players, their hand formations constantly change, so you could argue that they're contradicting themselves multiple times every minute of playing. But let me tell you: if they remained in a static position, they would play a lot worse.

As another example, In "the violin lesson" by Simon Fischer, it is discussed that we vary which part of our finger (tip vs pad) we use to contact the string during vibrato in order to change the sound. So it's pretty clear that both left hand and right hand positions should be considered dynamic (moving/changing) depending on what we're trying to do at any given moment. If you get too caught up in a "perfect" hold, you will stiffen up every time you feel the bow slightly change contact points, or when the left hand hits the string at a slightly different angle than usual. This is very bad.

Also, your body has changed a lot in the past 6 years, and it may be that your teacher is trying to guide your form around that.

Anyways, try to let go of static ideas about left hand and right hand form, and try instead to allow the hands to make subtle changes as you play, and try to see the logic behind each subtle change (your hand knows more than you realize). Focus on producing the sound that you intend to make on each note and each phrase, and not so much on how it looks visually. Even things that are ugly are sometimes effective, such as in the case of a straightened left pinky in certain extensions.

June 24, 2018, 2:06 PM · Something else to add, in response to what you just posted: there are certainly instances where your index SHOULD touch the neck to provide stability. Try to take the advice in context.
June 24, 2018, 2:08 PM · Erik, if I understand the OP correctly, his concern is that his teacher is instructing him that the side of the index finger should ALWAYS be touching the neck, which is not only incorrect advice, it is destructive.
June 24, 2018, 2:09 PM · Maybe I misunderstood her, English is her third language after all. One of the pieces for my audition is Kayser's Etude No. 24 in G Minor and the context she mentioned it in was hitting the D on the G string in the first measure. It's starting to make a little more sense if what she was saying if I am playing with my fourth finger on the G string because if you don't have your fingers touching the neck a bit at that point you'd have to overcompensate by moving your elbow and palm out in order to reach with the pinky so perhaps she meant that context specifically and I misunderstood. I'll double check with her at my lesson on tuesday but its good to know I don't have to retrain my hand completely which is what I thought she was saying. From the information you provided it seems I'm doing it properly but my teacher may be right as far as my fourth finger on the G String.
June 24, 2018, 2:19 PM · OK, that makes much more sense. My index finger would contact the neck in that context.
June 24, 2018, 2:39 PM · I agree with Mary Ellen.
I too use a SR.
I didn't say that.
June 24, 2018, 4:39 PM ·

Regarding the placement of the hand, there is a school of thought that advocates that the base knuckles of the left hand should be parallel to the strings. Such a position is not natural and creates tension by the excessive turning of the hand and forearm. The hand should not remain distant from the neck of the instrument but should slightly touch both sides of the violin neck so as to help, by this easy contact, the orientation of the entire hand. The hand should not press against the instrument (should not clutch it), since this causes tensions and severely restricts the freedom of action of the fingers, hand, and arm. The contact on the side of the index fingers should be maintained up to the third position. From there on upward the index finger detaches itself from the neck of the instrument. The first finger, as it falls on the string, should take the approximate shape of three sides of a square.

(Principles of Violin Playing and Teaching, p. 15)

Far from being incorrect or destructive, left hand double contact is a mainstay of Galamian's left hand technique.

June 24, 2018, 4:51 PM · Left hand double contact *all the time* *under all circumstances* which is what I thought the OP was saying his teacher had said, is destructive. Even Galamian doesn't recommend that.

It turns out that what his teacher was actually saying makes much more sense.

The only time I even think about whether my index finger is touching or not is when explaining something to a student. Sometimes it does, more often it doesn't.

The other issue with left hand double contact is that contact alone is one thing, but too often, students are actually clutching the violin and pressing their finger into the neck. This is also destructive.

June 24, 2018, 5:05 PM · Everyone agrees there should be no pressing of the hand into the neck. But pressing has little to do with contact, since it reduces sensitivity for 'orienting' the hand, in Galamian's terms.

You make it sound like it's incorrect for contact to be the default, for there to be contact more often than not, which is not the case.

Edited: June 25, 2018, 12:01 AM · My €0.02 : I have a light contact in passage-work, and The Gap (1/32" or more) for vibrato.

But as a violist with short fingers, often playing on the lower strings, The Gap is very frequent, since the base of the index is then more or less over the higher strings.

And Galamian had very long fingers..

Edited: June 25, 2018, 2:12 AM · Hi,

In the same line as Jeewon pointed out with Galamian, Flesch also recommended the double-contact in a similar way to Galamian. In my experience, Flesch's description of how to find the natural setup of the left-hand as described in the original of the Art of Violin Playing is still probably the best description (and simplest) I have personally found.

There are plenty of violinists who maintain a double-contact even while vibrating - Oistrakh, Szeryng, Grumiaux, Ehnes, Capuçon, etc. And of course, many excellent violinists also don't maintain it, so it is definitely valid as well. Different strokes for different folks.

The problems come in my experience in the double-pressing between the base of the index and the thumb (in both hands). This should be avoided, and I agree should be released. Also, if one does let go of the double-contact, then one has to be mindful that the height of the hand stays steady as it can affect pitch centre and sound while vibrating adversely (curiously, the negative impact is even more pronounced when using a baroque bow...).

As for the OP, looking at your photos, the problem seems to be that your entire hand is too low in relation to the neck (both on the index and thumb side) for your particular hand. The neck is contacting at the side of the first finger instead of resting on the base of the first finger, and the thumb is not coming up to its natural height opposite for your particular hand (it is too low). In my humble opinion, addressing this would be where I would suggest to start to find better balance.

Cheers!

June 25, 2018, 8:52 AM · As with so many threads on this forum:

Without hearing you play and seeing your fingers in action its almost impossible to give concrete advice. I've seen very good players with pretty wacky ideas about posture that I would never teach my students but it works brilliantly for them.

Playing violin is a results oriented business, and no player is exactly the same as another. In the end - what do you sound like, and how clearly and purely do the notes you play come out?

What a clean fingerboard you have. And what a great 4th finger; perfect for violin playing.

Edited: June 25, 2018, 12:17 PM · Christian, can we really see that these violinists maintain the contact at all times? And would we see a 1/32 inch gap on a video?
June 25, 2018, 1:20 PM ·
Oistrakh

Szeryng: N.B.side of index to palm contact (dual contact remains constant)

Grumiaux:

Ehnes:

Capucon:

But even Menuhin, perhaps the most vocal proponent of a detached index:

June 25, 2018, 1:30 PM · Another guy with lots of contact:

But finally it's not about whether contact is maintained throughout, but rather a constant return to dual contact to get a feel for the position, where you're going, where you're coming from. When you teach a detached index, you're not going to instill any sense of orientation from half the hand.

Edited: June 25, 2018, 2:22 PM · What I see is an rather infrequent return to dual contact. But it is impossible to know from these videos the difference between a real contact and a feather-light brushing, except perhaps Capuçon.
Edited: June 26, 2018, 6:18 PM · Feather-light brushing = real contact, "slightly touching" in Galamian's words

But in many instances you can see more than that, especially in Oistrakh and Ehnes, you see the index skin stretch, bulge due to contact.

"...since the base of the index is then more or less over the higher strings."

[When you're index is on top of the strings, do you actively keep the index from touching the strings?] --> When your index is over the higher strings, do you actively keep the base of the index from touching the strings?

Edited for typos and what not :)

June 26, 2018, 2:10 PM · Hi,

Jeewon: Thank you for posting the videos!!! That is awesome of you and really I don't know quite what to say... And, thank you for posting the Ray Chen video as well!

Cheers!

June 26, 2018, 3:19 PM · Long story short here: everyone does things a little differently, and that's OK. People need to find what works for them, and to question their teacher when something feels off (the teacher should be able to provide an explanation of the logic behind any particular correction).


Anatomies are so wildly different between any two people that to expect every hand/arm/body to function in the same way, either aesthetically or mechanically, is just pure insanity.

June 26, 2018, 3:44 PM · "When you're" (base of the) "index is on top of the strings, do you actively keep the index from touching the strings?"
For chords, yes! Otherwise not necessarily. But vibrato in a low D flat or natural (viola) is tricky at the best of times.
Edited: June 26, 2018, 6:19 PM · My pleasure, Christian :) I love looking for clues, of how artists achieve their ends. I wish someone would produce videos for aficionados, not just video for 'artistic visual effect.'

Thanks Adrian, but I edited above post to clarify. Don't know if that changes your answer.

I suppose I'm biased by my training and what I read into things, but I see lots of contact everywhere.

Here's what very little contact looks like:

Frankly, I think Hadelich's left hand technique is an anomaly among concert artists. I don't think many people can learn to play well with very little contact like he has. There's a reason most pedagogical materials start with the thumb-index 'v'. After that's established, you learn how to deviate from it, but the hand continues to use double contact as a reference, whether you're conscious of it or not.

Fischer consistently detaches to vibrate, but comes back to making contact afterwards:

Here's Flesch on double contact, which Christian referred us to earlier:


Holding the violin in the normal manner, one lowers the left arm with the four fingers slightly bent with the thumb touching the lower part of the index finger (See Left-hand Diagram #2 - p.173 and Photo No. 7 - p. 167). One then slowly approaches the neck of the violin with the left arm, inserting the neck between index finger and thumb. The index finger touches the right side of the neck at the base of the finger so it can move freely from its middle joint. (See Left-hand Diagram - p. 173) Placing one's finger on the A-string, the position which the thumb will now occupy (it's slight curvature, it's relationship to the fingers and the place on the neck where it will make contact) will be in keeping with the individuality of the hand. (See Photo No. 8)

Aside from the just-described thumb position at the side of the neck, there is also a different position, --under the neck. This position is recommended by several recognized teachers. (See Photo No. 9) Here the thumb supports the neck, which rests on it, the index finger does not touch the neck, the arm is turned inwardly even more and the fingers have to be placed on the string at right angles to it. In essence, in this under-the-neck position, the thumb permanently adopts a position which, when using the approach described in the previous paragraph, it assumes only occasionally, such as when preparing for shifts into higher positions. It is truely that, with the under-the-neck method, rapid shifts into higher positions are facilitated, but the hand cannot possibly feel comfortable if the unnatural inward rotation of the arm is maintained constantly. Furthermore, with this approach, one misses any counterbalance and support on the part of the index finger, which is now no longer able to have contact with the neck. The thumb is thus assuming a burden which it cannot discharge without damage to technical security.


(The Art of Violin Playing, Book 1, p. 5)

He goes on to explain the various situations where detaching the index is useful.

Galamian also goes into great detail about how the double contact evolves with competency, saying it's not so much about constant contact (he acknowledges it may be useful to detach for a lyrical vibrato, for example) as it is about using contact to orient the hand. Double contact = thumb + another reference point, whether the index or various points of the palm, as you ascend beyond 3rd position (though I think the exact transition from index to palm depends on the hand shape and size.)

He only talks about the 3 point contact as something to be avoided, as it restricts motion, but it remains a good marker for learning precisely where one's individual hand transitions from index to palm.

June 26, 2018, 10:20 PM · Went to my lesson today and she did confirm that what she meant was to always have the inside of the index finger contacting the neck at all times. I'm finding this highly impractical and completely impossible on the e string in particular. I've come to the conclusion that while it may be beneficial to try to have this contact where possible but it's most certainly counterproductive to try to force it. I am always trying to improve my intonation however and perhaps using the double contact more often will help but again I'm not finding it practical or helpful so far to maintain this contact all the time, it feels particularly unnatural and stiff.
June 27, 2018, 12:39 AM · That Szeryng video above is amazing. The camera work is so good regarding letting you see subtle technique. Thank you!
Edited: June 27, 2018, 7:07 AM · Hi,

Jeewon: We seem to share a similar love, as I also love seeing how great artists do what they do. Producing videos in a different way would be nice, although just having access to these which wasn't the case even not that long ago is a blessing. Thanks for posting the Flesch excerpt! Someone borrowed my book (which reminds me that I should retrieve it).

Eric: I mentioned this in my post above, but you will have great difficulty achieving double-contact, as from the photos you posted, as your entire hand is too low in relation to the neck, and not setup for it. In line with Flesch's recommendation, which is similar to what all the artists that I mentioned and that Jeewon kindly posted videos of, here is what I would suggest. First, rest the violin neck on the actual base of the first finger. Then, allow the thumb to come up on the opposite side to its own natural height (in your case from the photos you posted, it is quite a bit too low). That position is your double-contact. Unless you are doing something not in proper balance for your hand, your should be able to play comfortably on all strings. If you are still experiencing some difficulty, then it could be due to rotating the left elbow in too much. If that is the case, then allow your elbow to rest at the bottom of the apex and point down, not to the side. The James Ehnes video and the Ray Chen with their filmography allow for a good view of that. You can also see it well in this Oistrakh video:

Hope this helps...

Cheers!

June 27, 2018, 7:21 AM · My beginner students start without The Gap, and on the two middle strings.
But I will already be doing various warm-up movements to prepare for higher things..

As I only teach slender-handed girls nowadays, I ask them to watch videos of Midoori or Kyung Wha Chung rather than Oistrakh or Perlman!
I have even strung a spare viola as a violin so they can film my "small" hands in action on those smartphone thingies they all seem to have!

Edited: June 27, 2018, 9:23 AM · Double contact is a pedagogical concept, not a technique per se: it's like straight bowing, or preparing finger patterns, keeping fingers down. It manifests differently according to individual shapes and proportions, and it may be used more or less by some than others, once the brain maps pitch and rhythm to hand and arm movements: finger patterns, string crossing, shifting. Its function is to help map the fingerboard and help coordinate, choreograph movement. Its use is not limited by gender, size, shape or proportions. Just as you need to be able to control the pressure and actions of the fingers and thumb, you need to be able to control the side of index contact, from off the neck, to barely brushing, to solid contact to anchor the hand.
June 27, 2018, 12:55 PM · Regarding the elbow: since my stubby fingers are reluctant to get longer just because I take up my viola, and to avoid pushing my elbow into my ageing waistline, I setup my CR/SR for a 30° tilt on violin, and 45° on viola.

Glad to see you back, Jeewon, with your lucid analyses, with which I often agree..

Christian, I like the V shape, provided the right arm of the V is vertical. On the highest string, I prefer The Gap to avoid bunching up the index finger.

June 27, 2018, 4:36 PM · It is worth mentioning in passing that too tight a grip between the thumb and index finger will have a damping effect on the sound -- slight perhaps, but still there. I am talking about the grip typically associated with an as yet uninstructed beginner, so it is not really applicable to most of us here. I learnt about this phenomenon for myself many years ago when I was learning the classical guitar, and it was confirmed by my teacher.
June 27, 2018, 6:46 PM · I remember getting some students in the past from teachers who actually started them, from brand-beginners, without double contact. Without exception, these students always struggled immensely with intonation and consistency.

Double contact is very important for beginners, and this need decreases as the student becomes more advanced.

But it will always be used as a mental reference point thereafter, even when no physical double contact occurs.

June 28, 2018, 4:36 AM · The Julia Fischer video that Jeewon posted last is illuminating!
Edited: June 28, 2018, 6:08 AM · Hi,

Jeewon: you articulated way better than myself what I was thinking, lol! Double-contact is indeed a concept.

Adrian, I am not sure what you mean by V shape in your post. If you are referring to the hand, I think that unless someone has a shorter thumb (like Oistrakh or Anne-Sophie Mutter), if the hand is setup for double-contact, for many who do, it will form a U shape actually (like Szeryng, Ehnes, Fischer or Capuçon from the videos posted). The basic idea behind double-contact is that once the neck rests on the base of the first finger, the thumb's natural height is the result of two factors - it's own length, and the distance between the base of the first finger and root of the thumb. I think that Flesch discussed this, but I can't remember 100% and like I said, I unfortunately don't have the book with me... Either way, the thumb's height or placement in this approach is the result of the whole hand balance and not something separate.

Trevor, the "pinch" between the index and thumb tends to affect the sound adversely in my experience because it is a huge source of tension, and doing it in one hand most often tends to translate almost automatically to the other sympathetically.

Cheers!

Edited: June 28, 2018, 10:01 AM · Christian, I may well rest the violin on the base of the index - until I play! Then it will be against, but not on, the base joint. So I consider that the right arm of the V, or U as you so rightly say, is vertical

I must insist that for me, and for most of my small-handed students, to play with freedom on the lower strings the base joints of the left hand have to be above the level of the higher strings This is neither due to poor setup, nor poor technique, but a simple physical necessity. The whole hand rotates round the neck: I help it with an elbow swing.

Once again, Galamian had, and Fischer has, very long fingers; Flesch had "square" hands.

BTW, I once went to a superb viola recital by Tabea Zimmermann. She never used her 4th finger on th C-string..

One size does not fit all!

June 28, 2018, 10:23 AM · "...now I am questioning if I even know how to hold a violin when I have an audition at a college of music in 5 months..."

This is the real issue, and I'm surprised no one has mentioned it. If Eric has a college audition coming up, he's obviously preparing some advanced repertoire. So what what's the point of a teacher micro-managing his set up at this point?

His teacher should instead be encouraging him to focus on things like intonation, rhythmic integrity, memorization, tonal beauty, and phrasing instead of tying him up in knots.

Besides, his next teacher may require him to change his posture/setup anyway.

I'll add that many teachers think that a space between the next and index finger is necessary for vibrato or shifting. Many students overdo this, and this adds excess tension. I maintain that you can shift and vibrate with the index finger touching the neck. (Obviously this doesn't work in the high positions.)

Edited: June 29, 2018, 6:20 AM · Hi,

Adrian, like I said earlier, there are many great violinists who use the double-contact and some people who don't. Different strokes for different folks. I have been simply been examining/explaining the concept of double-contact (like Jeewon also called it) and how it works, its applications and the results from the concept. Its a concept; and even some people with small hands, like Ida Haendel for example, use it. But, someone can of course also choose to do things differently if it suits them. It's not about right or wrong. It's simply about how this particular concept functions.

Cheers!

June 28, 2018, 8:55 PM · After a lot of practice and trying different things out and looking back at my technique over the years and my struggle to maintain consistency with intonation I think that double contact overall is going to be helpful to me if I can learn to apply it properly. However, these are the pieces I am playing for my audition -

Mozart Concerto in G major (First Movement)
Bach Sonata in D Minor (First Movement)
Kayser Etude 24

Trying to play these pieces with six years of incorrect muscle memory is extremely difficult. I've started from scratch essentially, going back to first position Wolfhart and Sitt Etudes and Hrimaly Scales to retrain my left hand. I'm also paying more attention to my bowing hand since it's very stiff and it's causing issues with the spiccato for the Kayser. My teacher is on vacation for a few weeks but when she returns I'm probably going to start from the beginning and not even attempt the audition pieces for the time being. I may not even audition in December, I will wait until I can play properly regardless of how long it takes. It's a shame because I can already play 3/4 of the Mozart, all of the Kayser (without the bowing) and all of the Bach, the wrong way. But regardless it will get done eventually.

My main concern at this point is learning when it is appropriate to maintain double contact and when it is not so I will look at some of the videos posted earlier in this topic and study them in addition to my own practice. I'm also probably going to find an additional teacher to help me fill the gaps my current teacher has in her ability to train me.

June 28, 2018, 9:35 PM · I think you should stop worry about retraining yourself until AFTER you take your college auditions.
Otherwise, what is your basis for decisions? The internet? Pictures of famous people? This forum?
Now is not the time for this. You need to play the best you can do with what you have. Even if you're not perfect, a good teacher will recognize talent and then suggest changes. Of the photos you posted, the first looks better. In the second, your first finger posture looks poor.

If your teacher is trying to change what you do a few months before college auditions, then there two possibilities:
1. you have a poor teacher who was never able to properly train you from the beginning.
2. she's tried to train you but you never listened and were not able to change your technique.

Why you should be struggling with something this fundamental at this point is beyond me. I think the question is how you are currently playing. Can you post some of your audition repertoire?

Do all of my students play exactly as I've trained them? No, many are simply not able to change. I can tell them every minute of every lesson "bend your pinkie" or "please vibrate" or whatever. If they won't, they won't. But when the time comes when they have a concert or audition, then they just go with what they have. Sometimes perfection is the enemy of the good.

You need a better teacher, one that can prioritize and not tie you up in knots before an audition or feel you have to totally retrain yourself after 6 years.

June 28, 2018, 10:39 PM · The basis for his decision seems to be his teacher's instruction.
June 28, 2018, 11:58 PM · I'm going to see where I am as the date draws closer and if I feel ready then I will request the audition date. If not I'll wait until the spring. The basis for my decision is that I feel like I've reached a point in my playing where the foundation of my technique is limiting me and preventing me from achieving consistency in the things that you mentioned Scott, specifically intonation and bowings that require more flexibility from the wrist like spiccato. I think she is a good teacher but she has not mentioned my grip on the violin until a week ago which is definitely a huge oversight and I've paid her a lot of money to not teach me literally the first thing about playing. For sure I need a better teacher and I am going to try to find one. Like I said, I may or may not choose to wait depending on how quickly I can incorporate the proper contact into my playing and how good the repertoire sounds as December gets closer. If I have time this weekend I'll try to post a video of me playing the Bach at least, first with the way I've been holding the fiddle and then with the double contact for comparison.

The other major factor that will influence whether or not I audition in December or wait for the spring is that I'm not sure whether or not auditioning prematurely will hurt my chances of getting in at all. In other words I need to figure out if I'd be better off waiting and making a good first impression and hopefully getting in the first time I audition or if it is better to make an attempt and risk not getting in and having to try again. I'm not sure if the school will be more or less likely to accept me if I have to make a second attempt.

June 29, 2018, 8:32 AM · What? Now you're saying you're limited in your RIGHT hand?
Mama mia.
June 29, 2018, 8:51 AM · Yeah I'm questioning everything I've been doing for years now and I feel like I don't know anything any more and it's really discouraging. I'm trying to learn from a variety of sources now like videos online and there is so much information that I don't know who is right or wrong or if I am doing anything right so it's really pulled the rug out from under me when I was about to audition for music school.
June 29, 2018, 8:52 AM · to OP- it may be that your teacher has tried to tell you things, but somehow you haven't heard them or implemented them. Coming to conclusions on your own and seeking advice on the internet will not help you as much as good communication with your teacher. I'd recommend you seek better communication. There are all sorts of intermediate steps a teacher may take you through, and some of them may be "wrong" for a virtuoso or advanced player, but may be a step up for you. Talk and find out what progression the teacher has in mind. Your left hand position is also highly dependent on having the proper violin position in general, and all technique is dependent on eliminating tension, so it's difficult to just get "directions" about "how" to do things when there could be an underlying issue that's not going away.

Whenever I asked my first teacher about something I saw on the internet & what he thought, he always told me he thought I should stay off the internet, and spend the time I saved practicing.

June 29, 2018, 8:59 AM · Communication is a serious problem with my teacher. For one thing I can say with confidence she absolutely never instructed me on my hand set up. Also English is her third language, so she has a hard time articulating things to me quite often. I'm not saying I'm going to stop seeing this teacher entirely but for sure I am going to find another one to help. As far as looking online you're probably right, but I am looking online for videos for the first time since I was teaching myself before I got a teacher because I am trying to get someone to actually describe certain techniques to me in a manner my teacher hasn't been able to. I'm not looking at random videos on youtube though because obviously anybody can do that, I've been looking at violinmasterclass.com tutorials which seem to be a reliable source of information. The only issue is I don't have anyone to tell me if I am doing what is shown in those videos correctly.
Edited: June 29, 2018, 9:40 AM · Here's a quick video of me playing some of the Bach I made quickly this morning where I am holding the violin like I have been for years without my teacher ever mentioning until a week ago that I wasn't holding it properly. My intonation is even more all over the place than usual because I've been playing with double contact all week but you get the idea, I recorded it with my back turned so you can clearly see the gap between my hand and the neck.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qi8MCoJmyc&t=1s

June 29, 2018, 10:00 AM · I watched your video.

I really HATE to say this, and it pains me, but if violin performance is your main focus you're simply not ready to study music at the college level.

I'm not saying it's impossible for you to study violin eventually but you need some serious work on both your left hand and your bow arm. Your right wrist is way too stiff. It's preventing you from using the bow properly.

Your left hand does look extremely uncomfortable in the video and the resulting intonational problems are very alarming.

Assuming that the above video is you trying to show your discomfort with what your teacher is trying to tell you could you please post a video of you playing something in a way that your more comfortable with?

Again - apologies if I come across as harsh. I just want to be realistic.

June 29, 2018, 10:13 AM · No I agree with you completely and these are concerns I've expressed myself. I am aware my bow hand is far too stiff and I think there is an issue with my bow grip as well that I need to work out and I am more than aware and frustrated with my intonation which I feel is directly linked to the fact that I was never introduced to the idea of double contact until a week ago. This is exactly why I am feeling that I have to start from scratch and retrain both my left and right hands. I will most likely not audition in December but wait until I have these issues sorted. The main problem is that I have been paying a retired orchestra musician to teach me this way for 6 years and I have no idea who I am going to learn from. The time frame is not my concern because I already accepted once she mentioned my hand set up that I was going to have to start all over again and that being ready in five months would be impossible. Now I just have to find a better teacher which will not be easy.
Edited: June 29, 2018, 10:20 AM · That's the right attitude. I commend you.

Find a good teacher and relay these concerns to him or her. Be ready to work; set aside a few hours a day.

And please - be patient. 6 years is a lot of damage to undo. It might feel VERY uncomfortable at first.

Could take a few months to start to click. Don't give up.

June 29, 2018, 10:24 AM · Of course I won't give up. I've already invested thousands of dollars of my own hard earned money into this and countless hours of practice and I'm also a composer I've been making music since I was 12 so giving up is simply not possible. I'm contacting the strings department at the school I want to go to and asking for teacher recommendations, I'll find a new teacher and start over and when I am ready I will audition.
Edited: June 29, 2018, 10:28 AM · No I didn't mean give up on violin/music. lol

I meant don't give up on whatever the teacher tells you to do no matter how alien it feels.

Sorry for the confusion.

June 29, 2018, 10:38 AM · oh ok well either way it's true I will continue to try this is what I want to do. I just hope I can find a good teacher here in Tampa.
Edited: June 29, 2018, 12:42 PM · You should have no problem finding a good violin teacher in Tampa. I'd start with current members of the Florida Orchestra.

What is your ultimate goal on the violin?

June 29, 2018, 6:51 PM · As I mentioned before I am a composer as well (luckily my ability to compose is much much better than my ability to play for the time being at least), so my main goal as a violinist is to compose and perform my compositions. I'd like to play in an orchestra one day. I can't get a degree in composition without a degree with the instrument first though so I have to do violin performance followed by musical composition. I've already contacted both the head of the string department at USF for teacher recommendations and I've contacted the Florida Orchestra to ask about lessons from their violinists as well.

I'm not a typical violin student in the sense that I never played in a school orchestra and I didn't begin playing the violin until I was 21. I played various instruments since I was 8 years old and composed and produced music since I was 12 but didn't play violin until I was out of school already. This made it pretty easy for me to develop all these bad habits with a teacher that didn't pay any attention to them so here we are.

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email

Violinist.com is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Violin Finder
Yamaha Violin Finder

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

Warchal Strings
Warchal Strings

International Violin Competition of Indianapolis
International Violin Competition of Indianapolis

Anne Akiko Meyers' Mirror in Mirror
Anne Akiko Meyers' Mirror in Mirror

Dimitri Musafia
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Metzler Violin Shop

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases

Fiddlerman.com

Fiddlershop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Los Angeles Violin Shop

Pluhar Violins

Potter Violins

Pro-Am Strings Ltd

Violin Lab

Violin Pros

Wangbow Violin Bow Workshop

Subscribe