Correct Left Hand Position Tips
I recently switched teachers and she has discovered that my left hand position has been slightly off all these years. Specifically, my knuckles seem to pop out more than it should. Until then I was playing advanced pieces and etudes. Now, I am having a hard time even playing a basic 1 octave D major scale with the correct left hand position. Does anyone have any tips or exercises for the left hand?
First thing you should do is go to yet another teacher, play for him/her and see what he/she says about your left hand. Maybe you'll find that your new teacher is a bit too dogmatic about this. What makes me suspect that is the word "slightly" in your post. It is possibly just the geometry of your hand that makes you "pop out" your knuckles.
It's not unusual for student to switch teachers and be told "you've been doing it ALL WRONG!"
Background is in a previous post of hers:
Video would be ideal, especially playing the scale.
After your previous thread, I'm glad you switched teachers!
I would recommend scales in fixed position, especially major scales starting on the second finger, and exercises on double-stopped thirds, especially minor thirds between the fourth and second finger. You can actually start in third position as the distances are smaller there, when you are comfortable there, move to second, then to first. Like Adrian said, it is all about gradually acquiring a new habit; the new feeling that is formed by doing the exercises for a short time daily can gradually permeate into your normal playing.
Hand position in the violin is, to some extent, like parenting:
My unprofessional professional advice:
Cotton's advice to "do whatever's comfortable and whatever works" seems very rational, but remember that if you are learning the first few Suzuki books in first position you can get by with practically any hand position. If you don't believe me, watch a few of the great fiddlers like Vassar Clements or Benny Thomasson. They get around just fine with hand position that would make most classical teachers cringe.
I once asked my russian teacher about the left hand position and especially about the thumb... at first she didn't even understand what I was asking and why I was asking that. After I clarified, that I want to know what she thinks is the best thumb position for the left hand (I was trying to get that magic formula out of her), she told me it is up to me... Sometimes less words make more sense.
Paul, it's definitely a process of your technique getting more refined as you play harder music, but you don't want to start out completely in left field either.