Tight hand playing thirds
My teacher just started me working on thirds. It’s going alright except in first position on the G-D string. Im working on C major scale in thirds and using 1-3 fingers for C-E and then 2-4 for D-F feels like a BIG TIGHT stretch in my hand. The only way I can alleviate it a bit is bringing my elbow very far under the violin and then that makes my shoulder tense. Is it normal to feel this tight in the beginning?
Try rotating/pointing your violin significantly more to the left than usual, and slightly up as well, and see if that alleviatees the tension. Often times, a lack of flexibility in the left hand is due to the violin being too much in front of you.
Were you able to try this, Christopher?
It does help, but my teacher doesn’t like my violin out that far because my bow goes crooked at the tip. I used to hold my violin that way, almost 90 degrees to the left, but she stopped me from doing that.
Hmmm, in that case the only acceptable compromise will be to increase the inward tilt of your violin by adjusting the shoulder rest, so that the strings are more accessible to the left hand.
How about - just a suggestion - also rotate your hand around it's axis a bit more (along with elbow under violin) to bring the pinky finger closer to the fingerboard... That should relax the hand because pinky does not have to stretch that far. You can keep it rounder in shape that way, potentially relaxing the hand more.
Christopher that D-F major third is definitely a stretch, nothing to feel bad about. The magic tip is to place your fourth finger first, nicely soft and rounded, only then stretch your second finger downwards to find that F-spot on the D-string. Let your hand, elbow and arm do what they need to do to remain relaxed. Find that position, it will indeed involve bringing your elbow to the right and also easing in your wrist a bit. The accommodation may be appear bit extreme at first but in the beginning the priority should be the remain comfortable and soft while fingering that third. The longer you practice the more natural it will come, your hand will become softer.
Yep. D-F is a big third!
You might also try adjusting the position of your left thumb, bringing it forward to be more across from your 2nd finger instead of the 1st finger. I've found that letting my thumb be more flexible in terms of position has helped a lot to alleviate left hand tension, especially on the viola.
My advice is exactly Ingrid's. Place the thumb further forward. Center and balance the hand on the 2nd finger.
It’s been a few days and it isn’t as bad as before. I just have to get used to moving my elbow that far to the right. That seems to help the most.
Great to hear. Keep that pinky rounded! The power should be in your base joint and perhaps also in the next joint. But the end joint should be floppy.
If you think about it, bringing your thumb forward is, to a first approximation, mechanically the same as Jean suggested -- reaching your second finger back instead of your fourth finger forward.
Yes, my teacher is on my case about the thumb as well.
And as always, a picture/video would elucidate the problem greatly.
Left elbow position is definitely a factor in comfort on the lower strings. Just don't overdo it so it's tense.
My opinion might be unpopular here but I think it is normal to feel tight in the beginning. The black and white idea of "OMG tension is BAAAADDDD" and "OMG you should not stretch or you'll end up like Schumann" could be misleading to newer players.
That third, 4-2, D-F, on the low strings is definitely a stretch. What can help is to release the 1st and third fingers, and modify your 1st position; third finger is in a comfortable, neutral spot, 4th finger pushed out a little, 2nd finger pulled back a little, thumb forward and under until it feels comfortable. You can't fight anatomy. I have a short 4th finger and can't do the 2-4 octave, or the major tenth, at least not in tune. An alternate scale pattern in thirds is; 2-0, 3-1, shift, 3-1, 4-2, shift, 2-0, etc.