Slippery hands/fingers

July 29, 2017, 1:37 PM · Hello musicians out there :)

I sometimes have slippery fingers, making it difficult to balance the violin with my left hand (I play sans shoulder rest), which leads to very narrow vibrato and sloppy shiftings.
My hands are not dirty - they actually feel too clean, hence the slippery feeling. My bow arm isn't affected though.

Any suggestions? :/

Replies (14)

July 29, 2017, 6:20 PM · Would the problem be solved if you.........used a shoulder rest? Maybe? Possibly? Especially since I do not think the violin itself could cause your hands to be slippery and we do not know exactly why your hands are slippery. I personally can not imagine trying to balance the violin with my left hand.
July 29, 2017, 10:51 PM · I sometimes do play with a shoulder rest, but it's still slippery. I don't have that "secure" feeling.
July 30, 2017, 9:49 AM · Maybe you should find a new chin rest and shoulder rest that fits your physique?
July 30, 2017, 9:58 AM · Do you have a varnished or an oiled neck?
July 30, 2017, 10:53 AM · Honestly I don't know.. Is there any way to tell from a picture? (The link should work)

July 30, 2017, 11:05 AM · What if you used a light dusting of chalk on your hands? Or maybe wipe your hands using the cloth you clean the rosin off with?
Edited: July 30, 2017, 11:51 AM · Eat chocolate before practicing holding it in your left hand. If it does not help. try some honey. Match the colour with that of rosin you use.
July 30, 2017, 1:03 PM · ..but remove the honey from the base of the index to allow vibrato?
July 30, 2017, 1:11 PM · The neck looks oiled. In this case I dont see much poosibility to improove from the violin side.
July 30, 2017, 2:35 PM · Seriously though, we can try to fing a hand position which supports the violin: "holding it up" rather than "holding it", i.e. depending on balance rather than friction.
Edited: August 1, 2017, 12:22 AM · There's wisdom in the chocolate/honey suggestion because they both raise body temperatures which should facilitate perspiration, serving as a hotfix to slippery (often dry) hands. I have really dry hands too (to the point where my bow falls out of my hand and sometimes it's hard to do a vibrato without my finger shifting up and down the strings) but that never resulted in sloppy shifts or narrow vibrato--mostly because I go for the amplitude I want anyway.

I think most of it can be solved with a decent enough shoulder rest and possibly a chin rest in your case.

EDIT 1: is there a particular reason why you play without a shoulder rest?

August 1, 2017, 2:28 PM · Thanks for the all the suggestions, I will look into the "food solutions" :)

Reply to Cassio Chae - I learned to play with a SR but neglected my left shoulder pain (that came after 10+ minutes of practising) for three years before stumbling across some forum posts arguing about the whole SR thing. I then tried switching to a thick sponge but ultimately completely ditched anything that would come between me and my violin ;) No pain, only gain!

August 2, 2017, 3:11 AM · Indeed the CR-SR combination has to be just right, or it will create more problems than it solves.
Edited: August 2, 2017, 3:24 AM · I lost my SR during a wedding over the weekend and just nudged it out of the way and continued on my way.

I've realized if I would just invest in a higher CR I likely would be just as comfortable without the SR, even with my long neck. I think a lot of the SR dependence in string culture is due to those Guarneri style chinrests that come as 'default' on everything.

I plan to order one of the 'tall' SAS rests in the fall and give that a try. I think the 32 or 35mm one. My viola is already 'chubby' with quite deep ribs.

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