Left hand position

April 17, 2020, 3:46 PM · Hallo everybody,
I'm 16 and I have been playing the violin for over 10 years now. As a beginner I did it mostly for satisfaction and I certainly wasn't serious about it, things have chainged now. Since I wasn't very persistent with my practicing in the past and unfortunately, yet logically, that has an effect on my playing to this day.. A negative one as expected. I have had quite a bit of trouble with my bowing arm-I've corrected a lot of things that I had learned incorrectly, now that I go to a different teacher, but that whole experience has changed me, I think for good(although thats arguable) - it made me extremely analytic. I'm not here to discuss bowing arm now, but rather talk about a violinist. Augustin Hadelich in particular. In a thread about 10ths that i read recently here, somebody wrote that in order to execute tenths we might as well adopt that kind of guitar/cello hand position to have easier time playing tenths. I've looked at his left hand and I've compared it with other violinists' left hands and I can say there is a difference, feel free to correct me if I'm mistaken. What I want to know is is there really a difference or am I simply blind, and if there really is is it something wrong, something helpful, something that could cause damage to players who play like this, would you recommend playing like that and overall discuss that.

Replies (17)

April 17, 2020, 4:21 PM · If you have a particular time in a particular video, that would be helpful in illustrating your point.
April 17, 2020, 4:52 PM · Of course. https://youtu.be/qwURbkxB4SU
Throughout the whole video it can be clearly seen how he has no other contact point with the violin neck apart from his thumb. Especially around 9:45-ish. It seems like he touches the violin with his thumb and the finger he is playing with(or without it in case he's playing an open strng) Famous violinist, when playing, have contact with their thumb and the side of the knuckle of the pointing finger or maybe a little bit above it and the finger so it becomes sort of like a triangle. I hope thats helpful.
April 17, 2020, 5:04 PM · I'm sure there are different hand positions for playing tenths based on hand size and shape.
April 17, 2020, 6:26 PM · Thank you very much for your response. I had great time reading the thread and I'm glad you showed it to me. On the other hand I'm sorry for bringing up an already discussed question.
Edited: April 17, 2020, 7:57 PM · I thought that was a Menuhinism, and one he recommended in his book (correct me if I'm wrong). I can't do 99% of the things Hadelich can do, and that strikes me as an uncommon way to play, but he looks relaxed doing it and sounds like a million bucks, so I guess the old saying goes, "quod licet iovi non licet bovi". It looks like it would be exceedingly uncomfortable for me.

I sort of took Hadelich's left hand for granted (his intonation is flawless), just because his right hand is so damn impressive.

April 18, 2020, 3:30 AM · My internet connection is ultra slow at present, and disappears every few minutes, and so in can't watch U-toob!

Just my two cents:
While I usually find myself agreeing with Jeewon, just to say that the base of my index very rarely touches the neck or fingerboard; I'm a two-contact player (thumb and fingertip). There are exceptions, e.g.fast passages with no vibrato.
However, The Gap is rarely greater than 1/4 inch.
I would say my violin neck rests on the thumb, and sometimes against (but never on) the base of the index.

April 18, 2020, 5:34 AM · Fascinating. And Augustin Hadelich seems to have always played this way: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SropORfplQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGZwRSYRqDM (at the beginning and 4:43)

Edited: April 18, 2020, 8:35 AM · There are any number of teachers, including Menuhin, who forswear any contact of the index finger on the neck - fingertip on fingerboard excluded of course.
Edited: April 18, 2020, 9:41 AM · To start with: https://archive.org/details/violinplayingan00winrgoog makes it quite clear in his opinion it's not for beginners but it is the 'new way'. pg 48 is good.
April 18, 2020, 10:08 AM · I may even have a slightly wider gap when on the highest string, to have the index less bunched up and a more supple vibrato. The thumb slips a little more under the neck.
The gap is formed by slightly elongating the the fingers and thumb.
I don't start beginners with a gap, though; in any case hands are as different as......
April 18, 2020, 10:18 AM · That's it! "Hands are as different as....."

That's why a good teacher is needed to help each beginning student optimize their hands, chinrest, shoulder rest (or not), and use of arms.

A good teacher can observe the muscles and tendons "under the skin" and work from that.

And finally, there really are reasons that not everyone who studies an instrument undertakes a solo career.

Edited: April 18, 2020, 10:55 AM · If you have your thumb like this lady (4:30) you won't have your index aside the neck: (I also like her vibrato) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8KkCViYq2c
Edited: April 18, 2020, 11:17 AM ·
from: Modern Violin-Playing (1920). Point being the index finger is totally free.
April 18, 2020, 11:20 AM · Thanks Jeewon! Maybe we're all good for the 20th century now!
Edited: April 18, 2020, 11:53 AM · Thanks for that link Bud, an interesting book, if only for the forceful language and as a somewhat "outsider" perspective and complement to the classic books of Flesch and Auer, which are all more or less from the same time period. A gem of a sentence referring to the lack of smooth bow changes: "Many violinists have a jerk in their playing, and are unconscious of having such a fault; indeed in some instances the suggestion that it is present is not very gracefully received" :-)

By the way Mr Winram believes that it is absolutely wrong to keep up the violin with the left hand. The violin should snugly fit under the chin and padding must be used to fill up between the underside of the violin and the collarbone. So, a strong shoulder rest proponent avant la lettre.

April 18, 2020, 12:14 PM · Isn't chin+shoulder hold the default these days? I think it's quite damaging (and not required).
Edited: April 19, 2020, 6:04 AM · My two centimes d'Euro again, in case it helps someone..

May I insist on the word "rest".
When I lift my head to see the conductor, or glare at my desk partner, my viola rests on my left thumb and the shoulder rest, rather than slipping off my discrete collarbone. Otherwise the weight of my head is enough to balance the weight of the viola, see-saw fashion, over the shoulder rest. The much carved chin rest hooks gently under my jawbone.
I don't "hold" my viola, I "balance" it on my shoulder rest.

I admit that things can go awry sharing a desk in in cramped conditions.

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