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Left hand support and string pressure.
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Regular advisor

May 12, 2014 - 1:02 pm
Member Since: February 16, 2014
Forum Posts: 167
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I have made a couple of month's progress and wanted to step into getting my vibrato going, only to find that my left hand is gripping the violin to prevent it. I have been holding the neck between my thumb and the root of my forefinger and this prevents the necessary hand motion for vibrato.

Most written explanations of the left hand don't really detail the relationship between the thumb and pressure on the strings. The best explanation I've seen is the Yehudi Violin Tutorial - 3

A lot of explanations seem to suggest that the thumb plays no role at all and the only counter action to finger pressure on the strings is at the shoulder and chin. But that's a lot of leverage to apply from the finger board and the thumb must play a role as we can see in Yehudi's tutorial.

I've had to back track and start to learn a lot of things all over, and its going to be a long road to a good vibrato.

Meanwhile I still have problems with the neck slipping off my thumb now that the base of my forefinger no longer supports the neck.

Could anybody comment on controlling the neck with the left hand in relation to applying finger pressure?

Honorary tenured advisor

May 12, 2014 - 4:20 pm
Member Since: January 19, 2014
Forum Posts: 881
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Well, I'm a beginner -- but like most beginners I'm not going to let that stop me from giving advice. If you are having (as I was) difficulty holding the violin in place without gripping the neck, I would suggest that the first place that you should look is the shoulder rest. Assuming that you are placing the violin on your collar bone, with the end button against your neck and your jaw placed (fairly lightly without having to bend the neck much at all) on the chin rest, and you can't easily keep the violin in it's proper place, then there are two possibilities. 1. The shoulder rest is not properly adjusted, 2. You need a different type of shoulder rest and/or chin rest.

I'm on my third shoulder rest now, and the difference is amazing. I currently have the Bon Musica shoulder rest and I no longer have to use my left hand at all to support the violin. This allows the left hand, arm and shoulder to be perfectly relaxed while playing and is a major improvement. I only need a minimal amount of pressure from my head to keep the instrument firmly in place with my thumb lightly resting on the neck as it should be. The pro side of the Bon Musica rest is that it is highly configurable (by bending) to fit the exact contour of your body. The con side of the Bon Musica shoulder rest is that you have to configure it to the contour of your body, which takes a bit of trial and error. Once you get it right though it is great. Although, I have heard that is is not a good fit for those with short necks.

The Bon Musica looks like this:

Incidentally, the Yehudi video was excellent and if you notice the large C that is formed by his hand keeping separation between the finger side of is hand and the neck, some have advised thinking of holding an invisible egg between your palm and the neck of the violin. Hope this helps -- good luck.

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~Herm Albright

Fort Lauderdale
May 12, 2014 - 5:45 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 11586

I disagree that the thumb plays no role at all in counter pressure. There is no way that you can play that way and you are right, it would be way too much tension on your jaw. Would create a lot of tension.
Just keep going the way you did before but don't apply more tension than necessary.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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