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Death Grip with Left Hand
Cannot seem to "re-learn" proper grip with my left hand and it is getting in the way of techniques required for songs :( Very Frustrating!
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December 9, 2012 - 3:36 pm
Member Since: December 9, 2012
Forum Posts: 3
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I have been playing now for 11 years and was taught for 7 of those years.  I have been getting more and more serious with violin again as I remember how much I enjoy it.  However, I am getting really frustrated with my left hand.  I cannot seem to relax it enough to play comfortably on the g string and even sometimes on the d string.  I have read many posts and watched many videos; and even begged my teacher to offer suggestions because it quite frankly "burns" after a while.  The main piece it is harming me with right now is Czardas and it is most apparent during the artificial harmonics but also ends up ruining the sautille in the recap of the piece because my left hand muscles are so tired from squeezing they will not move fast enough.  I have tried vibrato scales, no-thumb scales, stopping whenever I feel squeezing, the paper trick, breathing at more regular intervals, and different violin setup positions (varying left elbow position but nothing seems to help).  The strangest thing to me is that when I get the best vibrato my elbow joint seems almost entirely locked down (even though I have a pleasant sounding vibrato).  Any help or suggestions I will try as this problem is consuming me and eating away at my enjoyment!

Russia, Tatarstan rep. Kazan city

December 9, 2012 - 4:59 pm
Member Since: October 7, 2011
Forum Posts: 2849
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I have that Death grip with left hand too. I learn to play second year, and tried most of those excercises... nothing helped to get rid of it totally, but i feel like it became better. No-thumb scales helped mostly =)

Good luck with it!

I'll look forward with You to see other comments.

Welcome to the forum, Nicholas!birthday_balloon

Kent, Washington USA
Honorary tenured advisor

December 9, 2012 - 7:34 pm
Member Since: October 14, 2012
Forum Posts: 550
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Welcome to the forum, Nicholas, hope you enjoy it.

I do have the same problem, just about every time practicing violin.

My temporary remedy is a good dose of "hops and barley". It let all muscles loose but then after that I can't tell if notes are in vibrato or not, left alone intonation though.

Hopefully someone has good comments.

California, the place of my heart
December 9, 2012 - 7:39 pm
Member Since: January 11, 2012
Forum Posts: 4180
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I am Toni, and I have a death grip at times too.    Learning to catch it and stop is helpful...I didn't not used to have it.  It has become an issue because after about 20  minutes I have a strained hand and I did not have that before.   bunny_pole_dancer


All I want for Christmas is Vibrato...beg

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

Fort Lauderdale
December 9, 2012 - 11:29 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 16063

Welcome to the forum Nicholas,

I gather from what I read above that you tried various violin holding set-ups. I guess that means someone knowledgeable helped you out? Did you start with a different chin-rest or shoulder-rest. Being comfortable when you hold an instrument is a great part of the battle.
Maybe the neck of the violin is not ending up where it should in your hand. This makes a great difference as to how much you can relax.
Recognizing the problem is one of the biggest hurdles, just don't let yourself get away with it.
Start you practice sessions with slow relaxed notes with a relaxed grip on your mind the whole time.

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

King for a Day, Peasant for many

December 10, 2012 - 2:53 am
Member Since: February 13, 2012
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I have no issue with any kind of grip using my left hand. I only allow the violin to "sit" on top of my left thumbprint.

It's impossible to get any kind of death grip if you keep that posture.thumbs-up

"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

Byron Bay Australia

December 10, 2012 - 4:54 am
Member Since: April 22, 2012
Forum Posts: 1575
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I know that I'll cop some 'flak' for this but,

Have you tried a bourbon. Not a lot, and not often. Sounds like a stress problem rather than a technique problem to me. But I'm a beginner so, what would I know amuse

Give it a go and if it doesn't work you could end an alcoholic so it won't matter anyway. roflol

But really, I am serious, try it. If it turns out to be the problem, you may be able to find a 'better' solution

Seen it all. Done it all. Can't remember most of dunno ..... What was I saying???? facepalm


December 10, 2012 - 6:49 am
Member Since: May 4, 2012
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I am still working on relaxing the hands more when I play.  Even though I am careful to avoid the tight "death grip", I still tend to tense my thumb too much on the left hand.  It doesn't squeeze the neck, but it is still more tension than I need or want, and sometimes after an hour or so of heavy playing, the muscles in the ball of the left hand thumb will be cramped and just burnin'.  LOL

I keep my left thumb in a very static sort of position when I play so the violin neck rests at the bottom of the fingertip "pad" on the thumb.  But I feel I get tension there from keeping it too rigid.  It's just one of those things one works on, and where cramping/discomfort is one of the signs I look for that I can be maybe doing it a bit better.  One of my guitar teachers used to say "Tense hands are slow hands" and I agree with that logic.

On guitar it took me some years to get to where my thumb stays relaxed and just moves to wherever it needs to be comfortably.  I expect that violin will take a while for that yet, but hopefully not as years.  LOL

There's just so many things to try to get right all at once while playing, that it will take time for them all to become natural.  In the meantime, fix one and something else slips.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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