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Squeezing violin thumb and tension on neck and shoulder
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November 17, 2019 - 3:35 pm
Member Since: May 13, 2019
Forum Posts: 19
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My hand, neck and shoulder is usually sore when playing for a little while. I realised I need to squeeze my thumb against the neck of the violin to play vibrato. I don’t know how people play without using the thumb? I use a shoulder rest. 

Sacramento, California

November 17, 2019 - 7:22 pm
Member Since: November 5, 2017
Forum Posts: 570
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It's more a matter of how you use your thumb. Your thumb needs to support the violin without squeezing. Although I don't know exactly how you're using your left hand, I suspect it may help to move your elbow to the right and pull your thumb more under the neck of the violin.

November 17, 2019 - 7:56 pm
Member Since: December 26, 2018
Forum Posts: 1464
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I think Fiddlerman has a video on vibrato, maybe watch that and pay attention to his thumb and arm position?

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

Fort Lauderdale
November 21, 2019 - 3:20 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 14787

I do. Hope those are helpful. I probably should make some new ones.

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

Gordon Shumway
London, England
Honorary tenured advisor

November 22, 2019 - 3:54 am
Member Since: August 1, 2016
Forum Posts: 801
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Everyone's hand is a different size and shape, so following videos sometimes has to be done thoughtfully, and it makes forum discussions problematic. One book says that your thumb is "by far" your longest digit (the thumb, just like any digit, has three bones, and doesn't stop until you get to your wrist). But I've just measured mine and it's the same length as my middle finger. The main thing is be comfortable, and the thumb should be so relaxed that you can tap it on the neck of the violin if you pause your playing. My teacher has a little felt duckling she uses on kids to get a small gap between the neck and the yoke between the thumb and the first finger.

The downward force from the weight of the neck should be supported on your thumb's middle bone (I think there may be an Itzhak Perlman video on that one), but it's tempting to support it lower down on the mons thingummy.

I find my thumb has to be quite a long way towards the bridge for my pinky to be able to reach what it has to reach, whereas Pierre, from memory, likes to have his thumb closer to the scroll (forgive me if I'm wrong). I position my hand by playing B on the A and E strings, positioning my thumb then doing a descending B major scale starting on the A string and verifying that my pinky can reach A# on the D string. Of course remembering to keep my left wrist straight interferes, and vice versa. I have a few pieces of music where I have written "thumb" in pencil underneath certain passages - this is because my thumb has a tendency to drift too far towards the scroll for what the music requires from my pinky.


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