#13443 Reply

Dianne Adkins

Hi all, I have seen this teacher’s videos on youtube and agree with pretty much everything she is saying here. At around 2:05 she shows the violin hand thumb position peeking over the fingerboard a little. I discourage this unless you have an exceptionally long thumb. If you use your thumb and first finger opposing each other, to pick up something, like a piece of paper or other object, you will get my next point. The thumb’s purpose on the violin neck is to oppose the fingertips as you play. So when you do my ‘pick up an object’ test, look at how your thumb and first finger work together, particularly the thumb. Where does it touch the object you picked up? That’s the part of the thumb that should touch the violin neck, because it will function best in that position as a ‘push back’ or counter pressure to the weight applied by the fingertips.

Isabel, in answering your question, when you first start playing violin, your teacher will tell you, the base of the first finger touches the neck of the violin opposite the thumb. When you start vibrato, this will change a little. You’ll find a lot of ‘rules’ in violin technique, then in advanced playing, you’ll find ‘how best to break those rules’. In vibrato, you still can touch the base of the finger to the violin’s neck, but you have to ‘un-stick’, so that when the hand waves in the vibrato motion, the base of the finger that usually touches the neck ‘rubs’ the violin neck forward and back with the waving hand.

This all goes back to proper violin playing position. You will have trouble with shifting and vibrato, if you are not holding the violin with the head/ shoulder ONLY. So the first step in mastering shifting and vibrato is mastering holding the violin without the left hand, entirely. Many self taught and beginning students assist in holding the violin with the left hand and this limits them later.

A good exercise is to place the violin into position, then put the first finger down on E or A. Slide the first finger up the string toward your nose as far up as you can go. Then slide all the way back. I call these sirens. Play sirens to ensure your left hand is not stuck to the neck of the violin. Try them on all strings, then using all fingers.

When you try vibrato next, be sure the base of your first finger is not touching the neck or is loosely touching so that it can move up and down like in a mini-siren during vibrato. You can place a tissue between your hand and the neck to activate a ‘polishing’ movement and see how the hand can maintain contact, but still moves up and down.

I hope this helped!

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