Violin Left Hand Technique – Dos and Don’ts | Herriman Violin Lessons

Violin Left Hand Technique – Dos and Don’ts | Herriman Violin Lessons



Learning to play on a fretless stringed instrument can be tricky, and just learning where to place your finger to play in tune isn’t all there is to it. Violinists should take great care to establish good playing habits right from the very start in order to prevent bad habits from sneaking in. Consciously thinking about how you use your left hand to play the violin is crucial to developing good technique. To help you check your own technique, I have developed a list of dos and don’ts for left-hand violin technique.


Do – Proper Thumb Placement

Different teachers will have varying opinions on exact thumb placement. I suggest placing the thumb opposite the 2nd finger (1st position, regular fingering). I find that this placement is the most natural way to hold the violin. When you hold your hand in front of you as if you were playing violin, the 2nd finger and thumb will naturally align. I like to make violin playing as natural as possible in order to have relaxed hands, fingers, and wrists.

Some teachers, credibly, will tell you to place your thumb opposite the first finger. However, no good teacher will tell you to place your thumb behind your first finger. This causes tension in the hand and limits finger dexterity. You should also avoid putting the thumb too low on the neck. The tip of the thumb should be slightly above the fingerboard if placed correctly.


Don’t – Bend Your Wrist

This is one of the most common violin techniques that I correct. As mentioned above, the main goal of excellent violin technique is to avoid tension and promote dexterity. Having a bent wrist can cause several problems in violin playing; wrist tension, intonation issues, and slower finger dexterity, to name a few. The wrist should be in a straight line with the hand and the elbow. When establishing the habit of keeping the wrist straight, it can be helpful to imagine you are wearing a wrist brace. The end goal is to be able to keep the wrist straight always without having to think about it.


Do – Play On Fingertips

Just as with having a straight wrist, playing on the tips of your fingers helps improve intonation, speed, and dexterity. Take care to play right on the tips, not on the fingerpads. I see this problem most commonly with the index finger (and especially on the E string). Learning to play on the tips from the beginning will help provide a good foundation for violin technique.


Don’t – “Fly-away Fingers”

The left-hand fingertips should be near the strings at all times, even when they are not pressing the string. This means keeping all fingers round and relaxed even as other fingers are playing the notes. A common problem I see in beginning violinists is the tendency to let the fingers straighten and become rigid when they are not being used. This causes tension and limits finger dexterity.


Do – Use a Mirror to Check Technique

Watching yourself play in a mirror is one of the best things you can do to check your technique. Since you can’t actually see your left wrist when in playing position, it is helpful to check yourself in the mirror. Having that visual cue can improve your technique more quickly.


Don’t – Weak Fingers

It’s important to make sure your fingers move the string all the way to the fingerboard. If the string is only halfway pressed, the sound will come out fuzzy and weak. When you place a finger you are essentially shortening the string, which causes the pitch to change. If the string is not properly shortened, the tone will be unclear and it will be more difficult to learn to play in tune.


Looking for more violin technique tips? Read about establishing a proper bow hold here!




I’d love to work with you! Please contact me for more information about music lessons!


Posted in

Leave a Comment