How to Hold a Violin to Improve your Playing Skills 

 March 19, 2021

By  Zen Chung

As any violinist or beginner knows, maintaining posture is very important when playing the violin since the violin doesn't have keys to push, and every sound is created by forming precise angles with a bow and violin. While learning to play the violin, everyone must make physical accommodations to play the violin properly. However, some students don't struggle with maintaining a good posture. Having a relaxed and well-balanced posture is critical as not holding the violin well can cause the individual to stay tensed and in pain.

Many beginners tend to hold the instrument tighter than needed with both the left hand and jaw, and it's a habit formed because the player thinks that the violin will slip away because they don't know how to support the instrument properly. Below we have listed some simple steps in this article to help you hold the violin the proper way, and we have explained why the steps are essential.


1. Maintain the Correct Violin Posture

It is important to sit or stand up straight because maintaining an upright posture is the best posture for your body, creating enough space between the violin and your body to allow excellent bow and arm movements. A slouching posture leads to long-term injuries and also makes the violin hard to play. Hold the violin, stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and have your knees relaxed and some violinists usually suggest a player can slide their left foot slightly forward to achieve the best violin posture.

When sitting, use a chair that has a firm base and sit up straight. Some players find it more comfortable to sit towards the front of the chair, placing their left foot slightly forward, but you should ensure you avoid sofas. According to experts, the proper violin technique starts with a good posture.

2. Hold the Violin on your Left Collar Bone

The violin must be parallel with the floor, meaning it should be held horizontally while the bottom of your violin rests near or on your left collar bone and rest your left side of the jaw on the chin rest. The importance of the chin rest is to protect the varnish while providing a stable and comfortable position for the jaw while adjusting the distance from the jaw to the collarbone. When the jaw is on the chin rest, the left thumb must provide stability and remain active in supporting the violin.

This is a crucial step because the left hand will need a lot of flexibility to move the fingers quickly and shift up the fingerboard when you get into progressive music. When you hold the instrument between the chin and the left shoulder is part of good ways to form from the beginning even though you are a student.

The jaw, collarbone, base of the left index finger, and the side of the left thumb establish four contact points with the violin, and the chin rest protects the violin's top and adjusting the length of the player's neck. Any additional pressure by the jawbone, thumb, or weight of your head will slightly increase the stability and increase the tension, so you should employ some pressure lightly.

3. Relax the Left Shoulder

A shoulder rest helps violinists avoid holding the violin up, and there is a variety of shoulder rests you can use. However, other players use round make-up sponges as a shoulder pad/shoulder rest with rubber bands attached to them. Relaxing your left shoulder is vital because the torso's left side supports the left arm and if you feel your shoulders are tensing up, place your shoulder rest a bit higher.

The violin should rest on top of the collarbone securely instead of holding it to the upper chest by the player's twisted neck. The shoulder pad or shoulder rest should cross the violin's back at an angle as the player holds the violin at an angle to their shoulder. It would help if you fastened the elastic holding the shoulder pad to the violin's endpin, and this extends across the back, which can be looped on the G string side over the lower bout corner.

4. Relax your Left Arm Away From Body

This is important because holding your arm against the body reduces flexibility and adds tension to the posture, and therefore you should ensure your left arm is relaxing.

5. Maintain a Straight Line From Left Elbow Through Left Wrist

Hold the violin by the left hand lightly and rest the violin neck against your first finger's base knuckle of the left hand.

A common problem with most beginners is holding their palm against the violin neck, which strains the wrist and reduces the left hand's movement. It would be ideal if you extended your forearm to your wrist straight, reducing strain on your inner wrist.

6. Put Your Left Thumb in the Same Spot When You Play

Playing the violin like a pro violinist requires all students to use an exact finger placement for each note. Moreso, the position should be consistent every time you play through any music. The left thumb anchors the left hand, and therefore find the best position to place your thumb and practice putting the thumb in the same spot every time you play; usually, the position is on the side of the neck. Also, as you play, maintain the angle of the violin steady.

How to Hold a Violin Bow

Holding a bow is not as hard as it sounds, but you should find a lesson with an instructor to learn some good habits because once you form some bad habits, it might be difficult to stop. Below are some steps to teach you how to hold a bow; the first step is to ensure you have trimmed your right hand's nails, especially the pinky finger.

1. Curve your middle finger, thumb, and ring finger to make a round shape and ensure you have the tip of your thumb against the ring and middle finger.

2. Curve your index finger and raise it slightly, then relax your hand

3. Place your thumb while still curved between the bow hair and the stick next to where the frog ends

4. Allow the ring and middle finger to drop into place, and your middle finger should be on the opposite of your thumb next to the ring finger.

5. Place your pinky away from your ring finger while still keeping it curved.

6. Relax your index finger and place it in a rest position on the stick, slightly curving towards other fingers. The index finger is mainly on the stick's leather part to maintain a firm grip while playing. After these steps, your fingers should be in place, and your hand should be soft and relaxed, slightly tilting towards the tip of the bow.

7. To test whether you have the proper grip can do this by pressing down your pink tip, and if the bow goes up and is still in your hands, you have mastered the art. Go ahead and practice playing using a Youtube video tutorial.

Tips and Tricks to Hold a Violin

1. Avoid resting the wrist against the neck of the violin

2. Your elbow should be under the violin's center

3. Always maintain a curved, open space between the thumb and index finger (a backward "C").

4. The thumb should be positioned opposite the first or second fingers.

Zen Chung

I'm Zen Chung, a piano and violin teacher based out of Plano, Texas. I started this blog because my students (and their parents) kept asking about the best musical instruments to buy online. Look no further I'm here to save the day! 

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