Left Hand Finger Technique for a Violin

by Genevieve Van Wyden
Your left hand affects the quality of sound as you play the violin.

Your left hand affects the quality of sound as you play the violin.

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To play the violin you need two things --- the violin in your left hand and the bow in your right. The violin's strings, manipulated by your left hand, and are affected by how you position your fingers and where your hand and fingers are on the neck of the instrument. As you start learning the notes on each string, you'll eventually learn the importance of your left hand in violin playing.

Finger Positioning

Left hand finger placement on the violin affects the notes you play as you bow or pluck (called playing "pizzicato") the strings. According to the website violinist.com, as you learn from your violin teacher, you will begin to understand musical intervals and finger placement. Your hand positioning depends on the note you are playing as your hand and arm shift from one position to another; as you move up the neck of the violin, the spacing between the notes gets smaller and smaller.

Finger Movements

As you learn to play individual strings, your teacher should have told you not to lift and place, but instead to "release" your fingers to their new positions. If this sounds strange, this instruction does have a purpose; If you lift your fingers as you move the bow across the strings, it changes the quality of the sound. By "releasing" your fingers, you maintain the definition (or "intonation") and clarity (or "tone quality") of the notes. As you learn and become more advanced in your violin playing, your left hand and fingers will move more quickly on the strings as well as in and out of the different positions on the neck of your violin.

Hand and Finger Positions

Your teacher talks about the different "positions," or areas on the violin's neck where your fingers should be as you play. As you learn each new position, you'll also learn that each one has a low, medium and high location; these correspond to flat, natural and sharp notes, states the violin.com website. As you become more knowledgeable about your new instrument, you'll become more comfortable moving your left hand to each position as you read and play music.


Vibrato is the slight up-and-down movement of your left hand and fingers as you press down the strings. As you move your fingers and hand, you create a small modification in the pitch or note you are playing, writes the Oracle ThinkQuest website. Because this is a technique you need to learn to execute correctly, your violin teacher will show you how to change your playing using vibrato. As vibrato technique changes the expressiveness of the music, it's only appropriate for some types of violin music.

About the Author

Genevieve Van Wyden began writing in 2007. She has written for “Tu Revista Latina” and owns three blogs. She has worked as a CPS social worker, gaining experience in the mental-health system. Van Wyden earned her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from New Mexico State University in 2006.

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