Performer and Educator

Technique Guide
Visual Aids and Instructions for Students
Left Hand
Right Hand
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Posture and technique are the most fundamental parts of playing violin.  Students who work at correctly learning posture are able to perform every other technical skill better than those who don't.  As you learn more, always return to the basics and have a checklist of your posture from the ground up.  


  • Feet: Are my feet spread shoulder width apart, toes pointed out a little?  
  • Legs, hips, back, shoulders:  Is my body upright and not twisting?  Are my shoulders back?
  • Head:  Is my head looking to the left down towards the scroll?  
  • Left Hand:  Is my left hand shape natural?  Is the violin resting between my thumb and first finger base knuckle?  Are my fingers curled naturally over the strings and striking vertically at the pads?  Is my elbow underneath the violin?  Are my fingernails cut short?  
  • Violin:  Is my violin covering my shoulder?  Does it feel balanced enough that I can remove my head?  Can I hold it with only my head and shoulder?  Is the violin parallel to the floor?  As I play, does the violin remain still?
  • Right Hand:  Is my hand relaxed?  Is my thumb bent at the joint and reaching under my palm?  Is my pinky curved and balancing on the bow?  Is my hand out in front of my body, crossing over my center?  
  • Bow: Is my bow touching the point of contact/sweet spot?  Is it parallel to the bridge?  As it travels does it stay on the sweet spot?  Is the hair flat with the stick turned very slightly toward the scroll?  
Basic Posture
Notice how:
  • body is upright
  • head looks simply and relaxed over to the left
  • feet are flat on the floor roughly shoulder width apart
  • shoulders are relaxed
  • left hand is supporting the violin
  • left elbow is underneath the violin
  • violin is parallel to the floor
  • violin is held over the left shoulder, tailpiece and button are pointed into the neck
  • right hand comes away from the body
  • right hand is relaxed with fingers spread naturally


Begin on the ground with the feet.
Violin can be played standing or sitting, but standing is how proper posture must be learned first. 
Rest Position

Begin with the feet together
Unzip your toes
Playing Position

Take a small step out and forward with your left foot.  

You may feel more comfortable steping back with your right foot.  The important part is that your feet are about shoulder-width apart, with the left foot shifting its weight into the right foot.

When you are standing, your attention and energy are over to your left, and proper foot placement helps balance the violin there.  
  • The violin balances on the collarbone, covering the left shoulder
  • The tailpiece and button point into the neck 
  • The head is heavy, resting on the chinrest, and looking straight down the fingerboard towards the scroll.  
  • The left hand supports the violin.  
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Left Hand
  • Hand -  is my hand relaxed?  Is the instrument resting on the side of the first finger and the thumb?  Do I have space in between my palm and the violin's neck?
  • Wrist -  is my wrist straight?
  • Fingers - are my fingers curling over the string?  Are my fingertips ready to strike the string?
  • Elbow - is my elbow underneath the violin and in line with my left foot?
​The left hand touches the violin in three places:
  • The side of the thumb
  • The side of the first finger at the knuckle
  • The fingertips when playing

Make sure there is space between the violin neck and the palm; these should never touch

​​It does take hand strength to be comfortable holding the instrument up.

Practice the hand strengthening exercises to help!
Notice How:
​The fingers are positioned above the strings in a naturally curled position, ready to strike the string with the fingertips.

First finger reaches back towards the scroll, and remains straight at the first joint, while the second and third joints are bent.  

Second finger naturally curls so the fingertip strikes the string as viertically as possible.  This is the finger that balances the hand best for most players.

Third and fourth finger reach forward toward the bridge to touch their spots.
​The hand rotates by reaching the pinky toward the fingerboard.

​The wrist remains straight
The thumb touches diagonally on the side of the pad.

The thumb is an anchor for the whole hand.  It remains flexible and supportive, never gripping the neck.


The example on the left shows common beginner mistake - the "pancake."  This feels easier to beginners because they can hold the instrument with the palm of the hand, or even the wrist by resting the violin on it.  This is wrong because it flattens the fingers, and prevents flexibility and springiness.

The image on the right shows hyperextended wrist - this can lead to injuring the hand and the fingers.

Both can be prevented with good thumb support  

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Right Hand - The Bow Hold
  • Hand -  is my hand relaxed?
  • Fingers - are my fingers naturally curved, with a little space inbetween each one?
  • Thumb - is my thumb bent?
  • Pinky - is my pinky curled and balancing its tip on the bow?
  • Wrist -  is my wrist loose and flexible?
​​The thumb is bent and supports the bow between the edge of the frog and the grip at the inside corner of the fingernail.  
The first, second, and third fingers reach and hang over the bow stick curling naturally. 

The second finger receieves the thumbs directional pressure (don't actually squeeze though, the hand should remain relaxed.

The third finger goes over the frog, the first finger curls around the grip or at the winding depending on a person's hand.

The pinky tip touches the top of the bow and balances the weight with the thumb
The thumb is positioned under the second first and second finger

​There is space in between the hand and the stick, but the fingers are curved and bring the bow into that space.  The thumb remains bent in a little "c" shape.  

The first finger is nearly straight at the first joint before curling around the stick.  
​The first joint of the fingers approach the bow slightly diagonally, almost perpendicular, and the second and third joints curl around the bow diagonally
The thumb is bent and supports the bow between the edge of the frog and the grip.  

​The first and second fingers touch the bow first at the end joint, and then the pad.  
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Beginner Bow Hold
(Thumb on the Outside)

Many children are taught to put their thumbs on the outside of the bow, at the clip and hair.  This is because getting the hand into an open position this way is easier than in the condensed position of the adult bow hold.  The transition is easy once the outside has been mastered, as the thumb just needs to come up to the stick, the fingers remaining where they have been.
Fingers curve over bow stick, first and second fingers around the leather grip.

Thumb is bent to make the 
Meeting of the Three Corners -
1) Right corner of the thumb nail
2) Corner of the metal clip
3) Corner of the bow hair as it ends
Pinky balances on top

Fingers have some space inbetween them, but aren't spread so far that they're uncomfortable.  
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Common bow hold mistakes
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Bow Placement and Bow Stroke

The bow works best when it touches a string about halfway between the bridge and the fingerboard.  This point is called:
  • Point of Contact
  • Sweet Spot
  • Highway

When the bow remains on the Point of Contact, and stays straight while it travels from frog to tip, it lets the string vibrate as purely as possible and gets the best tone.  
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