11 Smart Tips to Help You Nail Violin Fingering

Research has shown that playing the violin can be significantly rewarding for musicians of all ages. It contributes to better overall mental health, sensory function, social and cognitive awareness, coordination skills, and offers many other valuable benefits.

Playing any musical instrument, however, requires practice and dedication, and the violin is no exception.

It’s not uncommon for violinists, especially beginners, to become frustrated with the learning process. You might even feel like giving your instrument up at times. This is normal when developing any new skill or talent that takes work.

Although mastery may require time and effort, the dedicated violinist will find that the advantages are well worth the commitment.

A common challenge is developing proper violin fingering techniques.

Are you having issues fine-tuning your violin fingering skills?

There’s no need to feel discouraged. Read on for finger strategies that will help you learn to play your violin with pride!

Want to learn how to position your left hand? See the video below:

11 Violin Fingering Tips that Every Player Should Practice

There are several things that you can do to improve your violin fingering techniques. Some of the practices can be done without your violin, while others require you to practice using your instrument. In fact, ensuring that your fingers produce the most optimal sound can even depend on which violin you choose.

Our list includes strategies that can be practiced with or without your violin, as well as tips for choosing the instrument that’s best for you.

1. Choose the Right Violin for Your Fingers

Although it may not seem to fit into fingering advice, if you play with a violin that is not appropriately sized or modeled to fit your needs, it can make it difficult to adjust your fingers to the recommended position.

When renting or purchasing a violin, you should measure the arms’ length so that the left arm bends comfortably and the player is able to wrap their fingers all the way over the top of the scroll.

It’s best to test out the varied violin sizes, especially when choosing your first violin or a violin for a child.

An improperly sized violin will make proper finger placement almost impossible, so this is very important to violin fingering technique as you move forward with learning to play. For more information on how to choose a beginner’s violin, check out this beginners’ buyer’s guide for helpful advice.

2. Lift Left Knuckles

Professional violinist and music teacher Michael Sanchez recommends lifting your knuckles can give you more room to reach those high notes. If you keep your knuckles low it can interfere with high notes, causing awkward intonation. Lifted knuckles can improve your overall tune, according to the musician.

3. Keep a Loose Thumb

Sanchez also warns against what he refers to as “the banana thumb syndrome”, which equates to a stiff, awkward thumb position against your bow. Loosening your thumb into a slightly bent position, and lightly tucked into the bow allows for better sound quality and eliminates unpleasant noises such as screeching and bow bounces.

4. Use Tape to Mark Finger Placement on the Fingerboard

There are many varieties of tape that are commonly used to mark the precise position for finger placement on the fingerboard. In addition to commercial music tape, some teachers use colored dots or electrical tape.

Your teacher does not have to be the one to place the tape. If you are struggling with where to place your first, second, third or fourth fingers, you can use a violin fingerboard chart to assist you in placing the tape where your fingers should go.

Once you have successfully memorized your fingers position, the tape can be removed and isopropyl alcohol can be used to remove stubborn, sticky residue completely.

5. Memorize the Finger Names

You should make it an immediate priority to memorize the names of the fingers. When learning how to play the violin, the finger names are as important as the parts of the violin itself.

The right hand is known as the bow hand and the fingers are as follows: the violin thumb, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th fingers. The order goes from thumb to pinky.

On the left hand, the finger names will be slightly different according to their position on the bow.

Learning the names of the fingers will make it much easier to coordinate your violin fingering with the sheet music, and it is essential to progress as a violinist.

6. Use the Fingers to Guide You to Your Next Move

When playing the violin the fingers that you put down will guide to your next note. Using your second finger to guide your third finger to its proper position for a follow-up note will increase the speed of your playing and will make it easier to play in tune.

7. Finger Strengthening

This can be done anytime, regardless if you do not have your violin with you at the time.

To improve the strength of your fingers, press each finger against the thumb in a “pinch” position. Press hard enough to build resistance and hold the finger pose for a few seconds with each finger.

Eventually, this will help to build the muscles in your fingers, improving strength and dexterity.

8. Hand-Finger Squeezing

Another good strength-building exercise is to hold your fingers to form a “C”, then quickly snap them together so that the fingers fold in and the thumb folds in front of them. Squeeze your fist in this position for 5 or so seconds, and then release.

9. Finger to Thumb Exercise

Stretch your left hand and fingers open. Then, attempt to bring the tip of each finger to the base of your thumb, one at a time, leaving the other fingers in place.

This will be tricky at first, but if you continue practicing it will become easier. And, it will improve your agility so that proper positioning becomes more natural when playing.

10. Use an App

You can download a violin teaching assistant to use with your tablet, computer or smartphone. This can make it possible to practice on the go.

Google Play offers an app called Violin: Magical Bow, which was voted among the best of 2016. It’s free to download and allows you to play a virtual violin using a simulated bow.

There are several other apps available as well that can be used to enhance your violin practice.

11. Practice Makes Perfect

The best advice to improve your violin fingering is to practice, practice, practice. Although, it may sound obvious, the more often that you can practice, the better you will become placing your fingers and becoming a proficient violin player.

Do You Need Help Choosing a Violin?

If you are just beginning, or if you have been playing awhile and notice that your fingering seems awkward, first try going back to the basics.

Making sure that your violin fits you just right has an effect on every aspect of playing your instrument.

If you have recently outgrown your violin or the violin you have doesn’t seem to accommodate your needs, maybe you should consider a different size or type that will help you become the best you can be.

Check out our selection of violins that includes models to fit every player, along with tips for choosing the one that is right for you!

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