Finger Independence Exercises for the Violin | Violin Lounge TV #304

by | Apr 17, 2019 | Play in Tune | 15 comments

Train your left hand, finger flexibility, play in tune and play fast runs easily with these finger independence exercises:

To get a strong, flexible left hand, I recommend the Dounis exercises

‘Easy’ finger frame:

Place your first finger on the A flat on the G string, your second finger on the F on the D string, your third finger on the D on the A string and your fourth finger on the B on the E string. It’s important to put down all fingers and check if they are all in tune. This can be quite a stretch. Watch the video to see how this looks like.

Start with:

Lift one finger while leaving the others firmly on the string and put this finger down again without pinching. Do this a couple of times with all the fingers. If your fingers start to hurt, stop here and build it up another time. Your left hand needs to stay relaxed and your fingers have to be placed with confidence.

A bit more difficult:

Lift your fingers in this sequence: one two (four times), two three(four times), three four (four times).

Still here? Let’s try:

One three (four times), two four (four times)


Lift your first and third finger at the same time and put them down (four times). Do the same with your second and fourth finger.

Does this work for you? Do this without putting all your fingers down. Lift the first and third right and while you put them down lift the second and fourth finger.

Now do the same for the combination of your first and fourth and second and third finger.


Hi! I'm Zlata

Classical violinist helping you overcome technical struggles and play with feeling by improving your bow technique.

Difficult finger frame:

Put your first finger on the F on the E string, your second finger on the C on the A string, your third finger on the G on the D string and your fourth finger on the D on the G string. Your fingers are all a tone apart.

Do all the above exercises in this new finger frame. You’ll notice that it’ll stretch your hand more and that it’s more difficult to move your fingers independently.

Some tips while doing these exercises:

  • Don’t do them too long. You might get cramp in your left hand and you don’t want to practice playing with tension. Do these exercises one time a day. By doing them daily, they are way more effective.
  • Make sure you place your fingers confidently, but in general your left hand is relaxed and flexible.
  • Stop when it hurts.
  • Perform the exercises in a good way. Quality is more important than quantity. If you can just do the first variations, stick to them and only move on when you’re really able to do them well.

Do these exercises and let me know your results in the comments below:


  1. Fernando

    Hello Zlata,

    I’m currently using the exercise book from Sevcik, (with the assistance of a tuning device), to get the intonation and finger placements correct.
    Is there any difference or additional benefit to using the exercises from Dounis? As far as I can tell, Sevcik already promotes the motoric memory of finger usage in any order of note usage.

    Thank you very much in advance!

    • Violinist Zlata Brouwer

      Hi Fernando, I think Sevcik didn’t describe this specific exercise without bow, so you might want to try it out for a while to see if it benefits your playing. You can use it in addition to the exercises you already do.

      • Fernando

        Thank you for your reply Zlata.

        Have a nice day

    • Sophia

      Which Sevcik exercice in particular do you practice without the bow, for finger independence?

      • Violinist Zlata Brouwer

        I mainly use the Sevcik school of bowing books for… bowing ;). For finger independence, download the Dounis book above.

  2. Sherylin

    Thanks for the video and the book Zlata. You are very generous 🙂

  3. Stewart

    Hello Zlata,

    Thank you for making the Dounis Violin Players’ Daily Dozen freely available. I know that he was a technical expert and highly regarded as a violin pedagog.
    Have you had a look at page 17 (Preparatory Finger Drill) in Scale Technic for the Violin by P L Bytovetski ?
    It is (by contrast to Dounis) even easier that his ‘easy’ exercises and might be a good start before tackling Dounis ?
    There is a big difference, of course, since all the fingers are on the same string and only one finger is moved back then forward whilst the other three are held in fixed stationary positions and eventually all four of the fingers get to move independently.
    This way one does still get to practice finger independence but without having to ‘strain and concentrate’ on the other fingers across the other three strings.
    Would you think this could be a useful ‘pre’ exercise before tackling those of Dounis ?

    • Violinist Zlata Brouwer

      Definitely, Stewart, thanks for sharing this. I’m sure there are a lot of violin players for whom Dounis is a bit (or a lot, haha) of a stretch and it’s good to do a pre exercise so people don’t hurt themselves. Is there something you’d like me to make a video on in the future?

      • Stewart

        Thank you Zlata; I will give it some thought and get back to you if I may sometime.
        Best wishes
        PS glad to share and will continue when relevant.

      • Stewart

        Hello Zlata,

        As a follow up I have come across another transition set of exercises after those of Bytovetsky and before those of Dounis’s Easy Exercises that will enable a student to progress in a measured step.
        Please have a look at page 103 Exercise 122 of the Maia Bang’s Violin Method Part II (Carl Fischer).
        Maia Bang was the Personal Assistant to the famous Leopold Auer who taught Heifetz and Elman et al.
        The exercises hold only one finger down on one string and two on an adjacent string with only one of those two on the adjacent string being lifted. The set of exercises (on all four strings) does require the use of the bow and hence gives immediate feed back to the student.
        Hope this helps.

      • Violinist Zlata Brouwer

        Thank you Stewart, I don’t have the book right here, but it sounds like a very good exercise.

  4. john jones

    when doing four note per string exercise/ the spider; 1,2,3,4th fingers in that sequence, then moving to lower string, i can move my 1st finger simultaneously into the air as i lower-play my 2nd,then fret/land my 1st after my 3rd finger is played, but my 2nd finger is not in the air (as my 1st finger can do ) before my 3rd finger is lowered- played. Im not sure when to lift my 2nd ( simultaneously when 3rd is lowered-played ?); is there instruction on doing this and an exercise; not just for 1st and 2nd finger but combinations.
    Im a guitarist. Looked at a number of videos on Youtube but no one mentions this. (guthrie govan,Vinnie moore,michael angelo,paul gilbert and others) and some music instruction books (jim gleason, Dummies,idiots guides !!)
    I went to a tutor twice but the exercises didnt mention ‘simultaneous finger lifting’. Is there a specific technical term i can use to search for information on this- dexterity is not specific.

    • Violinist Zlata Brouwer

      Well, from a guitarist perspective where you place chords in ‘one go’, I can imagine the question. In violin playing however it depends. Placing just one finger allows for more freedom of movement in vibrato. Placing fingers at the same time allows for more stability.



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