How to ‘Twist’ Your Arm around the Violin Without Pain

by | Jul 31, 2014 | Play Comfortably | 8 comments

This episode of Violin Lounge TV is about the pain your can experience when you ‘twist’ your arm around the violin. People try to twist their arm to reach the positions on the string with your fingers.

I’ve received a very vulnerable e-mail from Dot. I admire her courage of sending me this very personal message and allowing me to share it with the Violin Lounge community.

Hi Zlata,

I wonder if you could maybe help me with a problem I have? My left shoulder is getting increasingly painful due to twisting my left arm around to press the violin strings. It’s getting pretty bad – I am considering giving up playing unless you can help?

Please do help me! My father just died, and I would love to take out my grief in music. After all, music is the best way to say what’s in your soul that there is no words for.

Feel free to use any of my personal info you like – I will feel most wonderful if you can use any part of my pain to help others avoid or cope with it!

Thanks for any suggestions you may have!


As I personally lost my father at a young age, I know what you are going through. I hope that I can be of little help to you in these hard times by making this video and helping you out.

If you are going through hard tines and are stressed out, music can be of great comfort and I would like to encourage you to play.

Please be careful for your body. In stressed times, your body is already stressed out and playing the violin can invite injury even more. The music must help you, not hurt you.

Try this exercise to prevent pain while playing:

  • Stand in front of a mirror.
  • Stand up straight.
  • Push your shoulders down, so they are really low and you don’t tense up to hold your shoulder up.
  • Do absolutely nothing (this is hard for lots of people). Be relaxed.
  • Have someone else lay the violin on your shoulder. Do nothing. Let the violin come to you and not the other way around.
  • Make sure that your violin is not too far on your shoulder and not too far to the left.
  • Let the violin hang: a little lower and more to the front than you are used to perhaps.
  • When you hold the violin, have your elbow point straight to the floor. That’s enough. Don’t pull your elbow further on the violin. Imagine a weight hanging on your elbow that pulls it down in a relaxed way.
  • Make sure that the flat of your hand is almost facing the violin strings. Don’t do the whole twist from your arm, but let your hand position help you.


Hi! I'm Zlata

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

Some additional tips:

  • Have a relaxed violin hold.
  • Let the violin come to you and not the other way around. Don’t make strange twists in your body to fold yourself around the violin.
  • Don’t pull up your left shoulder (not up and not to the front). Your shoulder must be low and relaxed. Otherwise you will get pain in your neck and shoulders.
  • Have a chinrest and shoulder rest or pad that are adjusted to your body. There is no one-stop-solution to chinrests and shoulder rests (or none). You must find out what’s best for YOU.
  • Don’t practice hours and hours in one go. Take breaks. Try to practice in chunks of 10 to 20 minutes. A break can be as short as 1 minute: just get a glass of water or something. This prevents injury and helps your subconscious and muscle memory to process what you are practicing. Your results will be better.

I hope this video is helpful to you.

Is this useful to you? Please let me know in the comments below!



PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to and I might dedicate a Violin Lounge TV episode to answering your question!



    Pay now for academy and use it say InNovember or so. Sincerely, Elmer Kreisel

    • Violinist Zlata

      Dear Elmer,

      Thanks for your comment!

      Could you please clarify what you mean? If you enroll in the Violin Lounge Academy now, you will have full access for six months, so you will have access in november.

      Is this the answer to your question? Please don’t hesitate to ask.

      I wish you happy practicing and beautiful playing!

      Best regards,


  2. Dick Behrens

    Thanks for the recent video,”How to twist your arm…”. I see that I am pushing my left shoulder too far forward. Thanks to you I will work on correcting this.
    Thanks, Dick in Monson Massachusetts

    • Violinist Zlata

      Thanks for watching and good to read that it’s helpful for you 🙂

  3. Jerry

    Zlata, I found this tutorial very helpful. When I first started playing I experienced this. I also had my violin at an angle when playing on the ‘E’ string to such a degree that my bow had to be almost straight up and down in order to avoid hitting the ‘A’ string. I changed shoulder rest to a Wolf Forte Secondo that had a lot of adjustment. Zlata, Many Thanks. Warmest Regards, Jerry

    • Violinist Zlata

      Thanks for watching, Jerry. Good to know that this new shoulder rest helps you 🙂

  4. Ann Cantrell

    Dearest Zlata,

    Thank you once again for the DVD box. I have not yet had a chance to have a look at it due to taking care of my grandson during the summer. However, he starts back to school on Tuesday of next week, and after that I hope to be able to view the DVD set.

    Also thank you for sending the link for this Violin Lounge TV episode – How to ‘Twist’ Your Arm around the Violin Without Pain. This episode is about the most exciting thing I have ever seen for learning the violin. I cannot tell you how happy and excited I feel right now after watching this. In this you have addressed several issues I have had as I have tried to teach myself violin and not had an effective local instructor, even though I have spent much time with many people who play the violin very well themselves and other people evidently learn a great deal from these instructors. I have stopped going to each one shortly after beginning lessons with them, because after just a short time I realize that they cannot help me. This was without even knowing exactly what my foundational needs were.

    To begin with – I have not even known exactly where on my shoulder the violin should sit. I thought is was to be flat on top of my shoulder because I read or heard somewhere that it sits on your shoulder as on the top of a table. I start having pain throughout my upper back within TEN MINUTES of starting to play or practice! Every time! I have not picked up my violin for over a year because of the since of defeat and inability that comes because I cannot practice long enough to accomplish any learning, and because I shy away from pain, usually.

    Now I am very much looking forward to giving practice another go. You make it so clear how the violin should sit. God has truly gifted you with much wisdom.

    I am almost crying with excitement. I do tend to get emotional easily, especially when learning wonderful answers to a difficulty.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, Zlata!


    • Violinist Zlata

      Wow, Ann, it’s heart warming to read that this video solves such a struggle for you! Wonderful that this video has had such a good impact. If there is anything else I can help you with, just let me know!


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