Left Thumb Position in Violin Playing | Violin Lounge TV #493
Your left thumb position can make it easier for your left hand fingers to reach the notes on the violin. Also it can improve your intonation and speed.
In this video I explain the general rules and how you can find a left thumb position that works best for you:
- 00:30 Different players different thumbs
- 02:33 Wrong left thumb position
- 03:40 Examples of famous performers
- 06:17 How to release the tension and relax your left thumb
Featured performances in this video:
You might have heard different opinions on the position of the left thumb in violin playing. In fact there’s not really a rule, but if you want one it’s that the thumb should be placed opposite the first finger, the second finger or somewhere in between.
It’s ok if you place your thumb more in the direction of the scroll. Just make sure that you can place your fourth finger comfortably, reliably and arched. If you place your thumb too much in the direction of the scroll, then it will be hard to place the fourth finger right.
When you reach over the strings for notes on the G string, your thumb might go more underneath the neck of the violin.
The thumb may stick out. Just see the example in my video of Itzhak Perlman. It all depends how long your thumb is what left hand posture is right for you. Also it changes while you play depending on the finger pressure, vibrato and position you play in.
Most important for the left hand thumb in violin playing is that it should be mobile
Your thumb is the counter-player of the other left hand fingers
It supports them in general fingering, vibrato and shifts. The position of the thumb differs while playing and moves along.
A rigid tensed left hand thumb can really get in the way of your playing
Vibrato might not work as much, intonation can suffer and fast runs can seem impossible. Also your whole hand might feel cramped.
Here are some tips if your left hand thumb is tensed, cramped or rigid while playing violin:
- Don’t use too much finger pressure in your left hand. The more pressure you use with the other fingers, the harder your thumb needs to work to compensate this.
- Move your thumb around in between playing to keep it mobile and release tension
- Try out different positions for your thumb and find one that works best for you and feels right in your hand.
- Try playing without the thumb or place a toilet roll between your thumb and the neck of the violin. This will make it impossible to clench with your left hand thumb. Yes, you need the thumb and you can’t play properly without it, but just trying it as an exercise can relax your thumb.