How to Move your Left Arm when Crossing Strings | Violin Lounge TV #228

by | Apr 14, 2016 | Play Comfortably | 2 comments

This episode is specifically about the movement of your left arm while crossing strings.

Also watch my other videos about string crossing more focussed on the bowing technique of it:

How to Cross Strings without Noise

How to Smoothly Switch between Strings with your Violin Bow?

This episode is an answer to a question from Vinnie:

Hello Zlata. I have a video request for you on a closely related subject: string crossings with the left hand. For some reason I don’t see a single YT video that emphasizes left hand (fretting hand) elbow angle change when crossing the strings. I tend to bend my wrist sideways while I know this is bad. Somewhere else I read about the “steering wheel” concept – it can be shown without the violin and bow: when crossing strings with fretting new notes on neighbour strings both your elbows move in parallel. Why no one addresses this in detail? I think this is very important.

What Vinnie means is that when placing fingers on the strings, she keeps her elbow in the same position and bends her wrist to reach the strings with her fingers.

In the steering wheel concept your elbow moves along with the string changes with your bow arm.

For your left hand fingers to be able to reach the spots on the string easily, you need to move your left elbow a bit. The default position of your left elbow is to drop it under the violin. Your elbow points to the floor and your left arm is relaxed. It can wobble around a bit.

However if you go to the G string, it might be easier to move your elbow a bit to the right. Don’t exaggerate it as I demonstrate in the video. If you go to the E string, you help your fingers by moving your elbow to the left.

See if you can keep your wrist straight or have a slightly giving hand, but don’t bend your wrist when you change strings.

To help your left hand fingers reach the string, move your left elbow from left to right a bit while maintaining a relaxed left arm and a straight wrist.

Find out for yourself if this movement of your left arm helps you reach the strings with your fingers more easily. Experiment with your left elbow position and discover what the ideal movement and position is for you. This is personal.

Is this video helpful to you? Please let me know in the comments below! If you like it, share it with your friends!



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!


  1. Ellen

    Hi Zlata,
    I am an adult beginner on the violin and am hoping that you have some advice for me. I have trouble when playing from a low 2nd finger to 3rd finger. For example, when playing “F” on the D-string and then quickly moving to “G”, my 2nd finger slides a little before I play the 3rd finger note. I have the same problem on all strings. I have been putting my first finger down as a sort of ‘anchor’ but it is awkward when playing faster pieces. I have a 4/4 violin but wondered if the solution is to switch to a 7/8. According to violin sizing charts, 4/4 should work for me. Thank you in advance for any help you can give me.

    • Violinist Zlata Brouwer

      Hi Ellen, this is something a lot of beginners struggle with. You can practice the etudes by Hans Sitt opus 100 to get some speed and accuracy with the low second finger. Besides that you can definitely try if you find it easier to play on a 7/8 violin. Good luck and let me know if this is helpful!



  1. [Video] Left Hand Technique in String Crossings | Violin Lounge TV #253 - Violin Lounge - […] How to Move your Left Arm when Crossing Strings | Violin Lounge TV #228 […]

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