What To Do if Your Fingers are Too Stiff to Play the Violin or Viola

by | Mar 18, 2014 | Start to Play | 8 comments

Do your fingers sometimes feel too stiff to play a certain piece of music? Maybe when playing some fast notes? 

What if your fingers are too stiff to play the violin or viola?

A lot of adult beginners or people who grow older and want to pick up the violin or viola again, notice that their fingers are sometimes too stiff to play the music they want to play. How to make your fingers more flexible again?

The answer is: practice!

You need to practice on the flexibility of your fingers. Especially for adults who played when they were younger and want to pick up playing again. They often think they got more stiff. However, that is not always the case. Most adults just remember playing when they were very well trained and when they start again, they just need to train on their flexibility again.

Excercise for training your fingers

A very easy exercise for training the flexibility of your fingers is playing ‘0-1-2-3-4-3-2-1-0’. Your hand position on every string is different, so make sure you place your fingers very confident. Start in a slow tempo, listen to yourself, play in tune and make your fingers nice and flexible. You can do this exercise on one bow or separate bowings and one or more strings. If you do this exercise right, you will train all of your fingers.

Try variations

Once you get the hang of this exercise, you can make your tempo increasingly faster. You can also do a rhythmical variation, whatever you can think about!

If you want to go one step further, I also recommend you Hand Sitt’s books ‘100 Etudes’. There are several books in this series, so choose a book that fits your level.


PS: Do you want to see YOUR question answered in a Violin Lounge TV episode? Post a comment below!

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  1. Antinia

    Thanks for your tips regarding stiff fingers. I play in a local symphony. We have a concert this afternoon and I woke up to fingers/hands that didn’t even want to hold my coffee cup! Your video couldn’t have come at a better time. Something else that helps is to hand wash dishes. The extended time in warm water feels good on tight joints and seems to loosen them up a bit. I’ll admit that washing dishes isn’t exactly fun, but this benefit may make it worth your trouble.
    Zlata, thanks so much for your tutorials! I really appreciate them a lot!

    • Violinist Zlata

      Great that it came at a good time, Antinia. Have fun playing in your orchestrate today and good luck with your concert.

      Good to hear that you enjoy the videos!

      All the best,


  2. Dianne McNaughton

    Hello Zlata. I was looking up “stiff fingers” and found your site. How much does it cost for your help with the violin. Many thanks. Dianne

    • Violinist Zlata Brouwer

      Hi Dianne, welcome to Violin Lounge 🙂 and I’m excited to be your teacher. On this website you can find over 300 free violin lessons. Besides that I’m a teacher at iClassical for the course Upgrade your Violin Bow Technique. In it you learn a good basic technique for bowing and all about tone production. The only way to get my personal guidance and feedback, is my program Bow like a Pro. There I coach violin players of all levels on bowing technique, tone creation, vibrato and playing the violin with feeling. I hope to see you as a student! Blessings, Zlata

  3. Dianne McNaughton

    Hello Zlata. I have arthritis in my fingers and cannot separate them when doing the scale. I am very slow. How do I hold my wrist so perhaps my fingers drop down on the strings rather than trying to stretch them. Should I bring the violin more to the front of me so I am not stretching my arm quite so far. Many thanks for your valued advise.

    • Zlata

      Yes, bringing the violin more to the middle could help. Experiment with different holds, knuckles in line with the neck of the violin or perhaps a bit away.


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