February 4, 2011 – Left Hand Tension

Recently, I have found myself unable to execute left hand techniques I once could with fluidity. I kept trying to release the tension and practice more fluid shifting, to no avail.

The source was tension in the base knuckle of the first finger, especially when using low first finger. Upon releasing tension in the base knuckle of the first finger, I gained a greater awareness of my elbow in shifts. I suggest you try this short exercises to see for yourself:

  1. Hold your left arm out like you are playing (with no violin in hand).
  2. Square and tense the knuckles of the first finger.
  3. Pantomime the shifting motion.

Feel how the elbow loses not only the ability to move with a linear motion, but also the sensation of opening and closing upon shifting.

Try this exercises to feel the difference:

  1. Hold your left arm out like you are playing (with no violin in hand).
  2. Curl the left hand fingers with a loose first finger and soften the space between first and second finger.
  3. Move the elbow in a shifting motion.

I find that I am able to feel the sensation of shifting in the elbow especially well when the first finger has release the tension found in the base knuckle of the first finger.

For a final exercise:

  1. Hold your left hand out like you are playing (with no violin in hand).
  2. Tense the first finger.

You should be able to feel the tension build up and down the arm.

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