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Checkpoints for Home Practice: Violin and Viola

Musical Instrument 180By Phyllis Young

General Position

  1. Is the violin supported by the shoulder in such a manner that the violin can be fingered with the left hand without tension? Is the left hand free to slide up and down the fingerboard for shifting?
  2. Is the violin held at approximately a 45+ degree angle to the side of the middle of the body?
  3. Does the elbow hang under the violin and swing freely to be able to finger the different strings?
  4. Is the left arm and hand forming a straight line from the elbow to the base of the fingers?
  5. Is the right arm always moving in the way that is most natural; that is, with the wrist leading and elbow following?

Left Hand

  1. Are the fingers curved with only the tips of the fingers hitting the strings?
  2. Is the thumb placed where it naturally falls, between the index and the middle finger?
  3. Is the hand free from clutching (See General Position #1 above)?
  4. Is the wrist keeping a straight line with the rest of the arm (not protruding in either direction)?
  5. Is the hand placed in such a fashion that the little finger could always pluck the strings?

Right Hand

  1. Are the fingers flexible at all times?
  2. Are the thumb and little finger curved? (Important for flexibility)
  3. Does the bow cross the forefinger between the first and second knuckle? This is slightly different for each hand.
  4. Are the second and third fingers wrapped around the frog? If there is a dot on the frog, cover it with the fingers.
  5. Are the hand knuckles soft at all times?
  6. Does the little finger sit on the top of the stick and not hang over? On the up bow, does it have the feeling of pushing the bow up?
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