Position and Posture

Position and Posture are essential for learning to play an instrument. As a supplement to Posture and position checklists for Bass, Cello, Viola, and Violin, we have provided some example images to help you and your students see and understand excellent position and posture.

Beautiful Violin/Viola Left Hands

Since they are closely related and both sit on the shoulder, violins and violas share much of the same technique. Many teachers would like us to point out that there are small differences between the two, but in a web page like this we will talk about the things they have in common.

General Posture

Proper violin / viola hand position from the instrument side, showing fingers on the string, neck of the instrument, and thumb.Proper violin / viola hand position from the hand side, showing back of the hand with fingers placed properly on the string.

  • Is the instrument supported by the shoulder in such a manner that left hand fingering can occur without tension?
  • Is the left hand free to slide up and down the fingerboard?
  • Is the body positioned with nose-bridge-elbow-knee-toe in approximate alignment?
  • Is instrument positioned parallel to the floor?
  • Does the elbow hang under the instrument and hang freely to allow proper finger alignment on all strings?
  • Is the left arm and hand forming a straight line from the elbow to the base of the fingers?
  • Is the right arm elbow opening and closing to allow for straight bowing?

Violin and viola left hands:

Proper violin / viola hand position from the instrument side, showing fingers on the string in a higher position, curved over the body of the instrument.

  • Are the fingers all curved with only the tips of the fingers hitting the strings?
  • Are the fingers consistently in a functional position over the fingerboard, i.e., is the hand placed in such a fashion that the little finger could always pluck the strings?
  • Is the hand free from clutching?
  • Does the wrist keep a straight line with the rest of the arm?

Beautiful Violin/Viola Bow Holds

Proper violin / viola bow hand position, showing the fingers curved over the bow and the thumb positioned on the frog of the bow.

Again, violin and viola bow holds have much in common.

Proper violin / viola bow hand position, showing contact points of the fingers.

  • Are all joints curved?
  • Are the fingers flexible at all times?
  • Is the thumb bent and not protruding through the frog?
  • Does the index finger touch the stick near the first knuckle joint?
  • Are the second and third finger pads touching the frog?
  • Is the back of hand in the same plane with the forearm?
  • Is the bow moving on the string parallel to the bridge?
  • Is the contact point consistently about halfway between the fingerboard and bridge?

Beautifully Straight Bow

Proper violin / viola bow location, showing the bow parallel to the bridge, and the contact point about halfway betwen the fingerboard and bridge