This passage from Sarasate's Introduction and Tarantella is great for demonstrating the necessity of an excellent left hand frame when playing violin. Here are some tips to keep your hand frame in tip top shape!
- Your basic hand frame should be the same shape that your hand is in when it is resting by your side (check #chloesviolinlessons for a video on this). Your wrist shouldn't pull in or jut out awkwardly. 95% of the time your wrist should be in a neutral position - the remaining 5% is when playing in high positions and/or using extended techniques.
- Pay special attention to your hand frame when practicing scales, especially when using vibrato. This will give your brain a chance to slow down and focus on something we that we don't normally think about when practicing. Notice if your hand ever wants to bend out of shape and why. Sometimes it has to do with your elbow being too far in or too far out, and/or you may be placing your fingers at an incorrect angle.
- Practice playing 2 octave arpeggios in one position across all 4 strings (there's an semi-example of this near the end of this video clip). Make sure that your elbow moves but that your thumb does not. You should be able to play across all four strings without changing your hand frame.
- There are differing thoughts on this, but I strongly believe that in 3rd position your hand (including the thumb) should be up against the body of the violin (watch the arpeggios in the video again). I have witnessed too many students struggle with their hand frame and intonation simply because their hand is too far back in 3rd position, and for it to be fixed almost immediately by placing it against the body of the instrument. Exceptions for this rule apply to particular uses of vibrato and trills.
- A strong hand frame is ESSENTIAL when playing octaves! Your hand should stay in the same shape during octaves with the only change being that you move your fingers closer together or further apart, and your arm closes in or out from the elbow. Don't change anything else or you will make this technique 20x more difficult!
I'm looking foreward to working with students on this piece at @suzukistringinstitute in 10 days!❤️