by Rozanna Weinberger
One of the great leaps string players must make when first learning to shift, is being able to bring around the thumb sufficiently that it’s not preventing the arm to come around sufficiently. But the root of this problem goes higher up – to the shoulder and head, when players grip the violin due to an inability to balance the instrument.
Try bringing the left shoulder up to the ear. Notice how this action ‘shortens’ the arm length.
Now release the shoulder and notice how the arm is instantly ‘longer’ Therefore it’s essential when working on shifting to check for technical issues elsewhere that need to be addressed in addition to placement of thumb in relation to violin or viola.
In photo 1 note how the thumb is wrapped around the neck of the instrument, effectively limiting the hands ability to move up the finger board.
Ultimately the violin or viola player will find it helpful to be comfortable in the shoulders and head so players will be able bring hand and wrist around sufficiently. When this is accomplished players will then be able to develop a sense of ‘balance’ with each finger, in a manner that is relaxed, free of overexertion, utilizing the natural mobility and range of motion available to the player.