How to Shift Smoothly on the Violin – Learn Thumb Consistency

How to Shift Smoothly on the Violin

Learning how to shift smoothly on the violin is very important to progressing as a player.

It’s essential to avoid bad habits of grabbing the neck too hard in the first position.

You also need to make sure you have a proper hold on your shoulder rest to make shifting smooth.

What I recommend is for students to focus on the thumb position in the left-hand when first starting to shift.

Work on scales like D Major and C Major in two octaves which you can find the sheet music to here.

With these scales, focus mainly on what you are doing as you go back from 3rd to 1st position.

The key in how to shift smoothly on the violin, is to make sure the index and the move together.

Never allow the thumb to stay back or to go farther than it should into the first position.

how to shift smoothly

How to Shift Smoothly on the Violin – Additional Tips

  1. Don’t press too hard into the fingerboard when playing the violin (especially 4th fingers).
  2. Pay attention to how high your fingers pop up in the air in general when playing the violin.
  3. Don’t let fingers pop up in the air as you place another one down (implies over-pressing)

If you want detailed help on how to shift smoothly on the violin, I highly recommend my Perfect Vibrato course which covers foundations of setting up the left hand, right hand and detailed steps on how to improve your sound.

This course covers how to improve violin vibrato, and also is an excellent four-week study of how to get rid of many bad habits you may have currently when playing the violin (learn more here). It is appropriate for beginners as well as anyone under fifteen years of experience who wants to improve their violin sound.

2 replies
  1. Howard Wachtel
    Howard Wachtel says:

    My biggest problem in playing the violin is not the position of the left thumb, but keeping it from sticking to the neck of the violin. With left thumb stuck there, to keep the violin in place, the muscles between the thumb & index finger become sore quickly. Any suggestions?

    • Michael Sanchez
      Michael Sanchez says:

      Hey Howard, this implies you are grabbing the fingerboard too tight. Some ways to fix this are to focus on finger contact with the fingerboard. Try to have your finger contact as close as you can to the nail without actually touching the nail – then press down as light as possible. The other thing that can help this is holding the instrument more with your chin and shoulder instead of the left-hand. I’ve seen many students do that which leads to this problem. Hope this helps!


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