Violin Lesson 5 – Left Hand Frame

We’ve made it halfway through the 10 week summer course!! Just 5 more weeks and we will be playing simple melodies. Today I’m teaching you to play with fingers on the string for the first time! That means we need to talk about left hand frame. Find the video of Lesson 5 here: Summer Violin Lesson 5 – Left Hand Frame

Note Values

First a quick review of some things we’ve already learned. By now you should know quarter notes, half notes, and whole notes. I gave you some sheet music to practice with all the note values mixed up. The duet part I arranged for Auld Lang Syne also included these different note values.

Combining Swinging the Elbow with Hand Frame

So you’ve taken the first step to a good left hand frame in lesson 4, beginning with your hand relaxed at your side, waving from the largest knuckle of your fingers as you carefully bring your hand/arm up to the level of the violin. You’ve also been practicing rotating your shoulder joint to move your hand the distance from the G-string to the E-string. Now that you have spent some time concentrating on teaching your muscles these movements, you are ready for the next step.

Violin Left Hand Frame

FullSizeRenderThis week I want you to practice slipping your hand under the neck, pull your left elbow in to push your fingers beyond the G-string. All the while, continue the waving motion to encourage a soft and relaxed hand frame.

Now, think of your fingers as an accordion fan. Reaching forward with the index finger, back with the pinky, fan your fingers out gently. (Remember, keep waving!) Slowly tap, tap, tap your fingers over onto the G-string until they are in position. Spacing as shown in the photos:

  • Nut to index finger – about 1 inch
  • Index to middle finger – about 1 inch
  • Middle and ring finger are Best Friends! – about 1/2 inch
  • Ring and pinky finger – about 1 inch.

The idea here is that the little finger, our weakest finger, should be the most comfortable. Our index finger, much stronger, is the one that should be doing the reaching, if there is any reaching needed.

Let’s think for a moment about the names of the notes that would be on the G-string. All the notes in music are named after the first 7 letters of the Alphabet. Therefore music goes forward and backward, up and down the music staff, following this pattern: A B C D E F G A B C D E F G A. I want to point out that A always follows G to start over again with those letter names. So with our open string being G, the fingered notes are as follows: 1A, 2B, 3C, 4D. Hey! Look at that; the 4th finger on the G-string is the same note as the Open String to the right. This makes it very easy to know if we are pressing 4th finger down in tune.

Extra tip: You can also use a Tuner to check your intonation. This is very helpful in tuning your violin as well. This is the one that I use: Tuner/Metronome

Left Hand Frame Spacing

Front view of finger spacing

This week, I’d like you to try to place your hand, using our hand frame approach, on each of the four strings, drawing sound with your bow while 4th finger (and all the others too!) is pressed down. Check your intonation with the string to the right each time. Try to establish muscle memory for the location of the 4th finger notes. Next week, we will try playing the other fingers as well! How exciting, more and more notes each week! You really playing music on your violin now!

Learning about Rests in music

It is time to learn the Rests that coordinate with the Note Values we have already learned. This weeks sheet music will include the note values and rests together.

The quarter rest (1 count) reminds me of a lightning bolt. Or even Bolt himself! 🙂 I actually have a piano student who brings Bolt with her everywhere! He comes to every lesson, and the recitals too. Rabbit trail I know, but I bet you won’t forget what a quarter rest looks like. 😉

Half rests (2 counts) and whole rests (4 counts) can be confusing, they are a mirror image of each other. I think of the half rest as a black top hat. It sits above the line because it is light, only 2 counts. The whole rest is upside down, hanging below the line because it is heavy, 4 counts. That is how I have always remembered which one is which.

Here are some more Flashcards to add to your little collection: Lesson 5 Rests Flashcards

Reading the Treble Clef, Space Notes and Line Notes

As mentioned above, the music letter names are derived from the first 7 letters of the Alphabet: A B C D E F G A B C D E F G, etc. So it is easy to walk up and down the staff as if it were a ladder, or stair steps, in order to discover the name of a specific note on the staff. There are also a couple tricks to help us remember the names of the notes in Treble Clef.

Treble Space Notes

The Space Notes, from bottom to top, spell the word face.

Treble Clef Line Notes - Lesson 5

The Line Notes, from bottom to top, are the first letter of each word in the following phrase: Every Good Boy Does Fine.

Simple Tunes to Practice Rhythm

I’ve put together some sheet music for you to practice this week. I didn’t have time to make a practice video with backup music yet as I need to start working on Lesson 6. I will add this at a later time. For now, here is the music for an arrangement I made of Au Clair de la Lune, as well as some exercises I wrote for you. Enjoy and please let me know how you liked these in the comments!

Au Clair de la Lune – Open String Duet Part, Teacher melody part.

Red light_Green light Rhythms – Rests and Note Values, all mixed up.

Request a tune of your choice for a future lesson by commenting with the title below!

Halfway Review Test

Congratulations on making it to the halfway mark in the course! I am excited to be halfway done creating the course and I hope you are proud of your accomplishment as well!

It is time for some serious review. How much of these music facts and details have you retained? Let’s find out! I put together a simple review survey for you to test your music knowledge.


Create your own user feedback survey


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