Double Stops for Small Hands by Heidi Castleman

The following post is by Heidi Castleman.

  1. Start with a left hand frame, but play all half steps; the left hand fingers should have first joints curved (fingers will be similar in shape to piano hammers).
  1. Open up spacing in the hand by reaching back; the expansion of the left hand frame should be initiated below the base knuckles.
  1. Base knuckles should be close to parallel to the neck; bring the ring finger near to the neck, allowing the base of the index finger to move slightly (in the direction away from the neck, but not necessarily actually away from the neck).
  1. Wrist should be slightly under the neck and have a “yielding” feeling.
  1. Thumb needs to have a “windshield wiper” capability and will adjust flexibly as any re-balancing of hand is required.
  1. Since the first and second fingers are naturally stronger than the third and fourth fingers, always feel lighter in these fingers (wimpy will do fine!), allowing the third and fourth to feel stronger.
  1. Left hand fingers always should follow this pattern: drop-relax-release; shifting in double stops will be much easier if this principle is observed!  In addition, arrange your breathing so that the shift occurs during an exhalation; this encourages the head, neck, and shoulder area to release at just the right time.
  1. In playing thirds, fourths, sixths, and sevenths, soften the fingers that are not in use; in playing octaves, try keeping the not-in-use fingers lightly down.


●  For the right hand, choose the sounding point of the shorter string.

●  If reaching the fourth finger comfortably is a problem, check your posture.  Make sure your viola is help up!

●  If your hand is small and the joints tend not to have much flexibility, find ways to make your hand softer – imagine your hand is like someone’s that naturally has flexible joints or feel as if you are holding a baby bird in the palm of your hand.


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