William Fitzpatrick - violin expert

How much pressure does it take to push the string down to make a sound?

A simple approach to an often overlooked question

In this first expert video, Prof. William Fitzpatrick of Chapman University explains how to apply the right amount of pressure with the finger on the violin fingerboard. Too much pressure is usually bad, but how do you find the right pressure or force to put on your left hand fingers?

Released on November 4, 2013

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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Jacob adame on September 12, 2018 @1:49 pm PST
Hi. Question my daughter has been playing violin for about 4 years she is 8 now. She has been with the same teacher since day one, but it seem that she is not going improving at all. I have been watching Some videos in you tube and I noticed that all good violinist they do many types of practices for the right hand left hand fingers exercises. My daughter teacher since day one have not shown her any type of exercises to improve. What do you think that I need to do for my daughter to help her get better on her playing?
William - host, on September 17, 2018 @9:07 am PST
Hi! The first thing that I would do is present my concerns to the teacher and get their ideas on your concerns. I believe that having an open line of communication between teacher and student is critical and so encourage you to take this step...
Barby on August 13, 2017 @2:46 am PST
Hi sir did the violin is have to push the string or just touch the string to make the tone
Carl Shelton on May 16, 2017 @12:32 am PST
Thanks Prof. Fitzpatrick for you many videos, is it possible for you to measure your string height at the end of your finger board, I'm like many others have always had lower strings
William - host, on September 17, 2018 @9:03 am PST
Will check and get back!!!
Barry Conrad on May 4, 2017 @10:59 pm PST
another great lesson, with such an eye opening topic, this has opened my mind to a whole new level of possibilities, thank you so much for publishing this video, Cheers
William - host, on September 17, 2018 @9:03 am PST
You're welcome!
Zoey on January 27, 2017 @3:33 am PST
sir I tried this technique but I only created small and mushy sounds? unlike if it is pressed down the sound is louder and clearer but if I press it my thumb is squeezed, oh what am I to do?
William - host, on January 27, 2017 @9:31 am PST
Hi and thanks for asking this question! A lot depends on the distance that your strings are from the fingerboard! If this distance is not great enough you would have to press all the way to get a clear sound as physics does come into play! Hope that this helps!
Victor on December 3, 2015 @4:30 am PST
Hello Prof. Fitzpatrick!
I watched this video of yours for "How much pressure from the left hand fingers?" several times on YT and later I had a little argument speculating on your approach with another YT instructor, Eddy Chen. I made a reference for him to your video so I'm in an honest position.
He is a very capable violin player and he insisits that it's better especially for beginners to have the string fully pressed down as a starting point. Only when doing fast passages he agrees that he uses less pressure.
He demonstrates in his video that if the string is not fully pressed down, the sound is weak and whining.
Here he proves his point: https://youtu.be/Jbge9yDTc9Y?t=621
I provided the timed reference so you don't have to wait.

Thank you,
William - host, on December 10, 2015 @10:08 am PST
Sorry that you had an argument! In France people share their beliefs and opinions constantly and then continue to be friends so I hope yours was from this point of view! As for who is right I think one should experiment with many ways and ultimately do the one that you believe works for you! Thanks for the comment!
Eileen Sephton * VSM MEMBER * on September 16, 2014 @3:33 am PST
Interesting - I'll go and try it!
William - host, on September 16, 2014 @8:19 am PST
Let me know what your results are! Take care!
Fred Schlereth * VSM MEMBER * on July 3, 2014 @7:22 pm PST
very interesting. I'm shocked that it is true. However it takes a bit of practice to get used to it. Question! How is that related to pressure, which is force per unit area. So, for the same force, the pressure is higher if the area of contact is smaller. My question is, how do you define the area of contact. String alone, string and fingerboard? It takes less force if the string is not pressed onto the fingerboard, but since the string area is smaller the pressure might be the same.
Clearly I'm confused about your use of the terms pressure and force.
Also how can you produce a vibrato if there is no contact with the fingerboard?
David De Lisle * VSM MEMBER * on May 8, 2014 @5:11 pm PST
Kato Havas
William - host, on May 9, 2014 @9:34 am PST
Thank you for the name as I did not know about her!
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on May 9, 2014 @11:18 am PST
Yes, Kato Havas is well know for her book "Stage Fright" that I have read several times in the past! That's a very good topic we could approach in some of the next videos.
Jim mcavoy * VSM MEMBER * on December 29, 2013 @5:56 am PST
I have reset both the nut and bridge higher on my fiddle to see how your technique works ...old habits die hard .. but I do like the results .. less tension in the left hand
Locally some of the fiddle makers are making instruments with a very low action and that is how I made mine (new England style) Time to change!
The ping is what is needed when attempting an O'Carolan harp tune for instance
Jim [delete]
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