The ‘dead-weight’ right arm exercise

Violinists use the weight of their right arm to create the sound (rather than finger pressure). It’s important to learn how to ‘release’ the arm weight so that it can be transferred through the bow to the string. The following exercise will help you with this.

  • Stand with your right arm positioned as if your bow was at it its midpoint on the G string, with your elbow bent and level with your hand. Rotate your forearm as if trying to see the time on a wristwatch – so that your thumb is under the hand and you can see the back of your hand (see photo on Violinworks page 28). Keep your wrist and fingers soft and relaxed. Your wrist is in now a ‘side-on’ position.
  • Ask a friend to place their index finger in the soft indentation between the end of your thumb and your wrist:


    Right arm balanced on a finger

  • Now, without moving your arm, completely relax your shoulder and upper arm so that all the weight of your arm is resting on your friend’s finger. Your arm will feel very heavy when you are doing this correctly, and your wrist should remain in the ‘side-on’ position without collapsing.
  • Take care not turn your wrist so that it’s in a ‘swan-neck’ shape, as this will cause your arm to collapse– keep your wrist in the ‘side-on’ position.

Collapsed and side-on wrist

  • Ask your friend to take their finger away without warning you. If your arm drops like a ‘dead-weight’ this means your right shoulder was completely relaxed and free of tension. If it stays up in the air or if it drops slowly then there was tension in your arm, so give it another go!


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