Left Hand Violin Technique

Keeping a Relaxed Left Hand Important for Playing Fast and having a relaxed vibrato:

Violinist Nathan Cole, First Associate Concertmaster of the Los Angeles Philharmonic explains how to find the minimum finger weight necessary to keep the left hand relaxed while producing a clear tone. Start playing where the fingers touch the surface of the string. You can expect to hear a squeaky tone.  This is what you want to hear as your finger weight is minimal. Gradually use more finger weight until your tone is clear while maintaining a relaxed hand.  Explanation starts at 6:50:

Practicing for Solid Intonation:

The legendary Mary West, who was my high school violin teacher, gave me great advice when working on intonation.  She was a firm believer in purposeful practicing.  She said that if a note is out of tune, you may find that it is consistently too high or too low.  If that is the case, you may want to tell yourself right before you play that note to put your finger lower or higher.

It may help when practicing double stops or any music where intonation is difficult to repeat one note and then go to the next note a few times.  When the first note is in tune, add the next note but always review what you practiced before and played in tune.

Above all else but sometimes forgotten, it is important to play your most difficult spots first in practice when your mind is the most alert.