How to Build Violin Calluses Quickly, Minimize Finger Pain, and Prevent Blisters
At the beginning, learning to play the violin is rough on your fingers. There is really no way around it. Repeated friction and pressure on the fingertips of your left hand can create finger pain.
BUT… the human body is an amazing thing. After a few weeks of regular playing, the skin on your fingertips will harden as a reaction to the repeated pressure and friction that happen while you’re playing. This hardened skin is called a callus, and having them is a point of pride among string players.
Violin players’ calluses are usually not visible to the eye, but you will notice that your fingertips will be more resistant to pressure, heat, and friction.
Once you develop calluses, you will be able to play for hours at a time without worrying about finger pain.
How can you build calluses as fast as possible?
First, take a Goldilocks approach in your first two weeks – that is, don’t practice too much, don’t practice too little.
The perfect amount of practice for callus development is the most practice you can do without getting blisters. Blisters will make further practice (and therefore further callus development) all but impossible for a few days.
So: for the first two weeks, play every day if you can, but take it easy and limit it to an hour or so maximum and stop playing sooner if your fingers begin to hurt.
Unnecessary causes of finger pain
If you notice that playing for only a few minutes causes finger pain, make sure that you are not pressing the strings down too hard. You only need to press them down hard enough for the string to resonate when plucked or bowed. Any harder is wasted effort and is unnecessarily hard on your fingers. Try to experiment with different amounts of pressure in your left hand in order to discover the minimum amount to apply in order to get a good sound.
Another potential cause of finger pain is that the strings may be raised too high above your violin’s finger board. This would make you have to press much harder in order to get a sound. If the strings are too high, this is usually caused by a violin bridge that is too tall.
Whether or not the bridge is too tall can be discovered by comparing multiple violins side by side, or can be evaluated by a professional at a violin shop. Fortunately, this can be fixed easily by adjusting or replacing the violin’s bridge to make it lower. Adjusting the bridge usually costs about $25.