You’ve always wanted to learn how to play the violin. It seems so romantic and mysterious – like you’re a part of something special. But there’s one problem – you have long nails. Will that get in the way of playing the violin?
Technically, you can still play the violin, even with long nails. However, you have to take note that longer nails are not recommended when doing so. It could potentially damage your violin, with the potential of touching other strings unintentionally.
Playing the violin with long nails can be tricky, but it’s not impossible. You just need to be aware of the challenges that come with having long nails and adjusting your playing style accordingly. Of course, we wouldn’t recommend people to play the violin with long nails all the time – it’s much easier (and safer) to just keep your nails trimmed short.
But if you’re insistent on playing the violin with long nails, there are a few things you can do to make it work.
Can You Play Violin with Long Nails? Why or Why Not?
As mentioned earlier, you can technically play the violin even with long nails. But take note that these nails would be a hindrance in letting you play the violin properly. You’d notice that most professional violin players have short nails. We highly discourage keeping your nails long for a number of reasons:
1. You Can Potentially Scratch the Violin
The varnish on a violin is quite delicate. It can easily get scratched, and that would ruin the look of your instrument. Other than its aesthetic value, a scratched violin can also affect its sound quality. Violin players might find it difficult to glide from one note to another if their nails are too long.
2. Might Touch Other Strings Unintentionally
Since your nails would be quite long, you might accidentally touch other strings while playing the violin. This can create a lot of noise, and it can also affect the sound quality of your music. Unless you’re ready to overcome a few caveats and willing to change the way you position your fingers, we don’t recommend playing the violin with long nails.
3. Long Nails Can Also Damage the Strings
Unless you’re willing to change the strings more often than required, those posh and long nails of yours can potentially damage the strings. When you play or tap the string, your nails can cut through the metal. This can cause the string to snap, and you certainly don’t want that happening in the middle of your performance.
4. Your Nails Could Get Damaged Too!
Whether you like it or not, playing the violin with long nails can also damage your nails. When you press down on the strings, your nails can get bent backward. Over time, this can weaken your nails and make them more susceptible to breakage.
5. Long Nails Can Affect Your Playing Technique
One of the main challenges you’ll face as a violinist with long nails is that your nails can get in the way of your playing technique. As mentioned earlier, your nails can potentially touch other strings, unintentionally messing up the sound quality of your music.
In addition, your nails can also get in the way when you’re trying to hold down the strings properly. This can make it difficult for you to produce the right sound, and it can also affect your intonation.
6. You May Need to Make Some Adjustments to Your Violin Technique
If you’ve decided and you still want to push through playing the violin with untrimmed nails, you’ll have to get used to the fact that your playing technique will change. You may have to use your pads instead of using the tips.
This might feel a little bit strange at first, but you’ll get used to it after some time. This also includes adjusting the way you glide your fingers on the strings.
Do You Have to Cut Your Nails for Violin?
As we’ve discussed earlier, although it’s not required, it’s highly encouraged that you do so. Considering that there are numerous disadvantages to playing the violin with long nails, it’s best to just keep them trimmed short. Aside from making it easier on your end to play the instrument, short and trimmed nails look neat, too.
If you’re planning on joining an orchestra or any other professional violin group, they might require you to have short nails as well.
For personal hygiene reasons, it’s also best to keep your nails trimmed and clean. Your nails can harbor a lot of dirt and bacteria, which can be transferred to your instrument. Not to mention, long nails can also make it difficult for you to clean your violin properly.
How Short Should I Cut my Nails for Violin?
If you’ve decided to finally trim your nails before learning to play the violin, you might be wondering how short you should go. The general rule of thumb is that your nails should be short enough so that they won’t touch the fingerboard when you press down on the strings.
This means that your nails shouldn’t exceed your finger’s skin, and they should be level or at least shorter than your fingertip.
This way, you can still produce a clear and distinct sound without worrying about your nails accidentally touching other strings or scratching the surface of the fingerboard.
A good way to check if you’ve cut your nails short enough is by trying to press down on the string and see if your nails touch the fingerboard. If they don’t, then you’re good to go!
Can Violinists Wear Nail Polish?
There’s no hard rule that states violinists cannot wear nail polish. Based on our research, it seems like it’s more of a personal preference. There are some violinists who choose to wear nail polish because they feel that it gives them an added sense of confidence while performing.
Others prefer not to wear any nail polish at all because they feel that it affects their playing technique. Others don’t see the need to do so since nail polish can easily chip, especially when they’re playing string instruments like the violin.
Unless you’re ready to touch up or reapply the scratched nail polish every time you play the violin, experts suggest focusing on keeping the nails properly trimmed and clean instead. It gives you one less thing to worry about, and it won’t affect your playing technique, too.
Nail Care for Violin Players and Students
When you rely mostly on your hands and fingers to produce music, it’s important that you take care of them properly. This includes keeping your nails trimmed and clean at all times. It’s no easy feat, but it’s definitely doable given these tips and tricks:
1. Bring a Clipper with You at All Times
Whether going to practice or for a performance, always bring a clipper with you. The last thing you want is to have long nails and not be able to do anything about it.
You can keep a small clipper in your violin case or in your pocket. There are numerous types and brands of clippers available in the market, so take your pick.
2. Invest in a Good Nail File
Let’s admit it – sometimes, using a clipper leaves that nasty shape and uneven edges on your nails. If you want to achieve a cleaner and neater look, invest in a good quality nail file. Filing your nails on a regular basis gives your nails a beautiful shape, despite keeping them short at all times.
3. Go on Regular Mani Sessions!
Wearing nail polish is a personal preference, but getting rid of dead skin cells and dirt on your nails is a whole different story. Given that you’re limited to keeping your nails short most of the time, the least you can do is to give your nails the TLC they deserve by going on regular mani sessions.
This way, you can keep your nails and cuticles clean and healthy. If you’re not a fan of polish, you can always opt for a clear or nude shade.
4. Use a Hand Lotion and Nail Cream
Your hands and nails go through a lot of stress on a daily basis. To keep them moisturized and hydrated, make it a habit to apply hand lotion and nail cream every day.
Do this after you’ve taken a shower or whenever you feel like your hands and nails are starting to feel dry. Investing in a good hand cream will do wonders for your skin, and it will also help keep your nails healthy.
5. Get Hydrated!
Yes! While lotions and creams can help keep your skin hydrated, nothing beats drinking enough water on a daily basis.
Dehydration can lead to dry skin, chapped lips, and brittle nails. To avoid this, make sure that you’re drinking at least 8 glasses of water every day. If you live in a hot climate, or if you often perspire a lot, then you might need to drink more water than the recommended amount.
As a violinist, it’s important to take care of your hands and nails. This means keeping them clean and trimmed at all times. Wearing your nails long is possible, but understand that it comes with a few caveats. For one, your nails are more prone to breaking and chipping. Unless you’re willing to change your playing style and how you press on each string, we strongly suggest keeping them trimmed at all times.
Alternatively, you can opt for false and acrylic nails if you’re going for a night out, dinner date, or special event. Just make sure to take them off before playing the violin again.