Violinists are hard working musicians…dedicated, wanting everything perfect, practicing for hours on end….
and you know what?
Playing the violin is just not a natural position for the body. Think about it. There is nothing else that is comparable to the violin hold and the bow arm.
The left arm is completely twisted with the palm facing violin. The bow arm is hanging in the air moving back and forth strictly from the elbow and up and down from the shoulder joint….
Combined with long hours of practice for years upon years….it is not easy on the body.
Here are 8 relaxation tips to for you to double check and implement for the safest and healthiest journey with the violin.
8 RELAXATION TIPS
Are you a violinist that forgets to breathe? Do you hold your breath while playing the violin? The simple act of breathing normally while playing increases the chances of staying relaxed while playing the violin. If you find yourself holding your breath while playing…practice intentional deep slow breaths while practicing the violin.
KEEP JOINTS FREE FLOWING
Locking up the knees is a common violinist issue. If you find yourself a knee locker, practice walking around the house. Yes, literally take yourself for a walk in your house while playing the violin.
Are you a jaw locking teeth grinder? Chew gum while playing the violin and/or practice with your mouth open.
If you find that you are a tense player be sure to schedule in 5 – 10 minute breaks every 30 minutes. This will not only allow you time to stretch but to give yourself a mental break as well.
Stretching is an underestimated and undervalued topic for violinists. If you take a fitness class at your gym what is the first and last thing you do in the class? Stretch in warmups and cool downs. Practicing the violin is no different than a fitness class. Stretch to loosen up before your practice session, during your breaks and stretch after you finish.
Once I had a student who was so tense when she played the violin that we stopped halfway through her lessons and pulled out yoga mats. You know what permanently lives underneath my violin case? You guessed it, my yoga mat. Yoga is exceptional for violinists.
DO THE SHAKEY SHAKEY
If you find that your left or right hand gets tense in your practice sessions, stop regularly and shake out the hands. This is a great way to keep the left hand loose if you find yourself to grip the instrument. I always say, the best left hand is a relaxed left hand.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
Always be aware of your body while practicing. Listen what it has to say to you. If you find you have pain anywhere while playing stop immediately and investigate why. Pain is your body’s way to get your attention to say something is not right dear friend.
PLAY AS ERGONOMICALLY CORRECT FOR YOUR BODY AS POSSIBLE
Investigate your violin hold. Make sure your neck is straight up and down while holding the violin. If you find that your neck is curving to the left and clamping down to hold the violin, investigate your chin rest and shoulder rest. Keep in mind that even thought the chin rest is called a “chin” rest that your jaw bone is what is being used to hold the violin.
And there you have it…8 tips to get you started on becoming more relaxed while playing the violin.
I would love to hear from you.
Please share in the comments below what is your favorite relaxation tip for playing the violin.
Happy Magical Practices,
P.S. Looking for some stretches specifically beneficial for violinists? In this two video series, I share with you exactly the stretches I have used over the years to prevent injury and to stay loose.
STRETCHES FOR VIOLINIST
VIDEO SERIES FOR PURCHASE
Heather is a classically trained concert violinist performing with the Gabrovo Chamber Orchestra in Bulgaria. She received her BM violin performance degree from CU -Boulder, studied with top teachers including Rachel Barton Pine. Ms. Broadbent has held leadership positions with multiple orchestras in the Greater Chicago-Milwaukee area. She has instructed thousands of violinists globally via youtube videos, online Academy, E-Courses, group coaching and one on one intensives. Heather’s students have won multiple awards, concerto competitions, held concertmaster positions in orchestras and even performed in Carnegie Hall. Heather is an advocate of a holistic violin lifestyle – putting one’s mind, body and spirit as a violin journey priority.