I teach a Pilates class for instrumentalists at the Governor’s School for the Arts in Virginia. Though open to all instrumentalists, this class is primarily composed of violinists and violists. I think there is no coincidence there; while all musicians benefit from exercise and physical conditioning, the violin and viola bring some unique physical considerations.
I asked this group of students if they have any physical challenges in playing, and if so, what are those challenges? Two answers from the students caught my attention, and they both have to do with posture. One student talked about trouble with maintaining good posture for long periods of time, like in an orchestra rehearsal. They find themselves fighting the urge to slouch and ending up with back soreness. Another student talked about feeling increasingly stiff and rigid the longer they play. While slouching isn’t the issue here, the end result of soreness is the same.
Here are a few ideas for how to develop healthy playing posture: Keep reading...Comments (2)
In this blog I will take a look at the woofs and whistles of Kreutzer No. 2, an etude which is perhaps the most widely known in the repertoire.
The first question we might ask is "Why bother?" Writing in Basics, and ‘The Violin Lesson,’ Simon Fischer makes two points. The first is that in order to preserve and develop our bowing technique we need to practice a small number of key bow-strokes every day. Kreutzer No. 2 is ideal for this. The second is more of a practice suggestion to the effect that if we take a break from some music we are working on and practice Kreutzer No. 2 for 20 minutes, the improvements in performance will be substantial. Both points are, of course, absolutely true, with the caveat that one is practicing the etude properly in the first place. So let’s take a closer look at the whole situation.
One thing that has tended to be forgotten in recent years is that the Kreutzer etudes are very high-level basics. What I mean by this is that although really talented kids can eat them for breakfast from five years old onwards, lesser mortals might be better off using simpler etudes. Keep reading...Comments (15)
In an effort to promote the coverage of live violin performance, Violinist.com each week presents links to reviews of notable concerts and recitals around the world.
Timothy Chooi performed Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5 with the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra.
How do you "anchor" something that is in constant motion? This is a fundamental question for vibrato technique, which requires a balance of motion and stability.
Every vibrato origin story is unique, but when I first learned vibrato, my teacher placed two fingers along my wrist in order to develop a wrist vibrato. That didn’t stop me from developing an arm vibrato, or as my teacher called it, an "elbow vibrato." Fortunately, I had a rather even rhythm and it was somewhat consistent. It was neither too fast nor too slow. But there was still a fundamental problem: My hand was off-balance. It lacked a cohesiveness between the fingertip and fingerboard, and as a result, every string and finger change threw things off. My axis of stability was changing constantly, and I had trouble keeping up with it. The problem demanded my attention: losing your balance is like your car having a bad tire alignment.
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