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Joshua Iyer

Practice Problems

January 21, 2013 at 6:45 PM

Recently, as you may or may not know, I have been practicing hard for my audition materials on violin. I feel like when I'm playing my hands become stiff, because the music is quick-moving and I'm possibly clenching the violin in anguish sometimes. It's more my left hand, though, because it does all the moving in the pieces. I also feel like I'm getting more frustrated and I have to take more breaks to calm myself down before I can try again, because I can't get it the way it is supposed to go. If any of you have any opinions or suggestions about these topics, please let me know. Thank you for reading!

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on January 21, 2013 at 8:17 PM
Hi, first of all I wish you good luck!

I think I know what you tell... It happens to me too when my hands are tired and exhausted.

Since my hands are very fragile and weak, I put ice preventivly every evening (or more if you want) on my left hand in violin rush periods. I put it ten minutes with a wet cloth around the ice pack (the physiotherapists say this is what is recommended to not burn the skin with the ice pack.)

I also put on some cream (sold by physiotherapists or prescribed by a physician) for muscle and joint releif. These cream (physio rub, Voltaren Gel etc.) often contain a light dose of anti-inflammatory + some mint aroma that really does relax the hands (or any muscular or articulated body part if ever you have back or shoulder pain etc.) It's actually a quite surprizing feeling and action (I was sceptical before trying it but now, I find it is very helpful!)

Of course, this won't heal serious injuries that can be cause by overusing one's hands (as every articulated part, we must use them cleverly and allow some breaks to not get injured.) but it certainly is very efficient to help tissue reparation and relaxation (so that your hands are a lot less stiff the next morning).

Each person is different but you could always go see a physiotherapists for such tricks.

I hope you'll find a solution,

From Mallory Linehan
Posted on January 23, 2013 at 1:00 AM
I don't know if you are actually working yourself too hard or not, but be very careful! Violin players like yourself play for so many hours a day, that excess stress damaging, even if you do ice your hands and everything!
I know exactly what you're going through; I have college auditions soon, too!
When you feel your hand start hurting or cramping while playing, stop and let it rest for a moment, then try stretching it a little bit. Same thing with back and neck pain (be especially careful with the neck!). Try to keep practice between 45 minutes and an hour (your brain starts to check out after that), and don't be afraid to play things slowly, no matter how close auditions get. It's so easy to lose your place in a flurry of notes. My violin teacher once told me that for every 2 or 3 times I play a piece (specifically Bach, but still) to play it through at a significantly slower speed.
And now I'm rambling... BUT one last thing!
One of the best pieces of advice I've gotten recently is to focus on the RIGHT hand when you're performing, because that's where you voice comes from. Once auditions are here, you can't do any more than you've already done: you must simply trust your preparations and let the right hand do all the talking.
From Joshua Iyer
Posted on January 24, 2013 at 3:30 AM
Thanks both of you for the support! The next time this occurs, probably when I practice tomorrow afternoon, I will try your advice. Thanks again!


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