July 2015

3 Solutions if Raising Your Shoulder Rest isn't the Solution to Your Pain Problem

July 14, 2015 02:44

This videos is about the alternatives you have when raising your shoulder rest isn't the solution to your pain problem.

Our viewer Anne wrote me an e-mail and asks:

Hello Zlata,

I very much enjoyed the Weight vs. Pressure Workshop and learned a great deal.  Unfortunately, at the same time I have come to the conclusion that my violin chin rest and shoulder rest are all wrong.  Because the chin rest is not high enough I have been using a shoulder rest (as is suggested by my previous experience trying to learn the violin). However, the shoulder rest lifts the violin so high that it cannot rest on my clavicle, while at the same time does not lift it enough for me chin to rest on it comfortably.

It has taken me almost two years to realize all of this is the cause of much pain that happens in my back after playing or practicing for only five minutes. Because of the pain I have not even played the violin for almost a year, but have spent time researching to try to find answers.  This is how I found your site on the internet.

So now I am hoping to get a raised chin rest soon, but they are very expensive, aren't they? Until I can get the right chin rest, I cannot even practice, and I cannot try out the things I learned in your free workshop.
Do you have any suggestions for my situation other than spending $275 for a fitting kit to come to me through the mail and then another $45 for the chin rest?

Thank you,

What Ann means is that she has a pain problem, because her chinrest is too low. She has to bend her neck and lower her chin too much to reach the chinrest. In the video I demonstrate exactly what this looks like.

If you have to tilt your head a lot while playing violin, your spine goes out of balance and you can feel pain through your whole body.

As a solution to this problem, you can raise your shoulder rest. The downside of raising your shoulder rest is that you also raise your violin, so the violin doesn't rest on your collarbone anymore. The downside of a high violin, is that you can injure your right arm and shoulder, because you have to hold your right arm higher while bowing.

That's exactly the dilemma I'm talking about in this video. You want the chinrest higher for your neck, but you don't want the violin to be higher for your bow arm.

An inexpensive solution is the Wittner Augsburg rest, which you can adjust in height yourself. You can experiment with different heights without buying other chinrests. Click here to buy this unique chinrest. Click here to watch a video in which I demonstrate this chinrest and show you how to adjust it in height.

Here's a solution that doesn't costs you a dime: Tilt the violin a bit, so the scroll is lower than the rest of the violin.

Lots of people have learned to hold their violin up. Teachers tell you that, because lots of beginners hold their violin almost with the scroll on the floor. That's not what I mean.

If you tilt your violin just a little bit, it's more relaxed for your left arm and your right arm. Also the violin will fill up more of the void between your shoulder and chin. It doesn't have to be a big change to make a big impact.

In the video I show you exactly how to do it right and how to do it wrong. I demonstrate what different violin holds do with your neck.

In this way you don't have to spend lots of time and money on searching for the right chinrest. Lots of people hold their violin too much up and too much to the left. It doesn't have any advantages and causes lots of problems.

Another cheap solution is to put wine cork in between your chinrest and the soundboard. In this way you can make your chinrest a bit higher and try out if this solves your problem. Perhaps it's a temporary solution and you might decide based on this experience to order a higher chinrest.

Just to summarize there are three solutions to this problem:

  • Buy a Wittner Augsburg chinrest you can adjust in height (click here)

  • Change your violin hold the way I demonstrate in the video

  • Place wine cork between your current chinrest and the soundboard

Is this video helpful to you? Please let me know in the comments below! If you like it, share it with your friends!



PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to info@violinlounge.com and I might dedicate a Violin Lounge TV episode to answering your question!

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What a Violinist Learned from Playing the Piano

July 14, 2015 01:46

In this video I share with you how playing the piano influenced my violin play. Also it answers questions around it you should learn to play the piano first or not. Oh, and you will hear me playing the piano... isn't that strange?

If you want to graduate as a violinist, you have to play piano. It is organized this way, because as a player you need to understand harmonics and as a teacher you must be able to accompany your students.

I played piano a lot and I got a very good grade for piano, but I didn't choose to play piano and hated practicing about 90% of the time. Perhaps I hated it just because I was forced to play this instrument. I tried to convince the conservatory that I could perfectly accompany my students on the violin and that I could play harmonics on the violin by playing double stops (which I wanted to demonstrate by playing the fugue, haha, all frustration!), but it didn't work and I really had to play piano.

Now I learned it, I reluctantly have to admit that playing the piano has some benefits for my as a violinist.

Before I go into these benefits, I would like to give you a little warning. Some people think that in order to learn the violin you HAVE to play piano or recorder first. They think it's too difficult to start with violin as your first musical instrument and you need some preparation.

Here's what I think about this: If you want to play the violin, the very best preparation to that is just to start playing the violin. Don't take any detours, because it is difficult enough as it is. It's definitely not true that playing the piano or the recorder is a better preparation to playing the violin than playing the violin.

The choice of your instrument, is extremely important to the joy you have in making music. Start on the instrument you prefer right away!

If you coincidently already play the piano or if you like playing the piano and you would do it anyway, it can certainly benefit your violin or viola playing. Keep in mind that playing two totally different instruments is very hard and takes a lot of time to progress on both.

One benefit I got from playing the piano is that I understand a lot more about harmonics and music theory. Playing the piano you are confronted with this a lot more as you play many notes at the same time. You have to play chords and different melodies at the same time. On the violin you play one note and one melody at a time most of the time.

With this I can create chords for my violin etudes and accompany myself. I see the harmonic progressions in my violin piece, hit the chord on the piano, hold the pedal and play the corresponding fragment of the etude on the violin. This is really good for your intonation (playing in tune) on the violin and your understanding of the meaning of the notes you play.

While I practice the violin, I often check notes on the piano. In this way you can constantly check if you are playing in tune. If you don't have a piano at hand, you can also use the D'Addario Micro Tuner to do the job.

While playing piano I have learned to accompany someone else. On the violin you are most of the times the one that is accompanied. Learning to accompany is really useful for playing together. Besides that understanding a bit more about piano playing, makes that I can play together with pianists better as I can adjust better.

Although I reluctantly learned to play the piano, I have made this video to celebrate the benefits. I hope this has been interesting to you. Remember playing the piano is not a must for playing the violin, but you can certainly have some benefits from it.

Is this video helpful to you? Please let me know in the comments below! If you like it, share it with your friends!



PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to info@violinlounge.com and I might dedicate a Violin Lounge TV episode to answering your question!

1 reply

How to Play a 6/8 Rhythm Fast and Rhythmically

July 14, 2015 00:23

In this episode I answer a question from one of our viewers. Stella writes:

Hello Zlata
6/8 rhythm is very difficult for me to play both fast and rhythmically. PLEEEAAASE,help me.
Love, Stella from Slovenia.

Lots of people aren't used to playing a 6/8 rhythm. They tend to play this rhythm note for note: 1 2 3 4 5 6. Because if this playing fast is difficult and becomes sloppy. That's not the way to do it.

The way to do it is to find the rhythmical pulse in the piece. This pulse is most of the times on the 1 and the 4.

In the video I demonstrate how to do it right and wrong.

If you read something out loud, you read word for word and sentence for sentence, not letter for letter. If you have a pulse on the 1 and the 4, you don't play note for note, but you create musical words.

Faster pieces can have the pulse of an 6/8 rhythm only on the first beat.

If you make a whole of the parts and you play with a rhythmical pulse, it's much easier to play fast and rhythmically.

Is this video helpful to you? Please let me know in the comments below! If you like it, share it with your friends!



PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to info@violinlounge.com and I might dedicate a Violin Lounge TV episode to answering your question!

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5 Differences between the Violin and the Viola

July 9, 2015 01:52

The violin and the viola might look so alike, that you might be wondering what the differences are between the two...

In this episode of Violin Lounge TV I explain 5 differences between the violin and the viola:

1) The violin and the viola are tuned differently

The viola is tuned a fifth lower than the violin and an octave higher than the cello. A viola is tuned CGDA and the violin is tuned GDAE. They both have the same G, D and A strings. These strings have the same pitch, but the sound color is a bit different. The violin has got a high E string and the viola has got a low C string. Both instruments have four strings and are tuned in fifths.

2) The color of sound is different

The viola sounds warmer and darker. The violin is more like a soprano sounding bright and clear. Of course this differs per individual instrument. Some violins sound very warm and viola-like. Some viola's sound very violin-like and others more cello-like.

3) Violinists and violists read in different clefs

The violin clef indicates the G. The viola clef reads a seventh lower and indicates a C. In the video I show you what it looks like in sheet music. When you read viola scores as a violinist, every note should be seven tones lower than you are used to.

Don't worry! If you spend some time, it's not so hard to learn to read in a different clef. Pianist must read in two clefs all the time.

4) The role in an orchestra or ensemble is generally different

The violin is often the soprano voice and plays lots of solo's. The viola's role is more of an accompaniment and plays the middle voice. Of course many viola solo's are written. The role of the instrument is different depending on the piece you play.

5) The playing technique is slightly different

It's not so hard to go from violin to viola or the other way round. The playing technique is about 95% the same. It's very handy to play both instruments.

Most of the times a viola is a bit heavier to play than the violin. Bowing is, certainly on the C string, a bit heavier and requires more weight. Also a bigger instrument responds a bit heavier than a smaller instrument.

Just after shooting this video I read a wonderful article in the Strad that advocates that we should all be hybrid players. It's very useful and not so hard to play both the violin and the viola. I really recommend reading it (click here).

Is this video helpful to you? Please let me know in the comments below! If you like it, share it with your friends!



PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to info@violinlounge.com and I might dedicate a Violin Lounge TV episode to answering your question!

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