On Posture, with a Priorities Finish

One posture improvement mechanism is the angle of the shoulder rest on the violin.

One posture improvement mechanism is the angle of the shoulder rest on the violin.

When I was a child learning how to play the violin, I sat.  I don’t remember any discussions of it at all – to sit or stand?  Obviously orchestras sit down, so playing the violin while seated is fine.  But Suzuki, in Book One, makes a point of a standing posture.  He describes it, with the following words inserted into an odd diagram: “The nose, the strings, the elbow, the foot in a straight line” and also pictures, in a dark, kind of scary looking photograph, a young girl assuming the posture.  I must admit that the posture guidance from the book doesn’t help me a whole lot.  But I do continue to play exclusively while standing.

You might imagine that due to my physical pursuits my posture is first-rate – in fact, it is not.  I struggle with pulling my head and shoulders back – I do know that my years of karate training have helped me immensely, but I’ve still got plenty of room to improve.

In yesterday’s lesson, we spent a good chunk of time on my posture.  In the end, the biggest adjustment came to the shoulder rest – Teacher changed the angle at which it was placed on the violin, and adjusted it to be taller.  The curve of the rest was not sitting properly on my chest.  Overall it’s the posture, yes, but it’s also the position of my fingering hand that she’s trying to impact.  And we did make an impact.  I’m holding the violin more forward now, apparently I’ve been going too far off to the left with the thing.  Ultimately a straight wrist and more vertically oriented fingers are actually the goal.  I snapped a photo of the angle of the shoulder rest on the back of the instrument so I can try to get it back on the instrument in the same spot myself when I practice.

In addition to tidying up my posture, we worked on tidying up the Boccherini Minuet, which I’ve got memorized and is coming along pretty well.  I’m also very much enjoying my first etude from the Wohlfahrt book. Sight reading a piece I’ve never heard a pro play is fun; I’m just trying to make it my own.  Overall, I’m working on musicality in my playing – make the notes sound like music.  Feel them.  Play in phrases.  Work the dynamics.

I had a terrible last week for making blog posts, but don’t worry – my practice was solid.  Priorities!

Thanks for reading.

Ryan

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