You may feel that learning the violin is all about playing the right notes at the right time. It is – to an extent. But in order to learn the various techniques and play for longer periods of time, there are other skills that every student needs to master too, and that includes proper violin posture.
Because it affects all areas of violin playing, such as tone, intonation, bow hold and stroke, as well as shifting, all violin technique is built around proper violin posture. If you ignore or forget to work on this aspect, your ability to progress will be hindered.
You can find tons of online videos reviewing correct violin posture. However, watching a video is one thing; actually doing it is another. The most efficient way to learn the proper stance is by taking lessons with a qualified instructor. They can ensure that you start out correctly, and can identify issues early on.
Although the term “posture” immediately conjures up thoughts of simply standing up straight, there are actually several facets that are involved. Here are the basics of violin posture:
The first step to having correct violin posture is playing on the correct size violin!
To find out if you have the correct size, reach under your violin while in a playing position. When you extend your arm in front of you, the scroll should touch your palm. Additionally, you should be able to stretch your middle fingers around the scroll easily. A qualified instructor can help you with this.
Also, don’t forget your left hand! It needs to be free to move around your violin so you can shift and play with vibrato later in your learning.
Knowing how to stand properly will ensure more efficient and better playing in the future. First is body balance. When standing, your weight needs to be evenly distributed between your feet. Common body stance problems include unintentionally shifting weight to one foot, locking your knees, and keeping your feet too close together, which will throw your body off balance.
Also, stand up straight! Slouching your upper body can cause problems both with your bow position and instrument hold. While standing up straight, you also need to keep your shoulders both level and relaxed. If you do need to sit, perch yourself at the edge of your chair.
Once you have mastered correct stance, you then need to learn how to hold your violin.
Holding Your Violin
First, the height of your collarbone to chin should be the same height as the combined height of your shoulder rest, violin, and chin rest. Your violin should remain horizontal without using your left hand for support.
Next, you should be able to pull your bow straight from the frog to the tip. If you can’t, the position of the chin rest should be changed accordingly. Ask your instructor for help in this regard.
Holding Your Bow
Although there are many ways that violinists can hold their bow for optimal playing and comfort, you can only get there by starting out with proper technique.
First, you need to hold the bow properly. The tip of your thumb needs to support the bow between the frog and the winding. Next, your middle finger should rest opposite your thumb with the joint just touching your bow, but without any pressure. Also, your index finger, specifically its second phalanx or section, needs only to touch the bow.
The joint between the second and third phalanx of your ring finger should also gently touch your bow. Finally, your pinky simply rests on top of your bow. And you need to do all this while keeping your hand relaxed! It is a lot to take in at first, but with practice, it will become more automatic.
Left Hand Finger Placement
Once you have mastered the positions above, you need to add your left hand into the fray. You use it to drop your fingers onto the strings to make notes and add ornamentation to a piece. To do this, you need to understand the correct pressure to use on your strings. Too little and you won’t make any sounds, or they will be very weak, and too much pressure will distort each note.
To practice proper pressure, drop your finger onto a string, and immediately lift it off again. Try working on this technique with your teacher until you can create a proper sound.
While bad habits can be broken eventually, it is definitely better to prevent them from the very start. Learning proper violin posture and bow hold can take years to master, but establishing these proper habits early on are critical for your success.
Because understanding how proper posture feels can be difficult and awkward for a beginning student, always work with a qualified professional who can correct changes before they become true issues. Playing the violin isn’t just about the instrument, but a combination of performer and instrument. When they work together, the result is truly magnificent.
Photo by aldenchadwick