Basic Posture

The following is an exercise to point out mistakes in posture that can lead to difficulties in playing, and in many cases, physical discomfort and even injury. Please note if there are many errors in someone’s posture, it is better to take down the violin, relax, and start again, than try to fix each mistake one by one. Most of the errors are simply from too much tension in the body.

1. The left arm is too low.
2. The left arm is too much to the right.
3. The left arm is “stuck” to the body.
4. The left arm (due to 1-3) cannot move position to get on other strings, which would over-stress the fingers when going to the lower strings.
5. The left hand fingers are in the wrong position, making it more difficult for the fingers to get on the string in tune and in time.
6. The left hand fingers are stiff even when not on the string.
7. The left hand is touching the neck of the instrument, leaving no space between the hand and the instrument. (An opposite extreme bending of the wrist would be a no-go too).
8. Not 100% wrong, but the first finger on the string could be a little more slanted to give better tone. (Especially on the viola – but on the violin there are opinions on both sides).
9. The player is not standing straight – the back should be straight.
10. The shoulder-rest is not really on the shoulder, but on the chest.
(You can tell this from the position of the violin, and this is different from No. 2 though it is common for both to happen together.)
11. The right arm is too low.
12. The right elbow position is too much forward. (9 and 10 create the wrist position you see, and it could be even worse if the wrist is high).
13. The last finger of the right hand is stiff and straight: this would suggest that the thumb is also under a lot of pressure, and the index/first finger is probably in the wrong position.
14. The whole bow hold is too cramped together – fingers could be better spaced apart.
15. With the right arm the way it is, chances are the right shoulder is cramped and up; the left shoulder probably follows.

Two things actually correct about the position you see:
1. The bow angle – stick leaning forward.
2. The bow is straight, parallel to the bridge.

Let’s remember that these comments are meant mainly for us to check ourselves, with a mirror and help others if and only if they would like us to help out.

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