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Beginner question about violin

 
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Zeke
Junior Member


Joined: 30 Apr 2013
Posts: 3
Location: Southern California

PostPosted: Tue Jul 23, 2013 1:12 am    Post subject: Beginner question about violin Reply with quote

Hi everyone,

I've been taking violin for a little over three months now, and there's a question that I've been wondering about for some time now.

How much does the violin actually rest on the left hand? I understand that the weight of the head resting on the chinrest should be enough to hold the violin up, however when the fingers of the left hand are actually pressing down on strings, especially the e-string, to what extent does the violin rest on any part of the left hand?

If the left hand plays any role in helping to counter the added weight due to fingers press on the strings, how much and when? What parts of the left hand/fingers/thumb would be providing the needed help?

Thanks in advance to anyone who can shed some light on this for me!
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Lemuel
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Joined: 12 Aug 2010
Posts: 509
Location: Mt. Elgin, Ontario

PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for joining the forum.

Question: Are you using a shoulder rest?
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Zeke
Junior Member


Joined: 30 Apr 2013
Posts: 3
Location: Southern California

PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 1:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

yes,

it's a standard Everest shoulder rest. The chin rest looks like the one in the photo of the violin in the forum logo. I have a really bony shoulder and my collarbones are very prominent. So I think the problem is that I can't successfully hold the violin with my head and chin and end up needing to help out with my left hand. I made an appointment with a teacher this week specifically to help me on this issue.

I watched some videos that someone posted links to in another post, and I could see that both Yehudi & Anne-Sophie Mutter are definitely not supporting the neck of the violin with their left hand. Just viewed Sarah Chang on a video and she's not either.

So it seems I have to figure out how to hold the violin better.
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Lemuel
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Joined: 12 Aug 2010
Posts: 509
Location: Mt. Elgin, Ontario

PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 11:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, you got the right idea. Supporting the neck with left arm/hand will lead to fatigue. As far as the head and chin,
it is very tempting to "grab" or "come down hard" on the chinrest with your head. Many beginners do this because
of the fear of dropping the violin.

There are many factors to holding the violin properly, and most of it has to do with precise balancing of the body,
eliminating all areas of tension. It would be lengthy to cover it in a single post. However the following points
should set you on the right course.

1. The body should lean slightly backwards to counter the weight of the violin and arms in the front.

2. The violin rests in the collar bone.

3. The natural weight of the head "resting" on the chinrest is sufficient to hold the violin. Any additional pressure
of the head on the chinrest is unnecessary.

4. The left shoulder should be relaxed and free to move.

5. The base knuckles of the left hand fingers should be higher than the fingerboard, to allow maximum leverage
of the fingers upon the strings.

6. There's no need to press hard on the strings to "bring out the sound".

7. The left elbow should be relaxed, hanging vertically down towards the ground.

The goal is to eliminate all areas of tension, so that playing can be without effort or strain.

You may want to have a look at this video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvV4A6lz-0w
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SooT
Member


Joined: 18 May 2009
Posts: 73
Location: Devon, UK

PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 8:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There needs to be a balance between the size of the chinrest and the shoulder rest. It all depends on the length of your neck. Is it long or short? There are a variety of chinrests and shoulder rests, it's finding what fits you.
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Zeke
Junior Member


Joined: 30 Apr 2013
Posts: 3
Location: Southern California

PostPosted: Fri Jul 26, 2013 2:42 am    Post subject: thank you Reply with quote

thank you Lemuel and Soot for the tips. I have watched the Yehudi Menuhin video. At 4:40 he mentions that the left hand does support the instrument but the only points of contact are the pad of the thumb and the fingertip. When I try that I find the thumb does not support the violin, but instead serves to push the neck to the right. But my basic problem I believe is that I can't satisfactorily hold the violin at the other end. I do have a medium-long neck I think and as I explained, my bones are prominent at the collarbone, shoulder tip, and also my jaw. (I'm not emaciated - I eat plenty.)

I have an appointment tomorrow with a violin shop to help me get past this. I really do like violin and I can tell that this will hinder my progress unless I can get it fixed. Perhaps it is as simple of using a different shoulder rest. It's hard to do this on my own. I don't have a pile of shoulder rests lying around to experiment with.
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Lemuel
Site Admin


Joined: 12 Aug 2010
Posts: 509
Location: Mt. Elgin, Ontario

PostPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2013 8:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The main problem with supporting issues of the left hand is that if tension/fatigue arise (and in this case of suspended
left arm in the air for extended periods of time causing fatigue around and behind the shoulder area), it will prevent freedom
of movement.

Many players use the shoulder rest to help keep the violin suspended in the air allowing complete freedom of the left arm
and fingers up and down the fingerboard. In this case the left arm and hand do not support the violin whatsoever.

Therefore when it comes to supporting the violin with the left thumb or any part of the left hand, go ahead if you
can still play unobstructed by any tension or fatigue. However the moment you sense fatigue, something is off balance,
and you should stop before a bad habit sets in.

The issue is the elimination of tension and fatigue, playing without effort. In this way your whole energy can focus on
expressing your music.
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