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Yehudi violn hold


justforfun
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I saw the following "violin hold" lesson on youtube -> Left Hand Lesson (Part 1)

Questions:

Does anyone hold the violin this way? This seems different that what I read in Galamian's book. I was taught to hold the violin between my thumb and the side of first finger.

I tried to follow his instructions but am not able to support my violin without a shoulder rest.

Is this possible? If so any tips on how to achieve this?

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The reason why I asked the question, is that in the video, he claims that a shoulder rest would impede the free movement of the left shoulder. Any comment on that?

Also, is the ability to hold up a violin without a shoulder rest a product of anatomy, or is something that can be learned?

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quote:


Originally posted by:
justforfun
The reason why I asked the question, is that in the video, he claims that a shoulder rest would impede the free movement of the left shoulder. Any comment on that? Also, is the ability to hold up a violin without a shoulder rest a product of anatomy, or is something that can be learned?

does he? i must have missed that. to me personally, shoulder rest or not makes no big difference (i play with and without) as long as left hand and shoulder are free and have no "fixing" to do.

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It must be a product of the anatomy, justforfun. I just watched the videos and tried to hold my fiddle like he said. The best hold I get ends up with the fiddle almost flat - parallel to the ground - and not tilted towards the treble side at nearly a 70° angle like his. The skin pinched between the rim of the fiddle and the collarbone hurts like heck and there's virtually no strength to the grip. The fiddle will slip out of the grip very easily. This coupled to the fact that I have virtually no chin makes my physical geometry very different from his.

Maybe this is one of the main determining factors of what makes a virtuoso. My body prohibits the freedom of motion he talks about. My skeletal geometry doesn't allow me to easily hold the fiddle without losing control or feeling pain.

I noticed his use of the chin rest also. His chin - that part with the cleft in it - rests over the tailpiece, protruding almost on to the treble side of the center of the fiddle. The chinrest is actually in contact with the side of his jaw. There's not enough gap between my collarbone and my jaw to squeeze a fiddle in there. Maybe I need to get a low profile chinrest? Does it hurt to contact the tailpiece with the chin? (affect the sound) My fiddles all have the Guarneri style chinrests that mount in the center and arch over the tailpiece building up quite a bit of height/thickness to the fiddle. A side mounted Dresden style would allow less height but it would allow the face to make contact with the tailpiece if one were to attempt to hold the fiddle as illustrated in the video.

I'll keep watching 'till I see the whole series. It's interesting stuff for us self-taught types.

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I don't know how to explain it, but this way of supporting the violin is not the same as how many people use shoulder rest. If you are trying to squeeze it between your collarbone and chin, then you are still trying to "hold" it as though there were a shoulder rest, except without a shoulder rest. It is a matter of balancing the violin, and what happens between violin and jaw (not chin) is not what you're imagining. For one thing, Menuhin speaks of the free movement of the violin itself, so if you tried to clamp it that way, it would not have that movement. You are not built anatomically incorrectly, it's just a different and trickier thing to learn to do.

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quote:


The reason why I asked the question, is that in the video, he claims that a shoulder rest would impede the free movement of the left shoulder. Any comment on that?

In my experience this is correct. When supporting the violin without a shoulder rest...the point of contact is the collarbone...which leaves the shoulder free. The usage of a shoulder rest can often block free shoulder movement.

quote:


Also, is the ability to hold up a violin without a shoulder rest a product of anatomy, or is something that can be learned?

It is most definitely a *learned* ability. Many point to the great violinists of the past and some of their short necks and lack of shoulder rests.

I have a very long neck and have no problems holding the violin without a shoulder rest.

An alternative just to fill up the gap between chin and collarbone is to use a raised chinrest (instead of a shoulder rest).

quote:


It must be a product of the anatomy, justforfun. I just watched the videos and tried to hold my fiddle like he said. The best hold I get ends up with the fiddle almost flat - parallel to the ground - and not tilted towards the treble side at nearly a 70° angle like his. The skin pinched between the rim of the fiddle and the collarbone hurts like heck and there's virtually no strength to the grip. The fiddle will slip out of the grip very easily. This coupled to the fact that I have virtually no chin makes my physical geometry very different from his.

quote:


I don't know how to explain it, but this way of supporting the violin is not the same as how many people use shoulder rest. If you are trying to squeeze it between your collarbone and chin, then you are still trying to "hold" it as though there were a shoulder rest, except without a shoulder rest. It is a matter of balancing the violin, and what happens between violin and jaw (not chin) is not what you're imagining. For one thing, Menuhin speaks of the free movement of the violin itself, so if you tried to clamp it that way, it would not have that movement. You are not built anatomically incorrectly, it's just a different and trickier thing to learn to do.

Stillnew is correct with this assessment. Actually, holding the violin at slightly higher angles, aside from the benefits to tone...also allows one to balance the violin easier. This is because the violin then falls TOWARDS you and with the right balance, you need to expend little-to-no energy in supporting it.

On the other hand without this concept of balance...and without the slightly raised scroll...the violin then wants to fall AWAY from you and thus begins the wicked cycle of expending energy to keep the violin from dropping away.

The dead weight of the head is enough to balance the violin over the collarbone when no chinrest is used.

No active muscular effort from the neck/head is needed. No pinching, nothing.

Yehudi Menuhin was a great ambassador to the violin...and we would do well to heed his wise words. What his violin playing may have lacked (after his formative years) his intellect more than made up for.

And his approach to relaxation on the violin is utterly correct.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
krugwaffle
It must be a product of the anatomy, justforfun. I just watched the videos and tried to hold my fiddle like he said. The best hold I get ends up with the fiddle almost flat - parallel to the ground - and not tilted towards the treble side at nearly a 70° angle like his.

you should keep in mind that this is nothing you learn within five minutes. if you already established a faulty (non flexible) violin position as a habit it will take you even longer than if you started from zero. and you should also watch lesson one of the three to get the general idea behind the details.

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Ok... I get the whole 'balancing vs. holding' concept but for right now, I'm not finding the right spot on my anatomy for that to occur. There's just no comfortable violin shaped area in my head/neck/collarbone zone that provides the kind of flexible support I'm seeing in the video.

I know he's right. The way he holds the violin looks right and the way I hold it looks wrong. I get the feeling that there should have been a fitting process everyone goes through at some point. A session sometime back at the beginning where you take an unadorned fiddle body and a bunch of different chinrests with sizing spacers and adapters and a professional fiddle-fitter that would take your physiotomy and adapt the fiddle to it. He would arrange the various contact points and angles to get the kind of balance you should have. The adjusted fiddle dummy would then be used to select or carve the proper chinrest and other devices to be permanently mounted to your own fiddle. Kinda like the fitting done to a shotgun for high end skeet and trap shooters.

I'm still a little confused from the video. Does the fiddle fall if you remove your thumb? I was always under the impression that the fiddle should remain in position with or without the support of the left hand. This is what I'm having the most trouble with. I find no support point on my collarbone that will sustain the upright position without pressure. If the position is maintained by a two point support of neck and left hand, then maybe I'm going about it the wrong way.

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Krug, it´s a SEARCH. it takes time. for the impatient of us shoulder rests have been invented, but the principle of flexibility remains the same. you´re right about the thumb and the left hand in general: must be totally free, not holding the instrument at all. of course there is always a grip to the neck of the instrument (exception: you´d play a piece with open strings only - never happens). that´s what Yehudin´s basic left hand exercises are all about.

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You balance the violin on the collarbone and on your thumb. The violin cannot stick out in the middle of the air without that. But it is a balance, not a hold. Finding that balance can take weeks - not a few minutes. I don't think this is something to try without a teacher or a patient violinist who plays this way. The principles of balancing, and that your violin does not have to be glued and bolted to your body, is a good principle to adopt to playing with a shoulder rest. But the way of playing is a little bit different (I think?)

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I have to admit, that I'm in the same situation as Krugwaffle, in that, if I try to play without the shoulder rest, I get stress on my thumb because it is bearing some of the weight of the violin.

So I have taken the following approach:

1) I have adjusted my shoulder rest to allow me to hold my violin in a manner similar to what is shown in the video.

2) at the beginning of my practise time I spend a few minutes reviewing his video and trying the exercises without the shoulder rest.

3) then I put the shoulder rest back on and try to hold the violin in a manner as if it wasn't there.

If I get more comfortable with this hold, over time I will descrease the height of the shoulder rest so I will become less dependent on it.

So far, using this approach, I have seen an improvement in the position and freedom of my fingers. This has also resulted in an improved vibrato.

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i hold my viola and violin like menuhin does.  let me say that

this is the most comfortable way to hold the instrument, but it

took me several months to learn this hold.  it takes so long

because you have to learn how to balance the instrument properly on

the thumb.  

i've tried every school of thought concerning posture and methods

for holding the instrument and this is simply the best bar

none.

i was taught this way after studying with a man who teaches at

curtis right now and he was a principal player of the philly and

boston symphony for more than 50 years combined. if you

follow menuhins method (which btw this is also the same way 

primrose, kogan and menuhin hold their hands as well),  and

master it, you will elevate your playing to a whole new level.

for tips on how to hold it this way, ask away and i will try to

clarify.  for right now let me just say that the thumb should

be positioned on the same line where you would put your 2nd finger

on the G string for b flat.  also, for more information on

this technique you can read 'playing the viola' a book by Dalton on

Primrose where it shows numerous detailed pictures on how to hold

the instrument.

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quote:


i hold my viola and violin like menuhin does. let me say that this is the most comfortable way to hold the instrument, but it took me several months to learn this hold. it takes so long because you have to learn how to balance the instrument properly on the thumb.

Thanks xdmitrix420 for your reply. I will try your "thumb" position at my next practise.

How did you go about "learning this hold"? Are there specific steps or things I can do to learn how to properly balance instrument on my thumb?

For example:

Do you recommend I do the left hand exercises suggested by menuhin?

Any tips are greatly appreciated.

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It's getting interesting now. We've got one response that says the fiddle should remain in position with or without the left hand and two others that say it should balance on the thumb. I'm staying tuned to see what happens next!

The more I mess around with new positions, the more I get the feeling that there's something better out there than the hold I'm using. There was a couple times during the jam this afternoon that I felt I could have pulled off the shoulder rest and just done without. No pain from the collarbone, scroll high and arm relaxed. Still not getting the angle of the fiddle right but that's a minor detail.

One advantage to being self-taught is I get to come at all these goals at my own speed and in my own way. I still haven't seen the rest of the Menuhin lessons yet. I'm hoping there's somewhere I can buy a DVD version of these lessons that's clearer and easier to watch than you-toob.

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"Do you recommend I do the left hand exercises suggested by

menuhin?"

-I haven't tried them but i'm sure they are helpful. at 4 minutes

30 seconds in the video he shows the proper hold and that's what

you really need to latch on to. What I would do is

practice lots of sevcik and shradieck first position finger

excercises (the first excercise in the schradieck book is

especially helpful).  What you are learning is how to keep

your thumb balanced while your fingers hit notes.  your

thumb becomes the counter-reaction to the downward pressing of the

string fingers. The idea is also to keep your hand

perfectly relaxed.  try placing your left elbow on a

piano/desk while playing and you will get the idea of how your

left side should feel (relaxed).

-let me also say that he is holding the violin rather high up - I

think he is doing that just for demonstrating the space between

shoulder and back of instrument. most people I see just try to keep

the instrument relatively parallel to the floor.

"We've got one response that says the fiddle should remain in

position with or without the left hand and two others that say it

should balance on the thumb. I'm staying tuned to see what happens

next!"

-well the schools of thought can be reduced to two basic but

different concepts: 1) you support the instrument with

aid from the shoulder  - with some shoulder device/pad or

simply just supporting it with the bare shoulder like anne sophie

mutter (she looks very strained when she plays btw). the other

is 2) you support the instrument with just the left hand and the

shoulder has no real role in how you support the instrument.

 there should be actual space between the shoulder and the

back of the instrument, because it balanced on the left thumb.

 primrose heifetz menuhin szigeti kogan,perlman, pinchas

zukerman etc all use this form.  they all have

slight variations on how the left hand is positioned but the

general idea is the same.

- let me repeat this balance takes time and it can be really

frustrating but in the end it's very rewarding.  playing with

no SR uses a different set of muscles and it takes time to develop

them.

 the way i think of it, it's like taking the training wheels

of your bicycle and learning how to ride without them.  when

you master balance on a bicycle you can do things that you wouldn't

be able to do with them on.

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let me put this into a new post altogether because the other one

was getting long.  now for shifting without a SR there are two

types of shifting that i learned from my teacher.  

pivot shifting- when your left hand string fingers move but your

thumb remains in the same place.  this is useful for when

you have to play a 16th notes passage where you're in first

position and you need to quickly bump up to 2nd position for a few

notes and then come back.  this is type of shifting isn't used

very often and you have to develop a sense of when to use it.

complete shifting - when your left hand fingers move with your

thumb.  for positions 1-3 you keep your thumb with your

fingers.  in 4th through the highest positions your thumb sits

on the neck heel and stays there while your hand extends around the

instrument to access the notes. the idea is when you shift up you

keep your fingers moving up and down together.  when you shift

down, your thumb leads a little and then you return to the hand

frame.

this can be quite effective if you use the combination of pivot and

complete shifting interchangeabely.  for example in the first

shifting exercise in shradieck (i think it's opus 8 #1) i would do

a pivot shift in the middle of each 16th run (where it goes from

1st to 2nd back to 1st) , and then at the start of each new

sequence i would do a complete shift.

so it goes something like

1st (pivot) 2nd (pivot) 1st, complete shift 2nd, pivot 3rd, pivot

2nd, complete shift 3rd, pivot 4th, pivot 3rd, complete shift 4th.

 past 4th your thumb stays in the heel of the neck, only your

string fingers move. 

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My 2 cents, and bear in mind that I'm only an advanced

beginner:

I have been following Menuhin's guidlines for the last few months,

because like him I use no SR and not even a cloth or chamy.

I agree strongly that freedom of the shoulder is important.  I

also think that, if you use no SR,  that strong angle is very

beneficial.  Before I read Menuhin, I had been holding the

violin much more parallel to the ground. The problem with that is,

with no SR, the violin tends to slip about sideways.  Keeping

it angled allows the side of the chin to stabilize it, without

actually causing any tension in the chin, jaw, or neck.  It's

very relaxing, once you get used to it.

Note:  You do have to play around with you chinrest a bit to

make this work.  I've been using the SIS rests lately, because

you can change their angle.  Another way is to add a small pad

to one side of a standard chinrest.

----------

One point of Menuhin's that I disagree with:  Holding the

scroll that high.  this is DEFINITELY only workable with

certain body types.  Tht is, you must have fairly long arms.

 I find it incredibly tiring in my left arm.  I also

don't have any problem shifting into high registers, with my scroll

level, so I see no need for this.

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Krug, i think the two standpoints are really not very far apart. from how i take it (and how i learned it at age six) the thumb is the base for the left hand fingers, and is balancing the fiddle, but not HOLDDING it. that´s a main difference. when i was little i was told to just have the fiddle as a body extension, an added part of your body if you want so. i think that´s still quite a good picture. even nowadays i see it this way. i can do the dishes holding the fiddle, cook coffee, do whatever, see? WITHOUT THE LEFT HAND FIXING IT, YES. guess that is not too far off Yehudi´s concept.

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I think I understand the idea that the left thumb "balances" rather than "holds" the violin.

The part I find difficult to understand is how Menuhin can hold the violin for short periods of time without his thumb holding it up. He did this during the video when demonstrating that the thumb is not suppose to hold up the violin and also when he shiftsto an upper position. It almost looks like "magic" to me.

As soon as I try to release the pressure off my thumb, my violin falls down so far that i can no longer play on it. To try to hold it up without my thumb, even for a short time would require me to exert a great deal of pressure from my chin onto the chin rest.

Am i holding it wrong, or is this a matter of building up my muscles? Will this come with time?

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 the thumb is the resting point for the neck of the violin.

 it takes time to learn the balance so it might feel like

there's pressure right now, but once you get it the instrument

feels very light on your thumb because you have optimized the

balance.

 

if i take my thumb away i can't support my instrument, simple as

that, and you shouldn't try to support it by levitation either .

 i think he might have just been trying to demonstrate how

you're not to squeeze at all.  the video overall is not

incredibly clear and some of the camera angles aren't very

helpful.

there's a photo of primrose demonstrating to a bunch of students

at university of tokyo how to hold a viola bow without

the thumb.  it's really just a trick he's doing because he's

tucking his middle finger under the bow to support it.  

the point is to demonstrate how you shouldn't feel tension/pressure

in your thumb, not to show you to not use the thumb.  you

definately need it there!

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justforfun,

In his book "Life Class,"  Menuhin specifically states that he

cannot hold his violin in playing position without his left hand

supporting it.  He makes a very careful point about

 this, since it goes against the prominent school of thought

taught to most students.  When he removes his left hand, the

violin doesn't drop to the floor, but it droops quite a bit.

 You can also see this in that video.

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quote:


there's a photo of primrose demonstrating to a bunch of students

at university of tokyo how to hold a viola bow without

the thumb.  it's really just a trick he's doing because he's

tucking his middle finger under the bow to support it.  

It is not a trick of the middle finger, and the point is not to show that there should be no tension in the thumb. The exercise is to sensitize the fingers to the bow, and to feel what role the fingers have with the bow. I have been guided to do this exercise by an old violist in his late 80's who has brought numbers of people to performance level in his lifetime. It is very helpful even for a violinist. You do this exercise moving the bow around at different angles to the floor, preferably over a bed if you're afraid of dropping the bow, and it's amazing how much better you play afterward.

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