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Not Built For the Violin (2)

Red Desert Violin

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Hi Everyone

First of all, this site is GREAT, and SO friendly and encouraging!

I'm a first timer here, and found you after doing a google search on how large breasts or even extra weight interferes with violin playing. The old post I found was called "Not Built for the Violin", but it was over 10 years old, so I'm starting a new one, under the same name.

Most people agreed that extra weight and/or large breasts DO NOT interfere with playing violin....but no one addressed the combination of large breasts and SHORT arms, or a short build. I would LOVE a dialogue on this combination, because I gotta say....when you are short, you can only move the violin so far to the "left" before your bow is completely crooked and out of whack.

I find that large breasts DO interfere with violin if you are also quite short. (I'm 5'2") I would LOVE to hear from others regarding this, and does anyone know a prominent soloist who is large chested AND short? (I was told Pam Frank is endowed...but I'm not sure of her height)

For those of you who don't have first hand knowledge, let me explain it to you, so that if you have students with this body type, you'll be able to offer some tips:

In high positions, it is difficult to bring the left elbow in closely to the body. But, if you can approach from the side, and "scooch" your curves in with your arm as you shift up, it's manageable. Also, lifting the violin up as you shift can help you get into the position you need to be in.

Playing on the E String: To me, this is the WORST impedence. The bow arm is often impeded by the right breast, especially on brush spiccato, or things that involve the lower half of the bow. The only advice I have is to make sure to utilize the elbow and wrist as much as possible, because moving the upper arm is asking for trouble. Clingy clothes and long sleeves makes the problem much worse. Moving the violin more toward the FRONT is helpful for this problem.

Shoulder Rests: If you or your students use them, and if you have my build, you need a shoulder rest that allows you to adjust your position and geometry freely. I loved the Bon Musica, but it held my violin too firmly in place at times when I needed it to let me adjust.

Ok, this is a REALLY long post for a new comer. Thanks for tolerating me, and I'd love to hear other tips from y'all, and YES, I agree, ANY body type can play, but realistically, some of us have to make adaptations, and I"m looking for ideas!

Red Desert Violin (Lora)

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  • 2 weeks later...

As a violist, my initial instinct is to tell you to get real!  A violin is a tiny little instrument.  You are plenty long-armed enough to get around on the thing.  Some ideas:


1.  Which way does your violin point?  Just how far to the left have you gone?  Experiment with the placement of your chin rest.  To keep the bow straight at the tip, push down and away with your wrist, yeah?


2.  Make sure you're not raising either of your shoulders.  No tension in your shoulders, back, chest, hips or knees!


3.  Omobono offers you an excellent avenue of exploration.  Monica Huggett does manage quite well.  More broadly though, I'm thinking you could explore Baroque performance practice.  They support the instrument more with the left hand than the chin, and their bow arms work in a different way.  I learned a ton about my modern technique after some intensive Baroque study.  I highly recommend Tafelmusik's summer workshop.

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I was going to add the problem is not restricted to the female anatomy.

I remember distinctly attending a concert of a prominant metropolitan American orchestra

where a male member of the viola section was severly (to my mind) restricted by his corpulent frame.

I seem to recall that he made his entrance well before the rest of the performers and even remained on stage during the intermission.

But perhaps my memory is failing me.

Pavarotti in the string section?

It does appear to me that Monica Huggett deftly frees her right arm to create enough clearance for the passage of the bow.

(The baroque grip, well up the stick and a high arm position may also help in this regard).

Lymond's suggestion about Baroque technique could be helpful - in that in general shorter bow strokes are employed.

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Red Desert Violin, where are you? You got some responses to your questions....

A little acknowledgement would be nice perhaps? It's now two weeks since you posted.

First time poster and a slightly delicate subject.... Hmmm....

We're giving you the benefit of the doubt.

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Red Desert Violin, where are you? You got some responses to your questions....

A little acknowledgement would be nice perhaps? It's now two weeks since you posted.

First time poster and a slightly delicate subject.... Hmmm....

We're giving you the benefit of the doubt.



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  • 7 years later...

Hello Red Desert Violin (Lora). I’m also new to this forum.

I love your videos on YouTube.
I love this question and discuss. I am 5’4” and quite busty by nature, no augmentation. I too have found this a problem and am struggling with it as well. I’m not a soloist but have played the violin for about 27 years, I have taught for about 12 years. I have been athletic most my life on sport teams all the way up through high school and athletics in college and the such since. This is not a “loose weight” issue, those who suggest or imply this at all or in a round about way are sadly very ill educated.

I have not found a great solution other than what you have suggested already. I wanted to respond here and let you know you are not alone and this is a real issue. I am still researching and trying to figure a better way to still play and manage this issue myself. 

Thank You for your post and contribution to the violin community and teaching community.

A Violin Teacher (Melissa)


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