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JRyn

Playing posture

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Ayke Agus, a student of Heifetz, wrote in her book that Heifetz cared more about how you looked than how you played. I never thought much of that statement until watching the video from the post labeled "Paganini with an Operatic Vibrato". Her main flaw seemed to be her posture. Therefore the video got me wondering on how posture affects ones sound, and I thought that I had better do some experimenting. I found that both when sitting and standing, different facets of my playing changed, as I assumed different postures. The factors included the height, and position of the instrument on my collarbone, and the position of my feet and how I distributed my weight. It was surprising to me how different not only my tone was as I changed my balance, but the control of my vibrato and shifting. From the "Paganini with an Operatic Vibrato" post, I now understand why her vibrato was so vapid. I was never taught how to stand or sit, when playing the instrument, and I wonder why. Is there any opinion on the correct way to sit/stand? I guess this mainly applies to the flexibility allowed without a shoulder rest.

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"He thought the way a student looked was as important, as the way they played." 

 

Maybe i took that out of context. 

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Is there any opinion on the correct way to sit/stand? 

IMHO, one should always attempt to remain as upright as possible, particularly when sitting on a tailgate or a cooler, and depending on how many drinks you've had.  In any event, the violin and bow should be kept off the ground and away from the campfire. :lol:  Happy Memorial Day Weekend, to everyone who has one.   :)  

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At the same time he appears very flexible on his feet.

 

"looks like you might make a leep" 

-Heifetz

 

Im going to have to agree with Heifetz on this one, though posture with a shoulder rest may be slightly different. Heifetz has his feet about a foot apart, shifts his weight between them, and encourages the raising of the fiddle. Anything else seems a bit excessive/gimmicky.

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A young pliable body can get away with all sorts of contortions and exaggerations.

It's often only later in a career that bad habits can come back to haunt a player.

Menuhin's experience is probably worth another look.

I don't remember the details well now nor how well it relates to what we're discussing here.

I did have a early (Hungarian) teacher who paid quite a lot attention to posture and a natural position for the left hand and arm

I hope I learnt something from that.

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Looking at a lot of photo of Maxim Vengerov

He does move his head around a little relative to the chin rest on the fiddle but generally looks stable and yet relaxed.

 

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Zuk and Veng have very good physiques for playing the violin.

Doing the correct thing comes very naturally to them.

 

I'm interested in examples of taller people with long arms that also possess a 'model' technique.  People with sloped shoulders, shorter torsos, longer limbs, and over 6'. 

Any ideas?  Anyone in mind?

 

Most examples of how to look natural tend to be people that are between 5'2" and 5'8", with big/long torsos, relatively shorter arms, and square (not sloped) shoulders. 

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"He thought the way a student looked was as important, as the way they played." 

 

Maybe i took that out of context. 

After reading Auer, you might think this means dress and deportment, not playing posture. 

 

I have to admit I find it hard to watch players who "bob and weave like a prize fighter."

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I never thought much of that statement until watching the video from the post labeled "Paganini with an Operatic Vibrato". Her main flaw seemed to be her posture. Therefore the video got me wondering on how posture affects ones sound, From the "Paganini with an Operatic Vibrato" post, I now understand why her vibrato was so vapid. 

I think even the most relaxed violinist would look a bit uncomfortable and awkward if the conductor had just walked out on them and the orchestra was sniggering behind their back!

In other performance clips her posture looks exemplary.

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After reading Auer, you might think this means dress and deportment, not playing posture. 

Just read the article on Auer in the June Strad.

Little mention of posture, in fact he is portrayed by the author as being very flexible and not imposing his style on students.

Interestingly he made his name as a performer in chamber music as much as a concerto soloist.

Though not inclined to use constant vibrato,

the beautiful cantabile solo passages in the Adagio of the Souvenir de Florence by Tchaikovsky appear to have him in mind. 

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What we shouldn't want to do is twist the spine, crick the neck,  have too much kink in the wrist or elbow of the right arm, or have to rotate the forearm of the left arm or have to bring the elbow too much to the right.

 

There are a whole lot of orchestral players who, IMO, make the mistake of sitting too straight up, and don't let the back of the chair support the lower back and keep it relatively motionless.  I knew one player who seemed to think that a sideways motion of the spine was a great idea and she was basically sawing her spine in half.  ( But I'm practicing without a license here.   :) )

 

Another interesting tidbit from the Agus book is that Heifetz kept an x-ray of his spine to show and called his slight twist an "occupational hazard."  (Page 48)

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In Menuhin's book of Lessons p. 18 he speaks of posture in this way.

 

"The basis if good posture is an upward stretching from the toes through the spine to the crown of the head, in which our muscles counteract the natural collapsing tendency of the joints as they surrender to the force of gravity. This erect posture is as much a sign of good health in violin playing as it is of vitality and good health in life."

 

"The violin is not  meant merely to be held but to be played upon and played with.  The ability to adjust movements continuously is the secret of violin playing"

 

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Just read the article on Auer in the June Strad.

Little mention of posture, in fact he is portrayed by the author as being very flexible and not imposing his style on students.

Some of his students did say he didn't impose on style, but he also had a cadre of assistants, who did impose at times, such as with bowing divisions. And Auer always insisted on white tie and tails for recitals.

Menuhin is the first person who comes to my mind for issues of posture, hold, tension, and movement. Priceless.

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 And Auer always insisted on white tie and tails for recitals.

I'd go along with that!

Just like white clothing only at Wimbledon....  :)

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But it's only the tie, shirt, and vest that are white.  

 

I miss the old days.  I don't know if any orchestras are wearing "full evening dress" any more.  When I first went into an orchestra, not only did we wear full dress for evening concerts but "morning coats" with grey vests and striped pants for morning or afternoon concerts.  We had a series on Friday afternoons that were known as the "velvet glove" concerts, because there were so many old ladies who wore gloves and applauded without taking them off.  There was a dull thud of applause that was funny to hear.

 

In one orchestra I played right behind the concertmaster, who wore a watch chain, which goes well with full dress.  So I got one too. But his was attached to a lump of house and car keys.  So I'd always take my watch out and make a big production about asking him the time.  But he didn't dare reach in his pocket and not pull out a watch.  He would wave me off and make a face, but he took it in stride.  He was a nice man.  

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I don't know if any orchestras are wearing "full evening dress" any more.  

I too have half a wardrobe of formal gear that now remains virtually untouched.

A lot more informality in many spheres of life than previously, for better or worse.

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I too have half a wardrobe of formal gear that now remains virtually untouched.

A lot more informality in many spheres of life than previously, for better or worse.

Yes, closets full.  All I have any more, though, is tuxedos:  5 suits, all equally worn to a nub.  The last time I bought a new tux, I said when it was worn out I would retire.  So it sits there for the occasional use, but I'm really embarrassed to be seen up close in it.   :)

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I like formal events too. There is just something fun about going all out to look your best. However ... in our neck of the woods it's super casual to all out sloppy...I don't think people know how to dress any more. And I don't quite understand why...the interest in fashion hasn't died...

I think I might be starting to see a bit of a change though...do we thank the Hipsters for that?

Your tuxedos won't last forever either...styles change...lapels tell all...

However...in the meantime... when in Rome...

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On the other hand, men are much less likely to be criticized for their clothing.

 

But I would love to have the option of playing with the instrument against bare skin.  The Tuttle studios of the 60s-70s were known for having blouses and sweaters distorted from pulling the left side down to allow the viola against bare chest/collarbone/neck.  No shoulder rest required with that natural traction!

 

Oh- another quick Tuttle story regarding pants.  When she showed up at Curtis on her first day, she was in pants.  She was sent home by the receptionist.  A few years later, she was on faculty.

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Men suits are terribly cheap at Costco (if they happen to sell them) and International Clothier.  Tuxedos are another story however.

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Nothing wrong with a well fitting black suit either.

Tailors still exist...to tweak the fit if needed...

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