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Galamian Violin Hold


tchaikovsgay
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By bringing up Menuhin, I wanted to show that he was a nervous player, whatever the reasons, and that it follows that someone with that kind of insecurity will look desperately for something to calm the nerves. The shoulder rest is such a crutch, often mostly psychologically. 

I just don’t believe that there are really that many people with swan or giraffe necks out there. The people I see that make these claims are never long-necked, just insecure or possessing poor technique. I help customers pick out their rests when they ask and I help them adjust their chinrest height or shoulder rest setup, but I usually come away feeling that they would be much more comfortable if they didn’t contort themselves so excessively.

I’m also extremely skeptical when it comes to claims that the technical demands of players are much higher today. I think that recording equipment is more sophisticated, but it also allows players to make recordings by splicing multiple takes. I recall hearing about a well-known soloist who had to do over 100 tales to make it through the Beethoven violin concerto. Also, the music that we consider to be the most technically difficult was written in the 1800s and was played on gut strings. I rarely hear about students practicing 10 hours a day anymore and I don’t find any added brilliance in the technique of players I hear live nowadays. I enjoy listening to live performances and am supportive of the players, but I’m not in favor of trying to discredit the great players just to make the present ones look great. 

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1 hour ago, The Violin Beautiful said:

I’m also extremely skeptical when it comes to claims that the technical demands of players are much higher today. I think that recording equipment...

Technical demands on ppl trying to earn a living today playing are a lot higher than in the past.  And when I was a student demands were higher than in the past too, but nothing like today.

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46 minutes ago, Bill Merkel said:

Technical demands on ppl trying to earn a living today playing are a lot higher than in the past.  And when I was a student demands were higher than in the past too, but nothing like today.

I don’t see any evidence of this. I do see a lot of students trying to play things that are beyond their technique, but that’s not a new phenomenon.

I’ve heard teachers from music schools rail against what they feel to be a decline in playing among recent generations of new students, but they’re not doing so because the technique is at a higher level than in days past; they’re generally angry that their students are getting scholarships when they can’t play well on a basic level.

There are excellent players now who have excellent technique. But there have been excellent ones in the past as well.

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7 hours ago, DBCooper said:

From a sound perspective, most instruments sound better with a shoulder rest than with their back blocked from vibration with a shoulder.  You can easily feel the back of your violin as you play to see how much it vibrates and how much sound is produced there.

That would be true, but playing without the rest means there's contact only with the collarbone and not the shoulder, so there's contact only with the end block pretty much. Without counting Anne-Sophie Mutter perhaps... :rolleyes: If there's contact with the shoulder then I agree, but I'd also say it's the wrong way of playing restless.

milstein.png

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On the matter of young master Milstein, above.  It's a mistake to take a still photo of movement and think it portrays anything accurately.  That's how they get those political opponent photos.  But I can tell from the photo he has long fingers with a lot of arch to spare.  The reason I use a rest is for the tilt it gives the fiddle so I don't have to have that.  With most players women now, and possibly small-framed ones at that, it's a reason that might not be obvious.

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4 minutes ago, Bill Merkel said:

On the matter of young master Milstein, above.  It's a mistake to take a still photo of movement and think it portrays anything accurately.  That's how they get those National Enquirer cover photos.  But I can tell from the photo he has long fingers with a lot of arch to spare.  The reason I use a rest is for the tilt it gives the fiddle so I don't have to have that.  With most players women now, and possibly small-framed ones at that, it's a reason that might not be obvious.

Definitely, I agree, I just posted it as an example of what I had in mind, but it's better to watch a video and wait for a close-up.

The only reason that I can think of right now is for the very high shifts where the hand might need to go around the upper bout and the thumb would need to lose contact with the neck... :( But this is troubling me on the viola, not sure if it's needed on the violin.

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To be fair, there are more players now than slots because so many orchestras are going belly up. Even a lot of local orchestras are having trouble filling seats. Orchestra managers tell me that the only way they can increase ticket sales is by having fireworks, movie screens, or rock bands as the feature. I don’t oppose those things if they work, but I consider them evidence that there’s a crisis.

As someone in this field I really don’t want this to be the case, but I think the popularity of the violin has faltered recently. I’m hopeful that it is beginning to gain ground again.

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1 hour ago, thirteenthsteph said:

Definitely, I agree, I just posted it as an example of what I had in mind, but it's better to watch a video and wait for a close-up.

The only reason that I can think of right now is for the very high shifts where the hand might need to go around the upper bout and the thumb would need to lose contact with the neck... :( But this is troubling me on the viola, not sure if it's needed on the violin.

It's not a problem, my thumb just travels up the rib tucked under the overhang.

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10 hours ago, thirteenthsteph said:

That would be true, but playing without the rest means there's contact only with the collarbone and not the shoulder, so there's contact only with the end block pretty much. Without counting Anne-Sophie Mutter perhaps... :rolleyes: If there's contact with the shoulder then I agree, but I'd also say it's the wrong way of playing restless.

milstein.png

Some people do that, but it's rare.  His shoulder appears to be rotated quite heavily to me on the left side for support anyway.  Perlman, Zukerman, Mutter -- there is some shoulder interaction there as well.

If you want to be dogmatic about it, go ahead and play without one.  But take a good look at your body structure first , as you could well find out that YOU would personally play better with a rest.  And since you're freeing up the back of the violin, you might sound better, too.

Or, be like people who just want to be restless for no good reason and struggle with vibrato, endurance, shifting, and stability ;-)

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1 hour ago, thirteenthsteph said:

Um, so at that point the violin is held in the palm, right? It's just very unstable, the transition, especially when the shift has to be fast. Unless the shoulder helps, but I'd like to avoid that...

Unstable? I don't find that.

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7 minutes ago, DBCooper said:

Some people do that, but it's rare.  His shoulder appears to be rotated quite heavily to me on the left side for support anyway.  Perlman, Zukerman, Mutter -- there is some shoulder interaction there as well.

If you want to be dogmatic about it, go ahead and play without one.  But take a good look at your body structure first , as you could well find out that YOU would personally play better with a rest.  And since you're freeing up the back of the violin, you might sound better, too.

Or, be like people who just want to be restless for no good reason and struggle with vibrato, endurance, shifting, and stability ;-)

I don't think there is any 'heavy' rotation visible. I did mention Mutter as an exception and haven't really noticed anything about the others. I have noticed that they can hold the violin without the support of the hand, which is not possible with my viola, but I tried it with the violin and it is possible for a few seconds if needed; no shoulder contact whatsoever.

I am not being dogmatic, if you go back and look at my posts, you will see my opinion about this and my good reason why I changed from playing with a rest. I cannot imagine my viola's back being any freer, so sound is definitely not an issue and now I don't have any pain after playing for hours practising or rehearsing so my endurance is definitely better. My vibrato is more than fine, never had a problem with it, there is no shake from the instrument. The only problem I mentioned is shifting very high, but I haven't been playing very long, I'm still trying to get shifting right, rest or not.

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3 hours ago, Bill Merkel said:

On the matter of young master Milstein, above.  It's a mistake to take a still photo of movement and think it portrays anything accurately.  That's how they get those political opponent photos.  But I can tell from the photo he has long fingers with a lot of arch to spare.  The reason I use a rest is for the tilt it gives the fiddle so I don't have to have that.  With most players women now, and possibly small-framed ones at that, it's a reason that might not be obvious.

Milstein seems to agree here, where the fiddle is tilted well over for comfort:

 

A shoulder rest may assist in getting this tilt I imagine although notice how at various points he changes the tilt, for example at 2:07, for better comfort when playing on the e string.

The still photo is misleading because Milstein's head and and the instrument are both fairly mobile. So the shoulder rest makes the tilt required for the low strings eaiser, perhaps, and makes the flexibility, which is just as important, harder. You does your best and you takes your pick :unsure:

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The rotation you’re talking about was known as the “Heifetz twist” and a lot of the old players did it. It was a posture aimed at making the violin player more exciting to watch, as it elevated the bow arm dramatically. It also allowed photographers to get better shots for album covers. It was a striking pose, not necessarily the most comfortable, but very elegant looking. 

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19 minutes ago, thirteenthsteph said:

Well, it's very possible I'm doing something wrong, as shifting that high, on the viola no less, is something that rarely happens. Could you demonstrate somehow, or explain?

Well, it is more difficult with the viola than the violin but I've just been doing it and all that happens is that as you shift up the thumb just moves to under the neck and then slips around it to get to its final position.

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7 minutes ago, John_London said:

Milstein seems to agree here, where the fiddle is tilted well over for comfort:

A shoulder rest may assist in getting this tilt I imagine although notice how at various points he changes the tilt, for example at 2:07, for better comfort when playing on the e string.

The still photo is misleading because Milstein's head and and the instrument are both fairly mobile. So the shoulder rest makes the tilt required for the low strings eaiser, perhaps, and makes the flexibility, which is just as important, harder. You does your best and you takes your pick :unsure:

Yeah, he doesn't raise it like most violinists of his period, and playing like this, I think, is rather comfortable because the lower rib edge slightly touches the middle of the chest which supports the violin a bit(?). At least that's what happens when I try to imitate it and what it looks like in the video, but there's no actual contact of the back with his body. Then again supposedly he could play Caprice No. 5 with the violin on his hip...

I think the main point, for me, is how he could play so well at such an old age. Achieving that is the goal... If you can do it with a rest, fine; I chose without, as it brought me pain. Both have advantages and disadvantages, as you say; 'take your pick'.

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9 minutes ago, Muswell said:

Well, it is more difficult with the viola than the violin but I've just been doing it and all that happens is that as you shift up the thumb just moves to under the neck and then slips around it to get to its final position.

When the thumb loses contact and the fingers slide (I assume) up the fingerboard, doesn't the violin start to drop? Or do you lock it in place with the jaw?

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17 hours ago, The Violin Beautiful said:

 

I’m also extremely skeptical when it comes to claims that the technical demands of players are much higher today. I think that recording equipment is more sophisticated, but it also allows players to make recordings by splicing multiple takes. I recall hearing about a well-known soloist who had to do over 100 tales to make it through the Beethoven violin concerto. Also, the music that we consider to be the most technically difficult was written in the 1800s and was played on gut strings. I rarely hear about students practicing 10 hours a day anymore and I don’t find any added brilliance in the technique of players I hear live nowadays. I enjoy listening to live performances and am supportive of the players, but I’m not in favor of trying to discredit the great players just to make the present ones look great. 

Yep, pretty depressing...

And by the way, 100 takes is not too shabby. How's 274 takes in the 1st Mov of Pag 1 ? 

But worry not, you couldn't discredit the Great Players if you wanted to. They do better than ever and by a long shot. That's because nowadays we have ample opportunity to compare - we have recordings. :). 

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Milstein was always my favorite.  But as far as videos go, for the last few years I've only watched players who use a rest.  The result of that is that Milstein video gives me a strong impression like what he's doing is trick playing without a rest!!!  Really.  And resultant slight insecure look or quality at times.  If you listen from around 14:10 to 14:30 or so you hear a lot of "blueness" call it, that I really think wouldn't fly today.  Having said that, it's as inspiring as anybody else or more so.

 

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6 hours ago, The Violin Beautiful said:

To be fair, there are more players now than slots because so many orchestras are going belly up.

There were too many orchestras. In the 70's in "Central Europe" , villages had orchestras. There was such a shortage of Conductors the only thing you had to do to get a job as a Conductor is to claim you can conduct. Simply not sustainable.

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18 hours ago, The Violin Beautiful said:

By bringing up Menuhin, I wanted to show that he was a nervous player, whatever the reasons, and that it follows that someone with that kind of insecurity will look desperately for something to calm the nerves. The shoulder rest is such a crutch, often mostly psychologically. 

I just don’t believe that there are really that many people with swan or giraffe necks out there. The people I see that make these claims are never long-necked, just insecure or possessing poor technique. I help customers pick out their rests when they ask and I help them adjust their chinrest height or shoulder rest setup, but I usually come away feeling that they would be much more comfortable if they didn’t contort themselves so excessively.

I’m also extremely skeptical when it comes to claims that the technical demands of players are much higher today. I think that recording equipment is more sophisticated, but it also allows players to make recordings by splicing multiple takes. I recall hearing about a well-known soloist who had to do over 100 tales to make it through the Beethoven violin concerto. Also, the music that we consider to be the most technically difficult was written in the 1800s and was played on gut strings. I rarely hear about students practicing 10 hours a day anymore and I don’t find any added brilliance in the technique of players I hear live nowadays. I enjoy listening to live performances and am supportive of the players, but I’m not in favor of trying to discredit the great players just to make the present ones look great. 

Saying that people who use a shoulder rest do so because of faults in their technique may apply to some people but I can't believe that players like top soloists such as Leonidas Kavakos,  James Ehnes , Frank Zimmermann, Gil Shaham, Christian Tetzlaff,  Lisa Batiashvili, and many more, have faulty technique because they use a rest.  I think both methods, rest or no rest, can work wonderfully but, as for anything, it has to suit the player, it's not just a matter of technique.   People dogmatically assert that rests are bad.  I think that's a reflection of their own choice whether to play restless rather than a rational analysis.  I also think that playing without a rest as a child is a lot easier than for an adult.  I was always amazed at how players with fat fingers (e.g. Perlman and Stern) can manage to play so well above first position.  The reason might be that they started when their fingers were slender and adjusted as they grew, something like the farmer who lifted a pig every day after it was born.

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4 minutes ago, gowan said:

Saying that people who use a shoulder rest do so because of faults in their technique may apply to some people but I can't believe that players like top soloists such as Leonidas Kavakos,  James Ehnes , Frank Zimmermann, Gil Shaham, Christian Tetzlaff,  Lisa Batiashvili, and many more, have faulty technique because they use a rest.  I think both methods, rest or no rest, can work wonderfully but, as for anything, it has to suit the player, it's not just a matter of technique.   People dogmatically assert that rests are bad.  I think that's a reflection of their own choice whether to play restless rather than a rational analysis.  I also think that playing without a rest as a child is a lot easier than for an adult.  I was always amazed at how players with fat fingers (e.g. Perlman and Stern) can manage to play so well above first position.  The reason might be that they started when their fingers were slender and adjusted as they grew, something like the farmer who lifted a pig every day after it was born.

Most people use a rest simply because that's how they were taught. A rest helps with intonation. There are excellent, almost fundamental reasons to play without a rest but once one spent 10 or so years with a rest the change is practically impossible to make. I knew 2 or 3 minor soloists who tried and it didn't work well. And they really tried. 

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