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Maiyunbby

Beginner having trouble holding violin...

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Hello. I'm a 26 yr old mom just trying to tap back into music again but I'm having a hard time even holding my violin. I feel like I can barely even get my chin/jaw where it needs to be and when i do, i feel like it's going to slip out any time i move. Everyone says it shouldnt feel like you HAVE to hold the neck but I have to or it will fall. I cant use a shoulder rest cause I literally CANT reach the top of the violin if I do. I feel it's all because I have a short neck but I don't know how to remedy this. 

Anyone have any ideas? Would a smaller violin help this? Do I need to switch violins? I currently have an electric acoustic so I'm wondering if maybe that's causing it to be thicker than normal? I really want to learn but this is making it so difficult...I can tell it's going to make trouble if I keep going like this...

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This is hard to answer because you need a teacher. In fact you need the right teacher, since some are adamant that shoulder rests are essential and others are adamant that they are a terrible idea and not used by the great players of the past. In both camps there are multiple variants in the ways of holding the instrument among good players. Whichever way you look at it, holding the instrument is a significant skill in itself, and arguably holding the instrument without a shoulder rest, even if you accept that it the best way to go, is especially hard.

This series of three videos is roughly similar to the training I had from one teacher, and holding the violin took weeks of practice. It is worth spending time on it as a good comfortable hold makes a big contribution later.

 

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What sort of chinrest do you have? If you don’t know take a picture.  I’m betting, other than technique you have a very flat chin rest. Try something that that flares toward the bottom of violin and tailpiece. Something for your chin and jawbone can rest over

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Also when you do not use a shoulder rest you Do support the instrument with your left hand more. Generally you do not loose contact with the instrument w left hand. 

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On 11/25/2018 at 1:51 AM, Maiyunbby said:

 I cant use a shoulder rest cause I literally CANT reach the top of the violin if I do.

Your head should be more or less level and the shoulder rest should be on your collarbone, so look in the mirror and you'll see there is plenty of room.  The shoulder rest is a fulcrum that keeps you from having to support the whole weight.   I like a Kun shoulder rest and a Stuber chin rest.

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Thank you all for the replies! I really do appreciate it! I'm unable to currently afford a teacher as I've got myself a little girl to take care of. But that's why I came here to maybe try and see what my problem is.

So for starters when I try to hold the violin with no shoulder rest, I try to put it at about the middle of my neck, that's what I saw a couple video's suggest and they also did not use shoulder rests. However, they also say they have to lift their shoulders and clamp the violin between jaw and shoulder and that's not the case for me, I'm barely able to get my jaw above the violin let alone lift my shoulder to clamp it. That jut doesn't happen.

With the shoulder rest, it is literally impossible for me to get my chin onto the violin without tilting the violin probably 60 degrees or more upwards. I do admit the shoulder rest adds about 2-3 inches of height to it, from the top of the chin rest to the bottom of the shoulder rest. But I literally cannot get my jaw to the chinrest at all when i use it so I haven't been able to.

I talked with a friend who plays and she said I have the right technique to holding it, or at least from what she can see, but it just feels wrong still. I'm sorry I don't have pictures at the moment. I may try to get some at a later time. But hopefully my explanation helped a bit.

 

I also have another problem and maybe this might help determine if my violin is simply too big? on top of being unable to reach the top of the violin most of the time, I also can't really reach any string besides the first string with my pinky. So I can maybe reach the second one too but I for sure cannot reach the fourth string with my pinky AT ALL no matter what I try to do. I have to literally shift my whole hand to get to it and that seems really bad in the long run. Like if I need to hold it mostly with my hand anyway, and then have to shift my hand to reach the other end, I feel like I could risk dropping it mid-playing or shift it out of position like that. I'm not totally sure if that's even a needed thing for performing but it's something that I heard is good to learn since it's easier to do that then to shift your hand downwards. Again, seems like something I should do if I can't hold onto it with just my chin and shoulder.

Not sure I guess. I just really worry about breaking this thing and that I'm not holding it right. Most of the time it hurts to even reach my chin up over the violin let alone hold it there with my shoulder and chin. I often have to stretch my neck so much it hurts and I feel like that's not a good sign.

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No way the shoulder rest should be on your collarbone! Any shoulder rest placed that close to the end of the violin will not stay on.

It does sound like your chinrest might be too high for the length of your neck.

My advice would be to visit a violin shop where there is a large selection of chin rests and try a number of them with the help of their "clerk." Top violin shop clerks are usually accomplished players these days.

The shoulder rest, for those who use one, is usually used to prevent raising the shoulder to balance the violin.  For those whose neck is too long for the chinrest they have it is recommended to get a higher chinrest. There are dozens of chinrest styles and sizes.

 

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3 hours ago, Andrew Victor said:

No way the shoulder rest should be on your collarbone! Any shoulder rest placed that close to the end of the violin will not stay on.

Yes way.  And I put the rest in the exact center of the lower bout.  Kind of anal about its position, really. 

This may help you and the OP both:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjL6sqy03NI

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You should check with a teacher. Getting the violin to stay in place *without* clamping down with your head is important to good playing and to good health. Static loading of the neck and upper back muscles is a recipe for an injury (and difficult playing).

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The end of the violin should rest on your collarbone or at minimum touch.  A lot of the sound input comes from this. This is what ultimately lead me to ditch a shoulder rest.  You shouldn’t be clamping down with or without a shoulder rest.  A violin should just sit and be comfortable when in position 

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Assuming you want to play properly (a loaded term, I know, but after citing Milstein, Heifetz, Oistrakh, Szyring, Stern, Sammons, Thibout and a zillion others as examples of the "right way" the objectors generally quiet down), realize one simple thing: a chin rest is useful mainly for going from higher to lower hand positions. That's what Spohr invented it for back around 1820. it wasn't a cup to put your chin in and clamp the fiddle -- it was a little ridge above the edge of the back you could use to hook with your chin when shifting down, keeping your hand from pulling the fiddle away from you when you did so. It was attached on the left side of the tailpiece, where your chin belongs.

I recall Attar Arad playing the Mendelssohn concerto, using the ex-Gingold "Nightingale" Strad with no chinrest at all. Ricci was big on that in his teaching from what I've read; Arad taught there with him at Indiana.

The violin has two-points of contact with your left hand: your thumb and index finger.That unit slides up and down the neck until you come to the shoulder, where you have to rotate your thumb to the crook. Thhat's what supports the violin. Your left shoulder's not involved in this at all.

If you play with a "strong left hand," then gripping it with your chin helps. But on the other hand, watch videos of Yehudi Menuhin, who found that even strong finger pressure lessened the quality and projection of his "Khevenhuller" Strad (one of the all-time great fiddles, IMHO).

FWIW

 

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I recommend you to go to a good violin teacher. Giving you advices without seeing your position and without hearing your sound it’s quite impossible to resolve problems... to me it’s quite unuseless. I could tell you a couple of really good teachers, but maybe it’s quite difficult to you because it won’t be in the same country.. 

otherwise, if you can’t find a teacher I recommend to read menuhin’s book and ricci’s too: ricci on glissando. It has several exercise to develop left hand techinque. I know it’s just a book but it’s better than anything...

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This may sound flippant, but it is not at all. Unless you actually were a violinist as a child, I would highly recommend that as an adult you take up the cello. It is the most ergonomic instrument in the orchestra. It requires you to do absolutely nothing that is the slightest bit physically awkward. Everything it requires is easily within the natural movement of the hand or body.

 If you are already having trouble holding the violin, it is possible that it’s just not suited to your physique. Either accidentally or intentionally, the cello is perfectly suited to the average male body( circa 1700 or so) And unless you already own a violin, played as a child and want to get back into it, or you have a family violin that you really want to play, I can’t recommend enough that you consider the cello.

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...I don't think the OP is coming back, but hopefully I'm wrong...

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56 minutes ago, PhilipKT said:

This may sound flippant, but it is not at all. Unless you actually were a violinist as a child, I would highly recommend that as an adult you take up the cello. It is the most ergonomic instrument in the orchestra. It requires you to do absolutely nothing that is the slightest bit physically awkward. Everything it requires is easily within the natural movement of the hand or body.

 If you are already having trouble holding the violin, it is possible that it’s just not suited to your physique. Either accidentally or intentionally, the cello is perfectly suited to the average male body( circa 1700 or so) And unless you already own a violin, played as a child and want to get back into it, or you have a family violin that you really want to play, I can’t recommend enough that you consider the cello.

 

The physical discomfort of learning or re-learning to play violin soon passes with regular practice. It's simply a matter of become more economical in terms of effort required. Just as it is for any new skill or re-aquired skill. Age shouldn't be a barrier.

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42 minutes ago, sospiri said:

 

The physical discomfort of learning or re-learning to play violin soon passes with regular practice. It's simply a matter of become more economical in terms of effort required. Just as it is for any new skill or re-aquired skill. Age shouldn't be a barrier.

With young children, it is much easier to do something than to comprehend it; with adults that is exactly the opposite, especially with detailed motion such is that involved in playing a string instrument.

All things being equal it is much easier to learn the cello than the violin, The cello is much more suited to the hand. Just imagine the intervals of the distance between the fingers, for instance.

Yes, practice on the violin eventually overcomes the awkwardness, but the awkwardness is definitely there, and with the cello, it is not.

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2 hours ago, sospiri said:

 

The physical discomfort of learning or re-learning to play violin soon passes with regular practice. It's simply a matter of become more economical in terms of effort required. Just as it is for any new skill or re-aquired skill. Age shouldn't be a barrier.

You have right!! But I want to precise something: when you are old and you still have technique problems, you need to work more as you said but with a good violin teacher, if not it’s just a waste of time... fuks, fatkulin are a good example of a good teacher

when I say “work more” i really mean that but in a economical way, practice wiseful as you need!

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3 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

 I would highly recommend that as an adult you take up the cello.

Is it not uncommon for pro cellists to have taken cello up around jr. high age?  Essentially adult.

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I’m not sure. But I’ve had lots of kids who start in high school and progress rapidly. Younger is better of course, I think 9 or 10 is the best age. But I’ve had lots of success with beginners in their 20s.

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20 hours ago, Adri said:

You have right!! But I want to precise something: when you are old and you still have technique problems, you need to work more as you said but with a good violin teacher, if not it’s just a waste of time... fuks, fatkulin are a good example of a good teacher

when I say “work more” i really mean that but in a economical way, practice wiseful as you need!

Well I am old, but self taught. I don't want a teacher, I just want to play a lot and work on technical faults.

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22 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

With young children, it is much easier to do something than to comprehend it; with adults that is exactly the opposite, especially with detailed motion such is that involved in playing a string instrument.

All things being equal it is much easier to learn the cello than the violin, The cello is much more suited to the hand. Just imagine the intervals of the distance between the fingers, for instance.

Yes, practice on the violin eventually overcomes the awkwardness, but the awkwardness is definitely there, and with the cello, it is not.

Does the nature of skills aquisition change with age?  The way I see it, if you really want to do it, you will do it. Some people say practice a technique over and over, others say do it a few times and then something else.

I just find it all fun and not frustrating. I think having fun makes learning so much easier.

As for learning the cello, there are problems for me. I can't fit one in my backpack, so I'm trying to invent a folding cello that packs down into a small space but I'm encountering a few technical difficulties.

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47 minutes ago, sospiri said:

Does the nature of skills aquisition change with age?  The way I see it, if you really want to do it, you will do it. Some people say practice a technique over and over, others say do it a few times and then something else.

I just find it all fun and not frustrating. I think having fun makes learning so much easier.

As for learning the cello, there are problems for me. I can't fit one in my backpack, so I'm trying to invent a folding cello that packs down into a small space but I'm encountering a few technical difficulties.

That’s a good question. I think the virtues of childhood and adulthood are different. Children can do anything physically( that’s why Olympic gymnasts are 13-years old instead of 40. Olga Korbut made history because she was competing at 28.) but they don’t understand as easily. Adults have much less flexible bodies but understand more easier and more completely. So I’d say that yes adults and children learn differently and the approach is different for each.

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52 minutes ago, sospiri said:

As for learning the cello, there are problems for me. I can't fit one in my backpack, so I'm trying to invent a folding cello that packs down into a small space but I'm encountering a few technical difficulties.

My wife is from Taiwan and when we visit I have learned that there is a drastic shortage of cello players in Taiwan and the reason is because everybody gets around on scooters. There are actually not that many cars(There are plenty of cars but they’re not as universal as over here. Most people use scooters) And the result is that kids don’t play the bigger instruments because they can’t transport them.

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18 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

That’s a good question. I think the virtues of childhood and adulthood are different. Children can do anything physically( that’s why Olympic gymnasts are 13-years old instead of 40. Olga Korbut made history because she was competing at 28.) but they don’t understand as easily. Adults have much less flexible bodies but understand more easier and more completely. So I’d say that yes adults and children learn differently and the approach is different for each.

My experience is relevant to the OPs question, even though it's an old thread.

My many years of guitar playing made the prospect of violin playing very appealing. However I tried during these many years to play violin I could never make progress because I could play well for 20 or 30 seconds before fatigue set in an technique went awol.

So I decided that the cure was to buy a decent violin, learn to set it up properly and play in such a way that I stopped before I got tired, rest a minute or so and repeat, over and over. After a few weeks I could play for a few minutes at a time and after a few weeks more I could play as much as I wanted.

I agree that this is not a problem with the cello. In my limited experience of cello playing there was never any discomfort.

 

18 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

My wife is from Taiwan and when we visit I have learned that there is a drastic shortage of cello players in Taiwan and the reason is because everybody gets around on scooters. There are actually not that many cars(There are plenty of cars but they’re not as universal as over here. Most people use scooters) And the result is that kids don’t play the bigger instruments because they can’t transport them.

They really need that foldable cello.

I'm a perfectionist, so it has to look and sound beautiful using the same woods as a high quality cello.

You can take this as a joke or a serious project. Something for designers to ponder.

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