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Violin progress determined by physical makeup


Sound Dreamer

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Today, my teacher told me a very strange thing. She said that how far the student can progress depends partly on the physical makeup of the student, example, the way the fingers press down on the fingerboard, the thickness of the finger pad, the way bow is being held and so on. She told me that sometimes no matter how hard the student practises, those physical limit will just simply halt their progress at certain level. A good and experienced teacher will be able to tell at a glance the potential of a student through their playing posture.

I have always thought that talent is the limiting factors but physical makeup? I know that for some instruments like guitar, voice are some that only people with the right phyics can excel on but violin?

Those who are teachers, what do you all think?

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I'm sure that our basic physical make-up does affect how good of a player we eventually become, though I think intelligence and memory probably play just as big of a part.

However, I think that, assuming that those less naturally well-adapted for the instrument are willing to put in more practice hours, that these distinctions apply at the *professional* level of play -- they determine whether you become Maxim Vengerov or just Joe Local Symphony Violinist.

Distinctions must also be made between things that are *innate* and things that are *taught*. The bow hold is *taught*; certainly a wrong one will eventually hinder progress unless it is corrected. Correct playing posture is *taught*; poor posture will also hinder progress (quite quickly, too). Speed of reflexes, sensitivity of the ear, and the like can be trained but are subject to the body's physical limits. The thickness of the finger pads, length of the fingers and arms, etc. are unchangeable physical make-up.

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The teacher referred to at the beginning of this thread is wrong.

A quick look at any group of professional players will tell you this. There is every kind of hand, arm, body and hair color represented in the profession.

Take a look at these people's hands and bodies and see what you think:

Itzak Perlman, Gil Shaham, Anne Sophie-Mutter, Sarah Chang, Joshua Bell. Any similarities? Aside from all having two arms and 10 fingers, the most important similarities are that they all have great musical minds and training.

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You absolutely HAVE to have a certain physical make-up in order to play the violin. You need to have two arms. I'm not mentioning that you need two hands because I read recently that there is a Canadian boy who was accepted into Curtis who doesn't have a whole right hand!!

Compare Perlmans hands with Hilary Hahn's hands, tell me that they're exactally the same....ANYONE can learn how to play the violin well (depending on their dedication to it). smile.gifsmile.gifsmile.gifsmile.gif

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I too have heard that one of the new violin students at Curtis this year is handicapped, although I heard that he had no right arm, let alone no right hand. Of course, I heard this from someone who heard it from someone... Iup, can you remember where you found the article?

update: I found it. Quite an amazing story: http://inq.philly.com/content/inquirer/200...nt/VIOLIN01.htm

[This message has been edited by Violinflu (edited 12-16-2001).]

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Thank you for the update

I personally love that story. it goes to show how much a human being can achieve even with difficult obstacles.

So all of us should rise above the challenge and improve ourselves!!! Don't care what other people say, just follow your own way. Follow your dreams, your goals, your ideals!

Cos no one can stop you from achieving what you want in your life.

Picture yourself as a great violinist in your mind. ( even though I am just a begineer, I dream of scaling heights) =)

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The teacher who would determine a student's potential by his/her physical makeup has a screw loose. Hasn't that teacher ever read Galamian??

I'm an adult beginner. When I started playing violin, there were some muscles that had to be stretched, some that had to be strengthened, some that had to be taught to do things they had never done before. I am extremely short-limbed and I have short stubby fingers, so I have to work harder to do what others do easily. SO WHAT? I'm not planning to play at Carnegie Hall, and I'm having the time of my life overcoming obstacles and seeing progress in my music.

My teacher is tall and lanky, so our left hand/thumb placements are quite different. He helps me find what works best for me. I'm still stretching, training, teaching my body to draw music out of my violin...and loving it!

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I don’t agree with the teacher. Violin isn’t voice. Physical characteristics don’t have that much effect. There are some mental or nerve connection factors like eye hand or ear hand co-ordination. There’s some mental process with musicality, it runs in families, and I don’t think it’s all nurture.

Genetics are important but not everything. You need nurture to provide a fiddle and someone to whack you upside the head when you don’t bow straight. Still if no one in your family can carry a tune in a bucket you might have a problem learning to play an instrument that requires a good sense of musical pitch.

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Great! All contributors have clearly but the lie to that supposition. (I've even seen a photo of a one-armed cellist who held the bow with the right foot.)

But there are two physical characteristics that seriously impede certain aspects of playing. Blindness does make sight reading impossible. Bad hearing has a serious effect on playing. Hearing aids can help - but still - if a player does not here the ful frequency range of the insturment, there are some nuances that are not likely to be brought out. For older players, as/if hearing fades, the playing often gets "rougher" in just those areas that are no longer sensed.

I am quite certain that those players who become especially fine and sensitive have wonderful hearing in just the right frequency range - and use it!

Andy

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My son is quite a talented cellist. He is going to be auditioning for conservatories soon. He is missing about 75% of his right hand. He has a finger and a thumb, but they don't bend. He has a modified bow and figures out what he needs to do. His bow technique is very different, but it works very successfully for him. He has stated before that it was a good thing that it never occurred to him that it wasn't possible for him to play the cello. When he wants to learn a technique badly enough, he figures it out.

However, I must admit that his choice of instruments is somewhat limited. He could never be a concert pianist, play a woodwind instrument or play percussion. I am glad he found the cello and teachers who accept him and work with him as he is.

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