Many players can struggle with achieving the correct posture, but that is because they don’t know how to put on a shoulder rest yet. Fortunately, we wrote an article on that already, and if you’re looking for more information about this beautiful instrument, you can also check our article as well as our Cecilio violin reviews.
Using a shoulder rest and pad
A violin player should first learn how to get a good posture. To get into the playing position, the violin should be supported by the left hand and the left shoulder, if the player is right-handed and vice-versa if he or she is not.
The violin should rest on the collarbone and the player should put a bit of weight with the help of the head on the violin. Doing this while keeping a relaxed neck will stabilize the instrument on the collarbone.
The chin rest should be used to protect the top of the violin and it’s also useful because it can adjust according to the length of the player’s neck. Next, you should keep in mind that the strings should be parallel to the floor, and to help you in achieving that, it is advisable to use a shoulder pad, in order to fill in the space between your shoulder and the back of the instrument.
However, keep in mind that a shoulder pad should still allow you to move freely and most importantly it shouldn’t compensate for the length of your neck. Furthermore, it will have to let your violin rest on your collarbone. An important role that the shoulder rest serves is to provide enough friction so that the instrument doesn’t slide off or pivot too easily.
During play, you will use many parts of your body to keep the violin in place and you can shift its weight by applying more pressure with the help of your head. But you will also use your left shoulder, jaw and left hand to constantly move the violin around, depending on what you are playing.
Carefully fitting the shoulder rest and the pad is an important step in making sure that you are able to comfortably hold the violin for extensive periods. Held correctly, a violin will sound well and also allow you to enjoy playing it.
While the violin rests on the collarbone, the purpose of the chin rest is to offer a comfortable place for the jaw to sit on, to protect the violin’s varnish and to let the player adjust the distance according to the neck’s height. A simple, flat chin rest is often more comfortable than a nicely contoured one.
With the jaw resting lightly on the chin rest and the violin staying gently on the collarbone, there are two contact points with the instrument and thus stability is ensured. Another point of support is offered by the left hand holding the instrument.
The neck of your violin should rest on the base knuckle of the first finger of the left hand. For a good grip, use the side of your thumb to hold the neck of the violin across from the first or second finger. You should use the base of your first finger to provide most of the support and only use the thumb to offer a bit of counter pressure.
The contact points are established through the use of the jaw, collarbone, the side of the left thumb and the base of the left index finger. You should start by getting used to holding the violin in these four contact points lightly. While you do that you can walk around the room and constantly pay attention to your posture and balance.
Knowing where to make contact with the violin isn’t the only important thing, as you still need to learn how to properly support it and how to adjust your body so you can play the best music you can. A first step in achieving a good posture is keeping your body straight when sitting or standing up.
This is not only an important thing for your body, but it also lets you have enough space between you and the violin. And using this created space you are free to move your arm with ease. Sitting in a lazy way will make it more difficult for you to play and it may lead to injuries.
The next step is to learn how to gently hold the violin between your left shoulder and chin. Your left hand should only be used to guide the instrument and not as a main point of support. The hand needs to have room for flexibility. That is because you will have to move your fingers fast when playing advanced music and you will need to shift up the fingerboard to higher positions.
This is a good habit to have from the start. When holding the violin, make sure you keep your left shoulder relaxed, in order to offer good support to your left arm. Furthermore, not having your shoulder relaxed will lead to applying too much tension and problems. If you have the tendency to tense your shoulder that means the shoulder rest isn’t positioned well and you should move it higher.
Relaxing your left arm away from your body, try to keep a straight line from your left elbow to the wrist. This will ensure that you have enough flexibility and will reduce the strain on your arm and eliminate unwanted tension.
Changes in style
Beginners start playing the violin learning a certain posture and playing music that is accessible to them. However, over the course of time, they evolve and they encounter significant changes in their playing style and maturity. A student and a teacher should take notice of these changes, including the physical ones, due to growing or differences in weights, and act accordingly.
Young students will also change in terms of height and muscle mass and they will require different shoulder pads or chin rests. More advanced students will need to learn different positions in which their hand should sit in order to allow for more complicated movements such as the ones needed to obtain a vibrato.