Exercises to increase wrist turn

Alissa said: Nov 10, 2011
Alissa Rieb
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools, Viola
61 posts

Hi Teachers,

I have been amazed at the awesome solutions that come forth from this forum! I have a student who has very limited flexibility in the turning of his wrist. For example, he can’t turn a door knob without engaging his arm almost immediately. He plays viola and cannot completely turn his wrist to get the fleshy part facing him as to allow the fingers to hover over the fingerboard. The suggestion has been to put him on cello and that is not viable as he really likes viola! Not to mention, he has twin and they “have” to play the same instrument :-)

He has had some work with a physical therapist and I have him do daily stretches. This has created a lot of change. However, now that he has to play on C string, putting one down on C takes a TON of effort and thinking ahead and he’s getting frustrated.

So what stretches do any of you have experience with? He is stressed out by songs with C string which compounds the issue as it makes him squeeze. I’m resistant to giving him thumb excercises on top of the wrist things for fear of overload. Is there something that would work on both a relaxed thumb and more turning from the wrist? Any suggestions on thumb placement? Would that make a difference?

Thank you in advance for your ideas teachers!

~Ms. Alissa

Wendy Caron Zohar said: Nov 10, 2011
Wendy Caron Zohar
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Ann Arbor, MI
94 posts

New Comment on Excersises to increase wrist turn from Alissa RiebPerhaps this will help: Rather than thinking of rotating at the wrist, which is in fact harmful, feel the freedom of letting the entire arm swing to the right, and then back, like a hammock. To do this, help your student release his arm starting from the middle of his back. The left shoulder blade needs to slip down and forward, releasing the shoulder and upper arm, allowing the elbow to swing to the right. Then, this allows the palm of the hand to naturally face toward the fingerboard when the arm is on a right-ward swing. There should not be any forcing or twisting of the wrist to achieve this! Just an easy releasing of the entire back and arm. Then, with the elbow well to the right, he’ll be set up for his fingers on the C string, as well as on the other strings. Just make sure that once he’s finished playing first and second finger, he releases and opens back his first finger so he can place three and four without straining the hand. Viola students need to pay special attention to releasing the hand so all notes are in tune without creating tension in the hand.

Hope you find this useful.

Wendy Caron Zohar

Jennifer Visick said: Nov 13, 2011
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

I’m assuming you’ve already thought about more extreme rotation and placement of the instrument? That is, alter the “normal” placement of the instrument so that the C string is higher and the treble side of the instrument is lower than usual when reaching for the C string; place the instrument’s scroll farther to the left than usual (making the bow work harder but—there are ways to play with less bow and still be a good musician); and place the jaw farther off to the left than usual—definitely not a center chinrest candidate?

Does he have the same problem on the right side? It might be extreme, but there are people who play with the instrument on the right shoulder because of physical issues in with the hands. Although, this doesn’t sound like that extreme of a case.

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