Muscular strength lacking in the stomach area?

Andrea Mueller-Bohlke said: Jan 3, 2013
Andrea Mueller-BohlkeViolin
Volketswil CH-8604, Switzerland
7 posts

I’ve been wondering about the importance of having strength in the core to achieve good posture while playing the vioiln. My students, ages 6 through 10, seem to have their tummies sticking out and their hips tipped forward whenever they play. We have talked a lot about posture and done several exercises. They are able to fix it for a minute or two, then it’s back to business as usual.

I now think that the problem is simply that the kids have absolutely no muscle tone, so they physically lack the core strength to hold themselves up.

Have any of you other vioiln teachers ever assigned core stability exercises such as plank or flutter kick? If you can describe any success you’ve had I would be very happy to know all about it.

I want to convince the mothers to take strengthening exercises seriously. One of my mothers in particular (and whose kids are by far the worst in this) is somewhat anti-sport and I know I’ll need to have something to convince her that some muscle strength is needing for violin playing.


Andrea in Volketswil Switzerland

Christine said: Jan 3, 2013
Christine GoodnerInstitute Director
SAA Staff
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Viola
Hillsboro, OR
102 posts

I worked with a chiropractor a year ago who explained to me that I should be holding up my shoulders and violin using my core muscles instead of my back muscles. Suddenly, my back muscles didn’t feel tired when playing! It seems like such an obvious thing . . . I just hadn’t thought of it that way before.

Now I have been making a point of telling students to hold their violin up with their core (or tummy depending on the age) muscles and it really improves postures without any sore back problems. Hopefully even those who are “Anti-sport” are also “Anti—Injury” and will be willing to work on it.

I am interested to hear if any teachers assign specific exercises to students so they can work on this . . . I have not done that yet but it’s a good idea.

Christine Goodner

Blog: The Suzuki Triangle

Suzuki Licensed Book: Beyond the Music Lesson: Habits of Successful Suzuki Families

“When Love is Deep, Much can be Accomplished” ~ Suzuki

Carrie said: Jan 4, 2013
 60 posts

I have recently started teaching my students the importance of core strength as well. I don’t know how to convince an anti-sport mother of this, but I do believe that little boys especially want to be strong, and perhaps our society has being giving this same value to little girls. I don’t know. I explain how at the piano the core (body) needs to be strong so that the arms and hands can go and do what they need to do. I teach them how to do that. Then, when they sag, I say “core strength” with a big smile on my face and don’t proceed until they have gotten back into position. I keep it positive and with the assumption that of course they want to be strong. Sometimes I’ll say “sit strong”.

I’ve been teaching one little guy for a couple of years now and still have to remind him often. Yet now I can just put my hand on his back and he sits right up. I tell him how he looks like someone who really knows how to play piano when he sits up like that and he beams. He is spending more and more time sitting up and has to be told less and less.


Kathryn Kilian Vovk said: Jan 4, 2013
Kathryn Kilian VovkViolin
Phoenix, AZ
7 posts

I am also very interested in any ideas about this subject. I have a little one who is quite swaybacked, and her lower back hurts because she doesn’t know how to stand while engaging her abdominal muscles.

I have been having her stand against the wall and trying to push her upper back against the wall while keeping her hips, shoulders and head also on the wall. It’s very hard for her to contract the right muscles to make this happen. I am not a physical therapist or a yoga teacher, so I’m not sure what the next steps should be.

I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one! :-)

JoAnn said: Jan 4, 2013
 20 posts

One thing that helps the kids with weak core muscles and to straighten the back (and to give a little relief from standing, as the weak core muscles create sore back muscles when standing and playing the violin) is to have them sit down on the floor with crossed legs “Indian style” and play. They may not touch their elbows down to their knees or sides. I tell them to pretend that their head is like a helium balloon and it wants to escape up to the ceiling and their spine is like the string which is holding it straight.
As an alternative- playing in kneeling position, sitting down on their heels, is an excellent way to keep the back straight, if they can tolerate it.

These things do not strengthen the core itself, but do help in allowing the child to have a straight back while playing, in the meantime, without fatigue. This should be done alternating standing (trying to maintain the same feeling) not always sitting, of course.


Merietta Oviatt said: Jan 4, 2013
Merietta OviattViolin, Suzuki in the Schools, Cello, Viola
Stevens Point, WI
107 posts

I was wondering if anyone had some good exercises to build core strength? Both for the little ones and the teens!

Dr. Merietta Oviatt
Suzuki Specialist
Viola/Violin Instructor
Aber Suzuki Center, University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point
[javascript protected email address]

Sue Hunt said: Jan 5, 2013
Sue HuntViola, Violin
403 posts

I have had good results from slotting appropriate activities in between assignments or groups of repetitions.

You could use OT Mom’s Core Strengthening Exercisesfor Kids with fun, achievable abdominal exercises, your child should soon develop a stronger core that will have lifelong benefits. These core strengthening exercises for kids are ideal for children who struggle to do sit-ups, the Plank and other conventional core exercises.

Lori Bolt said: Jan 5, 2013
Lori BoltPiano
San Clemente, CA
262 posts

Thanks Sue. The “Snake Curls” shown under the free exercises look like a fun group exercise since music is involved! Looks like a good resource.

I was going to suggest the Plank…starting on hands & knees or elbows/knees at first.
Another one the kids might enjoy is Rope Climbing which is done lying on the back, legs/toes pointing up to the ceiling. Student grabs an imaginary rope up near the toes and “climbs” hand over hand while keeping shoulder off the ground.

I’m going to start paying more attention during yoga class to find suitable exercises to use

Lori Bolt

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