Physical Alignment for Strings Players

Sharon Wherland said: Jan 24, 2013
Sharon Wherland
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Redmond, WA
1 posts

I massage therapist friend sent me a link to this woman’s work. It looks like a great resource for thinking about/ addressing issues of posture, discomfort or pain while playing. I just ordered her handouts and look forward to reading them.
Here’s an introductory article about Christine Altman’s work

and a link to her exercises

Gretchen said: Mar 9, 2013
Gretchen Lee
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
State College, PA
28 posts

Looks helpful— thanks for sharing! I am often baffled when a child complains of pain when he/she only practices 20-30 min. a day. The pictures of the woman’s daughter pre-violin and after she had played for a year were enlightening!

Rafael Videira said: Apr 1, 2013
Rafael Videira
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
West Haven, CT
24 posts

Thanks for this info!
It’s also worth taking a look at “How Muscles Learn: teaching the Violin with the Body in Mind” by S. Kempter—as the title says, it has an interesting approach on considering the body in order to teach the violin.

Rafael Videira, DMA
Violist—Violin and Viola Instructor

Barb said: Apr 1, 2013
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
678 posts

Interestingly, I just paid for 3 pages of exercises my physiotherapist already taught me! Seriously, stretching the pects, the thoracic stretch, the spinal twist are three of the 10 listed on the document which I have recently started doing in an effort to help my back.

I have just a FEW issues with her (3 pages of) alignment for cellists pictures and instructions. The pictures might be a very good reference for parents at home (I really hope future editions of the Suzuki cello books will have some more pictures!). BUT, the girl’s head is ever so slightly off center, and her elbow is a bit low, so the EWP (elbow, wrist, base of pinky) as Pam Devenport calls it, is not lined up.

She says bow strokes originate from movement at the elbow, wrist, and fingers, not the glenohumeral joint. (It would be nice to have a little glossary of terms, too—had to look that up to make sure it was the shoulder. A few other mysterious-to-me terms as well.) Well… not once we are playing full bows on the cello—the down-bow movement then DOES begin with the shoulder.

And I would like more info on, “Scapulae should be protracted and stabilized while playing.” I’ll have to see if I can get her to send me a diagram or explain that further. I do have issues with my shoulder blades and my physio therapist has taught me how to “set” them, but they cannot remain set while playing—at least not the right one, which might be part of why mine are uneven (I also have other issues not related to cello playing, so ??). Any other cellists able to help me understand what she is saying?

I love the advice to watch for compensation when muscles fatigue, and to give the student a break rather than to let these habits develop.

I WILL be making this available to students/parents. Thanks for sharing with us!

Now I need to go find some monkey bars to take up a favorite childhood activity again!! :-)

Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

You must log in to post comments.

A note about the discussion forum: Public discussion forum posts are viewable by anyone. Anyone can read the forums, but you must create an account with your email address to post. Private forums are viewable by anyone that is a part of that private forum's group. Discussion forum posts are the opinion of the poster and do not constitute endorsement by or official position of the Suzuki Association of the Americas, Inc.

Please do not use the discussion forums to advertise products or services