violin posture

Arlene said: Sep 29, 2015
Arlene Patterson
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Longmont, CO
13 posts

I have a student who seems incapable of standing tall with feet in a good play position. Her feet twist around her ankles until she is standing like a corkscrew. Any suggestions?

Arlene

Elizabeth Weston said: Sep 29, 2015
 
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
Portland, OR
1 posts

I assume you have tried the standard method of the cardboard pizza circle with tracings of the student’s feet in the correct position? Betsy * Arlene said:I have a student who seems incapable of standing tall with feet in a good play position. Her feet twist around her ankles until she is standing like a corkscrew. Any suggestions?

Hadley Johnson Gibbons said: Sep 29, 2015
Hadley Johnson Gibbons
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Seattle, WA
24 posts

Have you tried to have her stand with a book on her head?

Marian Goss said: Sep 30, 2015
Marian Goss
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
26 posts

I think this is another good situation for the standard foot chart. Keep in mind, kids can still twist when their feet are flat on the ground. Make a point to show the child where the middle of her body is, such as her belly button. I often draw a large circle right under the belly button directly into the foot chart so the children has a visual way to line that up. Most of what we do happens on the left side of our body, certainly awkward for many young children. Do lots of activities on that left side, such as clapping, and air blowing. Keep practicing these skills away from the instrument itself.

Pam said: Sep 30, 2015
Pam Hatley (Hunter)
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools
San Jose, CA
12 posts

When standing on the foot paper with feet inside the lines and raising the shoulders and rolling them back doesn’t work, I have the mom put one finger in the belly button and one finger at the sternum (bottom of the rib cage. It feels like an upside down “v”) and the spine automatically lines up.

Pam

Christiane said: Sep 30, 2015
Christiane Pors-Sadoff
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
New York, NY
47 posts

I am thinking there may be a correlation between the child’s inability to keep feet in a playing stance, and the child’s energy being somewhat compromised by being asked to be rather stationary. I think what may help here is to give some movement exercises or images of movement like swaying trees within the playing stance. Paul Rolland advocated for swaying between feet while playing either open string longer bow strokes or flying pizzicato. I use his song called Barcarolle to initiate this movement, and rarely have issues with feet as they are incorporated into the larger motions of playing the violin. Check out Paul Rolland’s The Teaching of Action in String Playing which contains a wealth of research of movement in string playing.

Christiane Pors
Violinist
Mikomi Violin Studio
Kaufman Music Center
NYU Steinhardt

Elise Winters said: Oct 7, 2015
Elise Winters
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Austin, TX
37 posts

I think the basic issue with this is that young children are still learning to cross the midline. Usually when a young child reaches for something on their left side (with their right arm), they will simply rotate from the waist so the object is now located in front of their right arm. They are simply trying to do the same thing when playing violin.

To train midline-crossing for violin playing, I do an exercise away from the violin called to the tune of “Boil Them Cabbage.” They hold a ball in their right hand, with the ball resting on their left shoulder. Then they extend their arm out (ball facing outward, wrist bent). This is approximately the path of the bow on A string level—oversimplified, but translates into perfect bow movement once they begin playing.

This “ball bounce” activity trains the “bend, recover” movement of the wrist and provides an easy context to work on keeping the body aligned … as well as building strength & keeping a steady beat. They don’t mind working on the movement details because the activity is enjoyable for them.

Pam said: Oct 7, 2015
Pam Hatley (Hunter)
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools
San Jose, CA
12 posts

Elise,
This is a brilliant explanation of midline-crossing with a helpful and enjoyable activity! I can’t wait to try it this week:) Thank you for sharing!!

Pam

Brecklyn Smith Ferrin said: Oct 9, 2015
Brecklyn Smith Ferrin
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Kaysville, UT
28 posts

Sometimes standing on one foot or placing one foot on a small stool can help with the tendency to twist in the legs. I love the “ball bounce” idea, I can’t wait to try that!

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