Violin posture. Some of my pupils complain of back ache

said: Oct 11, 2008
 145 posts

I am having problems!

I recently did the Suzuki training and I have them using a mat for their feet.
They have the violin out to the side. My pupils practice holding the violin just with their head.
Then when they start playing some of my students complain of back ache.
I have tried a number of things like: moving their left foot forward , I know that they use to draw the left foot slightly forward on the mat, but in the teacher’s training I was on, the mats had the feet at the same level.
I’ve tried sitting to the right of the child and they have to point their scroll towards me.
I find my self saying when they start reading music to have them standing sideways to the stand. Maybe this is wrong ? This I was also told to do on the teacher’s training.
Can someone advise me ? :confused:

Jennifer Visick said: Oct 12, 2008
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

Check out Susan Kempter’s “How Muscles Learn: Teaching the Violin with the body in mind”—she has some good diagrams on posture and alignment of the body and eliminating excess tension.

In the mean time….
- check to make sure that the student’s knees are unlocked
- look at the student’s profile from the bow arm side while they play and try to imagine a line going through the middle of the shoulder and the middle of the hips. This straight line should also go through the middle of the student’s ankle and be pretty much at a 90 degree angle to the floor or horizon (that is, vertical, straight up and down). If the student’s hips are in front of the shoulders and the ankles, this might be a cause of lower back pain. Also, from the front or back, make sure the hips are generally centered over the feet.
- try having the student sit on a short chair or stool or cross-legged on the floor while holding the instrument on their shoulder and beginning to play. Does this help?
- try doing gentle, mild stretches—e.g., without the instrument, bend over as if in a deep bow. let the arms hang down and swing back and forth slightly, relaxing the shoulders. Then slowly come up to a standing position, knees unlocked, letting the neck and head be the last part of the spine to return to upright.
- ask the student to hold the instrument for shorter periods of time
- use a lightweight cardboard instrument to help check posture
- ask if the student has back pain at other times. Does the student carry a lot of textbooks home from school, etc.—in which case that is probably a cause and the violin playing posture exacerbates it.
- try having the student walk or march while holding or playing the instrument. A body in motion has to find a balance, and is less likely to hold to a back position that hurts.

-more extreme (and more expensive) measures might include getting advice from a doctor or physical therapist, if the problem persists.

said: Oct 26, 2008
 36 posts

I use foot maps or as some people call them foot charts. For Kindergarten they seem ok, but I find that 1st and 2nd graders don’t really use them.

With regards to posture. The violin MUST be on the shoulder! I totally agree and see it ALL THE TIME that kids will hold it with their head. 3 things hold up the violin. The Shoulder, Chin,or Jaw, and the left hand. Now, some Suzuki teachers I have noticed have their kids practice CHIN POWER whereby the student hold the violin with the chin for 20 seconds or something like this. Now, in my opinion, the SHOULDER is much more important than the Jaw or Chin. In fact, studying with Karen Tuttle’s students taught me that if you play a long period of time, that you should do NECK RELEASES. This triangle of wieghlessness as some call it is a back and forth of the Jaw/Chin, Shoulder and Left hand whereby they all take turns in supporting the violin/viola. This should bring awareness the the muscles involved.

They are probably not resting the instrument on their shoulder because there is an issue with their shoulder rest. You know, some of these kids hate using one and then they bring the instrument to the front of their body instead of on the right side. It’s such a battle!

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