High right shoulder

Elizabeth said: May 25, 2011
Elizabeth SkinnerViolin, Viola
Essex Junction, VT
8 posts

I have a 6 yr-old beginner who is just starting to use the bow. She’s doing well but is raising her right shoulder right from the get go. Her mother apparently does the same thing in other activities. I don’t want this to become an ingrained habit so I’m having her do very limited actual bowing. Her arm/hand doesn’t seem to be tense. I’ve been having her stop, shrug, breathe, shake it out to bring awareness and relaxation. Her mother and I will lay a hand or give a gentle stroke to have her relax her shoulder. We’re wondering if she’s raising her shoulder to compensate for using her head weight to help support the violin? Any ideas?

Thanks so much for your thoughts!

Teresa Henrichs Hakel said: May 26, 2011
Teresa Henrichs Hakel
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Houston, TX
9 posts

Check the fit of her shoulder rest. Sometimes you can’t see that the left shoulder is going up to hold the instrument because the violin is in the way, but the right shoulder rises in sympathy. It’s hard to raise one shoulder without the other. It may help either to raise the shoulder rest or sponge, or put the violin higher (further back) on the shoulder.

If that isn’t the problem, notice whether she is pronating the arm (rotating it counter clockwise) or wrapping the first finger around the bow. If so, ask her to rest the slightly curved first finger on top of the bow without letting the fingerprint touch. Although advanced players often touch the fingerprint to the bow, I’ve found it helpful to have beginners practice without letting it touch, to avoid the feeling of controlling the entire bow with the first finger. I also tell the kids that the pinkie should be more curved than the first finger.

Teresa

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