Excerpt – An Alexander Technique Approach to Violin Technique (Musicians)(Posture)(Pain)(Strain)(Injuries)(Albuquerque)

by ethankind on April 11, 2012

This ebook, An Alexander Technique Approach to Violin Technique, is published on this website in a PDF format. It is very detailed and practical, and it will give you the physical tools you need to take the limits off of your ability to create the accurate violin technique you want without sacrificing your body.
This ebook is also for sale on all AMAZON websites in a KINDLE format.
Located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.A. (MOVEMENT THERAPY)

Do you know which muscles move the right arm, as it moves up-bow and down-bow across the strings? On the up-bow, the biceps/brachialis and the chest (pectoral) muscle with the front of the shoulder (anterior deltoid) muscle push the bow across the string. The triceps and the back (latissimus dorsi) muscle with the back of the shoulder (posterior deltoid) muscle pull the bow on the down-bow.

It is very important to understand that these large torso muscles do much of the work to move the bow. It also means that you need to accept that these muscles are very precise in what you ask of them, or you are conflicted.

You may now view hands as precise and the larger upper body musculature as imprecise, which means you “live” only in your hands when you play. Living only in your hands, means you experience your hands as moving your arms, not the arms and torso as moving your hands. The musculature of the torso and the shoulders move the arms and hands, which means the torso places the hands where they need to be to be accurate.

There are two things we teach as Alexander Technique teachers, when it comes to activities like playing a musical instrument that require refined movement. We make it very clear to the violinist which muscles are doing what, and we teach the performer how to get out of the way of these muscles, so that playing the violin is as effortless, on pitch, and dynamic as possible.

So, I want to make you aware that your chest, back, arm, and shoulder muscles move the bow, but experience it as the hand leading an energized arm in bowing. (An Alexander Technique “trick” is to experience bowing as if the hand moves the arm, even though you know in reality that the arm and torso muscles move the hand. When you experience the hand leading a very alive and available arm, you get this very dynamic arm that is doing the minimum muscularly to move the bow.)

When the violinist is making sounds, the bow is in motion. When the bow is in motion, this means the whole right arm and right shoulder are in motion. As obvious as this is, it is critical to bring it to consciousness. Why? Because playing the violin cannot be described in terms of static positions. (You can describe playing the piano and guitar in static positions, because on both of these instruments you can play a note and sustain it without moving, and these instruments will continue to sound.)

When I ask a violinist to fully experience what happens in the right arm as she plays, it may be the first time in the violinist’s life that she is experiencing/sensing the arm, hand, and shoulder instead of telling them what to do. So, as the violinist is moving the bow back and forth across the string, I ask her to feel what the whole arm is doing. I ask her to experience for the first time that all of her joints are continuously changing shape, when the bow is in motion. The first time I did this with a violinist, it was a revelation for the player, because for the first time she got to watch her body rather than boss her body. What happened was wonderful. Instantly the tone became warmer, fuller, and louder.

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