5 Myths Violin Teachers Tell You | Violin Lounge TV #310

by | May 29, 2019 | Practice Tips | 6 comments

Dear violin teachers, I love you and am one of you, but there are some myths circling around amongst students that NEED to be busted:

Watch the video and learn which myth is holding YOU back in your progress!

Myth #1: Hold the violin between your chin and shoulder, letting it float in the air

You might have been told that your violin should be completely ‘weightless’ on your shoulder and that you shouldn’t do any effort at all to hold your violin. But everywhere we have gravity we must hold our violin. This allows for better balance it between your collar bone and your left hands which can help you avoid some nasty neck and shoulder pain. Research has even discovered that your intonation or playing in tune can improve when you have more contact with the violin with your left hand and if the violin rests more in your left hand a little bit.

All great violinists who played without shoulder rest had to hold their violin and had to have an active left arm while playing. But of course, it’s important to find an effortless and balance of violin hold that is 80% technique and 20% your chin rest and shoulder rest

Myth #2: Left hand should be independent, not supporting the violin for position shifts and vibrato

A lot of teachers also say you can’t do vibrato and position play when you have to support the violin with your left hand. Your left hand has to be completely free. However, you can do a beautiful vibrato when your thumb is an active counter-play and the violin rests on your thumb.

As I mentioned that your intonation can improve when you hold contact with the violin, this is true with position play as well. You can easily move up the positions by holding the violin as shown in this video. You’ll have more reference points so your intonation is better and you are more secure hitting that high note.

Myth #3: Putting your fingers on the string as softly as possible

First of all, your intonation becomes very insecure and it also doesn’t improve your articulation.

Listen to an example of this in the video to hear the difference.

Instead, you should place your fingers firmly on the strings like little hammers. Of course, you shouldn’t squeeze the neck of the violin and your left hand must remain relaxed, but you can place your fingers in a way that you can hear it.

Myth #4: Silent bow change 

It’s never really silent because in the motion that your string makes, the string is vibrating in a different direction in down bow and up bow.

So when you go from down bow to up bow you must stop the motion of your string and let it vibrate in a different direction. However, we can create the illusion of a silent bow and that’s what we want to strive for.

We strive for the silent bow change but we know that is not actually possible. Watch this video to learn about bowing smoothly.

 

Hi! I'm Zlata

Classical violinist helping you get technical progress and express yourself in music by teaching you all about violin bow technique.

Myth #5: You can’t play the violin sitting down

Look at the top 10 orchestras in the world … do they all stand? No, they sit. If it was better to stand then they would. It’s for practical reasons because they have to play for a long time but if it was really better to stand, would they really sit down? Of course, the soloist is standing because they need a lot of freedom of movement and being alone they still need to play the solo over the top of the orchestra.

The reason why violin teachers tell you to stand up is that when practicing you are more active, more concentrated. Most people also find it easier to have good posture when they are standing up straight rather than when they are sitting down.

It’s important that you can play standing and as well as sitting down.

When I practice myself, most of the time I am standing because I like freedom of movement and expression. It also keeps me more active. Today, even managers in board meetings are standing up because it is better for your concentration.

Disclaimer

The purpose of this video is not to criticize violin teachers but to simply bust some myths. I love violin teachers all over the world, and I respect you even if you teach in a different way than I do because there are several ways that lead to Rome. I think it is AMAZING what you all do for your students!

Let me know in the comments below which myth was most surprising to you or if you know other myths!

6 Comments

  1. raj narayanan

    dear zlata, good morning! you never cease to amaze me! you enable us to get rid of all our fears, regarding the art of playing the violin. you have pioneered in correcting and changing the way of ‘old school’ violin teaching and learning. we all appreciate your passion with this wonderful instrument as well as sharing with us, your experience and knowledge regarding the techniques of playing the violin. while wishing you good luck with your home renovation, we would also like to wish you good health and happiness and please do continue to spread and educate us with your violin playing tips. warm regards-raj

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata Brouwer

      Wow, Raj, thanks so much for your kind words and wishes! Well… actually I’m more old school than most violin teachers. Listen to recordings of the fifties and earlier. There’s so much more passion, freedom and musicality. Actually it’s a very ‘modern’ thing to see music as a sport.

      Reply
  2. Rita Dempsey

    Thank you for all your tips. I have just begun to play (March) and am taking lessons. I am finding your input very helpful and encouraging because as you well know, the first few months can be a bit of a trial when one doesn’t improve as quickly as you would like. I love all the encouragement you give and look forward to your weekly emails. Thanks for all you do.

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata Brouwer

      Thanks and welcome to Violin Lounge, Rita! Violin playing will always be a trial, but that’s a beautiful challenge and a very interesting journey.

      Reply
  3. John Norton

    Dearest Zlata. Thank you so much for your efforts on busting these myths. One we used to hear a lot that has hopefully “bitten the dust” permanently was that a student should be able to hold a book under the right arm while bowing a violin. Really? It would be difficult to do this on the E-string alone and impossible to have a good bowing arm on other strings. These “more modern” myths you discuss are also more subtle and less obvious to people who normally have their eyes open (not to mention their ears). I wish you all the best with all the busy things going on in your life, and please keep your wonderful efforts going with discussing these many violin issues. It always seems that “confusion rains”… may it never reign.

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata Brouwer

      Thanks for your wishes, John, hmmm, the book thing… after it teachers began to say you should frantically move up your upper arm for string crossings which will never get you in high speed. The truth is always in the middle, I guess.

      Reply

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