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Inge Black
Hi Beth.  This has been on my mind for a while.  When Elke observed what I was doing with the chinrest in my video, it popped to mind again.  So:

Back then I had two sets of advice. In the one, it was to turn the head slightly to the left (as you show).  The other had warnings about damage to the upper back and neck vertebrae and counseled looking straight ahead, so as to not twist the spine.  Together with this, that it's not a chin rest but a jaw rest.  I tried to follow the latter.  But in fact, there are things about this, a kind of "uneven load" feel (wording?) - dunno.  I'm guessing that you have run into this, and have perspective on it.

I also want me spine, body, head, to be mobile and not rigidly fixed in any one position all the time, and know that is part of the issue.
Inge Black
14 Responses
Posted: April 7, 2018
Last Comment: April 12, 2018
Replies

Inge Black
Posted: April 12, 2018
Thank you Beth, for the time and care in your video response. I see you are addressing this question, and also the one under "Shoulder".

When you had finger 2 (middle) land on the string, this was instantly helpful and makes a big difference.  This changes the balance I feel in my hand and works its way back to the body.  By chance I just worked on an issue with piano where I had chosen one finger as a central pivot, my teacher had corrected it and on-line I found this.  Piano isn't violin, but the point is that the choice of finger can affect balance in the hand which works its way into the shoulders and everything.  While you had the middle finger in this violin, and he had the index in this piano, in both cases I felt an immediate change in what I felt in my shoulders and neck, and the ease.  So I hope it's ok to share this:
https://youtu.be/Ttr4_BAsC8Y?t=25

I found an immediate effect when I landed on 3.  One of the problems we discussed in the "shoulder" thread was that I had a habit of strongly rotating inward at the forearm/wrist (screwing in a lightbulb) and staying locked in that rotation, with I saw made my whole arm tense.  What you gave with the middle finger counters this beautifully for me.

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The other thing that has made an instant improvement in things may surprise you.  It has to do with the type of posture I have come out of, which I'll explain another time.  In the other section, the rotation from the upper arm (versus light-bulb screwing) has the effect of loosening a very tight upper back and making the whole thing more mobile.  I think it would only do the same thing for someone else coming out of those posture habits.  But anyway, that has helped as well.

I want to write about some of the other things at another time.  I'm not ignoring them.

Barb Wimmer
Posted: April 12, 2018
Good reminder.   Sometimes I have to remind myself bring violin to me not stretch or crank body to fit to violin. Or it hurts. 

Beth Blackerby
Posted: April 11, 2018
This discussion includes members-only video content



Inge Black
Posted: April 8, 2018
Thank you, Elke.  From both of your input I'm a lot further ahead than I was 24 hours ago.

Elke Meier
Posted: April 8, 2018
Paganini is the name of a certain center mounted chin rest. There are others who are similar (like the new Flesch, which I used for a while) but the Paganini felt better to my jaw as it had a softer edge. It is quite different from the SAS, as it cannot be adjusted horizontally like the SAS. I cannot work with the SAS in the most "usual" position, but it feels very, very good when the horizontal plane is adjusted. 

Inge Black
Posted: April 8, 2018
Being practical again, Elke, this was very helpful.  You mentioned "Paganini" - is this one different from the SAS, or another name for it?

"About the SAS: I also use one. I measured more or less the height that I would need and ordered three sizes to try out. They are easy to change, just like other chin rests. The difference is just the position of one foot of the chin rest on the edge of the violin. But there are videos where you can see that

Before I changed to SAS at one point I ordered I think 10 different chin rests - basically one of each model that looked very different from the others, just to get a feel of what would and would not work for me. If I lived closer to a violin shop I could have tried them out, but as it is I had them delivered to my house, tried them all and then sent all but the Paganini chin rest back."

Inge Black
Posted: April 8, 2018
Mentioning: I do expect to be slow also because my time is divided.  I'm working on piano, working remotely with that teacher, and I also freelance as a translator with an unpredictable workload.   What I am finding is that quite a few of the issues of either instrument are similar technically, so that when I work on the one, I'm also contributing to the other. There are days that are not easy, and that is true for every one of us.  I feel fortunate to have found not only Beth as a teacher, but this wonderful community.  I'm glad to be here. :)

Inge Black
Posted: April 8, 2018
Thank you for your frank, response, Elke.  I had 5 years of violin around 2000 and after it collapsed, various ways of fixing were tried incl. "on violin".  When a thing is habit, the touch of the instrument is enough to make all reflexes kick in.  "Knowing" is not enough. One must break through.  I already did this with the bow hand.  I spent weeks picking up a stick until I could do it without my thumb becoming a hard drill, and then could build this same reflex into the bow.  I took time not practising a piece, but practising keeping my left hand relaxed as I touched strings - then went back to the piece.  I recorded once each time, and then created a before-after sound file.  I'm sure you will hear the difference.
https://soundcloud.com/usernewtothis/comparison2/s-NSdpx
It might take me months to sort out each thing, with little time on violin.  But that is a lot better than years playing "so-so", always stuck on the same core habit, and with continual semi-pain or discomfort at the best.  Remediation is hard.  Most teachers will tell you that a lot of times their students will quit because it is that hard.  It should be taught slowly enough and carefully from the beginning, and if a student has discomfort, she should not be shy about alerting her teacher.
I first ran into this idea via a golf instructor.  In his camp, golfers were not allowed to touch a club for 5 weeks while they relearned motions; the transition would be hard. This was extreme.  I know a pianist who relearned via "Taubman" and for a year he worked only on motions, and was not allowed to touch any regular music.  Piano was less bad, but it was also remediation.  Some of my work was away from the instrument, and the rest at.
Anyone who started properly so you have a good foundation, thank your teachers and your own hard work. Seriously.

Elke Meier
Posted: April 8, 2018
About the SAS: I also use one. I measured more or less the height that I would need and ordered three sizes to try out. They are easy to change, just like other chin rests. The difference is just the position of one foot of the chin rest on the edge of the violin. But there are videos where you can see that

Before I changed to SAS at one point I ordered I think 10 different chin rests - basically one of each model that looked very different from the others, just to get a feel of what would and would not work for me. If I lived closer to a violin shop I could have tried them out, but as it is I had them delivered to my house, tried them all and then sent all but the Paganini chin rest back. 

Elke Meier
Posted: April 8, 2018
Inge, I have not been following all your posts. As a non-native English speaker all these names of muscles and rotations and such - they were just beyond me and very hard to imagine and follow. However, I am kind of concerned whether you will ever get back to the violin. You are working for weeks now on theoretically correcting all the mistakes. I can understand that you are so concerned about getting back into the old horrible pattern. I am just not convinced that you can be successful unlearning bad habits and learning good ones without a violin. 

It is like a someone trying to learn to swim on the beach. There is so much you can do for getting the basic concept, but then you have to get into the water! Only there will you see and feel what really is wrong or right. And you don't get EVERYTHING right at once (just as well as I am convinced that you did not do EVERYTHING wrong before). But you stand in not too deep water and practice the arms. Then you hold on to a hand rail and practice what the legs do. Then you do it together - and fail. You go back to the movement of one part, then you try again. But it is mainly done in the water, not on the beach.

Part of why people get into horrible patterns is lack of awareness. They didn't know better. I am very sure that you will not fall back into those old patterns, because you KNOW now that they were wrong, and you are aware of what could be. But I doubt you will really find good new patterns without a violin. It will feel different the moment you add the violin to your exercises - just like swimming movements feel different in the water from the beach.

Inge Black
Posted: April 8, 2018
" I had to change my chinrest to the SAS model. The ubiquitous Guarneri models make the head pull forward."

I noticed that they come in various heights.  I don't have the Guarneri now, since the violin it was on is no longer my violin (a long story). This has caught me interest.

What do you do - order it from Amazon, test it out, send it back if it's the wrong height and try another one?  Are they easy to put on, or do we need someone to do it for us?

Inge Black
Posted: April 8, 2018
Thank you, Beth and Elke.  Since first seeing the advice here about turning the head, I've explored the whole premise that I had been told.  What I actually find with the "head facing straight ahead" is a kind of discomfort, as if one side of the neck and head are engaging with a bit of weight on the violin, and the other side isn't - like a "one-sided compression" and it feel unnatural.  It doesn't feel good.  There are ways of turning the head and dropping it, and what is happening in the posture overall plays a role even where that head is.  In any case, I'm abandoning that "rule".

I am afraid of appearing OCD and weird with some of my posts.  I'm not there playing the violin even for simple things.  I got into such a pickle in the past for such a long time, that I'm not in any kind of normal position.  I just think "violin" and the same muscles get tight in preparation, like your hand gets ready to hold a cup.  Menuhin had the idea of feeling how the body moves and is naturally without the violin, and keep that comfortable feeling with it.

My first badly made fiddle set me up.  I avoided the thumb (electric shock), hung the weight of my entire arm on the playing finger, and clamped like mad against that weight with my head.  The whole mechanism stayed out of order, and partly so after changing to a good violin.  I do worry about the probable "strangeness" of some of my posts and questions.  Thank YOU for your patience. :)

Elke Meier
Posted: April 8, 2018
Here is what I have learned, here on VL and on violinistinbalance.nl: To hold the violin you should turn (not bend!) your head toward the violin and give a light nod - that should secure the violin. If it doesn't something has to be fixed in the violin setup (shoulder rest/chinrest). 
BUT: the head should never be stiff and unmoving. Bending the neck will give you neck pain in time. Turning doesn't, nor does nodding - otherwise we would all be constantly in pain in normal life. Keeping the head fixed in one position, however, is completely unnatural. Our head is normally quite a bit in motion. And for most of the playing one does not really need the chin/jaw to hold the violin. Shifting down you would need a bit of support from the chin so the violin does not slip out. But try it out otherwise: The head can actually move most of the time. I notice in my own playing that as soon as I get insecure in the left hand my chin starts clamping down - which is a complete and unproductive overreaction! Just because my fingers don't quite know what to do does not mean that the violin will slip. 

Beth Blackerby
Posted: April 8, 2018
Inge, from what I've learned from the Alexander Technique is that as long as the head is over the spine and not leaning (think of the bowling ball balanced on a toothpick image) then you can turn the head in any direction safely. You can also turn and drop the pin a bit. Again, it's about keeping the head over the spine and pulling the violin into the neck. Not craning the head forward TO the chinrest. I had to change my chinrest to the SAS model. The ubiquitous Guarneri models make the head pull forward.