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Greetings Beth and all in ViolinLabLand

Recently I decided to try violin again after being away from it for over forty years.   My new violin arrived and I quickly tuned it thanks to a chromatic tuner (that didn't exist forty years ago - - I love technology :-).   I started with some simple bow exercises and scales.  After playing for a few minutes, I put the violin down and all the shoulder injuries I incurred playing various sports over the years came to visit in a most painful way. 

I kept my practice sessions short for the next few days and the discomfort is gradually going away.  Question: are there specific exercises you recommend to warm-up and warm-down, much like I do before and after I run, play golf, etc.  Could be I'm just reawakening muscles I haven't used in along time.

13 Responses
Posted: March 19, 2016
Last Comment: March 24, 2016

Posted: March 24, 2016
Thanks for your video on exercise techniques. These were very effective exercises for me.
I noticed a "clicking" in my shoulder when doing the rotating shoulder exercise (at 3.15 in your video) but after a few minutes, the clicking was gone. It may be the exercise helps the synovial fluid lubricate the joint as you say. This movement in particular loosened my shoulder, not only the joint,  but the muscles (front, lateral and back deltoids) of the shoulder were more relaxed.
The exercises are pretty easy to do, no strenuous movements involved (as in weight training for example), the only difficult thing for me is having the discipline to do them regularly!
I will try and consciously link it with the discipline I have for practise - if I have the discipline to practise regularly I should have the discipline to do 5-10 minutes exercise before/after my practise session. 10 mins is not much when you think about it, and it really helps. You never know how beneficial the exercises are until you do them and actually FEEL the relief in your body!

Mary Reeley
Posted: March 23, 2016
warm ups for the violinist
Hi Jim. Goggle reddesertviolin warm ups for violinist.  There is a 12 min video on warming up muscles for playing. These along with Beth's exercises should help.  Good luck

Posted: March 23, 2016
First, thanks for all the great feedback and words of encouragement on this thread.

After trying some things, I think there is something to add here and that is a distinction between warm-up/warm-down  exercises and physical therapy exercises.   I have found simple shoulder roles and shrugs are a good warm-up and warm-down exercise set for me - - could be somrthing else works for others.  This has really helped minimize the discomfort in my shoulders and neck and keep me flexible.  Now I stop my practice session when I feel muscle groups getting fatigued.

And I think this is where the physical therapy exercies come in to build strength and hopefully endurance. When I tried to play after some of the strengthening exercises, the affected muscles sets were so tired I really didn't want to practice. I keep telling myself this is like any other physical activity - - start slow and build, be patient. 

Anyway that's my working theory for now.  Let me know if this sounds crazy or not.

Thanks again,


PS I don't remember it being like this 40 years ago playing as a teenager -- imagine that :-)

Posted: March 22, 2016
Thank you, Beth.  Great info in your video.  I can't believe how on target it was.    Sleep issues and shoulder reach are what I've be struggling with for sometime.

I think the topics you covered play into what I've come to see as overall muscle tone and I've been telling myself this takes time and patience.   The really good news for me is the discomfort I experienced the first few days is gradually disappearing and practice sessions have been increasing from a 1-2 minutes at a time to 4-5.   This gradual build up reminds me of what I experienced preparing for my first marathon - - progress was always slow and steady.

Thanks again for taking the time to make the video and for all that you have put into Violin Lab.



Posted: March 21, 2016
Beth, this video was awesome. Thank you so much!

Beth Blackerby
Posted: March 21, 2016
This discussion includes members-only video content

These suggestions may or may not address your issues, Jim, but I would think they could help. But they are good for anyone wanting to keep their bodies in good physical shape for playing.

Beth Blackerby
Posted: March 20, 2016
Hi Jim,

I'll make a video tomorrow showing you the exercises and stretches my physical therapist gave me. 

Posted: March 20, 2016
Great advice Diane. Getting the chin rest/SR combo right from the get-go is so important for posture and avoiding tension and potential injury. Prevention is better than cure!

Elke, I have that book in my Amazon basket after you recommended it in a previous post. You reminded me to actually order it!

Elke Meier
Posted: March 20, 2016
I have recommended the book by Sharon Butler many times, and I will gladly repeat it here. It is just excellent! Not only for violinists, but in the book is a section where it says: as violinist, these are the exercises that are especially important for you.

Posted: March 20, 2016
Chin and Shoulder Rest setup is important when you start back up again.

Hi Jim and welcome to VL and the Community here. We are all routing for you : >)!
One of the main things to consider in playing and starting up again is the "setup" of your violin for chin and shoulder rest. We are all built differently and not just any chin rest is going to work for you.  If you have bought a violin off the internet then it will come with a standard flat, short chin rest and that might not be what you need. The same goes for a shoulder rest… Have the best equipment and the correct shape and height of a chin rest will help to prevent tension and possible further injury to the shoulders and neck. Take a look at this website:  Violinist in Balance and also, Artist in Balance for help and a great education.  A local violin shop can further help you in find a comfortable chin and shoulder rest. I your here in the States…Sharmusic.com and a chin and shoulder rest program where they will send you several different sizes and shapes to try out at home.  You need to contact them…they have qualified staff to assist you…they have an 800 toll free number or email them.  Try and keep tension away in your playing.  Just below here on the Community page there is a thread about discomfort and I believe that Jay posted some excellent warm up exercises to get you limbered up.  Welcome to the wonderful violin journey.
Stay tuned. Diane in SoCal 

Posted: March 20, 2016
Not sure what to say but I genuinely hope you find an answer
I am rooting for you

Posted: March 19, 2016
Also, do a search for rotator cuff exercises on Youtube. This is a particularly fragile area of muscle and tendon in the shoulder and should be strengthened, you don't need weights, just two tinned food cans or small bottles of water held in each hand. Given the demands of both shoulders in violin playing, it is wise to strengthen this area. Good luck!

Posted: March 19, 2016
Hi Jim,

Welcome to ViolinLab and welcome back to the violin!

You'll be using muscles that haven't been utilisied in a while (and seldom used in everyday activities) so it's wise to acclimatise and tone your body to the demands of violin playing.

I found these exercise to be particularly helpful, I used to do these exercises a lot after my injury. The temptation to tune the violin and start playing straight away is too much sometimes, especially when you are pushed for time. Anyway, hope these are helpful.