Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

46
Fiddle Lovers Online


 All Forums
 Playing the Fiddle
 Playing Advice
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Fiddle and Bow Holds, Posture, and Tension


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.fiddlehangout.com/archive/55469

soppinthegravy - Posted - 07/13/2021:  15:46:50


I tend to hear that the main causes for pain and bad tone are improper methods of holding the fiddle and bow, bad posture, and tension in the player's body. I imagine these factors all contribute to each other, but I want to dig deeper than that. Here are some questions:




  1. What do you think are the main reasons some fiddlers fall nto using improper holds?

  2.  What do you think are the main reasons some fiddlers have bad posture?

  3. What do you think are the main reasons some fiddlers have a lot of tension in their bodies?

  4. How do you think each of these problems can be solved?

Flat_the_3rd_n7th - Posted - 07/13/2021:  18:36:03


I will give my perspective, because I am a fiddler, but I am nowhere near qualified as a fiddle/violin teacher. I spent a majority of my career as an instructor, but it is not in this area. Also, when there's a question of technique, I tend to look to the classical methods--though I am a proud product of Appalachian vernacular, I'll aver that classical pedagogy would be what has evolved to eliminate inefficiency and pain.

1. I suppose you need to identify an improper hold. FWIW, I use a classical hold at the frog cause I can do 'chunks', kickoffs and long bows better by holding there.

2. Bad posture is a result of trying to overcome something gravity is doing. ie, if instrument is not level, you have to overcome a bow that wants to slip downhill by changing your hand or shoulder or something.

3. Tension--fiddler enemy #1. Nervousness; trying too hard to force a left hand do something it's not naturally shaped to do, or go somewhere with too much pressure; shoulder-shrugging bow arm; upper bow arm flexing like a bodybuilder

4. I'm still working on this. A good teacher can help a lot on relieving tension. If doing it yourself, you just have to focus on being smooth and loose. Large muscle groups are hard to keep from being jerky.

JonD - Posted - 07/13/2021:  19:23:24


I don't have answers to these questions, but as a beginning fiddler I've been digging deep both online and in books to figure all this out.

I recently found a used copy of Yehudi Menuhin's 'Six Lessons' which is really more of a technical breakdown of all aspects of playing the violin, starting with a series of whole body exercises, moving through hand and arm routines and motions, and finishing with left hand, right hand, and both hand coordinating practices.

There is certainly a lot in there that addresses body posture, optimal motion and absence of tension, often in excruciating detail... I'm not sure how much I can get out of it, but there seem to be things even a beginner can glean although it's definitely not a beginner book.

UsuallyPickin - Posted - 07/14/2021:  05:38:45


Hmmmm .... I started with a classical violin style teacher and have moved through many fiddle instructors.
1. We all have the body and hand shape and size that our genetics granted us. Trying to find a good workable grip may lead us to a place that works but is not a successful long term solution.
2. Posture is often just ignored as we search for that tone that timing that amalgamation of all things fiddle.
3. Trying too hard.
4. Relaxing both physically and mentally into playing .... grasp instead of grab if that makes sense. R/

Old Scratch - Posted - 07/14/2021:  08:12:58


1. "improper holds" ?
2. "bad posture" ?
3. Tense by nature? Not realizing how important it is to relax ......
4. I only see one problem - #3. Solve by making an effort to relax - paradoxical, as that may be.

Swing - Posted - 07/14/2021:  09:18:11


Posture is very important, especially when starting to play the fiddle... if you sit or stand straight and make a habit of it, then other ergonomic issues fall in line... relaxing learning to relax is always an issue when beginning or playing in front of others...over time that goes away as you gain experience and confidence...the biggest issue I see in beginners (I was guilty of it as well) is that they want to play tunes right away and not learn the instrument.... learning posture, holding the instrument and bow, learning to make smooth movements and learning to play in tune will speed up the learning of tunes...what's the rush, you have a lifetime to get it all straight and know lots of tunes...,

Play Happy

Swing

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 07/14/2021:  09:35:48


1) and 2): Ignorance and/or resistance to learning technique
3) Nervousness/stage fright. Sometimes the cause can be difficulty in drawing a tone out of a poorly set up instrument.
4) All can be solved through learning good technique. It has been my experience that the players with the most complicated holding setups (e.g. chinrests and shoulder rests) are generally the most ill-at-ease and the weakest players. Learning how to relax while holding the instrument is crucial.

There are different approaches to holding the instrument, but every good hold involves a relaxed body and freedom of motion to the important muscles.

Flat_the_3rd_n7th - Posted - 07/14/2021:  10:08:02


Here's another kind of funny take on tension. If you see yourself making faces or your mouth moving weirdly, tongue hanging out, or even drooling, there's probably tension somewhere. It's like a "tension-ometer"

Old Scratch - Posted - 07/14/2021:  11:55:19


Hmmm ... does this qualify as a 'complicated holding setup?



           



(Natalie MacMaster)

Old Scratch - Posted - 07/14/2021:  12:18:55


Tommy Peoples, I believe with one of them big clunky whacha-ma-call-it shoulder rests:



 



        

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 07/14/2021:  16:10:56


quote:

Originally posted by Old Scratch

Hmmm ... does this qualify as a 'complicated holding setup?



           



(Natalie MacMaster)






No. Her setup isn't all that complicated. The jack probably makes it look more involved than it actually is.



I'm not a fan of shoulder rests myself, but I recognize that they're popular with all kinds of players, especially since the Suzuki method came to be the dominant teaching method.  Natalie's is a standard model and she doesn't have it set to an extreme height. 

Old Scratch - Posted - 07/14/2021:  17:09:03


@The Violin Beautiful Okay - so, if it's not too complicated to explain - I'm wondering what you have in mind when you say 'complicated holding setup' ... ?

Lonesome Fiddler - Posted - 07/14/2021:  18:28:02


Who knows how many classical concerts I've attended over the years (it's got to be well over a hundred), but ever since I picked up the fiddle myself I've noticed that while Early Music players seldom use chin rests or shoulder rests, the majority of modern players definitely do.

Not only that, there is no uniform way a member of an orchestra might actually hold their instrument. Sure, everybody in a pro string section bows the same direction, but some have their fiddles parked at an almost ninety degree angle to their bodies while others hold the fiddle essentially straight off their chin toward the music in front of them. Some have their fiddle pointed downward while others have their instrument pointed straight out or a hair upward. From afar, the players seem to play in utter lockstep, but it ain't so. In any case, it's the music that counts.

Flat_the_3rd_n7th - Posted - 07/14/2021:  19:14:44


I mow my hay with the tractor to the outside of the stand, and in long rows because that's been proven the most efficient since, well, the beginning of mowing hay. If someone wants to start mowing in a radial star-shaped pattern, that's their business. But, I'd bet I get more hay in the barn doing it my way.

Regarding the age-old shoulder-rest or not argument--a hard piece of curly-maple sure is painful against my collarbone without something cushioning it. Talk about injecting tension.

JonD - Posted - 07/14/2021:  20:10:12


I just made an interesting observation this evening, partially as a result of this thread. I've been wrestling with various shoulder rests, trying to find one that won't slip and feels right (I have a long neck so using no rest is not an option. I also have an Amati style chin rest, regular height).

The most secure one, a big ski jump contraption, seemed OK but I felt kind of robotically locked to the fiddle and I couldn't really relax my shoulder for some reason....

Then I took my smallest model, which is kind of crescent shaped and only slightly contoured, and turned it 180 degrees, readjusted the lifts, and created essentially a 'collarbone rest'. It follows the fiddle contour but adds about an inch to it and lets me tuck the fiddle in the collarbone, freeing my left shoulder completely! I can't hold the fiddle totally upright with my chin the way I could with a shoulder rest, but I can give partial support, my left hand providing the rest. I really like the freedom of movement it gives, my head is straight, and my left shoulder can just relax back and do its job of supporting my left arm!

Playing seems instantly easier, but I know any change can be deceptively positive at first, so I'm gonna sleep on it and see if it still works tomorrow. Anybody else use a method like this?

ChickenMan - Posted - 07/15/2021:  05:10:13


I'm interested in seeing that shoulder rest Jon. Bring it to practice.

JonD - Posted - 07/15/2021:  10:39:31


Here are some photos in case anyone's interested.
I had to bend one of the support wires back to give a more secure span across the lower bout.
It's Tanbi Music VSR101, sold on Amazon.
After an hour or so of playing this AM, I am still liking this setup!



 

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 07/15/2021:  15:45:23


quote:

Originally posted by Old Scratch

@The Violin Beautiful Okay - so, if it's not too complicated to explain - I'm wondering what you have in mind when you say 'complicated holding setup' ... ?






There are shoulder rests and chin rests that are rather absurd and many are quite complicated, some having lots of parts. Some players have jumped on the tall chin rest bandwagon so much that their cases no longer close without removing the chinrest.



There is a market for custom-made shoulder rests and chinrests. You can spend a few hours getting fitted for a chinrest and easily drop $250 (they're popular here).



As a luthier, I do appreciate having a setup that's customized, but I do feel that many of the shoulder and chin rests that have become popular promote the idea that issues can be solved with gadgets instead of solid technique. I hate to see it when players keep adding more and more height. They always seem to end up with more problems, and it's frustrating when the cause of the problem is clearly not the body or the instrument.



If you like the more involved setups for holding the instrument, there's no law against using them. I would strongly recommend looking closely at posture and technique before diving down the rabbit hole of accessories, though. 

Old Scratch - Posted - 07/15/2021:  16:48:57


@The Violin Beautiful

Okay, thanks.

alaskafiddler - Posted - 07/15/2021:  20:35:27


Beware of myths and assumptions, stereotypes, or unqualified misinformed diagnosis. laugh 



-------



Not sure what referred to as improper methods of holding the bow or fiddle? There are a lot of diversity that are not problematic, work comfortably fine for individual player.



Similar not sure what reference is to bad posture specific to fiddlers? Seems no more or less than most other people?



As far as main reasons; Being uncomfortable with any instrument and/or playing (and fears) can play a part. But perhaps more so, often tension, repetitive stress, pain; seems ironically comes from the idea of "proper" - can be very narrow and fixed - generally just repeating what they heard. Rather than good individual ergonomic understanding.



Common issues from playing violin stem from involving shoulder, neck, back muscles to "hold" the instrument. Even if slight, (such as the slight shoulder push up, or chin/jaw down) can pinch nerves... migrate down the arm and fingers. Shoulder rest doesn't necessarily help. As well might be somewhat common for issues with some locked stiffness in the right hand wrist, fingers and elbow. 



Solutions would involve getting comfortable, alleviate fears, and esp learning to listen to ones body. Pains, twinges, tightness, stiffness are body's way of telling you something's not right. Helps to experiment with different options. Experiment with lighter hold/pressure, loosen up, be flexible and moveable. Finding various relaxed efficient ways that works... to play just what need to. It's a process that requires time, find what's comfortable and efficient. Many fiddlers play without tension/pain issues have somewhat intuitively worked that out.



There is another aspect about force, trying to get loud; that can cause tension, overexertion, pain. Some of that can be technique, but some is just a poor equipment or set-up (fiddle, bow, strings); ... or noisy environment.



 



 

NCnotes - Posted - 08/02/2021:  22:20:12


What do you think are the main reasons some fiddlers fall into using improper holds?
Lack of training...sometimes what feels "comfortable" at first is going to hold you back in the future. (Small example - flat hand ("pancake hand") feels secure at first, but may hold you back from fast fingering/vibrato in future.)

What do you think are the main reasons some fiddlers have bad posture?
Ditto as above... Playing standing up seems to be good for posture in general, may fix a lot of issues?

How do you think each of these problems can be solved?
Having a series of lessons with a teacher to examine your technique. Just the little unconscious things people do can add up over time and cause some painful repetitive stress injuries if you play a lot. A decent teacher will catch these kind of small (yet harmful) physical habits.

That said, I've seen fiddlers who play BEAUTIFULLY despite not having anything near the "standard classical hold".
So I don't think we should get too iron-clad about it.
But if having pain...time to stop and examine how you're playing!

sbhikes2 - Posted - 08/03/2021:  06:30:03



  1. What do you think are the main reasons some fiddlers fall nto using improper holds?

  2.  What do you think are the main reasons some fiddlers have bad posture?

  3. What do you think are the main reasons some fiddlers have a lot of tension in their bodies?

  4. How do you think each of these problems can be solved?



I think the answer to all of this is trying to do it yourself without instruction. I played self-taught fiddle for over 20 years, off and on, sometimes quitting in frustration. It was never about the chinrest. It was always about the lack of proper instruction. I realized one day that all the best fiddlers that I knew personally had violin lessons as a child. They had the basic techniques ingrained and thus were free from having to fight their instruments and bodies. I decided I would get me some violin lessons to break my bad habits. It has not been easy to break them but it is possible with a lot of focus and determination.



Of course, as you age you can get repetitive stress injuries. All the more reason to get decent basic instruction and don't just wing it or hope that buying some gadget is going to be the magic bullet.

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 08/03/2021:  10:55:20


quote:

Originally posted by sbhikes2



I think the answer to all of this is trying to do it yourself without instruction...



..All the more reason to get decent basic instruction and don't just wing it or hope that buying some gadget is going to be the magic bullet.






My thoughts exactly. 

pete_fiddle - Posted - 08/03/2021:  11:52:12


quote:

Originally posted by soppinthegravy

I tend to hear that the main causes for pain and bad tone are improper methods of holding the fiddle and bow, bad posture, and tension in the player's body. I imagine these factors all contribute to each other, but I want to dig deeper than that. Here are some questions:




  1. What do you think are the main reasons some fiddlers fall nto using improper holds?

  2.  What do you think are the main reasons some fiddlers have bad posture?

  3. What do you think are the main reasons some fiddlers have a lot of tension in their bodies?

  4. How do you think each of these problems can be solved?






1: because they admire a fiddler or fiddlers that hold the bow differently from a classical hold.



2: Not understanding how their body works and the ergonomics required to play economically.



3: Not having good technique, and nervousness.



4: I'm still working on them all and will be for a long time to come ...Hopefully...

Flat_the_3rd_n7th - Posted - 08/03/2021:  13:12:01


For you "Cool-as-a-Cucumber" types on question 3:

What do you do (or suggest) to combat increasing tension while performing a song live? For instance, on Ashoken Farewell--you start off loosey-goosey, then play it twice through--that's a lot of soloing and time to worry if you're going to screw up the ending. Muscles get wound up as you go along til you sure enough screw up the ending.

How does one combat this while performing a long piece? What about exercises to practice beforehand? I do little recitals for my wife and maybe record some to simulate stress, but I could always use your pro tips. I read Noa Kageyama's newsletters. I'm a simple man, though.

pete_fiddle - Posted - 08/03/2021:  15:29:00


I'm not cool, and i aint a pro, just a pub fiddler/busker. But the few times i have performed ok, i now realize that i was thinking about the music rather than any other distractions. Like Grappelli said, while you are performing, "Music is your God". There is nothing else. It's not about us as musicians , it's about the music. We are, or should be practising to be, a conduit for the music. Whether it is the beginning middle, or end of a piece. That's my goal anyhow.

pete_fiddle - Posted - 08/03/2021:  15:49:44


The violinists are not dictating, they don' t care what us fiddlers do. But they know for sure that their technique is the result of centuries of study by undeniably great players.



whoops: post i was replying to seems to have disappeared


Edited by - pete_fiddle on 08/03/2021 15:53:52

Old Scratch - Posted - 08/03/2021:  17:08:45


Re: fear of messing up the ending. The ending is often - if not almost always - the most tricky part of the tune. I would suggest practising the hell out of it until you can actually look forward to reaching it because you know that then you can relax.

Personally, I'm like that mechanic in Grapes of Wrath: he couldn't relax and focus on the job until he'd skinned his knuckles - because he knew it was going to happen sooner or later, and until it did, he would be scared of it. I can't relax until I've hit a good, solid wrong note, and gotten that out of the way.

sbhikes2 - Posted - 08/03/2021:  17:10:59


quote:

Originally posted by Flat_the_3rd_n7th

For you "Cool-as-a-Cucumber" types on question 3:



What do you do (or suggest) to combat increasing tension while performing a song live?






More practice?



You could try beta blockers, too.

sbhikes2 - Posted - 08/03/2021:  17:15:23


If anyone thinks I'm a violinist, I can only say Ha Ha! My violin teacher has listened to me complain that half this classical music sounds like noise, and that I think vibrato is lame and that I prefer music that makes people laugh and happy and want to dance rather than music that makes you cry or want to salute flags or whatever. Ha ha. Fiddle tunes forever.

ChickenMan - Posted - 08/03/2021:  19:39:25


Performance Nerves, or How to Learn to Love "Bombing" 



You are already "practicing performance" so that's a good step. Learn how to recover quickly from what you may perceive as mistakes* during these practices - and I mean quickly, like a note fudged followed by the correcting moving without losing time, even if it's a full beat that's played outside what you intended. If it was cool, get good at doing it again.



Train yourself to reframe "nervous" into "excitement" as in, you are excited to be performing. This takes practice but was truly transforming for me many many years ago.



Remember to breathe. Simplest bit of advice but so often forgotten in the heat of the moment. Again, takes practice.



*so much is missed by the audience, who are listening and in the moment as the music rolls by. And besides, the audience is on your side, likely more forgiving than judging, unless you're playing the Apollo.


Edited by - ChickenMan on 08/03/2021 19:39:53

buckhenry - Posted - 08/03/2021:  21:00:08


quote:

Originally posted by Flat_the_3rd_n7th



What do you do (or suggest) to combat increasing tension while performing a song live? 






Basically, the body is trained to be aware of tension increase, recognize and release it. To begin this, without the instrument and being in a comfortable position, isolate parts of the body such as a finger, a fist, the wrist, and the elbow etc,. Actively increase the tension of each location at a time to the maximum degree and call it number 10 degree. Immediately, and gradually decrease the tension by each increment, feel the tension releasing and focus much attention to the state of relaxation when zero is reached. This must be done without other distraction so to focus complete attention on relaxation. After the necessary practice required for the situation the new skill of 'releasing tension' will be incorporated into the act of playing the instrument. Eventually the state of 'minimal tension'  will become intrinsic to playing the instrument. The study and practice of simple relaxation, meditation and mindfulness 'methods' will be of great assistance in achieving this most important skill.    


Edited by - buckhenry on 08/03/2021 21:02:17

Earworm - Posted - 08/03/2021:  21:08:13


Mental work often goes along with physical work. A lot of people have a physical tic of some sort they do when they are learning something new, even if they're just reading a book. An observation my voice coach made in voice lessons years ago has stuck with me - he said all of his voice / singing students held tension habitually in either their neck (throat), jaw, or shoulders, and once that was discovered, it could be worked on. A lot of the "work" is just observing it in order to let it go, and then simple exercises could at least be focused on trouble spots. It seems like some similar principal may be at work with fiddling, especially with so much going on in the neck/shoulder area. And like ChickenMan said - breathing is crucial, and is really easy to overlook.


Edited by - Earworm on 08/03/2021 21:19:41

soppinthegravy - Posted - 08/04/2021:  03:38:13


Sorry. If the rest of y'all are curious, it was about the design of the violin being flawed and how folks seem to think the problem is always that people aren't following classical technique closely enough. Regarding the "centuries of study by undeniably great players", I suspect that the ability of the legendary players who died before audio recordings of them could be made has been exaggerated considerably, whether we are talking about fiddle or violin.  


quote:

Originally posted by pete_fiddle

The violinists are not dictating, they don' t care what us fiddlers do. But they know for sure that their technique is the result of centuries of study by undeniably great players.



whoops: post i was replying to seems to have disappeared






 

ChickenMan - Posted - 08/04/2021:  04:25:21


I thought classical 'technique' was about getting the most out of the bow and instrument, much of which isn't done in fiddling,

farmerjones - Posted - 08/04/2021:  05:33:07


quote:

Originally posted by ChickenMan

Performance Nerves, or How to Learn to Love "Bombing" 



You are already "practicing performance" so that's a good step. Learn how to recover quickly from what you may perceive as mistakes* during these practices - and I mean quickly, like a note fudged followed by the correcting moving without losing time, even if it's a full beat that's played outside what you intended. If it was cool, get good at doing it again.



Train yourself to reframe "nervous" into "excitement" as in, you are excited to be performing. This takes practice but was truly transforming for me many many years ago.



Remember to breathe. Simplest bit of advice but so often forgotten in the heat of the moment. Again, takes practice.



*so much is missed by the audience, who are listening and in the moment as the music rolls by. And besides, the audience is on your side, likely more forgiving than judging, unless you're playing the Apollo.






Last night I pulled an amplified, full-bore C double stop at the wrong time. In front of a room full of people. It brought a smile to my face. By the time I was done, I was chuckling to myself. In the layers of music. In the time slice, it was probably only 10-15 milliseconds. It's not the clam, but the recovery, or what I call rolling on threw. Learning how to roll threw a clam, is really the first step in one's journey to fewer and fewer clams. Tension reduction embodied.

pete_fiddle - Posted - 08/04/2021:  13:14:02


quote:

Originally posted by soppinthegravy

Sorry. If the rest of y'all are curious, it was about the design of the violin being flawed and how folks seem to think the problem is always that people aren't following classical technique closely enough. Regarding the "centuries of study by undeniably great players", I suspect that the ability of the legendary players who died before audio recordings of them could be made has been exaggerated considerably, whether we are talking about fiddle or violin.  


quote:

Originally posted by pete_fiddle

The violinists are not dictating, they don' t care what us fiddlers do. But they know for sure that their technique is the result of centuries of study by undeniably great players.



whoops: post i was replying to seems to have disappeared






Come on, you've got to give these folk the benefit of the doubt, even though they where not recorded.



en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_...iolinists






 

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 08/04/2021:  17:53:13


The music left behind by many of those legendary players who also composed is a testament to their playing ability. It’s laughable to suggest that they couldn’t really play very well. Yes, styles have changed over centuries, but good playing is good playing, regardless of the era.

ChickenMan - Posted - 08/04/2021:  19:30:41


quote:

Originally posted by The Violin Beautiful

The music left behind by many of those legendary players who also composed is a testament to their playing ability. It’s laughable to suggest that they couldn’t really play very well. Yes, styles have changed over centuries, but good playing is good playing, regardless of the era.






I don't he was referring to classical players, but legendary old time fiddlers, locals and more regionally known alike.  I personally think that those fiddlers were likely pretty good if they are still remembered. An example would be this: there are lots of mentions of Ed Haley by famous fiddlers who saw him play when they were young (and they have now past). And we happen to be fortunate to have those home recordings of him to confirm that he was indeed legend worthy. 

soppinthegravy - Posted - 08/04/2021:  21:43:47


I'm not intending to suggest that, only pointing out that there is a bit of a problem with deifying somebody's playing, especially if you've never heard it. Plenty of statements on here could be classified as straw-man arguments. I've probably accidentally made several myself. 


quote:

Originally posted by The Violin Beautiful

The music left behind by many of those legendary players who also composed is a testament to their playing ability. It’s laughable to suggest that they couldn’t really play very well. Yes, styles have changed over centuries, but good playing is good playing, regardless of the era.






 


Edited by - soppinthegravy on 08/04/2021 21:46:04

cunparis - Posted - 09/06/2021:  13:21:18


quote:

Originally posted by soppinthegravy

some questions:




  1. What do you think are the main reasons some fiddlers fall nto using improper holds?

  2.  What do you think are the main reasons some fiddlers have bad posture?

  3. What do you think are the main reasons some fiddlers have a lot of tension in their bodies?

  4. How do you think each of these problems can be solved?






These are all related. I had a lot of tension throughout 4 years of private lessons.  Vibrato was impossible.  Shifting was hard.  I took a break from lessons and then started with a new teacher.  The first thing he did was address the tension.



I have a long neck so a shoulder rest didn't work well for me and I'd clamp down with my jaw.  So my teacher had me put the shoulder rest aside temporarily so I could learn to hold the violin without tension.  We also did exercises for many months where I'd light the pressure on the left fingers until it was harmonic pressure and then back again, to get used to the wide range of pressure we can use.  I never put the shoulder rest back on and my violin sits comfortably on the collarbone and I can do a basic vibrato.  I have a very tall chinrest that fills the gap between jaw and neck.



Tension leads to improper posture (gripping & clamping) and improper posture leads to more tension.  I couldn't have done it on my own, I owe the rest of my fiddlin' career to that teacher. 



PS: He did recommend I try the shoulder rest again after a while, he used one too.  But he said the shoulder rest shouldn't do all the work.  But I didn't like it so I stayed restless.  So I'm not advocating one or the other, everyone has to find what works best for them.



 

JonD - Posted - 09/06/2021:  17:11:43


cunparis getting rid of the shoulder rest has been a great tension-buster for me as well….I simply could NOT maintain a relaxed shoulder/neck with any type of shoulder rest (and I have tried numerous types, with multiple configurations and heights).



Now, I just insert the fiddle under my collarbone, with maybe a folded cloth for added comfort. I’ve had to train my thumb to do a bit more work to support the neck but I can keep the fiddle in playing position for any length of time and easily keep in the ‘sweet spot’ for good intonation. Vibrato? Well I haven’t really gone there yet but I can tell it’s going to be do-able.



I do have a chin rest, but I don’t really use my chin for support, just for positioning.



As pointed out above this is not the solution for everyone but it really had freed up my playing in a short amount of time.


Edited by - JonD on 09/06/2021 17:12:16

cunparis - Posted - 09/07/2021:  07:17:50


You brought up two good points: I do use the left thumb to support the scroll, and also my teacher had me play a lot without the chin/jaw touching the chinrest. That forces one to have good balance. From what I understand you really only need the chinrest for when you downshift. I haven't tried that lately I need to try it again to make sure I'm in balance.

old cowboy - Posted - 09/07/2021:  08:21:06


Cunparis
Just this morning I realized I was pushing down too hard with my left hand. This was causing too much tension in my playing. Been having a hard time lately with my bow shaking. I am so full of tension. Been trying to get used to playing in front of people.Just now trying to play for my wife! Been hiding in the bedroom for 3 yrs!

cunparis - Posted - 09/07/2021:  08:46:19


quote:

Originally posted by old cowboy

Cunparis

Just this morning I realized I was pushing down too hard with my left hand. This was causing too much tension in my playing. Been having a hard time lately with my bow shaking. I am so full of tension. Been trying to get used to playing in front of people.Just now trying to play for my wife! Been hiding in the bedroom for 3 yrs!






I can't play in public in a large group.  I get super tense and then it's all downhill.  But I hear that gets better the more you do it.. get humiliated a few times and then it's not so bad. :)



I played with a bluegrass group several times and I was a bit nervous and stressed in the beginning but after about 30 minutes I was more relaxed and not nervous.  so if you can slowly build up from your wife to a few people and then a small group, that might work.  It's terrible having stage fright.  I bought several books on the subject but wasn't able to conquor that since I don't play in front of others often.



Also if you push too hard with your left hand, that puts upward pressure on the chinrest and you have to push down on the chin and then the scroll goes up.. it's a cycle.



 



 

old cowboy - Posted - 09/07/2021:  09:23:04


I appreciate your words of encouragement!

WyoBob - Posted - 09/08/2021:  16:12:40


I've been playing my banjo with our local,  old time jam  group for 5 years that has around 6, really great fiddlers.  Watching them play and wondering, "how in the heck do they do that?" is what prompted me to buy my first fiddle two years ago just to see if I could learn how to play some basic tunes.



I've watched these folks extensively.   Sometimes to the point where I just quit playing the banjo and watch.   They all have differences in fiddle and bow hold and, through the years, I've witnessed some changes in their "set-ups".   Different bow holds, different shoulder and chin rests. 



Seeing all of the combinations that the really good fiddle player's have used over the years has caused me to search for my own way to set up for fiddle playing.   I've tried several chin and shoulder rests combinations on the three fiddles I own.  My bow hold hasn't changed much and is kind of standard.   I hold the bow back by the frog but switch from the conventional hold to TUF when I get tired of the other method.   I found this to be helpful for my "wonky" right thumb.  I tried "choking up" on the bow but that didn't feel right for me, even though some really great players in our group do that.



I think I get better tone with TUF.  More weight on the stick?   I've removed the pad's (and the windings on my no-name wood bow to lighten it a bit) and put "shrink wrap" on the stick on my two, $35.00 Kmise carbon fiber bows and the wood bow that came with my GEWA fiddle outfit.   For security when playing TUF, I put a strips of "grip tape" that I had on hand for use on a couple of my 1911's on the front strap for a more secure hold on those three bows.   The tape on the bottom of the frog makes for a very secure hold.  No slipping thumb with this setup at all and it feels just as secure as the conventional hold.



I've changed the shape of several ebony chin rests and have a couple of Kun shoulder rests, an "Everest" collapsible and a Bon Musica and sometimes switch things up just for the heck of it.   If I get tired of one shoulder rest, I re-position it or put on a different one.  



On my first fiddle, a free, homemade one that is heavy as the dickens at the scroll, I use the Bon Musica.  This is a fiddle that I couldn't give away.   Recently, I removed the chin rest and I can now hold the fiddle very comfortably.   It still doesn't sound very good but, I put on Pro Arte strings that I had on hand the other day and it sound a bit better now.  (But, it will never sound as good as my other two, Chinese fiddles).  This fiddle,  built by an amateur is even more crude than the bird house I made in Cub Scouts but it's the one that put me on my fiddle journey.  I keep it in AEae tuning.



Since I had good luck removing the chin rest on the "freebie", the other day, I removed the chin rests from my other two fiddles and am getting along a bit better with that setup (for now).  I like the fact that, I have no "fiddle police" to tell me I'm doing something wrong with my fiddle and bow hold and can change anything I want to without criticism.  But, that pretty much stems from the fact that I play by myself along with the recordings I've made of our old time jam group and some tunes I've found on the net.   I'm not sure I'll ever play my fiddle with the folks in my O.T. group as I'm a bit intimidated with that idea, but I get along pretty dang well with playing along with the music I recorded from that group.  



 



 

Lonesome Fiddler - Posted - 09/08/2021:  17:03:45


WyoBob -- Cease and desist! Naaaaahh... Just kidding. Just show up at the next get-together and see if you're any more comfortable. Take every helpful hint in good humor but don't necessarily do what someone suggests. Watch your favorite fiddler among the bunch. Try his/her technique. See if you can get it to work for you.

WyoBob - Posted - 09/09/2021:  16:59:01


quote:

Originally posted by Lonesome Fiddler

WyoBob -- Cease and desist! Naaaaahh... Just kidding. Just show up at the next get-together and see if you're any more comfortable. Take every helpful hint in good humor but don't necessarily do what someone suggests. Watch your favorite fiddler among the bunch. Try his/her technique. See if you can get it to work for you.






I don't have an overwhelming urge to play my fiddle with the great old time group I get to play with.   I'm satisfied to play my banjo with them and enjoy the fun and camaraderie.   I really envision that I will always play my fiddle, with the recorded music I have made of this group, by myself in the basement and that's just fine with me.



Just so you know, I'm not a "real" musician.  I'm self taught on the banjo and I can play with my great group of old time music playing friends and get along better than I ever envisioned.  I don't know how that worked  but, I've played many old time tunes I don't know with this group.   That the tunes are 1,4,5 chords must make it easier.   We play in one key for each session which lasts over 2 hours and, I played in three sessions in a row where I knew 4-5 of the tunes.   All of the others were unknown to me.   I don't read music and I can do  tab but for the past 6 months or so, I've just listened to recordings, slowed them down and looped and learned from that on my fiddle.   I've been able to play many of the tunes I know on the banjo on the fiddle kind of automatically.   That's still a wonderment to me.



Jams come and go.   One jam that I played my banjo with for 6-7 years has devolved into --- nothing.  A few jam busters (who don't like Old Time at all) pretty much took over and ruined the jam.  It's like, the jam exists for these two individuals to "perform" for we, lesser, unlearned players to show us how it's done.  



I'm done with them.  So, I get to play my banjo with really good musicians and am satisfied to play my fiddle by myself.  At the age of 74, having played the fiddle for two years, I don't think I have enough time left to get up to speed with my great, Old Time group.   Had I known I'd have this much fun on the fiddle (or the banjo for that matter) I would have started playing old time music years ago.

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

4.699707E-02