The times, they are a-changing.

December 27, 2017, 7:45 PM · My eldest son has been studying for his driving test. At dinner the other night he tested the family on what the proper hand position on the steering wheel should be. Full of confidence, my husband and I both said "10 & 2". Our son explained that the proper position is now 8 & 4 because otherwise the airbag has a greater chance of breaking your arms if it goes off.

Driving home from work the last two days, I have made an effort to hold the steering wheel at 8 & 4. It was much more difficult than anticipated. I was hyper-aware of how uncomfortable it seemed. Even though tons of people hold the steering wheel in the "new" proper position with no trouble at all, it just felt so wrong and unnatural to me.

Recently I left my violin teacher and am search of a new one. In the meantime, I'm working on fixing my left hand frame. I have the bad habit of keeping my thumb in a position that causes tension and prevents me from doing vibrato properly. My old teacher mentioned it on an infrequent basis, but never pushed the matter. Now that I have determined the cause of my tension, I'm hyper-aware of it. Just like driving, doing the "right" thing feels wrong.

My son passed his driver's test this afternoon.
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He had no trouble passing that test the first time. Clearly it is easier to learn something the right way than it is to fix it after all this time. I have been driving a car for over 30 years the "wrong" way, but I'm confident that I can adapt to the new technology by holding the steering wheel in the new "correct" position. If that is possible, then it is possible to fix my left hand frame.

Times have changed. Looks like I'm going to change with them.

Replies

December 28, 2017 at 05:05 AM · You are 100% right. Great to hear!

December 29, 2017 at 04:34 AM · My mother took a driving update class for senior citizens a few years ago and they told her that. And she told me. Ever since then I've been trying to change my hand position and I'm not 100% successful. I feel like the 10 and 2 position is more alert-looking and the 8 and 4 position is more sitting back and lazy looking. I know that's not accurate, but it's the feeling I still have. Congratulations to your son!

December 29, 2017 at 07:01 AM · I hold the wheel at 9 and 3. Always have. It's just much more natural and puts less stress on the wrists, arms, and shoulders.

December 29, 2017 at 07:10 AM · Doesn't this indicate that our notions of "right" and "wrong" are arbitrary, dictated by circumstance and liable to revision?

December 29, 2017 at 03:02 PM · I suppose I would appear ultra-relaxed, since I hold my steering wheel near 7 and 5, so that my shoulders are completely relaxed, there is no neck tension, and I can use both wrists and arms for motion and redirection. Driving with the Alexander technique?

December 29, 2017 at 03:45 PM · One hand on the 6 o'clock...

December 29, 2017 at 11:56 PM · I started with 8 and 4, but my driving instructor (a very cranky old lady) made me switch to 10 and 2 when I was in driver's ed 3 years ago. Strange.

December 30, 2017 at 02:19 AM · I just steer by pressing my Kindle against the wheel wherever it falls at the moment.

December 30, 2017 at 02:29 PM · Welcome to the land of insuring young drivers and then sending them to college. The fun begins !

December 30, 2017 at 09:01 PM · Just where does your thumb belong? As a product of the Doflien method I was taught that it belongs in the same plane as the first finger for positions 1/2 through forth and my teacher was adamant about it.

Assisting with the LYSO I find that a lot of the young musicians keep their thumb in 1/2 position and I'm the only adult who seems to care. Yet, most of the young musicians tend to play flat and cannot use their fourth finger without flattening their hand under the fingerboard.

December 31, 2017 at 06:06 AM · I was never told where to put my hands on the wheel. I probably put them at about 3 and 9, where there is less tension but some control. Don't different steering wheels have differently placed "spokes"?

Same with my left thumb--I was never told where to put it. I place it for the least tension and most moveability. Aren't all hands shaped differently anyway?

The habit I _have_ noticed recently is gripping the bow to give more volume. The result is that sometimes, most often when I'm using kitchen implements, my right finger joints get "stuck" and I have to crack them to unfreeze them. I just remembered that my teacher always said to use the weight of the arm.

@Krista, thanks for the opportunity to realize how to correct my bad habit! And I'm sorry your teacher didn't work out. I wish you the best finding a new one.

December 31, 2017 at 01:03 PM · You start at 8 and 4. You start going to 10 and 2 somewhere around the middle of Book 3.

You may have noticed, unless you're still driving that 1974 Volvo, that there are nooks in your steering wheel at 8 and 4, and that's where the radio volume and cruise control buttons are. Not that it matters.

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