V.com weekend vote: Do you practice standing up, or sitting down?

March 31, 2017, 12:43 PM · To stand, or to sit?

This will be a simple answer for a pianist or cellist, but for us violinists and violists, we do have a choice.

stand
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Of course, when one plays in an orchestra, that usually involves sitting. The soloist tends to stand, as does the jazzer or pop musician. (Some also dance and do back bends, but that is another topic!)

Recently, I attended a chamber concert for a group called Kaleidoscope, in which all the musicians who could were standing, and that added some nice energy to their performance. I also enjoyed a memorable concert several years back for the Baroque group, Tafelmusik, in which they actually walked around the stage and played by memory. The Emerson String Quartet has also taken to standing in recent years.

When we practice, we have a choice. Standing can be good for posture and for exercise. But, it also can be tiring. If you are practicing long hours, you might need to sit for some of that. Sitting might also be necessary to accommodate physical difficulties.

Do you sit, stand or combine the two when you play? Please share your thoughts on the matter, and if you play in any groups that stand to perform.

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Replies

March 31, 2017 at 08:22 PM · I have neuropathy in my right leg, my right foot is always numb so I play seated. Otherwise, I would play standing.

March 31, 2017 at 08:33 PM · Nothing more to say. Standing. For breathing, posture, and correct position for bowing arm. During the orchestra practice, I am seated and counting measures---endlessly counting measures and "practicing" very little. This is a group effort and we are all expected to stay seated for the 3 hour practice session. (With a break in the middle)

March 31, 2017 at 08:35 PM · I had a tennis accident when I was 26 years old that resulted ultimately in 3 herniated lumbar disks, so I started to do all my playing sitting down since then except when I've had a solo violin performance. Most of my playing has been orchestral, or other ensembles, so sitting down for those too.

March 31, 2017 at 08:46 PM · My sound-insulated practice room is in a basement with a 7-foot ceiling. I'm 6 feet tall and I have destroyed two bow tip plates slamming my bow into the ceiling. Now I practice sitting down.

March 31, 2017 at 08:58 PM · Its funny, I go to a lot of symphonies and chamber concerts and virtually always the violinists are sitting. Yet I myself have almost never played sitting, in fact, when I pick up my violin I never even think of sitting. And funniest of all, I never much thought about that stark contrast!

March 31, 2017 at 09:28 PM · Simple: how will the music be performed?

For solo lit, I stand.

For orchestral rep, I sit.

For quartets, I sit.

Why would one practice something standing that will be played sitting?

March 31, 2017 at 09:28 PM · My violin teacher has me stand for lessons, but they are only an hour at length. When I practice at home I like to sit as I'm usually practicing for a two hour minimum. Our symphony sits, there are usually two 45 minute sessions with a 15 minute break in between.

March 31, 2017 at 09:33 PM · Until osteoarthritis got my left hip I stood, now I sit on a stool (which puts me about the same height as if I were standing). Hip replacement comes in just over a month and then I should be able to stand again.

Regarding professionals standing and sometimes moving that is happening a bit more although I've yet to see any full orchestras do that (except for the National Anthem).

We've tried a few standing practices for the Youth Orchestra with mixed results. Standing does improve posture but we have the same behavioral issues when the conductor is working on various sections - standing or sitting, if the young musicians aren't asked to play they mentally check out of the room.

March 31, 2017 at 10:04 PM · Mostly standing up. I'm a walking practicer, too. I practice in the garage about 8 months each year, since it's warm enough here for this -- plenty of room to walk around. In winter, I move indoors to the living room. Ceiling height about 9' in both places, and I'm 5'10" -- no bow tip plate mishaps so far.

March 31, 2017 at 10:43 PM · Standing, of course.

March 31, 2017 at 10:44 PM · I mostly stand...when I sit i tend to get fire in my upper/mid back faster than standing.

March 31, 2017 at 11:23 PM · This depends on the situation. At lessons, I always stand. At home, I always stand (even for orchestral and chamber music) unless:

1. I need to have a device in front of me (I like to have it in my lap) for learning music purposes (due to disability) and

2. I'm tired and not feeling so well.

Sometimes I even practice sitting on my knees for the world's weirdest reasons. I have been involved in orchestra concerts where everyone (except these who can't play standing e.g cellists) stood due to space constraints. Otherwise, I sit during ensemble playing except if it's something like a violin-only ensemble where everyone can stand. Also to note that wind players and vocalists also have a choice of standing or sitting.

April 1, 2017 at 12:46 AM · I practice the music how it is going to be performed. Orchestra and chamber, I practice sitting. If I have a solo or am playing something in church, I practice it standing. I like to change it up a bit and do different things.

April 1, 2017 at 04:55 AM · I agree with Karen, you should practice how you'll perform, but I like to practice standing so even with chamber works and orchestra pieces, I tend to stand when practice. I stand practicing so much that when I sit and work on some tricky spots, I would automatically stand up.

April 1, 2017 at 07:35 AM · Interesting to read from the violinists who have commented here who apear to never play chamber music or in an orchestra.

Personally, I practiced variously sitting down or standing up for decades depending on the music I was practicing, until medical conditions precluded my playing standing up. Now I practice and play exclusively sitting down.

Obviously Itzhak Perlman has been very inspirational in this regard.

April 1, 2017 at 02:00 PM · I stand when I practice, because most of the time, I stand when I perform. My back and neck are more comfortable when I stand while playing violin. I ask my students to stand during lessons as well. I think standing helps keep their attention and focus on their bowing position.

April 1, 2017 at 03:19 PM · Lessons are given standing - teacher stands too.

Orchestra rehersals are sitting.

A couple of weeks before an orchestra concert, I'll practice the music sitting down at the same angle I would be at with my stand partner while on stage.

But otherwise, I practice all rep standing.

April 1, 2017 at 03:47 PM · My violin teacher sits when giving lessons, just to be in better eye contact with the students, since she teaches mostly kids.

April 2, 2017 at 03:04 AM · This is a fun question. When I was very young, I always practiced while sitting. I then took a multi-decade break and since I went back to playing, I have always stood while practicing. My ceilings are high, so my bows are safe. When I have been in situations that require sitting while playing, I feel somewhat constrained and not quite as free to just pour out the music.

April 2, 2017 at 03:06 AM · I always stand when playing. I always wondered how violinists in orchestras play while sitting. It would give me a back ache very quickly. Not to mention that the bow bumps my legs. But that's probably caused by my improper positioning :)

April 2, 2017 at 07:04 AM · Standing up .....I loathe sitting down to play. I have to sit to play in my ensemble group - really awful - can't see the music - can't use the bow properly - hit myself or my desk partner.

Standing up has to be better - better posture, breathing, bow control...

April 2, 2017 at 02:47 PM · The only time I play standing up is when I'm at private lessons, since my teacher doesn't let her students sit. I have poor standing posture due to back problems, and my shoulder bursitis flares up when standing for long periods of time.

April 3, 2017 at 01:56 AM · I practiced standing up for years, but after I started playing with a local community orchestra, I switched to practicing sitting down as I felt too uncomfortable when I played with the orchestra. Whether standing or sitting, it takes some getting used to and the dynamics are somewhat different I think. For lessons, I still play standing up.

April 5, 2017 at 04:51 PM · I practice standing up, in my lessons I'm standing up, my string quartet plays sitting down (I would prefer otherwise), and with my cellist partner we recently decided it's perfectly allright for me to play standing up, while she plays sitting down. The other way around, not so much.

April 5, 2017 at 04:51 PM · I practice standing up, in my lessons I'm standing up, my string quartet plays sitting down (I would prefer otherwise), and with my cellist partner we recently decided it's perfectly allright for me to play standing up, while she plays sitting down. The other way around, not so much.

April 5, 2017 at 04:51 PM · I practice standing up, in my lessons I'm standing up, my string quartet plays sitting down (I would prefer otherwise), and with my cellist partner we recently decided it's perfectly allright for me to play standing up, while she plays sitting down. The other way around, not so much.

April 7, 2017 at 05:29 PM · I practice both ways in order to ready and keep in shape for whatever comes. Playing solos and as member of church choir done standing. Alfred Dzilankhulani

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