From Wai Yeung Lui
Posted April 16, 2009 at 06:37 PM
Of course I dont mean, do violinist need to train muscle, sure we dont NEED.
I mean: Should violinist NOT to have any muscle?
I mean like doing push-up and making the arms strong. Just want to look better or for healthy reasons.
Do I need to stop to do these kind of excercise?
do having strong arms means having slower and unflexible arms?
It depends on the kind of muscle being developed. For example: Bodybuilders are about appearance. Size, shape, symmetry. Martial artist Bruce Lee was about strength, flexibility, and reaction time. :)
as above. As long as you do a lot of stretching exercises then push ups shouldn`t be any problem at all. Even limited weight training is okay but oyu need to know a lot about it and what to avoid so in general I don@t think it is so good for the average violnist.. For an example of how on might use weight training well consider the exercises for legs. I don`t think squats are necessarily a good idea with free weights but thta still leaves leg extension machine, hamstrings, adducter/abdcuter machine, calf raises, exercise bike (of course) and stretching. A violnist who worked that kind of program would be in a lot better shape than one who didn`t and yes I think it would have greta overall benifits to playings. Throw in all the abdominal stuff which is actually quite fundamental to playing well and some lighter dumbell stuff for shoulders and arms and you are already talking baout quite decnet muscular development with a lot of overall benifits to the playing.
You might be surprised by yoga. Once oyu get past the relaxing position stage (whihc get difficult as you get better) its a really hard core form of exercise taht balances out the body and gives you very string muscles and endurance.
I agree with Buri. Also Pilates is good for your core strength, which we need for our playing, and helps you look good as well!
When I was younger I was into the muscle thing. However, I found it to be VERY detrimental to playing the violin, especially if I worked out several times a week: I remember many an orchestra rehearsal that was sheer torture as I tried to hold the thing up for 2 hours.
I don't condemn limited strength training, but the American fascination with sheer muscle size is an exercise in narcissism. And a waste of time. I'm much more into aerobic exercise now.
I don't see why core strength has anything to do with playing the violin.
Hi, no I don't want to start any debate on light and heavy body types but I (as an owner of a very delicate and light arm that would steel be light even with training! ... and that has to use much strategy when it is written ff on the page to do it right. note: Elbow level and almost exagerate relaxation does miracles for this!!!) find that one that has a naturally heavy arm (or training potential/ability) is very lucky as violin player because I think (my two cents and no more) they can use the gravity more and produce a rounded tone immidiately (I mean a little more easily). Some people (I mostly refer to guys since girls usually train for fitness rather than developing superman's arms lol) can develop lots of arm muscles while others can't with the same training. If you are one who can, and know how to train well to not get harm of unbalanced, I think it could be an asset (yes, for the violin not only for the look lol). For slowing down, I can not talk about this one... but I know that some famous heavy arm players were very fast. Just my humble opinion to say that maybe it could also be useful for violin.
note: whatever the amount of muscles one has, they must never "force" while playing. But everyone here knows how relaxation is important. We always talk about this!
Maxim Vengerov is known for his strength training and big upper body. He seems to do just fine with muscles!
Yes, violinists and anyone who perfoms repetitive movements needs to cross train their muscles to prevent overuse syndrome. Violinists may be prone to shoulder (rotator cuff) injuries, arm or wrist injuries, or any chronic type injuries one can get from playing and practicing for hours a day.
A combination of strength building, and stretching exercises are very preventitive.
I do "very light" weight training for shoulder and arms-- along with a few different stretching exercises my teacher showed me few years ago; as well as some stretching a physical therapist showed me for shoulders, arms and back.
Sometimes I get a little nagging in my bow arm shoulder area when I really practice a lot, and both the lifting and stretching really seems to help.
We also walk a lot so we don't get tired standing.
I'd be interested to hear what some of the other readers are doing that helps.
Core strength is important for good posture. Good posture is important (IMO) for violin playing. That's why I said core strength is good for violin playing.
Since I've been doing Pilates I've discovered I am just more comfortable in rehearsals - can't explain it, but I don't get tired/tight muscles. Not that I ever did get much by way of tension, but you know the type of rehearsal that makes you tight - if the conductor is annoying, or the orchestra isn't really very good - those are the rehearsals that always made me tight or tired. (please, if any of my colleagues are reading this, I'm not referring to YOU!) I think the extra back strength I have from Pilates really helps with those rehearsals!
I think golfers had a similar concern until a young guy by the name of Tiger Woods showed up. Now everybody on the PGA and LPGA are lifting and doing a lot of exercise. I wonder if a similar thing will happen with violin.
I personally am very into fitness. Besides cardio, I do strength training with very heavy weights and it hasn't seemed to affect my golf game, or my violin. In fact, without the strength training, I experience soreness in my left shoulder after playing violin. But as long as I keep those muscles in my shoulder and upper back in top form, I don't have any problems.
Considering that when one is exerting close to maximum muscle effort, one has less control, strength training could be an asset.
Bad experiences with strength training often are the result of training into injury or inflexibility, for one reason or another, most often from lack of knowledge.
Competitive bodybuilding is a whole different matter, with people training at the threshold of injury all the time.
Greater total strength allows a higher degree of relaxation when playing.
Of course any change in body physiology will require adjustments in playing.
Dylana Jenson, a very hot player who has posted here occasionally, weight trains regularly.
Actually, Maxim Vengerov just took up conducting after a long battle with a shoulder injury.
If your deltoids get tight, as they do in weightlifting, they can overpower the tiny rotator cuff muscles that hold your shoulder centered in its "golf-tee" socket.
The book The Athletic Musician, by a physical therapist (physiotherapist in "Canadian") and a violinist with a rehabilitated shoulder, has lots on shoulder mechanics.
Does pushing my crayon while doing my maths homework right now could be considered as a good finger exercise lol!!! Well, I listen to all you and although I am slim, I miss sport (cardio, swimming, running, kayak!!!). Yes, a violinist should be in shape even if some succed very well without being in shape!
I am sorry to hear they are still making you use crayons. I will send you some more pink one s if you promise not to get any more marks on your straightjacket. They are a real bugbear to clean.
Sorry, I think the whole "core strength" thing is propaganda put out by the pilates mob and the guys that hawk the CoreMaster2000 on late-night TV.
One simply does not need to do special exercises to have decent violin posture. I highly doubt Oistrakh or Heifetz or anyone else had to do crunches or anything else.
Scott, I have often speculated (under the privacy of the bedcovers) that the excellent use of the body made by Heifetz et al is due in large part to the fact their talent allowed them to escape from the rigours of being forced to sit down at a desk from a young age which is one of the greatest evils our education afflicts on young people.
For what its worth, one of the healthiest and most effective ways to develop strong flexible abdominals is simply to walk up and down mountians wearing a slightly weighted backback. Good for the scenery too unless you more intereasted in babes in prune bejewelled leotards.
Stephen, I still don't understand. What's evil: education, desks, or prune bejewelled dora-the-explorer sandals?
Also, I still don't really understand why anyone needs strong abdominal muscles unless they're a piano mover or pole dancer. I think it's something people just say, like "I'm getting a cold so I better take vitamin C!" or "I drink 12 gallons of water a day for good health!" Or "use arm weight instead of pressure!"
Well let me tell you, obsessive water-drinkers, research has shown that most, if not all water drinkers eventually succumbed. That's right--D-E-A-D.
Yoga is what I recommend; it strengthens without overworking anything, and it also works on flexibility. I do think that people who are trying to "get ripped" or whatever sometimes overdo it and compromise their flexibility and agility.
Scott, evil equals sitting kids at a deskfrom a very young age. The leaning back one sees from supposedly lazy students is actaually an instinctive reaction to releif pressur eon the spine. Out of date prunes cna be evil.
A while back someone wrote a very clever spoof article about a dangerous compund called double hydrogen oxide , describing how it had permeated all aspects of our lives, our food, found on the streets and how potentially lethal it was. This may be an urban legend but apparently a memeber of congress began the process of sponsoring a bill outlawing this new health hazard and was only stopped by a marginally smarter aide. The latter probaly escaped the evils of post grad education by attending Pilates classes at the local YMCA.
I lift twice a week, and alternate hard and easy cardio days on top of that.
As a teacher, I feel strongly that good overall fitness is a positive contibutor to your playing. A lot of people complain of getting tired when practicing for long periods, or sitting through a long symphony rehearsal. A lot of my students get tired even from standing through an entire lesson. Good overall fitness will get rid of a lot of these problems. A strong core will prevent back injuries. Your larger muscle groups may also help prevent tendonitis in your bow arm, a problem many violinists, including myself (when I took a break from physical training a few years ago), have suffered from at one time or another.
Things you should think about:
--don't do a lot of upper body work with heavy weights and expect to put in a long practice session immediately afterward.
--keep your muscles engaged when lifting, so as not to put strain on the tendons. If you're not sure about your form, get a trainer to give you some tips.
--be very cautious about increasing weight. Your current amount should feel very easy before you bump it up, and always opt for extra reps before you decide to increase weight.
It is very difficult for most people to bulk up like a body builder. Body builers are a type of genetic anomoly, and most of what you see has been enhanced with various supplements and/or steroids.
My advice to you is, give it a try. Keep doing whatever you already do, and take good care of your tendons. Set good conservative boundaries, and never do anything that feels painful. With a little experimentation, you can find out for yourself what works best for you.
I remember back in college when I lifted to build mucle for rock climbing, people told me that building your slow-twitch muscle fibers would slow down the fast-twitch muscle fibers. That's a lie. Only oxygen-deprived mountaineers on K2 end up with permanant issues with their fast-twitch muscle fibers. I know of a first stand violist in my symphony who rock climbs whenever she can. I knew from the moment I saw her because her arms and fingers are so strong. I asked her how it interferes with playing, and she said her upper climbing limit is 5.11, and after that it puts too much strain on her arms. I'm telling you this because she is a good example of someone who finds a way to balance the things she loves to do.
Anyway, I'm rambling, and besides that, all this talk of rocks and mountains is making me itch.
instead of calling it core strength, another way to look at it is that our body is centered around the spine from which nerves shoot out in all directions. the legs support it, the head sits on it and arms dangle from it. to brainless people, that is all we've got. besides common cold, back pain is the most common reason for loss of productivity. apparently, it is an individual issue as well as a societal issue.
not saying that in the older days when there was no desk job our ancestors necesarily did things correctly in terms of spine health. pulling a dead deer or bear out of the bush might not be that healthy to the spine. however, modern day activities for many people, from sitting on the computer to type on v.com, to sitting in the car to get you to another spot to type more on v.com can lead to poor posture and weakened spinal muscles for some people, if essentially that is how one lives day to day. the problem is 2 fold, not only about muscle weakness, but also about associated tightness. simply "lifting weight" does not address this flexibility issue. this combination of weakness and tightness tend to lead to spine related illnesses.
i do not know many violinists (actually i know dead ones better than alive ones:) but many of those i know that are still breathing have body aches all over, namely, upper back, mid back and lower back. suppleness and limberness in the posture? forget about it. i guess listening to classical music and making classical music are 2 different things:)
i have no doubt that a solid base-- strong pelvic and back region-- not only makes you a sexier latin music dancer but a more viable violinist. you will look and act 10 years younger.
sure you are strong and invinsible right now but there will come a time when the aging process catches up with a sudden and rather unpleasant announcement.
better play conservative right now and get educated and do some self preventive care accordingly. or play some golf:)
"Sure you are strong and invinsible right now"
Al, have we met? How did you know? Wow, that's wierd that you know that about me.
I don't think so.
All I know is that O'Bama promised to take care of those pilates off the coast of Africa. So all you with your little mats and expensive hemp pants and free-trade chai just watch out for those special-ops snipers.
While I wouldn't recommend body building, there isn't anything wrong with exercise when done correctly. Correctly means that you are lifting the right weight in the right way, the right amount of times, and you're also stretching and eating right.
Contrary to popular belief, regular exercise will not make you 'bulk up'. It is a bit easier for guys to bulk up, but it still takes more effort than just a few pushups and situps, and requires more calories than one would normally consume. For women it is especially hard to bulk up, regardless of whatever the stupid women's magazines are trying to feed people.
Being fit is going to make it easier to hold up your instrument for longer periods of time, and make it harder to tire you out.
scott, your last paragraph made my day:).
i think a good attitude is a good deterrent against health problems and bad postures.
Whenever I get lower back pain, I find that getting back into a regimen of abdominal exercises and walking cures it.
I also find that playing the violin is good exercise for the shoulders and the deltoid muscles. Even though I am a huge strong brawny guy, I can get fatigued hodling a violin!
I think that more than anything, we should concentrate on just getting exercise!
I'm a fan of tennis, cycling, and swimming myself. :)
Anyone able to suggest some effective exercises to tone up flabby abdominal muscles, which DON'T put undue strain on the back and shoulders/arms?
Talking of violinists and fitness, on several occasions I've made a non-playing friend hold one of my violins in the playing position and it is kinda funny when their arm/shoulder gives out after just a few minutes. I think we fiddlers develop more muscle strength from our playing than we often realise. Also - remembering how my parents noticed that after a few years of violin I could easily turn open the stiffest of stuck jar lids with my left hand, even though I'm naturally right handed - all that strength we gain in the wrist and fingers....
the first is the lower ab exercise called the leg raise. Lie on your back and have your legs almost pointing to the ceiling. Then use your lower abs to tilt the pelvis towards you. Repeat for 12 reps or so. No reason why this should strain the back. Hill walking is superb for this. If you think the weighted (not much) back pack is a problem then omit. until you get your strength up. The so called crucnh is more often thna not done incorrectly in volving a greta deal of stres son the neck.
Anyone able to suggest some effective exercises to tone up flabby abdominal muscles, which DON'T put undue strain on the back and shoulders/arms?
A flabby mid section has nothing to do with exercise. Don't get me wrong. I am a big advocate of core strengthening exercises (sit ups, crunches, leg raises, etc.). But that will have little impact on toning the mid section. If you want a tighter (less flabby) mid section, it happens in the kitchen. It is all about proper nutrition and being disciplined about what goes in your mouth.
I am a certified nutritionist. Anyone that is interested in learning more about proper nutrition, feel free to email me and I will be happy to send a summary of my nutritional recommendations. But be forewarned, it requires discipline. If you are struggling to take off a few pounds, it is not going to happen without making some changes in your lifestyle.
This is a departure from the subject of this thread, but an important issue nonetheless. Aside from my regular job, I give lectures on fitness and nutrition. We implemented a competition in our company to see who could get lean the quickest. In a 6 month period, 15 employees who participated lost 280 pounds total. I won the competition, going from 20% body fat down to 8% in 3 months; I dropped about 25 pounds.
"I won the competition, going from 20% body fat down to 8% in 3 months; I dropped about 25 pounds. "
Ha! Proof! You ARE the biggest loser!
Scott is of course, giving us a belly laugh.
Well, one suggestion that worked for me:
At the beginning of 2008, I made a single New Year's resolution: eliminate fast food from my diet entirely. This meant not only fast food restaurants, but also any store-bought products of a similar composition with excessive amounts of sodium and preservatives.
It's now sixteen months later, and I don't miss any of it. But I still eat practically everything else, and I'm amazed at the culinary freedom that is the result of not stuffing down that extra quarter pounder every day...
Smiley - I would be interested in some of those nutritional recommendations. Feel free to Email me, or maybe posting some here might be of help to many of us.
Ha! Proof! You ARE the biggest loser!
Actually, I am not a fan of that show. Creating a calorie deficit with such extreme exercise combined with weight loss goals is a very UN-healthy thing to do. In fact, the winner of the show 2 years ago gained 17 pounds in 1 day right after the show was over. It was all water. They are dehydrating themselves prior to the weigh-in, never a good thing to do.
A sensible weight loss program combines light cardio with sensible nutrition, and lots of water. Men can safely lose about 2-3 lbs per week, and women can lose 1-2 (depending on body size). Any more than that and you are burning lean tissue (e.g., muscle), something you definitely want to avoid.
Ain't nothin' wrong with muscles and violins.
I notice all those who think core training is not too useful are young. Let me put it this way; do NOT do any core training like abs, back, hips, etc., then fifty years from now tell me if it was a mistake not to have a strong muscular core that can withstand stress. Be sure to put extra money aside for back surgeries and other bone diseases cause by a lack of weight bearing exercises. Now, for those of you who do not want to use heavy weights, more power to you, use lighter weights to tone the body's muscles. You will look better and your entire body will run more efficiently and withstand even mental stress better. That's a main reason musicians should get both cardio and weight bearing exercises going. Not only does exercising help keep the fat off, you will think clearer, faster, and your body will use the oxygen you breathe in much more efficiently.
Ray, you are absolutely right. I wish the message could be dinned into every young player who spends there whole young life alternating between practice and quasi couch potatoism. I didn`t exercise enough in my youth and past forty it was hard to come to terms with, but not imposible to get back on track. The body isbasiclaly designed ot be exercises and the effects of ignoting this cna be tacked form a very young age. Her ein Japan physical trainign is a core component of the education goals of young children. Over the last decade or so society and schoolsseem to have become progressivly softer, junk eating, more depndent on sitting down and watching a video instea dof going outside. As a result, the tests done by the Ministry of Education as part of the educational system show consistently that kids of all ages are significanlty weaker, have pooer visions, more colds etc etc.
Its not only strength training and cardio. If I could choos eone of the three essentials it would actually be stretching since advanced stretching may well include strength work and cardio whereas just playing one sport or activity can actually create inflexibilty.
I second Lauries choice of yoga. Its a really balanced form of exercise that includes all these elemnts to a degree. Besides which you can look at people with your third eye.
musician's train their small muscles, whereas athletes train their big muscles
Yoga isn't nearly as fun as mountain running. Although, I bet you could attend a class without running into a bear.
"I notice all those who think core training is not too useful are young"
Ray, I do not Facebook. I do not Twitter. I do not Myspace. I do not Blackberry. I shoot Tri-X. I do not wear stoopid pants.
In other words, I'm not that young. But I do a lot of cycling.
I still think the whole "core" thing is silly. I don't have a core. What am I, an apple?
If you do run into a bear, make certain you have a slower running partner
Winnie the pooh appears not to have a core,
this is giving me some concern.
Here's where I insert a pun about yoga bear, but I refuse, because that's just a horrible, horrible pun.
Greetings, we coudln`t bear it. best not to panda to your bipolarity.
Umm, Paddington - I DO hope you wash that marmelade off your paws before starting your violin practice. Otherwise these shifts are going to be very sticky indeed, no matter how many prunes you've eaten today. ;-)
Seriously, though. I lifted weights most of this winter for the first time. One lift that stood out was the dead lift. You can look it up, but basically you hold a weighted bar, bend over, and lift it back up again. It must be done with proper form and with conservative amounts of weight or you will mess your back up in a hurry. But after doing this particular lift all winter, I noticed a peculiar difference in my ability to tackle large physical projects in the kitchen (I'm a professional baker), almost as if I'd grown an inch or two. Everything seemed smaller and easier. This is what core training does for your body. Your core is where all your momentum originates. When you play the violin, your core provides balance for your feet and stability for your arms. It keeps your back protected. People tend to limit their playing to their arms and shoulders, when actually the core should be engaged.
I know all this has been said already, but I felt like reporting my own recent experience with core training. Where do you think the phrase "hard core" came from, anyway? Being hard core means you're tough like a grizzly bear. No one wants to listen to a pansy violinist. Pansies piss me off.
you can even save the world at the same time.
An imperfect limerick for you:
Playing violin at age ninety-four
You'd think your muscles would be sore
From all that shifting,
But it was the weight-lifting
And the yoga that helped with the "core"
I see no harm and a lot of good in stretching, strengthening, and developing endurance and the cardio-vascular system. Good exercise, sensible eating, and a healthy attitude help in all one's endeavors. Never forget the value of prunes either. It had to be mentioned......
playing violin at ninety five,
I`m surprised I`m still alive,
It`s not the core,
That`s just a bore,
its the perfection for which I strive.
I still believe that air has calories and the extra carbon in the air contributes too weight gain! I dream I'm chewing gum and I gain a pound or two! :^D
Buri has yet to mention that eatting prunes contributes to increasing green house emissions such as sulphur and methane! :^D
ps: Happy Monday to All!
Still fiddling at age ninety-six
On a diet of prunes and sticks
Though I yogied and lifted
And stretched unrestricted
The technique I've still yet to fix!
Now I`ve reached ninety seven,
Fiddling is no longer heaven.
In spite of my core,
I`m just bloody sore.
I`ll leave it to Mutter and Previn.
Playing viola at age ninety-eight,
Is certainly not something I hate,
What preserved me was karate,
Not trying to be arty,
Better start practicing before it’s too late.
Last Friday I reached 44
like the magnum I'm feeling sore
perhaps the prunes I ate the night before......
I must say that my poor fiddlin
is scant like when I'm piddlin
and sounds like what the dog left on the floor!
Weight training shouldn't hurt your violin playing at all. For a year and half I trained twice a week with a trainer. I had to be a little careful that I left enough time between a session and a concert, but other than that there were no problems at all. In fact, the upper body training helped my viola playing a lot.
If you haven't done a lot of weight training in the past, you should go to a good trainer for a couple of months so that you're set up properly, are using good posture when you lift, etc. A good trainer should also help you stretch out at the end of a session. Also listen to your body- if something doesn't feel right, or if it hurts, you can ask the trainer to reduce the weight or pick another exercise. This only happened once or twice for me over the course of the time I was training (I decided I didn't want to do "preacher curls" because it seemed to me that they put too much stress on my elbows.)
That being said, I can imagine that it might be a little harder to do serious weight training if you are a full time performer, but only because the training makes you a little sore the day after a session and not because bulking up or "getting ripped" somehow diminishes your ability to play.
Yes, you do have a core. Your "core" consists of the various abdominal muscles and the muscles that support your spine. If these aren't in good shape , it's hard to maintain good posture for either weight lifting or violin. Obviously, the word "core" was chosen to represent the function of those muscles and not necessarily their location. Don't be deliberately bovine...
I love dead lifts! They are the best overall thing to do if you don't have a lot of time for the gym on any particular day.
Scott Cole said:
I don't condemn limited strength training, but the American fascination with sheer muscle size is an exercise in narcissism.
Huh?? Why the swipe at Americans? Do you really seriously think that "fascination with sheer muscle size" is an American phenomenon?
Why not a violin centenarian:
There once was a fiddler hero,
Whose age was one zero zero,
His abs were so tight,
Cause he always ate right,
And passed on the chips and the beer-o
Narcissism is as American as Arnold Schwarzenegger.
I didn't know you were all a gang of old folks! This is why you didn't put your pictures! Ok, I did not put mine either. Here's my secret. I'm 115 but to not frighten anyone I say I'm 20!!! Are they really 100 years old surfing on the net... Maybe! lol
Violinist.com Editor Laurie Niles is in New York to cover the biennial event at The Juilliard School, including classes by Brian Lewis and Sarah Chang.
Please consider supporting Violinist.com by becoming a sponsor, and reaching our dedicated community of violin professionals, students and fans!