Printer-friendly version
Laurie Niles weekend vote: Do you prefer to sit or stand when you play?

July 30, 2010 at 11:32 PM

 I realize that sometimes a violinist doesn't have a choice about sitting or standing, either because of physical limitations or because of the nature of a gig (such as an orchestra gig, where you will probably sit).

But I'm asking, which do you prefer?

Standing has its advantages: your bow never runs into your knee, and you can really keep your back straight and your posture correct. To me, it's a great position for mobility.

But sitting properly can also allow for good posture, and it can sometimes help a person play for a long time and avoid complete exhaustion.

Now, I didn't include "dancing while playing," but these guys do it all the time and it certainly looks fun!


From Peter Kent
Posted on July 31, 2010 at 12:25 AM

Not many of us will be performing in front of the orchestra, or doing solo recitals that often....Tough to practice under the sun and then go play a night game....While each position has value, most of us will be section players which means sitting, turning pages, trying to understand the person ahead's bowing etc.  My vote goes for Sitting !  And on a viola gig, when I take The Monster, afterbeats during the 2nd hour, sometimes find me with elbow on knee....The difference between a 14" body and a wider, thicker, 16 1/2" is profound, and standing obviously wouldn't allow elbow>knee contact, Boris Kroyt's favorite position....but I manage to clear my nasal passages better than he did and don't add those respiratory nuances.

From Corey Worley
Posted on July 31, 2010 at 1:52 AM

I say sitting only because I am an overly passionate player when i play. When I stand I get so into the music I end up taking a step or 2 and bending every which way with the music. I also find that I "curl: in towards the violin during intimate parts and swing my instrument around in vibrant parts. When sitting I can catch myself and I have boundaries that I feel are more distinct than standing.

From elise stanley
Posted on July 31, 2010 at 6:04 AM

My goodness - yesterday it was almost all standers and now it is suddenly even.  Where did all the sitters come from?  Or were the stats skewed yesterday by excess standers? 

Funny things happen to these polls!  On the other hand, I was surprized with the high number of standers, considering how many people actually play sitting down.  Yesterday I got lost in practicing and stood for two hours - I was so siezed up when I tried to move!  Maybe I should learn to practice sitting too....


From Julian Stokes
Posted on July 31, 2010 at 6:34 AM

@Elise: Standers are obviously more energetic and got their votes in early :-)

I prefer standing, mainly to avoid the knee whacking tendency when sitting. Standing has its own disadvantages when there are low hanging light fittings and fast up bows.


From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on July 31, 2010 at 11:16 AM

 I do most of my playing either in orchestra or quartet, where I have to sit in performance, and I like to practice the music the way I'm going to perform it.  So I'm usually sitting, and I like it that way.  But I make it a point to remind myself to stand sometimes while practicing, just to get the feel of it, to stretch my legs and get up and move around.   It makes a difference for certain types of music.  The Fiddle Challenge, for example.  I sounded better and got a better feel for the rockin nature of the music when I played it standing up.

From Sue Buttram
Posted on July 31, 2010 at 2:25 PM

 It's funny.  I generally stand when I practice violin or viola.  But if I'm practicing an ensemble piece, I must get a chair and sit to practice.  I got in trouble with just such a piece, the violin part of the Vivaldi P360 because I had been practicing it standing.

From Michael Divino
Posted on July 31, 2010 at 2:22 PM

 When I sat down to play my gig on Thursday (on Capital Hill, btw!!!) all of my pain came soaring back into my life.  The tension in my neck, the cramp in between my left index and thumb.... aaaargh!  With the exact same set-up that I had been practicing with standing up at home, it was so bizarre.  I finally found the right way to sight, but I would have much rather done it standing up...!

From Janis Cortese
Posted on July 31, 2010 at 4:01 PM

I suppose "leaning my butt against the back of a dining room chair with my ankles crossed in front of me" counts as standing ...

It's so NICE to be able to stand and play; it's not something I'm used to doing.  I'm still sort of reveling in the ability to pick the thing up and carry it upstairs as well.

From Alice Kowalski
Posted on July 31, 2010 at 11:16 PM

Except for ensembles, I always stand. In fact, when playing from memory, I tend to takes steps and move around quite a bit. Don't know why, but I find moving helps with the interpretation. Dancing with my instrument? Maybe.

My teachers keeps trying to break me out of the habit, but I'm not a professional, and never play solo in public, so I really am not convinced I should stop doing something just because it looks strange. And the of course there are people who move a lot when playing and do so very well (think Joshua Bell)...

From Laurie Trlak
Posted on August 1, 2010 at 1:24 AM

I voted sit, but that's only out of necessity! I would really rather stand, because I think it allows more freedom of movement.

From Mendy Smith
Posted on August 1, 2010 at 2:10 AM

Stand.  I feel more open and free to move about as the music moves me. 

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on August 1, 2010 at 2:25 AM

Stand.  I'm way more solid that way and don't hit my legs with my bow (I find it's more elegant if you have the choice between the two.) 

Our modern life makes us sit down way too much (school, job, computer etc) so standing up is a very good exercise since you develop muscles (legs and abdos etc) that wouldn't be used if you were sitting.  Since musicians are often at home practicing rather than doing many sports, it's just as well to  do what makes participate the most muscles in your body.  (but this is just my humble opinion)

Of course, it depends on if the person plays for him/herself or in an orchestra where it is compulsory to sit...

Nice blog,


From Jefferson Dixon
Posted on August 1, 2010 at 7:06 PM

When I practice, I stand until I get tired and then I sit. I prefer standing, but I don't feel it really makes much of a difference.

From elise stanley
Posted on August 4, 2010 at 3:54 PM

Looks like the standards are in the majority here - maybe the music stand makers will read this and make the darn things just a bit taller???

This entry has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Facebook YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Los Angeles Philharmonic
Los Angeles Philharmonic

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Anne Cole Violin Maker
Anne Cole Violin Maker

Miroirs CA Classical Music Journal
Miroirs CA Classical Music Journal

Classic Violin Olympus

Coltman Chamber Music Competition

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Jargar Strings


Violin Lab



Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine