V.com weekend vote: Do you prefer to stand or sit when you play?

April 19, 2020, 12:50 PM · These days we might well be wearing pajamas to play, but we can still demand healthy posture of ourselves, whether sitting or standing!

But with no one watching, we are probably defaulting to the position in which we feel most naturally comfortable. Do you sit, or stand when you are playing?

stand or sit

I actually prefer to stand when I play because it gives me a greater range of motion and thus more of a feeling of freedom. So that is my default, at least when I start out!

That said, sometimes I have to sit, due to sore feet. Of course if you are a cellist or pianist, you will sit down all the time; and certain physical constraints make it so some of us have no choice.

Posture is important no matter what, but sitting seems to require some extra attention to positioning. The Suzuki pedagogue William Starr, guest-conducting a Colorado youth orchestra in which I was a youth, told us to automatically straighten up when we lifted the violins or violas to our chins. It's a great thought to help form the habit of sitting up straight to play. No matter how slouched you get while talking or resting between playing, when the violin or viola goes up, so do you!

When I sit, I really have to be positioned on a right-height chair, with both feet planted firmly on the ground and plenty of room to bow. I remember a stand partner once telling me that she never would wear a dress or skirt for a concert "because I have to sit like a cowboy!" Somehow that idea always makes me want to sit straight!

Please participate in the vote, and then tell us all about it. Also tell us about your journeys with playing-posture and whether you feel like you have accomplished a posture that serves your playing, avoids injury and looks good!

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Replies

April 19, 2020 at 06:11 PM · I have to stand for lessons so I've gotten into the habit. And now that I play viola, it's not that easy to sit. I asked my teacher how a violist sits (because I had to for a string quartet recital) and she showed me how to sit on the corner of the chair.

April 19, 2020 at 06:42 PM · I stand for lessons, and will stand for about the first half hour of practice, but my practices go on for about 2 hours so, somewhere in there I start sitting! But play much better when I’m standing, I can feel the music so much better when standing.

April 19, 2020 at 07:01 PM · Both standing and sitting, but I have a chair and a stool that were designed with musicians in mind. The most dramatic improvement to my violin playing comfort and stamina, sitting or standing, came about recently when I got a set of rings such as gymnasts use and hung them up in a convenient place, and I simply hang from them periodically during the day to stretch out the muscles, tendons and ligaments that create good posture. Truth be told, six or eight weeks of doing this and the job was done, my posture was dramatically improved. But I still make a habit of doing it, just because it feels great and it's ongoing maintenance. If you do it, you might find it to be a strain at first (It was for me.), which just serves to tell you that you need it, but you'll get used to it. You can position the rings at a height so that you can still bear some of your weight on your feet, then raise them up as your comfort allows. I tried yoga to accomplish this, but it just didn't put the stretch in like hanging from the rings. I recommend it.

April 19, 2020 at 07:31 PM · I do most of my practice standing, the exception being when I'm working on orchestral repertoire, because in "real life" I would then be playing seated.

One good way of ensuring a good relaxed posture, whether seated or standing is to play without SR and CR. My personal experience is that this is the most relaxed, and relaxing, way to play the violin. Other advantages are that I am up close and personal with the violin and so am more clearly aware of how it is behaving. The tone and projection are better, probably because the violin is now carrying less damping weight.

I realise that converting to SR-less and CR-less isn't a practical proposition for everyone, especially those who have been playing since childhood, when the SR and CR are becoming part of their violin playing, so perhaps for many there is no reason to change to the "-less" mode for either add-on.

However, I came to the violin late in life, my introduction being via Irish fiddle music. I noticed that some of the experienced fiddlers played without SR, so, being of an enquiring frame of mind, I tried it. Less than a week later playing SR-less had become for me the most natural thing in the world, so my SR was the first item of equipment to get "lost" forever.

A couple of years later I was at a week-long Irish fiddle workshop in one of the more remote fastnesses of Ireland when during a class my CR slipped off onto a hard floor and smashed. I hadn't been using a SR for quite some time. The nearest violin shop was about 50 miles away, so getting an immediate replacement wasn't an option. My tutor noticed my problem and showed me how to play comfortably and safely without a CR. The CR-less tips he gave have remained with me ever since, and more recently I have been using them effectively, and permanently, in all my orchestral playing.

My SRs and CRs are now lost somewhere in the darkness and chaos of my attic:)

April 19, 2020 at 08:27 PM · This largely depends what condition my back is in and how bad it is feeling. I prefer to stand where possible, but fatigue gets in the way and I sometimes sit.

I always sit for orchestral playing, I always stand for my own lessons, I sit down when teaching (helps to be at little person level too).

April 19, 2020 at 09:11 PM · I prefer to stand up, because I feel freer. I'm also a walking practicer. I don't cover every area of the room, but I do get to change location gradually. The garage, which is 24' x 24', is my preferred practice room when it's warm enough out there -- about 8 months a year. There's a lot of room -- and I like the acoustics.

April 19, 2020 at 10:45 PM · I prefer to stand but I am compelled to practice in a basement with a seven-foot ceiling, so most of the time I am seated while praticing.

April 19, 2020 at 11:42 PM · I mostly sit at home for daily routine but always stand when I am playing with others.

Singers like to stand for increased diaphragm movement and oxygen intake. I believe that playing the violin standing also helps with better movement and increased concentration, maybe it is easier to breathe deeply to feed the little gray cells.

April 20, 2020 at 01:22 AM · I stand while physically playing during practise. If I am starting a new piece, I'll sit down for around 10 minutes or so and put in any fingerings I can already see. But that is also true for any piece I am playing already too. Occasionally I will put the instrument "ukelele" style and pluck through several different fingerings before writing them in

April 20, 2020 at 02:26 AM · I prefer to stand. It's more natural to me. When I started playing in a community orchestra, however, I had to start to practice sitting down. The orchestra setting, to me, is cramped and constrictive, and I had to get used to playing under those conditions.

I've seen Baroque concerts online where the players stand, and SWAY, and it looks like so much fun!

As to posture, that still needs improvement. I always have to remind myself to sit up straighter.

Louise

April 20, 2020 at 02:28 AM · I almost always play standing unless I'm really tired, then I might sit or kneel on my knees.

April 20, 2020 at 03:50 AM · I definitely prefer standing, and since my own violin aspirations are towards early baroque, I've been happy that violinists always stand in all the early music ensembles I enjoy hearing play locally. In my non-musical job, I dread the office chair and computer that are likely sedentary consequences of a very literal "change in position" that I will pursue soon. Back to music, I see that all orchestral and most chamber violinists play sitting down. After reading the poll results and comments so far under this article, wherein 60+ % prefer standing, I start to wonder why orchestral violinists (and violists) ALWAYS sit? Is that for visual uniformity, akin to everyone wearing black? Does every orchestral violinist really prefer sitting during performances, even if some of them would report here they prefer to practice standing up?

April 20, 2020 at 09:01 AM · I think we are like singers,who need more air by standing..And furthermore I find having more decontraction to the shoulders...The gravity pass from shoulders through the back,instead to feel it on your hands while sitting!

April 20, 2020 at 11:11 AM · I sit for orchestra rehearsals, and that feels quite natural, and stand for lessons, and so does that.

When I first started I would stand to practice, but I’m standing up at work most of the day, and now that I have more to practice and it takes longer, I sit , as that means I can go for longer without tiring.

However a normal chair didn’t feel right at home, so I got a high swivel stool, with adjustable height and backrest, and that works fine. I am almost at the height I would be if I was standing, with my legs halfway between sitting and standing angles. It gives me more freedom of movement over a conventional chair, and I can practice for longer, with mental fatigue more the limiting factor.

April 20, 2020 at 02:43 PM · I can get away with standing, more or less, for maybe 20-30 minutes tops before a bad ankle forces the issue.

April 20, 2020 at 07:34 PM · I sit when I play a fiddle, and stand when playing a violin. That's how I can tell the difference between the two.

April 20, 2020 at 08:05 PM · I used to practice standing, but got into the habit of practicing sitting when I started playing with a community orchestra. Now, prefer sitting, which isn't probably best for my back, but standing is killing my feet and knees. Dammed either ways!

April 21, 2020 at 12:03 AM · I tend to do both. When I play well, I stand and let the music touch me. When I dont play well, I'll take a seat and figure it out. Or I'll walk around and figure it out. I tend to do both, really all the time.

April 21, 2020 at 04:19 AM · I prefer to play standing. In the last two years, I've had shoulder pain when I play seated, but can sometimes play pain-free when standing, so I only sit when playing in ensembles, and practice standing at home unless I'm consciously trying to simulate playing in an ensemble.

April 21, 2020 at 05:58 PM · I start out my practice session standing, but as I get more and more tired, the only way I can convince myself to continue is to sit down. I practice at the end of the day, so fatigue just increases over the hour or so.

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