Maggie Burton

Some recent reads on violin technique; Music in St. John's this weekend

November 20, 2010 21:29

Today I read a book by Herbert Whone called The Integrated Violinist. It was a great read for me; he seemed to have a chapter on everything that I've been working on lately! Besides it being a rather sexist book, it was awesome. My favourite chapters were about the importance of using the upper arm for all bow movements, the need to separate bow movement from left hand movement, portatmento playing, and finding a healthy way to move while playing. These are all things I'm struggling with in my lessons right now and I found it very helpful! 

I was looking up other books to read and I found this website's list:

and I'm wondering if anybody has read The Physiology of Violin Playing by Otte Szende? 

A FANTASTIC read is What Every Vioilnist Needs to Know About the Body by Body Mappng/AT teacher Jennifer Johnson for anobody who wants to learn a healthier approach to playing and teaching violin. She and her book have saved my career by helping me get over RSI injuries and heaps of back problems from years of terrible technique while I was teaching myself fiddle. This book was reviewed in the October 2010 edition of Strad if anybody would like to learn more!

Last night the Newfoundland Symphony played Tchaikovsky no. 5 with a violin section comprised of 6 first violins and 7 second violins, with an otherwise full-size orchestra: the violinists were all grimacing by the end on account of how loud they all had to play to be heard! I couldn't do this concerto because of wrist injury and I'm glad I didn't. Last month we played Beethoven no. 2 and my arms almost fell off! We really need to get a bigger violin section, that's for sure. Sometimes I wish St. John's were a bigger city! Our violinists are all fantastic but so few in number. Also played last night was Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini by David Jalbert. It was pretty cool.

Tomorrow night I get to see a recital of Gliere's and Martinu's violin and cello duets at the MUN school of music:

it should be great. I would love to play the Gliere duets, has anybody had a good chamber music experience with them? Also being played is Shostakovich trio in E minor and Beethoven C minor Eroica trio, with Nancy Case-Oates, Nathan Cook, and David Jalbert. Can't wait!


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Dealing with Repetitive Strain Injury

November 13, 2010 20:19

Is it just me, or is injury related to repetitive strain in the wrists of musicians becoming an epidemic? At my music school, in my community, at summer camps this summer- everyone I've run into lately that is part of my generation of music students seems to have had some experience with RSI. I would like to keep a blog as I try to get through the rest of this academic year as a violin student in second-year undergrad without chucking my violin out the window to solve my problems (I kid.) I've been trying a whole lot of different things to manage flare-ups and prevent further damage and I would like to share my successes and frustrations with the community.

Ten things I'm currently doing to treat a flare-up:

1) Seeing a physiotherapist regularly (twice a week)

2) Massage therapy (once a week during flare-ups, once a month otherwise)

2) Getting acupuncture on my neck/forearms/hands (once a week)

3) Heating with a heating pad/Icing with a cold compress (30 minutes once a day+in between 20 minute practice intervals)

4) Using an ergonomic keyboard (end-of-term essays are upon me)

5) Stretching and breathing exercises (regular intervals throughout the day)

6) Resting

7) Taking ant-inflammatory medication 4 times daily

8) Taking regular lessons with Alexander Technique teacher extraordinaire Jennifer Johnson (

9) Practicing good balance and breathing through upper body tension

10) Hydrotherapy: cold water then hot water etc. (twice a day)


This is my third flare-up this term and it is completely debilitating! I've moved in with a friend to help me do my day-to-day things and I'm resting as much as I can. Nothing seems to be doing much to help though.


This website is useful:


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