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Mendy Smith

Periodic Checkup

January 5, 2010 at 2:36 AM

After having seriously struggled with my setup in the not-so-distant past, I resolved to take a good close look at how I'm holding my instrument and bow every time I change strings.  It is a good time to do it since my strings takes a day or two to stretch out.  Yesterday was string-changing day, so I took a good look at my stance and hold in the mirror. 

I noticed that I had started to lower my shoulder rest and allowing my scroll to drop a bit towards the floor and the body angled more towards the right.  This was a major problem about a year ago.  When my scroll drops, I use my hand more for support which makes shifting cumbersome which also affects my intonation.  Additionally I do not get the full benefit of gravity when bowing to make a clear tone with the viola tilted so far to the right.  So, I raised the right side of my shoulder rest to give me more support.

The difference was noticable immediately . My left hand was freed to move effortlessly about the fingerboard and allow gravity to do most of the right hand work for me. With the left hand more relaxed, my intonation improved.  Much of the tension in my jaw and left shoulder magically went away.  However, some old bad habits with my bow grip came back.  That will take a bit more effort to fix.  Time to pull out Blue Gumby (the rubber band) again. 

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on January 5, 2010 at 10:05 PM

I agree about checking regularly for bad posture habits! Going back to basics is really the key...


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