Practice Time

July 11, 2007 at 03:50 AM · I've been playing the violin for a while now but I've run into a problem. My back. Mainly, it hurts after about an hour or so of playing. I just recently discovered how to get by this by practice 1 hour after breakfast, lunch and dinner. This way I can practice my regular time and still be able to stand. Does any one else have this problem because it seems that anyone else I ask hasn't encountered this.

Replies (30)

July 11, 2007 at 04:07 AM · If you have hard floors (tile, wood, thin pads under the carpet), go to Home Depot or Lowes and get some "shop floor pads" - they come in many colors and fit together like a jig-saw puzzle. They will give you some cushion under your feet when you are standing for a long period of time which will help your back. And wear comfortable supporting shoes. Also, check out how you are standing - are you leaning backwards or forwards rather than standing upright with your feet more or less in-line with your shoulders.

July 11, 2007 at 04:27 AM · Greetings,

I suggets you take Alexander lessons.



July 11, 2007 at 04:42 AM · right shoulder rising too much? Frequent breaks and using your time efficiently will help as well-especially the breaks--then focus like the devil.

July 11, 2007 at 06:42 AM · posture training and reduce your practice time by 1/2

July 11, 2007 at 07:35 AM · No reason to marathon it. Keep it short and incredibly focused. Set a specific goal before you start that can be unquestionably accomplished in a half hour or so, and do it. Take a break. Eat some cheese. Come back and do it again. You could go all day like that, if you had the time in your schedule.

July 11, 2007 at 07:51 AM · Emily,

I agree totally with you adding also the concept of consciousness of movement: so slow down the the tempo in order to memorize the correct movements.

In this way it is very difficult that you can get tired or can injury yourself when after you play a tempo because mind has to arrive before the muscles otherwise that's sucks!


July 11, 2007 at 03:32 PM · Emily: "...short and incredibly focused..."

Yes... My first conceto will be La Romanca Danca del la sora stawrista....

July 11, 2007 at 09:30 PM · I usually play until one of the following happens:

*I have to stop for some external world reason.

*I run out of interesting music and can't find anything to play along with on the radio, either.

*Pain kicks in.

If it hurts, STOP. I'd go ahead and finish the song, but stop after that.

I've found also that if I change the order I play stuff in, it helps prevent early pain during practice, e.g. music in Ab, Db, or Eb (to name a few) should be practiced last, because it inflicts more pain than keys that don't use both low first and fourth fingers. Something to do with getting cramps when you are too close to the scroll, I think.

"Doctor, it hurts when I do this!"

"Then stop doing that!"

July 12, 2007 at 02:21 AM · maybe you're tensing up

July 12, 2007 at 01:34 PM · That's possible. I just know I avoid practicing certain songs because the keys they're in are more painful. It seems worse on lower strings than higher strings.

EDIT: --oops, you weren't talking to me!

July 12, 2007 at 06:39 AM · Something else that just occurred to me was that I don't know what your floor consists of. Is it hard?

When I work in the kitchen, the tile floor kills my back, which is why I stand on a rubber mat. The difference is immense.

July 12, 2007 at 07:21 AM · What's interesting is that no one here has questioned why the pain occurs in the first place. If you're doing everything the right way, you shouldn't have back pain. Clearly, there is something in your technique that is causing this. Playing on a carpeted floor might put a band-aid on the wound but it won't cure it. I wish I could see you play to make a diagnosis. Meanwhile, don't practice for more than 45 minutes at a time. The body needs frequent breaks after physical activity.

Good luck,


July 12, 2007 at 01:29 PM · That's interesting, Emily. I play for hours on tile in a cold unfinished basement with concrete brick walls on one side, wallpapered cardboard half-walls on another side, and insulation on the other side. Great acoustics. Yeah, the only back problems I get are from the seat in my car (it's one of those that's supposed to fit snugly around your back-- and it doesn't) and bending over for a long time. When I was learning, though, I played for hours on medium length carpet.

July 12, 2007 at 09:17 PM · When I wake up I play about 1hour before the breakfest. During all day I play about 6 hours, but when I feel that I can't think so clear, I make a little break.

July 12, 2007 at 10:28 PM · Don't you pass out?

July 12, 2007 at 10:42 PM · Greetings,

>What's interesting is that no one here has questioned why the pain occurs in the first place.

Yes I did. Suggesting Alexander lessons means -precisely- that.



July 12, 2007 at 10:47 PM · Yes, you should look at why you are getting the pain in the first place. It might be a bad posture, maybe your tensing to tight, and it could possibly be an uncomfortable shoulder rest.

Do you usually practice that long or is it new routine?

Although I am not saying anyone of these will fix the problem overnight, they are things to look at.

July 13, 2007 at 03:57 PM · Do you sit or stand when you practice?

I like sitting because it's more relaxing and comfortable for me. Try a chair that is high and your legs dangle, and sit on the edge of the chair.

July 14, 2007 at 04:31 AM · Greetings,

sitting is actually more demanding on the body than standing. If it is more confortable then there is a misuse of the whole structure that can be adressed through Alexander lessons.



July 14, 2007 at 10:01 AM · who is alexander ?

never heard

July 14, 2007 at 03:04 PM · Alexander, the inventor of Alexander technique was a Shakespearean orator who lived from the mid 1860s to 1955. He started to develop problems such as laryngitis and went to see a doctor. A doctor told him there was no physical problem with him, so he studied his own motions very carefully to see what was happening. He realized that he was actually putting a lot of tension into his body right before he recited lines. Another thing he realized was the power of the mind. The muscles in your back are involuntary muscles, but you can make them quasi-voluntary by doing a variety of stretches to lengthen the spine as much as possible. I just had a few lessons in it and was absolutely amazed by the difference in sound i got before and after!

July 14, 2007 at 05:03 PM · My back sucks from 46 years of flying and getting bounced around pretty good so I sit for practicing. Unless you're a soloist you're sitting anyway so why not practice that way.

July 14, 2007 at 05:18 PM · This is the way of mine following the Auer approach.Rest fifteen minutes after every forty five of pratice.In this way you can play many hours a day without problems.Always have warm-up exercise before pratice,especially when the weather are cold.

I am also taken advise from my chiroprator some years ago.I shown him how i Play with the violin and he giving me advise(physically of course,not musically),

By the way,taking glucosamine sulfate are medical proven to increase the lubricity of the joint.Its help a faster vibrato and smoother bow stroke to me.

July 14, 2007 at 05:36 PM · >What's interesting is that no one here has questioned why the pain occurs in the first place.

me too---right shoulder raising.

And for adult practicers(is that a word), I'd even take the 45:15 ration to something like 15:5.... I'm finding though the intensity of my sessions is decreased, it's more desirably balanced as well--for me a good thing.

This 15:5 also renews my focus pretty nicely--pretty often--not always. So if you shorten your chunks(Buri's word), be disciplined with your focus.

July 14, 2007 at 06:11 PM · Alexander, feldenkrais are excellent, learn to practice relaxed with efficient body use.

People often underestimate how physical playing the violin is.

Many people in sf symphony have found that you need to be in really good shape to withstand the schedule. that means, yoga, running, surfing, core exercise classes or whatever else works to keep you in shape. A strong core; back and stomach makes a huge difference in your ability to support the instrument for long hours without injury.

And you must know when to back off. If your hands or wrists elbow , forearm are hurting ,stop. ice rest

July 14, 2007 at 06:38 PM · Sarn, my first teacher suggested at least upper body--I'd probably say lower too--training. I sort of but not really disrespectfully, minimized her remark because I've always worked out, prior military etc, but am seeing the benefits of what you are talking about since my garden season began last February (lots of intensive work).

I like to do cross training, much as you described but in my own way I think; and, may try and put something together for the laying back season--that period in the gardens waiting for next year, a period of 2-3 months.

July 15, 2007 at 02:25 PM · Hi,

On top of using the body correctly, using the right equipment and correct hand placements are important. I see a lot of people using the wrong chinrest, an innapropriately set support system (shoulder rest or other IF used) and basic faults in hand placement. All can create imbalances that lead to pain and problems. I have been addressing this a lot this summer with my students studying with me at summer festival where I am teaching. And contrary to popular belief, it doesn't take much to do a substantial difference. On top of anything, these need to be addressed (hopefully, your teacher can help). In then, these same physical obstacles that lead to pain also create limits in one's playing preventing the true potential, both technical and musical from come to the fore. IMVHO most people work way too hard at playing the violin, rather than using the instrument's inborn virtues to their fullest. I would suggest investigating this also along with other things.


P.S. One basic rule is that the body compensates for any imbalance by reacting with tension elsewhere to try to recreate proper balance. It is important to seek the source of the imbalance and remove it. Without that, the problem will remain.

July 15, 2007 at 03:56 PM · Paolo, others have given you great advices so I won't repeat. Given that you are young but have been playing the violin for a long time, you should check with your GP to rule out any possible physical issues before trying other things. Also, enjoy the health care system we have when it lasts:-)

July 16, 2007 at 04:24 AM · No one has suggested bending your knees ever so slightly and tucking your hips under. Good to consciously do every 20 minutes or so - this goes for anyone on their feet a lot. Good for lower back aches - although this may not be your issue.

July 16, 2007 at 06:14 AM · or that it's kind of natural these aches and pains, here and there. It's what we do about the that counts. After one gets to a certain level of good posture that is....

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