practicing positions

August 14, 2010 at 07:50 PM ·

 I was wondering if standing or sitting has any effect on how well the practice session goes? I've discovered that when I sit, I get fidgety quicker and have to stand up. However, when I stand, I notice that I'm more likely to get tired. does anyone have a view on this?

Replies (23)

August 14, 2010 at 07:56 PM ·

 all I can tell you is my preference which is STANDING, I ALWAYS ALWAYS stand, no matter how many hours I practice for.... the thing I actually dislike in orchestra is sitting down which I have to do when I'm there!

I don't get 'tired' of standing, ever...

August 14, 2010 at 08:03 PM ·

 I stand for the majority of my practicing time because then I have more freedom. When I'm sitting I feel that my playing is somehow restricted and less expressive. 

August 14, 2010 at 08:05 PM ·

I prefer to stand, because it keeps my torso in better alignment, keeps violin level, etc....however, I had extensive foot surgery, and I've never been able to stand comfortably since then.  So I got a few "barstools" at yard sales, all different heights, and I LOVE THEM! I can plant my rear on the stool, and it takes the weight off my feet, but I still get the benefits of standing. My focus is sharp as if I were standing. Try bar stools. (padded....for those long scale sessions!) 

--Lora (Red Desert Violin)

August 14, 2010 at 09:07 PM ·

My answer: In between!

I use a cut off square flat bar stool. I sit on the corner, with my legs slightly stretched out. This is called, in French, "le position en cocher de fiacre". I have no idea what it is in English. But, it's what a stage coach driver would look like sitting, in a way. It is half way between standing and sitting and very relaxing. I used to stand all the time, but to stand for over 4 hours, that gives me a backache and my feet hurt!

August 14, 2010 at 09:14 PM ·

Hi Amanda - You bring up an important and often-overlooked subject. That is, we play with our whole selves, so how we sit, stand, and otherwise move strongly affects our music making.

Here are a few quick suggestions: 

  • To increase the ease with which you sit and stand, I highly recommend lessons from a certified teacher of either the Alexander technique or the Feldenkrais method. For more info, see the Wellness Page at
  • If you're preparing music for a performance, then, as the performance approaches, it's probably best to practice in the same sitting or standing position as you'll perform.
  • In my book, The Musician's Way, see the section titled "Balanced Sitting and Standing" (p. 250-257). I include easy-to-follow guidelines and high-resolution photos. The book is in the George Mason Univ. library near you and available from online booksellers such as
  • Related content can be found in my post on The Musician's Way blog titled "Balanced shoulders, open heart." 

Hope that's helpful. Gerald


August 15, 2010 at 08:01 AM ·

 Generally I think standing is best but sometimes after work I'm just so tired that I focus better if I relent and practice sitting down.  

August 15, 2010 at 02:42 PM ·

I always sit.  There's a spot on my right thigh that goes a bit numb if I stand for very long.  It's too distracting to play through.

August 15, 2010 at 02:54 PM ·

le position en cocher de fiacre". I have no idea what it is in English. But, it's what a stage coach driver would look like sitting, in a way.

"Coach driver position" is exactly what it means, but it should be "la position," not "le."

I use a barstool, too, to avoid problems with knee arthritis and sciatic pain.

August 15, 2010 at 03:19 PM ·

""Coach driver position" is exactly what it means, but it should be "la position," not "le.""

That really is obnoxious to do, actually it's rude. I live in France, I actually speak French, do you? Do you speak French or did you just Google it? Who cares if it's "le" ou "la" in a forum that's in Englsih anyway? Do you go about correcting everone's English/French online wherever you post? See, people don't do that (except you) because nobody is perfect. It's called a typo.

August 15, 2010 at 04:25 PM ·

I prefer standing; shoes off, so my toes can feel the floor; a rug is a nice plus. Helps me with body tension issues.

August 16, 2010 at 02:39 AM ·

I think standing is best but its hard after doing landscaping, carpet installing, ... all day. I used to like the shoulder rest standing up but now in a wheelchair it didnt feel right because the violin is slanted more. And now I like no SR so much I might just throw it away. I like it flat on the shoulder ( not lifted up ).

August 16, 2010 at 08:27 AM ·

A lot of people play better standing than sitting because they slump a bit when seated.

August 16, 2010 at 10:32 AM ·

Stand.  I'll stand for hours - then I have to sit in a chamber group and although it feels a little strange I don't think it affects my playing at all.

(PS: we had a weekend poll on this just a couple of weeks ago that you could also look at).

August 16, 2010 at 02:18 PM ·

I stand because my instructor has always made me stand. 

I had terrible posture which required a lot of work to be fixed - very important when you play a huge viola.  There was a time when I had chronic pain and numbness in my hands and arms.  That all went away with the technique my instructor taught me.

---Ann Marie

August 16, 2010 at 04:38 PM ·

August 16, 2010 at 08:26 PM ·

Well for what it's worth, I had the occasion to chat with Ruggierio Ricci very recently (he's over 90 now but still a force to be reckoned with) The first thing he asked was what I was studying, so I said the Bach Partitas, he said very good and then he asked me how I was practicing, standing or sitting, so I said standing. He said to sit. I didn't ask why.

August 16, 2010 at 09:52 PM ·

I used to always stand until my Feldenkrais instructor (also a professional violinist) asked me to try sitting. I have been alternating between standing and sitting. It doesn't seem to affect my playing or concentration either way. I have recently started walking around and drawing circles with my scroll while practicing per her advice. ;)

August 17, 2010 at 03:52 AM ·

Lisa, it really is non of my business but I think I should point it out.
Even if Bill seemed rude I'm confident he wanted to help because he can't possibly know that you are a native french speaker and accidentally typo'd. My opinion is that it's not wise to reply to a possibly unintended rude post with your already intended rudeness. I wouldn't want to be called perfect sarcastically but if you really mean it, I might have said that nobody is perfect but there's nothing wrong to strive there. Bill was trying to help you, not mock you.

Nope, I don't know him personally but that's how typo's go -- you never know if it's a typo or a mistake so you try to do good correcting it for someone else which "sometimes" isn't appreciated.

By no means I want to offend you, I just want you to know that Bill never intended any harm.
Back to the subject:

I guess I stand for most of the time, sometimes I sit down for 5 or 10 minutes when I'm really tired but it is a bit harder to play while seated as well as to maintain posture. I suppose it's personal and different for everyone.


August 17, 2010 at 11:30 AM ·

Seems like the general consensus is...we don't like sitting! I agree. I sit only for reheasals and concerts. I prefer to stand but standing for hours is out of the question. So, that is why I prefer the in between position - half sitting /half standing. How do you guys stand up for so long? My achilles tendons start to scream after an hour!

Theodor, who cares? You don't correct people's grammar online no matter what language it is. It's rude. Period. I have no lessons to learn from you and he can speak for himself.


August 17, 2010 at 09:39 PM ·

Lisa, I care. But let's leave it like that, I have no reason to meddle in someones problems and start or continue an argue. If you're up to it, I'm offering a friendly talk with no argues in a private chat -- but only if you feel like it. I would love to get to know your view point :)


August 18, 2010 at 02:48 PM ·

Don, if you like technology there's this thing called an "estand" I think, it's a digital music stand with sheet music. I would love something like that, but I'd have to be able to make notations on the sheet music while I'm playing.

August 18, 2010 at 04:58 PM ·

Don, yes that is a huge drawback and one that is a deal breaker for me, for sure. And I can't articulate why I prefer standing up, or half sitting in my case. Perhaps it is because we feel more grounded. At any rate, playing the violin/viola puts us in a very unnatural position.

August 18, 2010 at 07:35 PM ·

Yup, traditional Morrocan violin is played with the violin upright on the knee. I'm considering taking some lessons since I know a few musicians.

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