Wearing rings while playing

December 18, 2011 at 09:22 PM · Recently I discovered that many violinists, include Perlman and Stern,were wearing rings when they were playing the violin, while other famous violinists, include Heifetz, took out their rings before practicing or performing. So does wearing a ring while playing the violin effects the quality of playing at all?

Replies (22)

December 18, 2011 at 10:44 PM · It probably depends on the thickness of the ring and individual hand anatomy. I have a fairly thick gold wedding ring (inherited) which proved to be such a nuisance when playing the cello that I stopped wearing it. I didn't opt to take it off specifically for playing because, knowing me, I'd eventually lose it. I've since tried wearing it when playing the violin and if anything the situation is even worse. (My wife is very understanding about it.)

There are of course some occupations where the wearing of rings may be ill-advised for safety reasons – electricians, scientific laboratory work, some kinds of engineering, perhaps surgeons ...

December 19, 2011 at 06:13 AM · My violin teacher insisted that anything adorning your limb can throw you off while performing. My routine during lessons was to take off the wrist-watch, any adornment on my fingers. Wear comfortable shoes (foot balance). Absolutely no trainers, since those shoes often do not allow you to feel the entire sole of your feet on the floor.

The rings, she said, can throw off the balance/weight of each finger. Wrist-watch... well, we do use our wrists a lot, and anything hindering the muscle movement was a no-no. She used the analogy of a ballet dancer wearing a belt during rehearsal.

December 19, 2011 at 07:49 AM · I can't bear any rings, bracelets, tight clothes, anything like that if I'm playing. First thing I do when I get to my lesson is shed the lot! I can't even handle sleeves. If I'm concentrating on anything, violin or not, I will immediately either roll my sleeves up or take my jumper off (on more than one occasion almost leading to Hilarious Consequences when I haven't had a t-shirt on underneath...). And if I'm REALLY engrossed or slightly anxious then the shoes go, too.

December 19, 2011 at 09:58 AM · "on more than one occasion almost leading to Hilarious Consequences"

Lila - what an exciting life you lead!

December 19, 2011 at 10:51 AM · I used to wear a ring on my right little finger to remind me to keep it on the stick more.

gc

December 19, 2011 at 10:52 AM · Geoff- Sadly not, that actually probably is the most interesting thing that's happened to me in the history of ever. I'm an accountant now.

:-(

December 19, 2011 at 10:53 AM · My (very distinguished)teacher wore a ring during lessons and it never seemed to bother him. I don't wear any rings myself as I do not like the feel of 'foreign bodies' on my hands at all, not just while playing.

December 19, 2011 at 03:54 PM · I think performance depends on practice. I thought that my wedding ring might throw me off, but that was not the case with me.

I decided to just wear it for a week of practice. Bottom line: I don't even notice it now.

It still comes for working with electricity or with power tools.

December 19, 2011 at 03:56 PM · Rings! At long last we finally know why Stern wasn't as good as Heifetz.

The "balance between the fingers" is a relative thing. Most folks get used to having their wedding bands on all the time. Anything floppy like a diamond engagement ring or a wristwatch could be a problem though.

December 19, 2011 at 04:40 PM · I've been wearing a wedding band on my left hand for the past 56 years and have never noticed that it bothered my violin or cello playing.

However, when my wife gave me a heavier gold-mounted tiger's eye ring about 30 years ago, I tried wearing that on my left hand for a while and found that its 5-gram mass definitely affected my bowing. I had thought it might give my better momentum control, but its effect was the opposite. In some ways it was like adding 5 grams to the frog of the bow.

Andy

December 20, 2011 at 01:19 AM · It depends on the individual ring, and, as people have said, on hand anatomy. If you've got thick fingers, you probably won't notice the mass as much, as the change is proportionally smaller. I've been playing with several different rings on my bow hand (only one at a time, I just switched rings) for years, it's never been an issue. I've played with watches before, and that can be a bit irritating, but we can adjust quite quickly.

If it's a 6 carat rock, though, I guess I could see where the problems are!

December 20, 2011 at 03:15 AM · If I ever got married (hahahaha) I'd just wear the ring on the right hand.

I once played for a well-known teacher who insisted that I take off my wristwatch. I don't know if it really made a difference, but I always take it off now. Can't hurt, anyway.

December 20, 2011 at 03:20 AM · I have a thick gold ring on my left ring finger. It has no effect on my playing whatsoever.

December 20, 2011 at 04:30 PM · I change up my ring and/or watch on my left hand all the time. Unless the ring I'm wearing is loose, I've never had an issue.

I have to be more careful with necklaces...since I don't use a shoulder rest, certain ones will dig into my neck and I often don't notice right away...then when I stop I have some minor injury (that's hard to explain).

December 20, 2011 at 04:41 PM · For a calibration point, type "liberace rings" into Google Images.

December 21, 2011 at 11:11 PM · Right hand (like Perlman) no problem. Left hand no way.

December 22, 2011 at 12:05 AM · I always take off my ring on my left hand because when I don't, it is more of a distraction for me. The ring on my right hand stays on. Although it's possible to wear rings on both hands, on with no effects on your playing, I think it depends on if you find it distracting or uncomfortable. Maybe it also depends on which finger. A wedding ring on the 3rd finger might be ok, but wearing a ring on your 1st finger or thumb...no thanks.

December 22, 2011 at 01:28 AM · For more years than I care to remember I've been wearing my watch on my right wrist because in my early days as a cellist, when I wore it on my left wrist, it was liable to interfere with high position playing, and on one occasion the clasp on the strap wrecked the winding on the A-string. So I started wearing it on the right.

I can't say it is any sort of hindrance to my playing because it is now part of me. There is one perceivable little advantage, though – I can see the watch face when I'm playing the violin, which wouldn't be possible if I were wearing it on my left.

December 22, 2011 at 05:35 PM · I wear the wedding ring on my right hand and I think it actually helps with the bow weight and control. I always take off my watch which I wear on my left wrist, otherwise can not vibrate freely.

December 22, 2011 at 06:07 PM · It's pretty common for players who wear rings or watches to wear them on the right hand or wrist.

On the left, rings can cause some accelerated wear on the neck from holding the instrument, even if they don't touch when playing.

December 22, 2011 at 09:28 PM · Always take your rings off, in order to avoid cross contamination and to minimalize the risk of equiment-related amputation.

December 23, 2011 at 08:17 AM · In my orchestra, most of the married string players wear their rings on the right hand. The ones who don't are mostly violists and bassists. I think there's one cellist and one or two violinists who wear theirs on the left hand. There aren't many "just for decoration" rings in the group, on whatever instrument -- people mostly seem to wear wedding rings or nothing. (The married wind players are all lefties, although I know a bassoonist who wears his on the right because of how the left hand has to stretch.)

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