Is it possible to play the Violin while laying down?

June 16, 2015 at 06:53 AM · I've enjoyed classical music my whole life (currently 18 years old) with the Violin being my personal favorite. I've always wanted to play, but I thought it would just be too much of a luxury/cost too much/I would be too busy. Last year, I was told by the doctors that I wouldn't be able to do anything. Basically I can only sit up for about an hour before I have to lay down the rest of the day due to pain, and I cannot fix it because of the risks. So I am bed bound for life. That's when it finally hit me. Maybe I have a chance in recreational violin?

Before I even consider this, I wanted to learn a bit, especially in my case, if it's even possible. So my question is: Is is possible to play the Violin whilst laying down? With my conditions, I can indeed sit up for about an hour, but one hour of practice every 5 or so, doesn't sound very efficient.

If this is possible, I will start saving up. I did some research prior to posting this, and most articles said something around $200-$300 range is a good place to start, which won't be hard at all. It will just take me about a year or two to save up that much, since with my conditions, I wont be able to get a job. All the more time to learn what I'll need too. But I digress.

Replies (23)

June 16, 2015 at 08:34 AM · Greetings,

yes you can. You might consider reading about/contacting Joey Corpus on this issue.

Cheers,

Buri

June 16, 2015 at 12:48 PM · Yes you can. I remember from my school days there was a gifted pupil (very much not me), of whom my teacher said "I knew he had something special when the first thing he did on recovering from a severe illness (and this was before getting out of bed) was to ask for his violin".

June 16, 2015 at 01:02 PM · Dear Tim, you've humbled us all by even asking this question. We complain among one another about the great difficulties that the violin poses without having to imagine facing those issues whilst bedridden. My guess is that you're not the first to have faced this problem, though, and as Buri suggested it would be good for you to find someone who has figured it out already. I don't know anyone myself but the violin is so popular that it's hard to imagine any violin-related problem being truly unique. I've tried to play lying down (not seriously), and the most obvious difficulties are that overall body/arm movement is restricted in ways that one does not encounter whilst sitting or standing, and that the bow is not maintained on the string by gravity, rather it tries to skitter off toward the bridge.

June 16, 2015 at 01:08 PM · If fatigue and pain are concerns then I would think trying to play lying down will be quite a challenge. Think trying to hold a book up with both hands - it gets really tiring. So some modification to your positioning with the instrument - perhaps a little viola de gamba style going down the body or even cello style. If you can be semi reclined and well supported that should also help - you need to be able to move your bow arm at least some distance by swinging your elbow preferably. There are various devices that are designed to support the violin in a harness to protect the neck joints/muscles - perhaps one might be helpful for you? One I can think of is happy necks.

Be aware that most violin starters complain of some discomfort as it is not an ergonomic instrument. So your 1 hour of sitting every few hours may be perfect as most people should probably only practise about 30 minutes at a time initially anyway. Short but frequent and regular will get you a long way.

Best of luck.

June 16, 2015 at 02:56 PM · Do you have to lay down in a conventional bed while laying down?

I use a flat exercise bench for some exercises I do...and it supports your back but because it's so narrow it leaves your arms free.

I haven't tried to play the violin while laying on it...but I could go try.

It is not expensive, and you might be able to modify it a bit to make it suit your needs more...all while still being able to play the violin.

June 16, 2015 at 03:09 PM · Thank you all for responding!

I'll see what I can do about contacting Mr. Corpus, and if I can find anyone else with knowledge on the topic.

I'll look into seeing if I might need a harness or something of the sort. It does indeed sound helpful!

And no my bed isn't conventional. Its more or less like a hospital bed; one that can move up and down at the feet and head via remote. I might be able to work out a way to create a pseudo form of laying down with the head option, if that changes much.

I'm so glad that I have this to look forward too now! It'll definitely spice up my inevitably repetitive life-style.

June 16, 2015 at 03:34 PM · I just tried out the flat exercise bench.

It does work. Your arms are free to move.

You'd need a pillow for your head...I found couldn't play "properly" with my head flat too, lol.

Gravity acts differently on your body in this position...my arms got tired very quickly, but you'd build up those muscles if you are just starting out, probably without even noticing too much.

Anyway...just an option that might be feasible...and free you up a bit more than the hospital bed, while still supporting your body...

June 17, 2015 at 05:52 AM · Do you perhaps remember the name of this documentary?

June 17, 2015 at 08:02 AM · Virtuoso Violinist Julia Fischer: A TV PORTRAIT

Best wishes

Buri

June 17, 2015 at 08:34 AM · From memory, that clip is very short and there is no explanation of what she specifically is asking the student to be more aware of. In the absence of the teacher who has the goal and the student who has that need, it's a useless exercise. She is clearly not teaching a beginner.

June 17, 2015 at 08:59 AM · Really Sharelle,

as a teacher of advanced players primarily through telepathy I can tell you she was teaching the student to be aware of on coming trucks when lying down in the road and playing the violin. Vertical busking has always been safer than horizontal. And those Autobahns are bloody fast....

Always happy to help,

Burp

June 17, 2015 at 11:46 AM · I feel better already. Thanks

Dave

June 17, 2015 at 12:11 PM · you never cease to amaze me, Buri. Is there no limit to your pedadoggiecal :) prowess?

I'm just going to march me right into the lounge room this minute and lie on my back with a violin.

June 17, 2015 at 01:27 PM · Sign me up for telepathic violin lessons with Maestro Brivati. I will pay for a years worth in advance and it will undoubtedly be the best investment I have ever made.

June 17, 2015 at 04:38 PM · Tim, you've got us all trying it. :) I've actually tried playing violin lying down before. I just did again and found playing cello lying down much easier! (Violin is my main instrument.) If you can have something big resting on top of you without pain, cello could be an option. My cello weighs 7 pounds. It is heavy enough that it doesn't skitter around when bowed like my violin did in the various positions I experimented with.

I hope you do pick up an instrument and keep us updated!

June 17, 2015 at 07:10 PM · there has long been a school of thought that the viola can be played cello fashion. that might make more sense than an actual cello.

Cheers,

buri

June 17, 2015 at 07:54 PM · My youngest daughter who studies cello keeps an old 1/4 size vso in her room as a toy. She can play all her cello pieces on it, cello style.

June 17, 2015 at 09:14 PM · -cough- my first post -cough-

Bandwagon jumpers.

Oh, I keep thinking to say that an investment in a teacher in the home even for a couple of lessons would be invaluable - don't try working this out on your own. I'd be screening by sending them this thread and ensuring the prospective teacher has a willingness and eagerness to teach a skill rather than a dogma.

And rent your instrument - it will allow you to get started more quickly.

June 18, 2015 at 01:01 PM · Is it possible to play the Violin while laying down?

Only when drunk ...

Sorry - I couldn't resist that one.

P S I'm sure it might be possible. Don't give up hope. Best regards.

(A bit of humour often helps ...)

July 4, 2015 at 12:23 PM · It seems to me that keeping the bow horizontal would be the most important source of strain. You could try attaching a helium balloon to the tip with a string or thread a couple of yards long (the longer it is, within reason, the less will be the tendency of the balloon to affect the bow stroke)? or a pulley on the ceiling with the other weight being between a third and half of the weight of the bow stick (or even better, a couple of pulleys, to prevent entanglement by distancing the weight line from the bow line)?

July 4, 2015 at 02:46 PM · yes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMYqAb6hC10

July 5, 2015 at 09:55 PM · Thanks, John. Ill definitely keep that in mind.

And thanks, Mendy. It really helps to see other people doing it.

Also I have an update. I recently came into some money, and by the end of the month, I should have a violin!

July 5, 2015 at 11:21 PM · N.A. Mohr is right, an incline bench (like weight lifters and personal trainers use) is great because your elbow is free from the narrow bench. It you are confined to a standard bed, and the elbow must lie on the surface of the bed, just try to have it an the softest spot, so you can still get some upper arm and elbow flexibility (for string crossings).

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