Tight Jaw

October 16, 2005 at 12:39 AM · I have been playing for nearly 2 years. I have had a moderately tight jaw for about the last six months now. It is not painful, just a bit tight, but nonetheless I wish I could get rid of it. I read on this site in the past to break practice sessions into small 10 minute chunks. I do about 5 of these per day.

The tightness is annoying because I have a lot of music to work on, but I have to limit practice. I wondered if anyone had any suggestions? Does anyone else get tight jaw?

I do not clench my jaw on chin rest, but I think I did when I started out, also I remember playing for about 2 hours in my first year (maybe I overdid it). I have the shoulder rest low and use a bit of padding under my shirt to get violin to desired height. I lift my head off chin rest where possible.

Thanks for listening,


Replies (7)

October 16, 2005 at 04:27 AM · try chewing gum while practicing...worked for me.

October 16, 2005 at 02:36 PM · There is, of course, a dental condition known as TMJ ("TMJ" stands for TemporoMandibular Joint, or the jaw joint) dysfunction, which causes the jaw to lock in certain conditions. I would check with your dentist and see if this is involved. If so, there may be a medical/dental solution, even something as simple as evening-out the bite. If not, at least you've ruled out something serious. Good luck.

October 16, 2005 at 04:44 PM · Thanks for both of your comments. I'll try chewing gum while practicing and at other times too. I suppose, :( I should consider visiting the dentist again, I only went for a check up a month ago. I am going to try and practice really efficiently too, because when I do that it is hardly noticeable.


October 16, 2005 at 08:35 PM · Hmm...same issue as with another thread.

Try playing in first position without placing your jaw on the chin rest at all. Sort of like playing without touching your left thumb to the neck just to lighten the contact.

Another issue that always comes up whether it is vibrato, trills or counterpressure of right thumb when bowing: The use of weight or pressure should be followed as quickly as possible by relaxation.

Same with the head on the violin. Maybe use a little weight to stablize the fiddle but then RELAX. Practice releasing weight by turning your head to the left and right while playing. If you always have to have your jaw on the chinrest then you should adjust the placement of the fiddle on your shoulder.

October 17, 2005 at 08:01 PM · Chances are very good that your jaw isn't the only thing your tighetening beyond what you need.

If you tense your jaw, you almost automatically tense your neck, and from there, some places in your back receive unneeded tension. Try to think of these places and relax them one at a time (starting with your jaw) while holding your violin as if you were to play it. Then try to think about releasing the tension while you play something you know very well.

October 17, 2005 at 09:35 PM · One way to relax is to stretch. You can try some yawning exercises. Also, you can move your lower jaw from side to side.

I usually do "stretches" after I practice, and that is only occasionally because my back will tense up every once in awhile after I have been standing for a very long time without breaks (even though I know you are supposed to take a 5 minute break every hour, sometimes I forget).

October 19, 2005 at 08:10 AM · There's an Alexander Technique exercise called 'the silent A' which you could check out, designed to relax the jaw and upper chest.

Is there something that needs to be said - what emotions are going on? - tell someone!

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