Violin, disability and limitations.
I suffer from a myopathy, which is muscle disorder. I am in a wheelchair, and my muscles aren't that great (they aren't terrible neither!). Besides that, i got myself a lot of tendon contractures. And that's the main issue. I can't open my hand to the end. My fingers are curved a little, and im not able to straighten the arm (it's about 150 degree angle when i try to).
I had always loved music, and i've played keyboard/piano for as long as i can remember. Recently i decided that i want to play another instruments as well. I went to the shop and bought myself a brand new violin, which might have been a little ill-conceived when i think about that. But here i am, with my 4/4 violin, and problem arises. I can't twist my wrist enough to reach all the strings. I need to really stretch out and twist my spine arround to hit that G string with my pinky comfortably, and i dont think that's good.
I really want to play the violin, and i thought that you might give me some ideas, tips, exercises to help me with that issue. Is holding my violin like a cello the only way?
Ps. I'll probably get a teacher soon so they can evaluate my condition, but i thought asking here first would be a good start. And i also have an appointment with my orthopaedist at the beginning of the next year, so i will ask him about that too.
Some will be brutally realistic telling you it is not possible. The others overly optimistic telling you that you can do whatever you want if you put enough efforts. I will just support you in your idea to find a teacher. If qualified and also experienced in working with adults, that person will be in the best position to provide assessment and guidance.
If your main issue is your disability to twist your arm enough, this can be helped by turning the instrument more laterally that the scroll points more towards the shoulder. You will eventually need a different type of chin rest. Have fun, even if you have to do things differently than others.
I took my violin and experimented with different positions once again. The one that seemed to work is to rotate a violin to the front, and like Nuuska suggested to the side a little. I can almost comfortably hit all the strings with all my fingers (a little discomfort is a result of my small fingers i guess). It also somehow fixes my problem with thumb contacture, and i dont squeeze the neck anymore. There will be a little problem with a bow holding (because of my arm contacture), but i think it's easier to fix. It sure looks unusual but i dont think i will play it publicly in the near future anyway. To play Violin like this i would indeed need another chin rest and maybe a longer shoulder rest.
Welcome Gray Ray,
I don't know about what you can or can't do, but violin is one of the less ergonomically friendly instruments you could choose, even without a disability. It's always interesting to see what truly motivated people can achieve, but based on just the ergonomics, violin would be among the last instruments I would think to recommend. I don't know if your breathing is significantly affected, but you might look into a wind instrument as well. I always dug oboe myself.
There are many cultures in which the violin is played in a cello-like position. This is much more ergonomic than classical violin posture. Professional cellists can actually play the violin in this position, and quite well.
That's actually a good point. It reminded me of this:
Cello position is definitely an option to explore - years ago in India I spent some time with a Carnatic violinist who played cello-style with a dazzling technique.