A question for teachers
I saw a photograph the other day of my eleven-year-old great nephew playing the viola. I don't get to see him very often (he lives a long way off) and have never seen or heard him play.
He's been playing for two years and what struck me about the photo was how poor has position was. His shoulders were rounded, he was slumped forward (he was seated in the picture), the scroll was pointing down at the ground (almost at a 45-degree angle), his left writes bent at 90 degrees.
Also in the picture was his six-year-old sister playing the violin. She's been playing a similar amount of time but had a much better posture.
I've seen other pictures of my nephew playing and they all show a similar position so this wasn't a one-off moment - it seems there's a pattern.
Now, my nephew has some considerable musical talent - he plays the piano and also won a scholarship as a chorister at a prestigious cathedral choir school in the UK a few years ago (sufficient to pay his not inconsiderable school fees until he's eighteen).
I'm tempted to have a word with his parents and ask about the viola teacher, as it seems he/she isn't doing that great a job. I know I've only seen photos and not heard him play, but I don't see how he's going to progress playing like that.
But before I wade in, I thought it prudent to ask the opinions of teachers to see if they think ensuring good posture is desirable two years into tuition?
I'd look at a video rather than a photo, personally. It may be that the photo was taking too long so he just slumped while waiting for it.
I would say have a word with the parents but then leave it alone. This isnt your battle.
I would just stay out of it completely until you have heard him play. In fact even then - don't comment until you actually play together - and even then - be careful!
Posture is extremely important for beginners. That said, I can think of many factors that can cause the student of an otherwise excellent teacher to have poor posture.
Thanks for all your answers.
Ingrid is spot on.
Two lines of thought:
Tony, Does he wear glasses or maybe he needs them and doesn’t know it? Perhaps he is unconsciously compensating for a vision issue by leaning forwards towards the written score. An 11 year old boy is likely not going to call attention to a vision issue because he doesn’t want the “four eyes” and other quasi bullying comments from his peers.
When I was a kid my posture was terrible. My violin teacher wanted me to be able to hold up my instrument with my chin, but he wouldn't let me use a shoulder rest. You know how hard that is for a five-year-old? The collarbone of a small child is very tender, it was painful. So all the pictures of me showed my playing with a low scroll, terrible posture.
Thanks for the further answers.
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