Violinist Ergonomic Safety
My new teacher really cares about violinist ergonomic. He revises all my ways of holding a violin, fingering and bowings. He analyzes every angle of my fingering and arms, to make sure no muscle strain. He makes sure I wont suffer muscle problem in the future like many violinists experience. He reminds me of Ergonomic professionals instead of a violin teacher.
Meaning that, I have to restart from the very beginning again : Twinkle2 Little Star, and Suzuki 1 book, with correct position, while I am actually in Suzuki 4, now.
It brings me down, changing habit is more difficult than exercising a new piece. But since I am a Health, Safety & Environment (HSE) professional myself, I understand and support his approach.
Twenty years ago, I rarely saw a violin teacher emphasizes ergonomic safety from the very beginning for beginners. Is this a new material in teaching violin?
Probably you have some significant posture and hand-positions problems. Maybe you are hunching your shoulders or stuff like that. I don't know. Try giving it a few weeks and pay attention to the "ergonomics" and maybe you'll be back with the Seitz Concerto soon enough.
I would advise you to be patient and stick with it if you like the teacher. Its probably frustrating but you'll work back up to your prior level and be much better off learning this way. I don't think the emphasis on ergonomics is that common and I think you're lucky to find such a teacher.
An emphasis on proper physical set-up is at the core of the approach of every good teacher. You can't build a solid house without a good foundation.
Yes, I think I am lucky to have him as my teacher. He didn't mention a word "Ergonomics" at all-I don't think he even has ever heard the word -but what he did is actually what Ergononomics professionals do in HSE field : analyzing the right angles of repetitive movements at work to prevent muscle injury. He even analyzes how my short pinky reaches the tone. He tried various angles of my violin position, my thumbnail and elbow to find the right angles where I can press fingers 1,2,3,4 in G string at the same time without having to flex my pinky much. When I finally found the right angle and feel comfortable, I didn't say anything but he just knew and exclaimed, "That's it! You are comfortable with this position. Remember this and practice it in front of a mirror."
I find it really normal for new teachers to change the playing style of a new student, once taught by another person. Stick with it, your teacher is doing this for your benefit! I know it can be frustrating going back to basics, but if you are familiar with the pieces of the Suzuki books (if you have reviewed them occasionally etc), there is no reason why you won’t catch back up once your teacher is happy with your playing and positioning. I think its excellent that your teacher is taking such time to go over this detail, preventing injury and making sure you can enjoy playing for as long as possible!
My Suzuki trained teacher took exactly the same approach. Going back to the very beginning like that will soon bring good dividends and enable progress that would otherwise be increasingly difficult to attain. Go for it!
I finished my university violin training in Oregon 2 years ago and there was huge emphasis on ergonomic training. My teacher also made me restart with book 1 Suzuki and redid all my technique. I came to him with severe tendonitis and technical issues from high school. I am endlessly grateful for this... my advice is to slow down and stick with it and you will find a lot of freedom and comfort later :)
And be wary if your teacher and/or your school don't give a darn about injury, they just want you to play,play,play,dammit!
And then there is that thoroughly misleading and ridiculous mantra "No Pain No Gain" that worms its way into our brains, probably having a subconscious adverse influence.
My only comment is to monitor the time spent on ergonomics. There was a teacher I trialed who spent the majority of 2 lessons time on the shoulder rest. You can overdo anything if you set your mind to it
I am glad that now we have internet and that we can share through online discussion. As I think deeper, the reason why I gave up violin 20 yrs ago was because wrong position issues that made me difficult to develop my technique. It was like that years ago : play, play, play, just sacrifice yourself. It was frustating.
This is quite great. I had a few lessons again earlier this year after a very long time and my teacher noticed right away that I am bowing incorrectly (partly it's not enough movement in the wrist, partly not-straight bowing). And I am certain that it is not that my technique has slacked off since the years I was playing in school; I honestly think I have always played like this and no one has ever noticed/corrected it before... not even private teachers. I'm blown away.
Oddly enough, I've never had any tension or pain anywhere in my bowing arm. The incorrect movement does, however, mean I have been bowing crookedly all my life. I had no idea; from my angle it looked fine and I can't tell unless looking in a mirror from a certain angle (not something I was ever in the habit of doing). No one else ever mentioned it except my mom.
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