STRING PEDAGOGY NOTEBOOK

STANDING REST POSITION

In standing rest position the violin and viola are tucked under the right arm and held securely between the right arm and body. The upper right arm makes contact with the instrument on the tailpiece. The right arm should not come in contact with the bridge, as this could make the bridge move or collapse. Ask students, “Can you see your fine tuners?” In Image 1 the elbow is covering the tailpiece. For young students placing the instrument even higher—putting it in the armpit—may provide added security.

In the very beginning weeks of instruction before the student is playing with the bow the right hand can be placed on the bout of the instrument for added security. The goal, however, is for the students to be able to hold the instrument in rest position while also holding the bow in the right hand.




SITTING REST POSITION

In sitting rest position the end button of the instrument rests on the left leg, and the bow hand rests on the right leg, with the bow held vertically in the hand (Image 2).




There are three techniques I have learned to bring the instrument into position: a) Two-handed approach from above, b) Statue of Liberty, c) C-shoulder-shoulder. I will explain each approach and the benefits and drawbacks of each.


TWO-HANDED APPROACH FROM ABOVE


I learned the two-handed approach from Prof. Robert Culver. If the instrument is brought from above, the student is able to hold the instrument correctly for longer periods of time, and has less of a tendency to slouch, let the instrument drop in front of the body, or let the elbow collapse against the body. Once the instrument is put into position have the student turn their head slightly so they are looking up the strings of the violin.

Step 1: Rest position (Image 1)

Step 2: Left hand on upper bout (shoulder) of violin (Image 3). Alternately, “shake hands” with neck of instrument.

Step 3: Slide right hand to lower bout and place fingers on button (Image 4).

Step 4: Bring instrument over head (Image 5).

Step 5: Swing back and forth left to right three times  then bring instrument under chin Image 6).

Step 6: Turn head slightly so looking up the strings.

Step 7: Slide left hand from shoulder of violin to first position (see “Fly the Butterfly”)

Step 8: Check to make sure nose, scroll, elbow, toe are all in a row.


Variant on the two-handed approach, placing left hand in first position before the lift:


Step 1: Rest position

Step 2:“Shake hands” with neck of instrument in first position, curve fingers and tap on strings.

Step 3: Slide right hand to lower bout and place fingers on button.

Step 4: Bring instrument over head.

Step 5: Swing back and forth left to right three times then bring instrument under chin.

Step 6: Turn head slightly so looking up the strings.

Step 7: Check to make sure nose, scroll, elbow, toe are all in a row.

While holding the instrument in playing position, ask the student to reach across their body with their left hand and touch their right shoulder (Image 7). If the instrument slips, the student does not have proper shoulder rest support.

The drawback of the two-handed lift approach is the student cannot be holding the bow in the right hand while bringing the instrument into position.

STATUE OF LIBERTY

This is a one-handed approach to putting the violin into playing position that was develop by Paul Rolland. A one-handed approach is useful so the student can hold the bow while bringing the instrument into playing position. Since the instrument is brought to the body from above, it is easier for the student to maintain a correct posture for a longer period of time. It also helps students learn to balance their weight correctly.

Step 1: Rest position

Step 2: Make an L-shape with left hand. Place on on shoulder of violin. Alternately, form a C-shape with the left hand (see Image 9).

Step 3: Rock back and forth (left, right, left) feeling the weight transfer between the feet

Step 4: Extend left arm upward in front of body so holding the instrument like a torch (Image 9).

Step 5: Rotate the left arm, then bring instrument under chin.

Step 6: Turn head slightly so looking up the strings.

Step 7: Slide left hand from shoulder of violin to first position (“Fly the Butterfly”)

Step 8: Check to make sure nose, scroll, elbow, toe are all in a row (Image 8).

While holding the instrument in playing position, ask student to take the left hand, and touch the right shoulder. The instrument should stay in position. If the instrument slips, the student does not have proper shoulder rest support.Use the phrase "nose, scroll, elbow, toe, all in a row" as a reference to check a student's alignment. A general rule for playing a string instrument is "No part of your body should touch any other part of your body." If the violin/viola is held correctly, when the left hand is placed in 1st position, the left arm will form a natural 90 degree angle at the elbow. The elbow will not rest against the body.


C-SHOULDER-SHOULDER

This approach is similar to the Statue of Liberty. It is simpler and for younger students it may be more secure than the Statue of Liberty. I learned this approach from Mark Mutter.

Step 1: Rest position

Step 2: Make a C shape with the left hand

Step 3: Place left hand on shoulder of violin

Step 4: Move the instrument to your shoulder (playing position).

Step 5: Turn head slightly so looking up the strings.

Step 6: Slide left hand from shoulder of violin to first position (see “Fly the Butterfly”)

Step 7: Check to make sure nose, scroll, elbow, toe are all in a row.

The video above presents an overview of the steps for establishing violin and viola instrument position.



Image 3

Image 4

Image 1

Image 2

Image 5

Image 6

Image 7

Image 8

Image 9

INSTRUMENT POSITION FOR VIOLIN AND VIOLA