Playing the violin requires lots of repetition and awkward positions. Unfortunately, mistakes in posture, repetitive motions and playing can lead to injury. Violinists, along with other instrumentalists, are susceptible to carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, arthritis, focal dystonia, and nerve pain.
There are musicians, however, who lead injury-free lives for the most part because they take the necessary steps to prevent injury. Here are the top 5 violin playing mistakes student and professional musicians make that can lead to injury.
1. Poor Posture
Violinists of all levels sometimes neglect the proper standing and sitting posture. Some musicians slouch. Others overextend their back in the reverse direction. You must stand straight with shoulders relaxed, feet slightly apart, the head and neck in a comfortable resting state, the buttocks unclenched, and the knees unlocked.
2. Practicing Complex Techniques Too Early
Jumping ahead to learn difficult techniques -- before you’re ready -- introduces a staggering amount of tension into the body. Your mind is so preoccupied with trying to master the new technique; you don’t realize the pain your body is now under.
There is a reason for following an established and structured pace of study for the violin. With each level, you slowly learn to overcome the discomforts that accompany each complex technical study. But if you skip multiple steps, your body must adjust several steps ahead, and this can be detrimental.
Take your time. It’s not a race. Let your body adjust to each new technique without the pain and anguish.
3. Repetitive Motions with No Breaks
Musicians, in both practice and performance, experience repetitive motion injuries. This type of injury is born from the fact that we are taught to repeat and drill new concepts to perfection.
In the case of performance, musicians trying to make a living might accept gig after gig without a thought of the ramifications of constant playing. Add in repetition with poor posture and demanding repertoire, and you’re setting your body up for painful, numb, or tingling joints.
Always take a 10-minute break for every hour of practice, and give yourself two days off every week from playing if you’re a five-day-per-week performer.
4. Bad Instrument Set Up
An instrument with a bad setup makes it harder to produce a pleasant tone and to execute right and left-hand techniques. Dealing with hard-to-turn pegs day in and day out stresses the fingers. A chin or shoulder rest too high or short causes your neck or shoulder to accommodate, leading to strain injuries. These are a just a few examples of how a poor set up will affect your body.
Always search for the most comfortable accessories for you and your body type. And make sure your violin has a great set up from the get-go.
5. Neglecting Self-Care
Are you stretching properly? Are you getting yearly chiropractic adjustments or checking in with your Alexander Technique coach every once in a while? Are you eating healthy? Remember, learning an instrument is akin to athleticism in sports. It is important to take care of your physical health, get regular physical exams, and stretch.
Many professional musicians take up practicing yoga or meditation on the side. The longevity of your violin career and study relies on taking care of your body.
By Jasmine Reese