Four Points of Relaxation for Violin Playing

Relaxation is the key to all technique. Often when we’re on the spot trying to perform our best, the natural tendency is to tense up. The “fight or flight” instinct is activated. In violin playing, tension blocks the natural springy weight of the bow arm, leading to smaller tone and reduced control. Tension in the left hand causes fingers to push into the fingerboard and then lift too high, leading to loss of speed, accuracy and efficiency. There is also the danger of playing-related injury.

Often tension develops needlessly because we don’t take the time to establish the correct physical feeling and posture. During your next practice session, try placing the bow on the string, setting up good left hand posture and then isolate the following four areas for relaxation:

  • right shoulder
  • right elbow
  • right hand and wrist
  • knuckles of the left hand

Focus on each area individually for a few seconds and then play. If you feel tension creeping back in, shake out your arms and hands and go through the process again. Over time, the roadblock of tension will be removed, leading to more efficient playing.

The key to facility and accuracy and, ultimately, to complete mastery of violin technique is to be found in the relationship of mind to muscles, that is, in the ability to make the sequence of mental command and physical response as quick and as precise as possible.

-Ivan Galamian

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

4 thoughts on “Four Points of Relaxation for Violin Playing

  1. I would also add left shoulder. Using the analogy of a hose pipe – if you put a kink in it, water (energy) won’t flow through it. Any tension between the brain and fingers will have an effect on your ability to use them optimally.

  2. In an article you mentioned ‘good left hand posture’…..could you please explain exactly what you mean, and how it is achieved? Thank you.

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