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How to relax
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Jimjam
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September 2, 2015 - 8:14 am
Member Since: August 26, 2015
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Tonight was my third lesson. First the worst, second the one you realise how much hard work learning the violin will involve and third the best and maybe you'll start progressing. Yet to date, this was the worse lesson I'd had. My arm tremor was outrageous and I could not focus nor maintain my timing let alone read which notes I was playing!

It sucks because this week I'd practiced and practiced hours each days and even 3 hrs today before class; nailing my technique in tune to a metronome and all! Then walk into class and I literally tensed up as if I was about to play a game of football ready to get tackled. Heck I could have a post surgery patient right now (a student of medical background) and I'd confidently and calmly be able to treat and rehabilitate them no problems!

Yet as my teacher noted. I just could not relax. Violin lessons are more harrowing to me than treating a stroke patient! I was super tense, my heart started beating madly and my bow technique went down the drain.

 

So any tips on relaxing? Thanks for putting up with all my beginning questions! May I one day return the favor! Hopefully sooner than later!

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ElisaDalViolin
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September 2, 2015 - 9:13 am
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Hi JimJam!

Don't be afraid to make mistakes or sound bad. We all want to give our best in front of others but remember you teacher is there to help you and your lessons are the place to make imperfections in order to progress. Mental blockage affects your body in a big way and it's what makes us super tense. You can do it! If you need, pause your lesson and move around, stretch, swing your arms to relieve some tension. Ask questions about a piece or about technique and while you do that put your arms down or move your fingers freely. If you're like me and you "plant" the feet on the ground resulting in knee tension, swing yourself to the sound of music. 

Remember to breath and enjoy. Don't pressure yourself to practice alot before lessons. My teacher even discourages me to do that. If you do your daily practice with focus and not only to make hours of practicing, it will be more than enough and progress will show. Take it easy and slow 🙂 violin_girl

 
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Jimjam
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September 2, 2015 - 9:22 am
Member Since: August 26, 2015
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@ElisaDalViolin , thank you for that. I guess my muscles are just so use to being tense with playing sports so it is hard to get them to relax! Will definitely take the advice to move around a bit more during class and use time to ask questions and the likes.

I keep thinking I am relaxed but then my teacher points I am not haha.

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damfino
oHIo, USA
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September 2, 2015 - 10:56 am
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One thing to remember is, your teacher knows some people get nervous in class, especially just starting out. They understand this is normal. They know you are learning and this is new to you. So try not to let that shake you (I know this is easier said than done).

I'm more than a little bit introverted, and get nervous for my class, even though I'm comfortable with my teacher. So my fingers won't always behave and hit the right notes, even if I do at home. Sometimes my bowing arm gets tense and makes my bowing get a lovely little bounce to it. But I remind myself that my teacher understands, and that it's ok.

If you are tense, my teacher says to just drop your arms at your side, and shake them out to relax the muscles, then try playing again.

My lessons are in the basement of a little music shop. Usually there are no other lessons going on in the other classrooms at the time I'm there, so my teacher will leave the door open. My first two lessons this shook me a little (I know the sound carries and everyone upstairs can hear me, since I can hear them talking and playing the instruments up there), but now I don't care at all. This past lesson (my 5th) there was a guitar student in the waiting area tuning their instrument while waiting for their teacher to arrive, adding to the workers and customers that could hear me upstairs, and it didn't bother me. Made me feel good to realize that it didn't bother me anymore. So that whole leaving the door open thing was a good lesson for me, and I'm sure my teacher knows that.

Is there something just ever so slightly outside your comfort zone that you could do to practice easing your nerves? Even if it's just playing with your windows open, it might help you.

~ I'm not torturing cats... I'm learning to play violin! ~

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Jimjam
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September 3, 2015 - 10:29 pm
Member Since: August 26, 2015
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@damfino will definately take a few of those tips on board! Yeah I'm pretty easy with getting myself out of my comfort zone but rather it's just with the ole fiddle that I just cannot wrap my head around! Hopefully one day it just clicks. Practicing in the open will be my next goal.

I think it is time to practice yoga to relax!

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Rob C
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September 4, 2015 - 1:01 pm
Member Since: January 2, 2015
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I do that all the time. At home I have no problem being relaxed. The hour I spend with my teacher I tense right up. I'ts not even that I'm nervous. I do overthink things when I'm there though. 

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coolpinkone
California, the place of my heart
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September 5, 2015 - 1:35 pm
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@Jimjam 

I actually quit my lessons in the first year because of my anxiety...I am going to resume them some day as I have less tension around "strangers."   

Anyway... I will say that it got a lot better, so don't loose heart.  Sometimes it gets better and sometimes not.  Some people have more performance anxiety.

I like the advice given... the teacher is there to help.. the teacher has for sure heard worse... 🙂  

Keep learning and checking in.. you are not alone.thumbs-up1st-place

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
September 6, 2015 - 8:37 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 11706

Although proper technique helps achieve a relaxed hold and performance, another way is to consciously practice relaxing.
Use a part of your practice session, preferably the first part and possibly the last, to do a quick stretch out and begin playing with full focus on relaxation.
Play long notes, and scales, while focusing on not tensing and note what you need to change to achieve that goal.
Hopefully during your normal session you will feel that positive start kick in from time to time and be able to apply it to more of your practice session just by getting that great start.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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MrYikes
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September 6, 2015 - 9:17 am
Member Since: February 11, 2014
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I use a "sigh".  I actually sigh and shrug my shoulders, flex my back and try to imitate a wet noodle.  I do this before playing a tune and then after the tune.  I try to notice what is tight and think about that half way through the next tune.

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