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Pain when playing on the G-String (Vibrato&Positions)
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iDrayne
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July 28, 2017 - 5:50 pm
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 Hello everyone!

So im experiencing this issue mostly since im learning vibrato. And now its over 1 year of vibrato-practicing and i just cant do it. I cant. But its also when i try to play at higher positions, even on third position. But, to be honest, its mostly when trying to vibrate.

So this issue is partly on the D-String too, but only sometimes when i feel stiff or something, so i would say the main Problem is this G-String driving me crazy.

Okay so the problem is, it hurts. I would say it hurts at my biceps, thats the only place it always hurts. And no matter what i do, no matter how relaxed i am, it always hurts. I tried to change my posture, change my shoulder-rest, even my chin-rest, but nothing is working, and it worries me. It really worries me that i might not be able to vibrate ever...and i get really upset because of it that i dont even want to practice anymore. Its really frustrating.

I have to adress that i have back-pain aswell. Its on my back, under my left shoulder, also through google id say its at the spot where the "latissimus dorsi"-muscle is (not pointing out a diagnosis, just saying where the spot is).

Me and my teacher went through this problem and he said my posture is fine, theres nothing wrong. Also he didnt see any pressure/stiffness at my hand, just on my biceps.

I also have to say that i really have to rotate my arm so my arm is more under the violin, to reach Fourth-Finger on the G-String and also vibrate properly. EVerything else just seems really awkward and uncomfortable..

 

I really need help, because im really afraid i might have to stop playing my beloved instrument...

 

Much Love, iDrayne

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BillyG
Brora, North-east Scotland
July 28, 2017 - 7:45 pm
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Ahhhhh - @iDrayne - please - do not "give up".

I do understand from what you write that it is important to you - and that ( possibly ) there may be a lower-left-back shoulder pain - I had what sounds like a similar pain for about 3 years ( before I was even playing fiddle - I was just "aware" of it - but fortunately it eventually went away - no medication, nothing, it just "passed" and I have no idea what caused it, but it did last for a few years, gradually diminishing.  About 3 years ago when I started fiddle playing, there was "just a touch" of feeling uncomfortable in that area, and, as it was already lessening - it eventually disappeared completely)

This may be completely different from what you describe so we may be "in different places" but - my left lower back shoulder pain was NOT brought on by fiddle playing - it was there before I started - what do you think has caused your discomfort ?    Maybe the "issue" ( whatever it was ) had been there before you started playing, or, ( worse ) has it developed only since playing ?  ( although I doubt that )

Obviously, it depends on how you wish to progress - and the style, and genre of music you wish to play - my own preferred music on viddle is a nice mix of short ( very short ) excerpts of classical violin pieces, a lot of fiddle style old-time/celtic and just loads of "easy listening" pop-culture tunes - vibrato is NOT the be-all-and-end-all ----  there is "more than one way" to obtain the "vibrato effect" - there is - and I'm just a beginner/intermediate player with NO tutor - but I can get close to a "tight finger vibrato" that just-about-works.   As for a "wide vib" - well - sure - I am working on that for when I might need it... and no, the wide vibrato is not there yet... LOL

I would NOT beat yourself over the head about this,  honestly, leave it, do not fight it.  If you DO have significant pain ( for whatever reason ) stop, let it lie for a while, don't aggravate the pain - and - in the meantime ENJOY playing vibratoless music - you can bring SO MUCH MORE in terms of dynamics and expression to a piece and make it sound great to the point where "obvious vibrato" is almost un-necessary ( well -- yes yes, I know, it depends on what you are playing - some pieces will almost cry out for it, I understand that perfectly... ) 

Excuse my ramblings here - (1) just wanted to share the "pain" ( LOL ) and (2) please don't give up - the instrument is SO MUCH FUN !!!!!  drummer

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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RockingLR33
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July 28, 2017 - 8:43 pm
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I agree with BillyG. It could probably be a pre-existing issue that came more to light when you used muscles that highlighted it. I know it may not be possible but if you're getting that much pain I'd have a doc look at it. Sometimes with injuries we get radial pain in an area where the injury actually is not, but the nerves are irritated.  It's so hard to say in those situations too.

 

Could you try working out with dumbells and/or some yoga? maybe build up those muscles. it's possible that the muscles are a bit weaker and having to hold that positions supporting the violin might just be to much and the pain is from muscles trying to compensate? I hope you find whats wrong. Good luck

Lead me, Follow me, or get out of my way!

             ~General George S. Patton

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iDrayne
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July 29, 2017 - 4:22 pm
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Okay so, i thought about it and i have to say that i have a lot of back-problems since years, even before i started playing violin. Since months, i am watching my posture so i have a good violin hold and that my back is straight (and not "curved") because i have a slight hyperkyphosis, but just a bit. And while i play violin, the hyperkyphosis becomes even more visible because...well, i dont knwo the reason to be honest. it just happens. Especially when i focus on vibrato and difficult passages. Then once i see that my back is curved i immediatly go back to a straight position. Its really annoying that my posture changes while i play.

The second thing i noticed today is that im not able to find a stable position with my shoulder rest. Im not even entirely sure how my neck should go or how much weigth my head should have on the chinrest. I feel totally clueless about it because of the pain i get. I have like a "bended" side (on my shoulderrest) for my shoulder wich acts sort of like a hook. The other part, wich goes on this bone, id guess its the clavicle-bone, always slips off so my violin even shakes when i try to vibrate. i tried to heighten this part so i get a better grip but the result is zero. And thats where i really feel clueless on how the violin should stay on my shoulder.

The other thing i would like to adress is the angle the violin has. With all the videos i watched and from my teacher telling me, the violin should be curved, right? I mean, the less curved, the harder it is for me to do anything on the G and D-String, the pain then REALLY becomes so painful that i have to stop. Then if the angle is more curved it is easier to play on the G-String, even perfect then on the D-String, but still problem being that i get a massive pain on my biceps, and from what i noticed today, even when not vibrating, wich really annoys me now. Its like the angle should be just a bit more curved, but i cant set up my shoulder-rest like this, the heigth is already at its maximum.

Edit: I also forgot to mention something really funny. My teacher also says everything on my vibrato seems good. The whole instrument just shakes extremely when i vibrate fast, so he held the scroll with his hand and then i could vibrate with no problem whatsoever. Whats the cause of this? Same when i lean my violin with the scroll forward on a wall and then try to vibrate. The result is so much better, i can vibrate with no problem at all.

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Schaick
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August 1, 2017 - 9:58 am
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iDrayne said
 Hello everyone!

...

So this issue is partly on the D-String too, but only sometimes when i feel stiff or something, so i would say the main Problem is this G-String driving me crazy.

Okay so the problem is, it hurts. I would say it hurts at my biceps, thats the only place it always hurts. And no matter what i do, no matter how relaxed i am, it always hurts. I tried to change my posture, change my shoulder-rest, even my chin-rest, but nothing is working, and it worries me. It really worries me that i might not be able to vibrate ever...and i get really upset because of it that i dont even want to practice anymore. Its really frustrating.

I have to adress that i have back-pain aswell. Its on my back, under my left shoulder, also through google id say its at the spot where the "latissimus dorsi"-muscle is (not pointing out a diagnosis, just saying where the spot is).

Me and my teacher went through this problem and he said my posture is fine, theres nothing wrong. Also he didnt see any pressure/stiffness at my hand, just on my biceps.

I also have to say that i really have to rotate my arm so my arm is more under the violin, to reach Fourth-Finger on the G-String and also vibrate properly. EVerything else just seems really awkward and uncomfortable..

I really need help, because im really afraid i might have to stop playing my beloved instrument...

Much Love, iDrayne  

My issue is pain in my right upper bicep - a rotator cuff.  I knew I had it way before violin.  My first teacher who I call Suzuki Teach helped my find a comfortable position.  I hold my fiddle out more towards the front.  Not quite accurate but I don't care because I am playing the fiddle!!!!

The rotator cuff issue has flared up since I have been on crutches so have been icing it and not bowing so much but plucking and working on learning 3 note chords.

My left arm has become more flexible since I started the fiddle.  So there is hope. Don't give up!!

I immediately pictured you carrying a wall around with you to lean on.

Violinist start date -  May 2013  

Fiddler start date - May 2014

FIDDLE- Gift from a dear friend. A 1930-40 german copy, of a french copy of a Stradivarius.  BOW - $50 carbon fiber. Strings - Dominants with E Pirastro Gold string.

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
August 2, 2017 - 1:18 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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@iDrayne - Does it hurt if you put your left hand on your right shoulder and rest it? If you can do this comfortably I believe you can learn to play relaxed enough that it won't be worse when playing.

I have a feeling that you are using way more force than necessary. You should do holding the violin while completely relaxed exercises. Then using fingers without the bow, just focusing on relaxing. See what it is that you do that actually causes the pain.

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

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iDrayne
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August 5, 2017 - 4:00 pm
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Schaick said

My issue is pain in my right upper bicep - a rotator cuff.  I knew I had it way before violin.  My first teacher who I call Suzuki Teach helped my find a comfortable position.  I hold my fiddle out more towards the front.  Not quite accurate but I don't care because I am playing the fiddle!!!!

The rotator cuff issue has flared up since I have been on crutches so have been icing it and not bowing so much but plucking and working on learning 3 note chords.

My left arm has become more flexible since I started the fiddle.  So there is hope. Don't give up!!

I immediately pictured you carrying a wall around with you to lean on.  

Thanks Schaick for your answer. Im happy that you have found a comfortable position for yourself! And youre right, i wont give up so quickly. 

But if i use the wall, do i still learn how to properly hold the violin? I mean, the wall is doing the job and not my body..right?

Fiddlerman said
@iDrayne - Does it hurt if you put your left hand on your right shoulder and rest it? If you can do this comfortably I believe you can learn to play relaxed enough that it won't be worse when playing.

I have a feeling that you are using way more force than necessary. You should do holding the violin while completely relaxed exercises. Then using fingers without the bow, just focusing on relaxing. See what it is that you do that actually causes the pain.  

Thanks @fiddlerguy for your answer. I tried it and it hurts while i move my left arm to my shoulder. Not when i rest it, just when i move my left arm, then my left shoulder kinda goes "up".

I will try this and hopefully it will do something. Thank you!

But i also have something in mind wich has to do with my shoulder rest. I dont really know how to properly change it so it fits my body. And i cant find a "guide" wich helps me solve this. Is there like a way on how to "calculate" the heigth and so on of the rest?

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Charles
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August 5, 2017 - 6:49 pm
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I can't help on the measurement issue with the shoulder rest, but I can give you a DIY trick for giving one more height.

Go to the hardware store and get some of the foam insulation. It looks kind of like the "noodles" kids play with in pools.  It should come in at least two sizes. They're usually about 4 or 5 feet long, which is way more than you need, but they're cheap enough that you don't need to worry about that.

Get at least two sizes. Cut off sections that are a little longer than your shoulder rest.They have a slit along one side where you can pull them open (it's designed to open up so you can put it over a pipe, but it works just as well to get it over a chinrest.

You put it over the part of the shoulder rest that rests against you. The texture of these things is fairly good for a shoulder rest - firm enough to give support, soft enough to be comfortable. Try the smaller size first, and don't worry about holding it on yet - it will grip well enough to try it on to see if that's enough height. 

If it's not, put a second layer of the bigger one on top of that, and check the height. If that's not enough, add a third layer (of a still bigger size if you were lucky enough to find ones that big, but a second layer of the biggest size if not). That will have raised it about an inch and a half by then, which should be plenty.

Once you've figured out how many layers you need, put two or three rubber bands on it to hold it in place. The one downside to this is that it may not fit in your case anymore.  If you used reasonable sized rubber bands for it (not tiny ones that had to be stretched to their limit to make it), you shouldn't have replace the rubber bands very often. After you've tweaked it a bit, you'll probably find you have extra hanging off one end or the other of the shoulder rest. Go ahead and trim that off once you're sure you're not going to need to make any more adjustments. (Although you probably have enough foam tubing to make another 4 or 5 if it turns out you made a mistake.)

I did this with mine, and it's worked pretty well for 3 or 4 months now. Not especially pretty, but it gives me support where I need it.

 

From what you've said so far, you haven't done all the exploring to find out what shoulder and chinrest combo will work best for you. (And remember that getting rid of either one or both is an option, too.)  Your body is not like anybody else's. You're just going to have to experiment and find what works and what doesn't for you. 

I, for example, cannot use any chinrest that works even remotely like a Guarneri (where you lay your cheek on it). My neck is so short that if I try to lay my head over on a bare violin, the violin will dig into the back of my jaw. A chinrest raises that up and makes the problem even worse.  If I move things more towards the tailpiece or the right side of the violin to where I can use my chin (not my cheek), it can work, but nobody actually builds chinrests, despite the name, so I haven't found any way to hold the violin in place. If I shift from 3rd position to 1st, the violin wants to go with my hand.

You have your own issues, and you'll have to find your own answers. I'm not saying you can't ask for help, but I AM saying that there is no such thing as a "right" chinrest, or shoulder rest, or violin position, or posture, that you should fit yourself to. There is a right one of each of those for you.  Don't try to force your body into doing something that works really well for someone else who has a different body configuration. You can hurt yourself badly that way.

Since your arm failed Pierre's (aka Fiddlerman's) test, I'd go see a doctor about it. It sounds like there's something mechanically wrong, and the violin playing is just making it show up.  Once that something is identified, the doctor may have exercises you can do to fix it, tell you how long you need to rest it to let it heal, tell you what surgery is needed to fix it, or whatever.

To address a couple of points you brought up in earlier posts:

Yes, twisting the violin (what airplane types call roll) so that the treble side is lower than the bass side) is perfectly normal, and in fact, almost all fiddle/violin players play it that way.  If you have it parallel to the ground in that dimension, it's rather hard to bow the D and especially the G strings. (Fairly hard to finger them, too.)  Only thing you have to watch out for is that you don't roll it over so far that your bow goes vertical (or past vertical to upside down) when playing the E string. You need at least a little weight on it.

I'd recommend you experiment with where the scroll is pointed. In airplane terms, that's "yaw". Arbitrarily making straight left 0 degrees, and straight in front of you 90 degrees, most people play somewhere between 30 and 45 degrees. Since wherever you're playing now hurts, experiment. Start as close to 0 (straight left of your body) as you can, comfortably, and play a two-octave G scale (starting with the open G string). Then move it forward some and try it there. Keep moving it in an arc around in front of you until you've gotten as far as you comfortably can, and see where the comfort zone is.  Then try going from one end of that comfort zone to the other with a mild vibrato (we're trying to alleviate pain here, not cause it).

Best case, you find a spot where you can play without pain. Don't get your hopes up too high about that. Second best, you find a spot where you are most comfortable and/or play with the least pain.  Then you start looking for things like shoulder rests and such to help you play there.

 

A thought about the vibrato - if the pain is in the biceps, work with your teacher on doing a hand/wrist vibrato - using little or no arm.  It may seem at first like you've completely forgotten how to do vibrato, but it should also be painless, which should count for something.

 

And finally, if all else fails, and you simply cannot find a comfortable postion, there's still a way you can keep playing the violin. Play it like a cello.  Yes, people will look at you funny, and the bowing will probably drive you half mad for a week or two (because it will be backwards), but it really will work, and it's a LOT more ergonomic. There are instruments in India fairly simliar to violins that have been played that way for thousands of years.  If you're not limber enough to sit on the ground and put it between your feet, you can rig up something to sit on your lap, and a belt of some kind to keep that from sliding off.  If you want to do arm vibrato, though, you'll still have to get that biceps fixed. 🙂

Hope some of this helped.

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Fiddlerman
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August 8, 2017 - 1:01 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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iDrayne - I like to learn so if you come up with a solution, please share it.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
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