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Unconventional ways of playing
E.g. Holding your violin so you can see the fingerboard or it is easier to balance the bow
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farmboy
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May 22, 2016 - 9:26 am
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I am just a beginner, but I do not feel the standard position comfy at all, so I was looking out for other ways to play the violin or fiddling ūüôā Some folk-way that may work better for me!

I found out this video of an old Italian farmer, a farmer like me! Skip to 1 minute and 10 seconds to see him playing. What are your  thoughts? Please - you expert eyes - describe his tecnique better than I could do so I could try to learn it.

Of course I tried to imitate him, with initial poor results, but this position is for me still much better than using the standard position, and that makes me confident with time I could improve faster and maybe have more fun and less frustation. He was certainly a folk virtuoso, so difficult to imitate. But what do you think?

My main worry is whether learning to play classical music like this can be more difficult. Unfortunately there are very few videos of him playing. In this other video you can hear him playing a waltz but unfortunately you cannot see how he played. I guess his way of playing is always the same, anyway.

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Fidelestre
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May 22, 2016 - 10:50 am
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The playing of Melchiade Benni was wonderful and inspiring. But as you are starting out, I would urge you not to abandon the traditional classical hold too quickly. Yes, it feels very awkward at first. But as you play more, it should feel less weird and more comfortable.

Are you working with a teacher? A good teacher should be able to watch you play and suggest ways to modify your hold so that it will be more comfortable and still be a hold that will not limit you in any way from playing whatever style of music you choose. Even if you don't want to take lessons long term, it would be well worth the investment to get a few lessons early on to make sure you get your playing habits established correctly.

This advice is coming from someone who did NOT do it this way. I tried to teach myself at the start and developed a poor hold and bad bowing technique, and it is proving to be very difficult to break the bad habits and re-learn with the correct way. Much better to learn it correctly at the start.

After you get some comfort and experience with a more conventional hold, you can always modify it later if you want to use a folk hold. But I would definitely try to start out with a more conventional classical hold. Not everyone has the amazing talent of Melchiade Benni, and there are reasons why the more standard hold variations have developed in the way they have. I am fairly sure that Melchiade Benni played the way he did because of exceptional talent and hard work, not because of his unusual hold style.

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Fiddlestix
Michigan, USA
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May 23, 2016 - 12:19 am
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farmboy: I forget now how long  you said you've been playing. 

I agree with "Fidelestre" about learning the, (old boring) conventional way.

I think your expectations for short term learning are set a bit high. As someone pointed out in another post, "Rome wasn't built in a day".  You can't afford a teacher or lessons  at this point, but you may be able to find someone who would be willing to, "Skype" with you for free and maybe help you with bowing, posture and the like. It would be good practice for the both of you.

Good luck and take it a little slower.

 

Ken.

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Uzi
Georgia
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May 24, 2016 - 12:04 pm
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There are many unconventional ways to hold a fiddle.  Keep in mind, however, that there are really good reasons that most people don't do that.  First, holding a fiddle the way this gentleman does, could cause neck problems.  Also, note that all of his bow strokes are done in the center of the bow and that his strokes are very short.  Holding the fiddle in this way, would limit the length of the bow stroke and certainly not be conducive to one that produces optimal sound. That being said, there are some people that hold the bow and the fiddle in very unconventional ways, yet play very well. 

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~Herm Albright

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farmboy
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May 24, 2016 - 12:29 pm
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Many thanks Uzi. Yes, Benni posture is not the optimal one. But since he played so well, it means it does a little difference in the long term.

Anyway, in the short term and in speed of learning, a comfy posture must make a difference. Is there any way you are aware of - e.g. using some kind of support - to keep the violin just a bit lower than your chin, so that you can sing and play at the same time, but stil not so low that it becomes difficult to finger with the left hand and fully bow with the right one? I am just a beginner, but I think such a position would be really advantageous.  I suspect the standard position was developed just for aesthetic reasons and is only sub-optimal. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong. All critics gladly accepted.

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coolpinkone
California, the place of my heart
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May 24, 2016 - 12:44 pm
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Great topic.

I find the traditional way to be very optimum as I learn more and work on new techniques.  I 

However, I feel if a certain posture calls to you and you want to give it a go and master it, that is okay.

There are rules, and then grey areas, and then some just out of the park ideas.  I have seen people play the violin in a variety of holds and even bow holds.

Good luck and I can't wait to hear more of your posture experience as you play.

Cheers. Toni

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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Schaick
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May 25, 2016 - 8:07 am
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I wonder if he started out when he was a younger man with the conventional form and as he has gotten older slumped into what is comfortable for him or what he body can do.

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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Uzi
Georgia
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May 25, 2016 - 10:21 am
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farmboy said
Many thanks Uzi. Yes, Benni posture is not the optimal one. But since he played so well, it means it does a little difference in the long term.

Anyway, in the short term and in speed of learning, a comfy posture must make a difference. Is there any way you are aware of - e.g. using some kind of support - to keep the violin just a bit lower than your chin, so that you can sing and play at the same time, but stil not so low that it becomes difficult to finger with the left hand and fully bow with the right one? I am just a beginner, but I think such a position would be really advantageous.  I suspect the standard position was developed just for aesthetic reasons and is only sub-optimal. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong. All critics gladly accepted.  

@farm boy, the conventional way of holding the instrument is conventional because the greatest violinists held them this way and they later taught their students to hold them that way.  As hard as it may be to believe, musical instrument related injuries are not at all rare. The violin and especially the viola are some of the most common instruments responsible for player injuries that may require medical treatment. Because of the way that these instruments are played, neck and shoulder injuries are very common.  Some of these injuries can be career ending. Properly holding and bowing the instrument are the best ways to avoid these injuries.  

One of the best ways to avoid injuring your neck is to have properly fitted and adjusted shoulder and chin rests.  Everyone is constructed differently, so it is important to understand that the generic shoulder rest and chin rest that come with a violin are very unlikely to allow you to comfortably hold the instrument in a way that avoids putting stress on your neck and jaw when holding the instrument and allows free arm movement of the bowing arm. If you find the conventional way of holding the violin uncomfortable, those two items (or they way they are adjusted) are most likely the reason. 

Experimentation with different combinations of shoulder and chin rests with the help of a qualified professional is the best way to go.  However, since that is not always possible, getting a shoulder rest with a wide range of adjustability, such as the Bon Musica shoulder rest will give you a better chance of finding a solution that will allow you to hold your instrument properly and effortlessly.  If you find that you are having to use significant downward pressure with your jaw, or that your head is forced to be  tilted forward to hold the instrument, then this is definitely a problem that could lead to pain and/or injury. 

I hope this helps. 

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~Herm Albright

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mickmeloche
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May 27, 2016 - 9:50 am
Member Since: November 28, 2015
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I have difficulty standing for long periods of time, so I have found a way to sit down and play keeping the violin on my shoulder rather than let it fall down.  Though after playing  for a while, I find myself almost lying down, with my legs crossed in the air and the violin and my head practically falling off the couch.  It works for me, but not something I want my granddaughters to do.  As long as I can reach the notes, with the bow straight, I'm happy.  When I'm standing, I play in front of a large mirror, just to verify the bow is straight. I so regret not picking up on the violin when I was young and strong, so now I just have to do it my way.

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