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Wrist, Hand and Finger Flexibility
What exercises do you use?
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MoonShadows
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February 19, 2019 - 11:32 am
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I need to work on my flexibility. I have been looking for wrist, hand and finger flexibility exercises. There are so many of them, I'm not sure which ones are best or preferred for the violin. I have found ones that are isolated to themselves and others that are performed using the violin, but many of those are above my level of learning so far. I did find a YouTube Video - Wrist, Hand & Finger Stretching Routine – Active Isolated Stretching which appears to have some good flexibility exercises. I wrote a post about it in my blog - https://fiddlingforolderfolks......stretches/ . Care to share what exercises you use to increase your flexibility, especially if you are older? Thanks.

Jim

Fiddling for Older Folks

There are only two things keeping me from becoming a great fiddler...My right hand and my left hand. 

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HP
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February 20, 2019 - 9:10 am
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The exercise I found most useful on the violin in the beginning is something referred to as the Fiddlers Hand. It's great for stretching your hand in various keys and getting your pinky working. I was thought this exercise in person, but I wrote down the exercise to give you an idea of what it is.

The fingering number might be slightly off in certain keys, but it's mostly just to give a overview of when to use your forth finger instead of the open string. Keep all fingers down on the fingerboard until you have to pick them up. L means to take your hand completely of the violin neck and place it back on again. This is for training your ability to find the hand position. Keep close attention to the intonation, if you're off, lift the finger and adjust it instead of sliding into the right pitch. I would recommend starting out with the most common keys instead of the whole thing at once. It's quite overwhelming for an absolute beginner. It's great for bowing exercises also when you have the left hand down. 

 

For the bow hand I do either some spider crawls or finger "pull ups." Spider crawls means to use only the bowing hand to climb up and down the stick. Could be quite challenging if you don't have much flexibility in your fingers. I personally struggled a lot when I first started out, but it only took me a couple of days to get the hang of it. For pull ups, hold the bow either horizontally or vertically and stretch your fingers. Bend the fingers and stretch out again. Try to keep the bow as steady as possible. A pen or pencil would also do if you don't have your bow available. 

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'Armed with theory, practice becomes meaningful. Through practice, theory becomes fulfilled.' - Egon von Neindorff.

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mookje
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February 21, 2019 - 1:09 am
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I don’t do excercises without my violin 😃 The attachment from @HP looks like a good excercise. For practicing flexibility and dexterity I mostly use scales, patterns and the excercises from Schradieck! 

 Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about dancing in the rain!!

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AndrewH
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February 21, 2019 - 5:25 am
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Here are a few more right hand exercises, all of which I used when I was first learning to hold the bow, and again years later when I retooled my bowing technique.

I also used both of the exercises that HP has already mentioned.

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MoonShadows
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February 21, 2019 - 10:23 am
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@HP Thanks for that Fiddler's Hand exercise. I made a copy and will start with the more common keys. I also have run across the Spider Crawls exercise.

@mookje Scales seem like logical hand flexibility exercises. Thanks.

@AndrewH Thanks for that video with more bow hand exercises.

One other thing I have a problem with is pain and tenderness at the base of my thumb on my bow hand. I have to keep resting it. I have Basal Joint Arthritis. I found some exercises that are supposed to help this condition as well, (wrote about them here: https://fiddlingforolderfolks......wing-hand/ ) but some of the above will help that as well.

Jim

Fiddling for Older Folks

There are only two things keeping me from becoming a great fiddler...My right hand and my left hand. 

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Scrap
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February 21, 2019 - 10:42 am
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For your recording, your iphone should have an app called garageband. It is for recording music. It is also free with no ads. We use it for our recording studio and can edit the music.

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MoonShadows
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February 21, 2019 - 10:58 am
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I downloaded Voice Recorder and have found it satisfactory and easy to use. I'll check out Garage Band as well. Thanks @Scrap

Jim

Fiddling for Older Folks

There are only two things keeping me from becoming a great fiddler...My right hand and my left hand. 

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MoonShadows
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February 21, 2019 - 4:56 pm
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I downloaded and explored Garage Band. It appears to be much more complex than the Voice Recorder app, and I didn't think the quality of the sound that I recorded was any better. Since I am already used to the Voice Recorder app, I think I'll just stick with it until I am ready to purchase a more sophisticated recording system. Thanks for the suggestion, anyway.

Jim

Fiddling for Older Folks

There are only two things keeping me from becoming a great fiddler...My right hand and my left hand. 

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
February 22, 2019 - 3:20 pm
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Don't laugh, but I started doing Yoga with my wife about 2-3 weeks ago.
It's not Yoga that is funny but how stiff I am. 🙁
All I can say is that you should stretch slowly and carefully. Baby steps forward.

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

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MoonShadows
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February 22, 2019 - 3:59 pm
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Thanks @Fiddlerman Yup. I tend to go all out when I do something. I have to remember to do things slowly and within my present range of motion. I am also doing stretches for my Basal Joint Arthritis: https://fiddlingforolderfolks......wing-hand/ The past couple of days I did all my stretching exercises and already my hands are feeling a bit better, but I have a long way to go. I know it will be a slow process, but that's OK. 

Jim

Fiddling for Older Folks

There are only two things keeping me from becoming a great fiddler...My right hand and my left hand. 

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pchoppin
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I too have a tough time working on finger and wrist stretches without my violin but that is from pure laziness.  Yes, I admit it... when it comes to exercising I am lazy.  

I should do more.  

@Fiddlerman I have heard yoga is excellent for playing violin.  

- Pete -

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MoonShadows
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We tend not to do anything in life we don't like to do until the pain outweighs the pleasure.

I tend to be lazy when it comes to exercises. I have had bouts of Plantar Fasciitis (heel pain) over the past 5-6 years or so. I would go to physical therapy. I was always advised to go home and do the stretching exercises twice a day each day between physical therapy visits. I would usually do them half-heartedly when home because I had to stop my day to do them and look at a 'cheat sheet" to make sure I was doing them properly. It took time and effort. I was always putting them off, and half the time never did them twice a day or whole-heartedly, and I would usually stop doing them altogether after the physical therapy sessions were over. This resulted in never quite healing the PF or having it return again. I was in a state where the "pain" of PF did not outweigh the "pleasure" of not having to do exercises.

The last time I had a really bad bout, almost crippling, so I decided to completely learn the exercises by heart and with proper form. They became second nature to me. All of a sudden, I found I didn't have to stop my day to do these stretches; I started doing them "automatically". When I was waiting for the coffee to finish brewing, I would put my hands against the kitchen counter and do calf stretches. If I was standing on the front porch admiring a beautiful morning sunrise or  evening sunset, I would use the porch railing to do the same thing. If I was sitting in my recliner watching TV, I would do my foot stretches. All of a sudden, my stretches were becoming second nature and not something I had to stop my day for, but part of my day. I still do them to this day, and as a result, I haven't had a bout of PF for well over a year.

This is the same approach I have taken to doing my arm, wrist, hand and finger stretches, apart from using my violin. The "pain" of not being able to do something I want to do (in this case, learn the fiddle properly and competently) outweighs the "pleasure" of being lazy, not having to take time out to learn the proper form and execution of these exercises, and then doing them "twice a day". (A big part of approaching this is a good or proper mind set. It is also taking a close look at what I will lose out on if I don't do these stretches. What is my long term "pleasure" I will get by doing these stretches rather than what is the short term "pleasure" I will have if I don't do them.)

I now find myself doing them throughout the day. I can be sitting at a traffic light, watching TV, even stopping to think how I am going to write this post, and I almost automatically start doing some stretching exercise that will help me with my fiddle playing. I don't have to STOP and do some boring exercises that I don't really do properly.

The key to these stretching exercises was learning to do them properly, and "by heart" so I don't have to stop and watch the video or look at the "cheat sheet" each time I think to do them. That's a drag. And, if I don't know how to do these stretches "by heart", chances are I won't even think to do them until I am practicing. Who wants to stop a practice session to do stretching exercises? When we are in a practice session, we want to hold our violin, not set it aside. Another drag.

Like any discipline or movement I have to learn to play the violin, I had to change my view about these exercises and  stop seeing these exercises an annoyance, but a help and necessity. That allowed me to take the time to learn them, because I don't want the "pain" of not learning to play the fiddle to outweigh the "pleasure" it will bring in the long run.

I hope this all makes sense.

Jim

Fiddling for Older Folks

There are only two things keeping me from becoming a great fiddler...My right hand and my left hand. 

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pchoppin
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March 3, 2019 - 3:39 am
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@MoonShadow wrote

We tend not to do anything in life we don't like to do until the pain outweighs the pleasure.

I totally get this.  I've never found motivation to exercise generally.  

Until I played violin. 

My violin is the most motivating aspect of my life for just about everything.  

I, myself, have been amazed at the things I have been willing to do for my violin.  Including exercises!

- Pete -

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MoonShadows
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March 3, 2019 - 3:54 am
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@pchoppin I certainly can relate. It's like the violin has a "special power" over you or is an outlet of expression that you never experienced before. In just one month, I can't believe the almost magical grip it has on me, like nothing I have ever experienced.

Jim

Fiddling for Older Folks

There are only two things keeping me from becoming a great fiddler...My right hand and my left hand. 

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pchoppin
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MoonShadows said
@pchoppin I certainly can relate. It's like the violin has a "special power" over you or is an outlet of expression that you never experienced before. In just one month, I can't believe the almost magical grip it has on me, like nothing I have ever experienced.  

Indeed, it is magical. 

It is my joy, my love, my reason, my soul.  

My beautiful violin.  It is my life.  

- Pete -

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
March 4, 2019 - 4:12 pm
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@pchoppin - I think that yoga must be good for a lot of things. I'm really glad I started doing it, as painful as it is. LOL

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

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