FORUM

Check out our Forum Rules. Lets keep this forum an enjoyable place to visit.

A A A
Avatar

Please consider registering
guest

sp_LogInOut Log In sp_Registration Register

Register | Lost password?
Advanced Search

— Forum Scope —






— Match —





— Forum Options —





Minimum search word length is 3 characters - maximum search word length is 84 characters

sp_Feed Topic RSS sp_TopicIcon
Learning and Recovering
Picking up the violin again but dealing with recovery from surgery.
Topic Rating: 0 Topic Rating: 0 Topic Rating: 0 Topic Rating: 0 Topic Rating: 0 Topic Rating: 0 (0 votes) 
Avatar
StaceyC
Members
October 8, 2017 - 6:04 pm
Member Since: May 1, 2017
Forum Posts: 15
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

As some of you may have read from a few other posts I've made, I used to play violin in school. Fast forward 20 years and I've decided to take it up again. I had gotten about 3-4 months in to practicing to practicing less and less the last few months due to increasing issues with my neck and right arm. To summarize briefly -- After years of problems with my neck and arm, I found out I had two levels of herniated discs in my neck. This was causing pain in my neck, right shoulder, and constant numbness from my index and thumb in right hand all the way up to just above my elbow for roughly 5 years. (I didn't know that the cause of it all was herniated discs until the beginning of September.) I went and saw a neurosurgeon that said I needed surgery asap. A week and a half later, I was in ICU recovering from ACDF surgery (Anterior Cervical Disctectomy and Fusion).

It's been two weeks since my surgery. I'm pain free but am trying to get back into practicing the violin. I readjusted my shoulder rest so that it raised up the violin more. With my neck being fused on two levels, I can't quit grip the violin as I did before. Thankfully we have shoulder rests!!!

Anyway.. Today was my second practice session since the surgery and I only did it about 30 minutes or so. I had to stop due to my neck and shoulders getting a bit tense.. I know it will take time to readjust. 

The downside is that everything I had been learning and practicing prior to this ordeal with my neck -- I've backtracked and I'm as rusty as I was a month or so ago. It's just a bit sad noticing that. I know I'm better than I was when I first picked up the violin after 20 years and I will soon be back up to the level I was at before the neck problem happened.. It's just a little discouraging.. 

Just curious to know if anyone else here has had similar situations such as this? If you did, how long did it take you to get back into "your groove" with the violin?

Thanks!!

You'll never know unless you try!

Avatar
Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
October 9, 2017 - 11:42 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 13395

Just for the heck of it, try practicing playing without actually holding the violin with your jaw, chin or similar. Just having it in the right place with balance, and let me know what you are able to do and what you are not able to do.

My experience is that the only thing that requires a semi soft grip is shifting down. In other words, going from a higher position to a lower one.

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

Avatar
Charles
Members

Regulars
October 13, 2017 - 2:31 pm
Member Since: June 7, 2016
Forum Posts: 373
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Until just the last two weeks, I couldn't use a chinrest (my neck was too short for any of the standard kind), and I found it easier to work with without a shoulder rest, either. I can confirm what Pierre just said. I could not hold the violin with my jaw/chin at all, and shifting "down" (further towards the scroll) was the only thing that I had problems with.

My teacher is actually adamant that you should lift your head up from time to time, to prevent tension (or to recognize that you have it).  If you were having to bend your neck down to reach the chinrest before, that would have contributed to your neck pain.

Re getting back to "normal" in your playing... You've heard the old phrase about never forgetting how to ride a bicycle?  I had occasion to do that once - started riding one for the first time in over 20 years. What they fail to mention is that while you don't forget how to ride one, you do forget how to ride one well. It took me 2 or 3 weeks to be back at the skill level I had when I was a kid and rode one regularly.

Especially since you've already gone through the process of remembering "How did I do this?" once, I suspect you'll "relearn" it all very rapidly. The knowledge is still there, it's just that some of the links to it have decayed.  Rebuilding the links is MUCH faster than learning it from scratch.

Avatar
Demoiselle
Berlin, Germany
Members

Regulars
October 18, 2017 - 5:25 am
Member Since: June 26, 2016
Forum Posts: 477
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Pausing between the minutes I play is just as important as playing. I do feel how my hands and arms tire and that effects the sound a lot. If I play too long I learn how to play false notes because I can't even hit the right places with bow and fingers properly anymore.

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

Avatar
StaceyC
Members
November 4, 2017 - 5:43 pm
Member Since: May 1, 2017
Forum Posts: 15
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Thank you to everyone that replied. I had some other complications arise after I posted this.. Before my surgery, most of my right arm was numb. Because of this, obviously I couldn't feel a lot of my arm. Well, after the surgery and I began healing, I noticed that my elbow had a lot of pain in it.. Found out that I also have tennis elbow!! Crazy.. It's always something.. Anyway, so I've been dealing with that on top of the recovery from surgery. Fast forward a few weeks to now -- the neck stiffness/pain is now gone. I can play the violin comfortably without any issues at all. I did try as suggested though without holding the violin with the chin rest but instead let it sit in the right place with balance. I was able to do that fine.. So, thank you for that advice.

The tennis elbow is slowly getting better.. I'm slowly getting back to myself and I'm so glad to be able to play the violin again without pain. And yes, you all are definitely right -- it's not that I've forgotten how to do it.. I'm just not doing it well.. LOL 

I am so glad to have found this forum/website/group!! Thank you so much for listening!!!

You'll never know unless you try!

Avatar
Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
November 8, 2017 - 1:46 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 13395

We're happy you found us. Glad to hear that you will be able to play without pain soon. When you feel that there is no pain, be especially careful not to overdo it. The moment that a person forgets to relax and proceed with caution is the moment that person can hurt themselves.

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

Avatar
Demoiselle
Berlin, Germany
Members

Regulars
November 26, 2017 - 8:08 am
Member Since: June 26, 2016
Forum Posts: 477
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

I can play longer since I more and more use what I call string-legato. That is for example connecting G on D-string with open A on one bow. I had to practice that a lot but I now can do it back and forth too. It means less action on the fingerboard and on the bow side. But those marching fingers on the fingerboard are the greatest problem because that hand tires out very much sooner. The bow hand feels the pain of the fingerboard hand too which makes the sound worse. I never wanted the 4th finger A anyhow because I dislike the sound. Plus, the 4th finger is putting an awful strain on my hand if I do it too often. I found out the problem is not overstretching, it is lack of strength and I cannot force it. It only makes my wrist hurt and tires it out very soon. But as open strings are favored in pre-classical Ancient Music anyhow it should fit my style. At least I like it. My teacher was strictly classical and in the end more and more opposed to my way, so I had to fire her. She was not ready to imagine a world before Brahms.

A couple months ago I sounded in this forum like my problem was overstretching the fingerboard hand. No, repeated stretching just exhausts the hand although I could stretch my hand even more. Although I'm definitely not pressing. My fingers just hate to walk much because it tires them soon.

I don't think this weak hand issue is very much an age thing, because I do remember this already existed at my young age. It is my kind of bodily constitution and I can deal with it. I use my strength sparingly to make it through. And it's best for me to find my own way. If I do that I can be very persistent. But I repeatedly have to remind other players I'm NOT about classical music if they try to convert me. Because to them just counts what their teachers taught them.

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

Avatar
Ferenc Simon
Members

Regulars
November 26, 2017 - 10:05 am
Member Since: September 24, 2017
Forum Posts: 247
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

The way you describe it makes me think more and more that it's a simple matter of 'hidden tension'... some of your muscles are tense and you just don't notice it, which makes your hand tire waaaaay before it's supposed to. 

Try experimenting by putting down the bow and use your bow hand to reach over under the violin and go through your entire arm from shoulder to hand trying to feel for tense muscles, then if you find any, while you are pinching it with your hand.. try to consciously relax that muscle while still being able to work on the fingerboard with your left hand.

You can also check if your violin maybe has too high of a string action and requires more force than usual to press down the strings... Normally playing the violin should almost be effortless, you only need to put a slight weight in your fingers when pressing down. Same goes for the bow, normally when playing these simple tunes the weight of the bow is enough to make a good sound, rarely do you need to put more weight on it

Other than that it's not so much about style... I get it that you don't like the sound of the 4th finger and that the music you want to play doesn't really use those anyway, but it's more about developing yourself for YOU and not for your teacher or anybody else... since all these different techniques and styles are ultimately going to make you better at playing the style that you like 🙂 so if I were you I would still try to experiment with developing that 4th finger as well.. who knows.. you might some day need it 🙂  For example when I went to a teacher a few years ago for some singing lessons, he was a classical teacher and most of the stuff we did was classical pieces, which I very much disliked at the time.. was even frustrated with them... but despite that I tried to do my best... Guess what.. the result was a major improvement in all the OTHER different styles that I prefer even if the techniques are totally different.. the muscle control I learnt there goes a long way... plus as a bonus I can now use all the sheet music of the stuff we used to sing to practice on the violin haha. so like I said.. you never know how useful it could actually be... that's why it's important to focus on the 'developing yourself' part.

Avatar
AndrewH
Sacramento, California
Members

Regulars
November 26, 2017 - 1:45 pm
Member Since: November 5, 2017
Forum Posts: 219
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Good to hear you're able to balance the violin fine. I've had to rebalance my viola before when changing shoulder rests and it takes a bit of experimentation.

I haven't had a neck injury, but... I broke my left hand in a biking accident the week after a successful orchestra audition, and the cast came off two weeks before my first rehearsal with that orchestra. I was just barely able to use my fourth finger when rehearsals started, so shifted a lot just to avoid fourth finger! I struggled with tension in my hand all the way through my first concert, but stretching and going back to old fourth finger etudes helped over time.

Avatar
Demoiselle
Berlin, Germany
Members

Regulars
November 26, 2017 - 3:55 pm
Member Since: June 26, 2016
Forum Posts: 477
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
10sp_Permalink sp_Print
0

Ferenc Simon said
The way you describe it makes me think more and more that it's a simple matter of 'hidden tension'... some of your muscles are tense and you just don't notice it, which makes your hand tire waaaaay before it's supposed to. 

Try experimenting by putting down the bow and use your bow hand to reach over under the violin and go through your entire arm from shoulder to hand trying to feel for tense muscles, then if you find any, while you are pinching it with your hand.. try to consciously relax that muscle while still being able to work on the fingerboard with your left hand.

You can also check if your violin maybe has too high of a string action and requires more force than usual to press down the strings... Normally playing the violin should almost be effortless, you only need to put a slight weight in your fingers when pressing down. Same goes for the bow, normally when playing these simple tunes the weight of the bow is enough to make a good sound, rarely do you need to put more weight on it

Other than that it's not so much about style... I get it that you don't like the sound of the 4th finger and that the music you want to play doesn't really use those anyway, but it's more about developing yourself for YOU and not for your teacher or anybody else... since all these different techniques and styles are ultimately going to make you better at playing the style that you like 🙂 so if I were you I would still try to experiment with developing that 4th finger as well.. who knows.. you might some day need it 🙂  For example when I went to a teacher a few years ago for some singing lessons, he was a classical teacher and most of the stuff we did was classical pieces, which I very much disliked at the time.. was even frustrated with them... but despite that I tried to do my best... Guess what.. the result was a major improvement in all the OTHER different styles that I prefer even if the techniques are totally different.. the muscle control I learnt there goes a long way... plus as a bonus I can now use all the sheet music of the stuff we used to sing to practice on the violin haha. so like I said.. you never know how useful it could actually be... that's why it's important to focus on the 'developing yourself' part.  

That sounds profound what you write there. Interesting that you also took vocal lessons, I also had a voice teacher in the late 80s who was an opera singer. Having learned classical opera singing, it's very hard to get rid of the vibrato. And I have to admit, it's easier to sing with vibrato if you have a bad day and a frog in your throat. Plus it's easier to sing with a 'covered' voice and then a little more forceful. Whereas the open and very lyrically light baroque style is very risky because you hear any slip of the voice, if the frog moves a little in the throat. (I'm not sure whether the expression 'covered' is correct, in German it is "gedeckt" like covered organ pipes are "gedackt" which is ancient German). Alto singers like Brigitte Fassbander and Kathleen Ferrier used to sing with a covered, very dark sounding voice and lots of vibrato. And I find that very interesting :  especially the 4th finger D and G have a similar quality. It obviously matches Brahms played with a strong vibrato. Whereas the open string alternatives  sound similar to a baroque singing voice. I tended to alto when I was taught by that opera singer and developed powerful high notes. But I can sing higher today after having retrained myself to a lyrical, open baroque mezzo. In the 1600s I can absolutely pass as soprano.

I am mainly an improviser at the violin. So I can adjust my speed to my form of the day. There a days when I get out of bed and can't go through a door without bumping somewhere. On days like that I lack so much power that my fingerboard arm tires soon. But it's possible I have hidden tension as well. At least I don't have to play THAT SCALE or whatever. On good days I do trickier things than on bad days. I did the same as jazz trumpeter and people at jam sessions said repeatedly I played like a professional. But since the late 90s I love baroque more and now it's especially 1600s violin sonatas, which are influencing my improvisation style.

I had my teacher for 7 months and she was brutal at times. She was pressing on the back of my hand, tearing my thumb, she downright made me angry but I held back. She wanted me to go one certain way, it  was the way she was taught at the music college. I do now profit from the basics the taught me. But I'm optimistic because I never force myself. There are people who have lots of vital energy, others lack that energy. I think we're just born that way. On trumpet I have learned to household with my energy too—especially on high-notes, using rather little pressure of breath.

But what you said sounds very profound! I'll watch myself whether I might sense tension in a certain place. It is mainly the 3rd finger. The 4th finger is not completely jobless of course, doing the black piano keys. Yes, I see that the little man gets stronger and those half notes fully occupy him. 😉

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

Avatar
Demoiselle
Berlin, Germany
Members

Regulars
November 29, 2017 - 11:58 am
Member Since: June 26, 2016
Forum Posts: 477
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
11sp_Permalink sp_Print
0

Demoiselle said
....repeated stretching just exhausts the hand although I could stretch my hand even more. Although I'm definitely not pressing. My fingers just hate to walk much because it tires them soon.

Here's  the answer and it's fairly easy:

Usually violin players rather struggle on the G string because fingers can't reach it so comfortably. In my case it's the E string since I bow with the left hand. But of course I looked up information about normal right-handed players finding it hard to play a scale up to the 3rd and 4th finger on the G string. And the answer came from a teacher:

The first solution is to tilt the whole instrument, which I find very awkward for it makes the violin instable by losing the grip of my chin. The second solution is great for me. It means turning the elbow inside, so my pinkie get closer to the outer strings. That results in ridding my right fingerboard of tension, beginning on the A string and then getting even worse on the E string. If my right hand pinkie can't comfortably reach the A string, I have to move the elbow inside and then on the E string a little more. Right handed players have that issue rather on the D string and then on the G string it gets even harder.

My ex-teacher could really have helped me by suggesting that, but I think she had very long fingers and didn't have that problem so much. I told her several times about my problem and her answer was rather nonsense than helpful. She gooble-de-gooked me once more with the suggestion to play with three wooden balls on the palm which would make the hand softer. I could have done that forever and it wouldn't have helped me. She was into yoga and believed in Asian stuff like that. And she hated tuning devices and wasted a lot of time by repeatedly trying to talk them out of me. I'm highly annoyed while recalling that, but I'm glad I didn't get angry. Yelling at my teacher wouldn't have made anything better.

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

Forum Timezone: America/New_York

Most Users Ever Online: 231

Currently Online: Fiddlerman
54 Guest(s)

Currently Browsing this Page:
1 Guest(s)

Members Birthdays
sp_BirthdayIcon
Today None
Upcoming coolpinkone, ADK-Mark, Nokturne, RosinRepublic, Panda-P, OP Alaraasakka, KarenSquared, Leesajohnson

Top Posters:

coolpinkone: 4123

Mad_Wed: 2849

.: 2671

Fiddlestix: 2647

Oliver: 2439

DanielB: 2379

Kevin M.: 1969

cdennyb: 1813

damfino: 1777

TerryT: 1726

Member Stats:

Guest Posters: 2

Members: 13775

Moderators: 0

Admins: 5

Forum Stats:

Groups: 16

Forums: 57

Topics: 7264

Posts: 90425

Newest Members:

kerryrs2, phyllisxf3, Gop, josephinesm69, keriwj2, bettyedm4

Administrators: Fiddlerman: 13395, KindaScratchy: 1726, BillyG: 2496, MrsFiddlerman: 0, Jimmie Bjorling: 0