Violin desperation please help!

(13 Posts)
Ickythumpsmum Wed 03-Feb-16 15:57:53

DS1 (7) took up the violin in September. He can already read music from playing the piano and has a good ear. Unfortunately he cannot hold a Violin to save his life, and his teacher is starting to despair. She's a nice teacher so he does not want to change and assured me last night that he really wants to play the violin.
So, please can I have the advice of any violinists? When he gets tired (after only 5 minutes) he bends the wrist of his left hand so the violin sneakily rests on his left hand, not just his neck. He is also holding the bow incorrectly, though he is frequently shown the correct way to do it. When he gets one thing right you can guarantee that he is getting the other one wrong.
Is there something I can do to help him without killing the fun?
Thanks

whatevva Wed 03-Feb-16 16:03:57

Practice for just 5 minutes - little and often?

Spend some time just bowing on open strings - listen to the sound it makes.

Smaller violin?

TBH it is something everyone does, I think hmm

whatevva Wed 03-Feb-16 16:07:00

They used to make us hold the violin just with our chin, back in the day. It used to hurt and didn't help. I am sure if you can do it, it can take some of the pressure off your arm. Probably depends on your neck length.

It gets easier as you get older and stronger.

dammmit Wed 03-Feb-16 16:29:30

I'm a violin teacher, and most children do this at the start. Imo it's because the violin feels insecure under their chin and they're tempted to rest it on the hand, and they collapse their hand to do this. If he's using the old favourite sponge/rubber band arrangement as a shoulder rest, I would get rid of that and buy a proper shoulder rest. This one is good:

www.ackermanmusic.co.uk/fom-me045-violin-shoulder-rest-1-2.html

It will enable your DS to hold the violin firmly under his chin, without any pressure, ie without having to hunch his shoulder or grip with his chin.

Then encourage him to have a very light, loose, free left hand, using games and exercises. Eg hold the violin as normal, then keep it held under your chin whilst swaying your arm underneath like an elephant's trunk. Or putting one finger on the string and sliding up and down (glissando) as far as you can go. Makes a great noise, kids love it!

dammmit Wed 03-Feb-16 16:31:49

Hmm, maybe that should actually say "Makes an ear-splittingly awful noise".......

Ickythumpsmum Wed 03-Feb-16 18:25:13

dammit he has a neck rest but I bought the cheapest one in the shop as I thought he might give up. Is it possible the one I've bought isn't any good? I really like the idea of the games too.

This week we will try to do little and often. Hope he gets the hang of it soon.

Thanks so much for your help.

jackstini Wed 03-Feb-16 18:34:24

Is it the right size violin or too heavy?
Dd started on a 1/8 at age 6 and went up to a 1/2 at age 9 (growth spurt so skipped the 1/4!)

Noteventhebestdrummer Wed 03-Feb-16 18:37:06

Look at the Bow Buddy on Amazon, it's expensive but it helps a lot.

dammmit Wed 03-Feb-16 18:45:45

The one you have is probably absolutely fine. I like the one I linked to because it has a nice ergonomic shape, but the main thing is to ensure it's fitted on properly, ie the right height, and resting in the correct place on the shoulder/collar-bone, rather than sticking out to the side too much or down on the chest. Hard to describe without pictures!

Once he can hold the instrument comfortably with mainly the weight of his head, then any games etc which encourage letting go with the left hand or a light touch with the hand will help to lesson the temptation to grip the instrument. Constant regular reminders to hold the violin with hand upright do usually pay off eventually. It's early days, and I've known children do this for years and get it right in the end!

Happy fiddling smile

Ickythumpsmum Wed 03-Feb-16 20:54:31

Bow buddy looks great! Def getting one of those.
I do wonder if his violin is too big. He's started on a 1/2 and yes I agree that it's in proportion to his body and hands, BUT he is really tall for his age. He is just 7 but was 140cms last time I measured him and has grown since. He's really skinny too and is very much 'all arms and legs' at the moment. I wonder if he isn't strong enough to hold such a large violin?

StompyFreckles Sat 06-Feb-16 21:03:39

All of my dc play the violin. My Ds (9) is playing a 1/2 size violin - I think that would be too big for a 7 year old.
Dd (4) has just started the violin and is able to hold the violin and bow correctly now after lots of bow hold games - maybe that would help? We use a small Corn plaster on her bow for her little finger and that has helped too. We spent quite a bit of time practising holding the violin by the chin / shoulder only at first - to emphasise no need to hold it up with the hand and to make the left hand freer to move.

AmeliaEarhartinBerlin Mon 08-Feb-16 19:58:42

a few links that could maybe help:

teachsuzukiviolin.com/the-violin-hold/

thelistenersclub.com/2013/12/03/six-steps-to-great-violin-posture/

www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMHcF0CPjvg

there are of course - other sites that you can look at!

I'm sure that your ds will figure it out - but just to say that some kids do seem to get 'violin hold' naturally - while others struggle. One of mine was great with it.... - and flew (grade 8 - age 12), another one of mine HATED every minute of the violin (couldn't hold it) and although very musical -- just could NOT do violin ... we gave it up for cello and life was much easier after that....

(JulieMichelleRobinson (who used to post a lot) teaches violin (I don't) and has some good ideas... maybe look at her website)

hang in there!

ReallyTired Mon 29-Feb-16 13:14:13

Dd practice just holding the violin between her chin and shoulder without playing in the beginning. She would hold the violin between her chin and shoulder without using an arm to support the instrument while watching TV or listening to music.

There are some good bow games on YouTube for helping with bow hold.

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