February 6, 2011 – Fear of Dropping the Violin

I have read a short section of the Kato Havas Book titled “Stage Fright.” In the first chapter, she address the fear of dropping the violin as the root of tension from many players. Upon first reading this, I thought it was a bit extreme. Surely nobody thinks they will drop the violin, but then I have thought back to tension issues we have all worked through on the violin.

  • Beginning students (many times) fear that if they don’t hold the violin with the left hand that they will drop it. Although we work on posture at the beginning, once we put the fingers on the fingerboard, we begin to feel afraid we will drop the violin. This causes a tremendous number of other problems in violin playing.
  • As students begin shifting, this fear of dropping the violin becomes more obvious, as the student will have a very tight hold on the neck of the violin. I have witnessed students who are unable to shift up because their thumb is grabbing so hard, it will not get gradually more open as the neck gets slightly larger.
  • When shifting backwards, you will notice the left hand goes under the violin as they tense the first finger to grab.
  • Many students and a number of professionals, clamp down with the head and clench the jaw in order to keep the violin from falling. Every violin must fight the tension in the neck and jaw to keep playing relaxed.

Havas has exercises she suggests for allowing students to keep arms and shoulders feeling weightless, including a number of exercises she suggests you practice over a couch or bed. They involve balaning the head in order to hold the violin.

Having student instruments that are too large may cause the fear of dropping the violin to be even greater. With a heavy or clunky student instrument, they may find themselves grabbing (out of necessity) with the left hand.

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