As I have mentioned in previous questions, I'm someone who likes to get really into the music. I sway around, and enjoy the song with movement. I notice professional violinists sometimes almost dance to the music they're playing. It makes it much more interesting to watch, and it obviously shows that the performer is in to it which makes it easier for the audience to get in to it.

Of course I move because I enjoy the music, but the other day I was watching a video of myself playing and noticed that my movement was very very awkward. Like... a constipated bandicoot listening to disco music. Basically, I was moving around in erratic, uncontrolled, wonky jerks and steps. I didn't really realize it until I saw the video, so I'm glad I noticed it before any major performances! (I might never live that one down...)

My question is: Should it be considered more of an advanced technique to sway to the music (something that younger players should avoid and just stick to the music) or is it something that should be encouraged? Will it just get better as my ear improves, or will it get worse as I develop my sense of rhythm... all weird-like? Also, this is a bit more vague and can probably be ignored, but is there a... pattern of movement that people can follow that isn't so awkward, or is it just developed with a life-time of practice?

(Also, as a bit of an aside (and out of curiosity) has anyone noticed that they tend to blink more while playing, or is it just me? And am I just embarrassing myself by asking?)

2 Answers 2


Movement is just fine in most cases. If you are in the classical world, anything beyond the most subtle swaying tends to be frowned on because it detracts from the traditional image of classical playing, and if you are in an orchestra, too much movement interferes with the people next to you.

Outside the classical world, movement should be controlled enough that it does not detract from your playing. Depending on your skill, that could mean gentle swaying, or it could be full out jumping around and dancing. If you feel the movement is detracting from your playing, recording yourself with a videocamera is the best thing to try.

If you like to move while playing, but are moving in an awkward looking way, practice moving gracefully. Figure out which movements in your recording were especially awkward, and avoid them. Find videos of players who move while playing, and imitate them, first without the instrument, then with it. Look for patterns in their movements: Do they bounce up and down? Sway side to side? If the bend, is it from the knees? from the waist? How does their head move?

Forcing yourself to hold completely still is likely to cause stiffness which will detract from your playing. I've never seen a professional whose body was completely immobile while playing, but it's very common in beginners who can't relax. So keep moving, but start thinking about exactly how you move.

Bowfire is a group of string players who have quite a bit of movement and choreography in their performances. Most players never move at more than a walk, but there are a couple of people who both play and dance.


I once saw a recital of Yitzhak Perlman in Russia, towards the end of the video they show him looking at four top students playing the violin. One of them was a young boy and he was in the music as you described his body and violin was everywhere. Yitzhak Perlman told the student that it take away some capacity to play. You need to play calmly. What you say about eyes blinking are you on the nervous side (in other words not calm enough) this could be a reason for both the shaking and blinking. You need to be very calm with your body, nothing should overtake you. If you mastered that, you could sway a little as you see by the pros.

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