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I would like to know about stretches or exercises adult beginners can use to inmprove their flexibility for string playing.

I have a violin student who hand and arm can only rotate about two thirds the way than my arm can. As a result he has to contort his shoulder in order to reach around at all. It was not so obvious in the beginning however when I was introducing vibrato he described a persistent burning sensation. He then tells me that it always burns after a few minutes of playing. He just assumed that the burning was because of 'weakness'. My first thought was "Tension!", so I recommended relaxation exercises. It is when we started doing those that I noticed that he was just inflexible.

I recommended some general stretching exercises that I found on YouTube which did loosen him up a bit. The "persistent burning sensation" is now only there after attempting vibrato exercises for a few minutes. His flexibility has improved a bit in his arm however something is missing. my question is short is this:

What are some exercises for very inflexible violin players to develop flexibility in their arms, hands hand and fingers?

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I can't suggest specific stretching exercises, but for left arm position you want stretches that work the teres and dorsi muscles in the back. Stretching routines for weightlifting would be appropriate.

Generally if I have a student with muscle pain we isolate the muscle and work basic dynamic stretching (slowly extending and stretching the muscle and holding stretched for a short time).

For example, for the upper shoulders, put your elbow in front of your body, and pull it inward with your other arm towards the center of your body. For upper arm, hold arms out level and to the side (think swan-dive) and stretch towards the back. Forearm, hold arm straight out and extend the hand at the wrist up to a right angle from the arm, then down to a right angle and stretch. You should feel a pulling in the arm. Fingers are a little trickier. I often have students separate their fingers across their leg and then gently press down, separating the fingers (make a V across at the knee).

I also use a fingering exercise, playing the fourth finger then third on each string starting on the E, then rotating the hand to the next string using the elbow position only, all strings down then back up to the E. Then switch to the next series of fingers, 4th 2nd, 4th 1st, 4th 1st in half position (b to f on the E string)

  • I upvoted for a specific muscle. I don't know much about anatomy but I do know that with muscles the actual point of pain is often far away from the cause. I'll look into some of these dynamic stretches. – xerotolerant Feb 12 '17 at 8:49
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I've found that using resistance bands held down firmly by a foot and grasping them with a straight arm and then executing a flapping motion is helpful in strengthening those muscles and stretching them. You can do a similar one with a straight arm up and down in front of you. The pressure of the chin on the chin rest can exacerbate some of the discomfort so make sure that you have a good shoulder rest and that it is adjusted correctly (it took me a while to get the right rest). I will say, and not to sound bleak, but even after 25 years of playing, I still get sore at times. For fingers I use a number 2 pencil and practice correct fingering and also correct bow holding. Helps build up both strength and dexterity.

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