I work on technique with my students a lot.
I mean. A whole lot.
The way you hold the violin, the way you move, and the way you feel physically, all have a direct effect on your playing and learning curve.
In other words, the way you orient yourself in time and space effects what sort of violinist you are.
I often have given very detailed instructions in the past, as I wish I would have received more specific instructions when I was a student: how to move a finger, how to hold a thumb, where should pressure come from, what should be relaxed (as many things as possible!!). And, I still do that, to a degree. But, once the general details are understood, I’ve found that emphasizing the same tiny points over and over again doesn’t have the magical effect I wish it did.
That, in a big part, is because nobody cares.
Students don’t often don’t care about your magical detailed instructions on how the fingers should be placed ergonomically upon the violin so that you can play faster. They just want to play faster. They want to be better. And unless they see a direct connection between your explanation and how they can get better, they just don’t care. This can be solved from a teaching perspective by having better explanations and better trains of logic for students to follow. Or you can just tell them to stand like Wonder Woman.
It has made my violin students better every time. I’ve given up on ten minute discussions that leave them cross-eyed with boredom. I leave those discussions for the students who obviously want them.
For the rest of my students. I look for the shortest possible route to success. And that doesn’t always mean my students need to learn a whole bunch of facts about anatomy or anything else.
Often they just need to do something different.
So I tell them to set their violin and bow down. And then I tell them to stand like Wonder Woman. They giggle and roll their eyes at me. And then they do it. Their own biology takes over my job of teaching at that point. Their testosterone levels raise and their cortisol levels drop because science. They become slightly more confident and willing to try things I suggest. And they naturally want to move in ways that are more comfortable for them. Then, I tell them to remember how they’re standing, pick up the violin, and try again, standing like Wonder Woman.
Because a confident body doesn’t let itself be pushed into a position that isn’t ergonomic. A confident body wants to do what is most comfortable for it. So, a focused, depressed, tired violin student who has been trying to play the same passage for twenty minute will force him or herself into all sorts of strange technical positions in an attempt to play the passage correctly. But it will be artificial and contorted because it won’t be in line with a confident comfortable human body. Remember, it’s a human body that plays the violin.
I’ve found that creating a confident kid is a much bigger and faster step towards music education than any single detail I can give them about technique. Because my job as a teacher is to give students the tools to make themselves better, not to do it for them. And when my students make themselves better, they get way better way faster than they would otherwise.
When my kids feel better and are more confident, they learn the violin faster.
So, I tell my kids to stand like Wonder Woman, because science, because it makes them giggle, and because it makes them confident.
And then stuff usually works itself out from there.
If you are an adult human. You, also, can try this. Believe it or not, it works on all human makes and models.
Here’s the TED Talk about the thing.