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Legs: Braced or free

The wrong equipment for the body of the player can cause a chain reaction of muscle tension starting in the neck, going down the spine and into the legs, seriously affecting the basic balance of the player and the range of movement in the limbs.

Any contraction in the spine as a whole affects the quality of movement in both arms and legs. The spine begins just under the skull, between the ears and behind the nose. Attached farther down the spine are the ribs that support the collar bones and shoulder blades (shoulder girdle). Still lower down, the spine attaches to the pelvis. Arm and leg muscles cross each other in the torso and work together when the player moves. Stiffened legs mean stiffened arms.

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When the head is cocked left and pressed down to clamp the violin, violinists or violists then often keep most of their weight on the left leg. Over time this can result in shortening of the left side of the body and a seemingly shortened left leg.

In contrast, when the pressure of the head downwards to the left is decreased, the pressure on the left leg is also decreased, allowing leg muscles and the entire left side of the torso to lengthen. Adjusting the chin rest and shoulder rest combined with weekly Alexander Technique lessons takes the pressure off postural muscles. Joints gain room to regain their elasticity, improving balance.

The instrument is then better supported from below by a balanced body, decreasing fatigue and improving right and left arm technique.

 

If the violinist is asked to stand on a balance board any stiffness in the body of the player becomes obvious. If the player contracts her neck muscles to play while balancing on a balance board, her legs also stiffen and she will lose her balance.

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