Strength needed for music


Hi i am discerning a vocation as a musician. I am learning violin and would like to ask other string players this question:

What do you do to strengthen your arms, neck, chest and back? Do you swim, do strength training? Whats a typical work out routine for you to add flexibility and strengthen your back, arms shoulders to prevent pinched nerves while playing? I ask because i want to be able to eventualy gain enough endurance and strength to hold the violin and the bow continuously for an hour or two. Thanks in advance.


Push-ups may be a good start, but for violin playing I wonder whether having stonger arms or not is a good thing? Being able to do even 50 or 100 push-ups if you can will strengthen your upper body quite a lot at any rate. If you decide to them them, start by doing them on the wall, park benches, or the stairs in your house if you have to. It really won’t be too long before you can do 50+ good push ups on the ground.

Also I suggest you see if you can play violin weekly at Mass. This will give you quite a bit more experience than you realize.


I hope you are working with a teacher who can help you kinesthetically. If you are self-taught, please be aware that you might be working against yourself and introducing tension. Tension is what leads to body problems and kills sound.

You should have a comfortable chin rest attached to the instrument. Everybody is different. Some people like chin rests that have a large “hump” over the tailpiece that fits under the chin, but for me that is uncomfortable and pinches hard. I prefer a simple concavity that I can “turn” my jaw into.

You should have a comfortable shoulder rest that you slide onto the back of the instrument. Everybody is different. I like a Kun-style shoulder rest (Everrest is another) that has two pairs of rubber feet and a padded S-curve to fit over my collar bone. I also like lots of height and a solid rigidity once its in place. So, inflatable pillows and sponges are not for me.

Now, you should be able to hold your violin in your left hand with your left arm straight out to the side of your body, strings away from you. Fingers are folded over the left side shoulder, thumb around the nape of the neck to the other side of the fingerboard.

Rotate the arm 180 degrees so the violin is upside down and cupped in your left hand, and bend your left elbow (left forearm moves upward) until the bottom of the violin sits up against your collarbone and neck. Now gently turn your head to the left and slightly down, and your jaw/chin should fall into the chin rest pocket. Your eyes should be able to look down the fingerboard to the scroll.

If everything is well-adjusted and comfortable, you should be able to totally support the instrument between your chin and shoulder/collar area. You should be able to take your left hand off of the violin completely, allowing it complete freedom to shift around the fingerboard or perform vibrato. This should not hurt, strain, or choke you. You should not feel hunched over, tense, or poor posture.

From this orientation and line-of-sight, you should place your music stand and/or turn in your chair so that your print music is just to the right of your scroll. This way you can glance left to the fingerboard and right to the notes without shifting your body.

Now with your right (bow) arm, bend your elbow to a right angle and move your right arm across your chest such that you make a nice “square” with your bow resting over the strings, beyond the bridge. The bow should stay perpendicular to the strings as you bow down and up. To down-bow you will partially extend your forearm down (by bending the elbow out) and flex your wrist back (in opposite, compensating directions), and to up-bow you will pull the forearm back up from the elbow, and flex your wrist down (again in compensating directions). Make sure you are not gripping the bow tightly or your wrist will not flex. (There will be no fluid motion and the bow will not stay perpendicular to the string.) Your right upper arm will always stay in the same position and vertical plane. It only moves higher and lower, if the right elbow move higher or lower to reach the G string or the E string.

This video might help:


I just re-read your post. Perhaps you know all that already!

The best endurance training is to start with good, relaxed, balanced posture and positioning and build up playing time, and end with good, relaxed, balanced posture and positioning.

Body core strength will help keep a good posture and fight fatigue.

It will probably feel good to gently stretch your upper body, arms, wrists, fingers, shoulders, neck, and rotate the torso.

Do some research on the Alexander Technique to help map your body and reduce unnecessary tension.


Sorry I didn’t respond I until now,
Thanks for the advice everyone.


*I personally train and ride horses, so naturally though that, and farm chores keeps my arms in better shape for playing, I’ve also been using a 20lb weight for my arms which I think has been helping. I’d say stand there and hold/play it for as long as you can, then work your way up, that’s what the pros do when you first start out, you just learn to stand there, and hold the violin correctly, sometimes for a couple of hours at a time, then the bow is added. It seems like an extremely slow process to me, but who knows.:shrug:

Good luck to you!*


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