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Stock violining is harder than you think
July 11, 2013 9:59 PM   Subscribe

Useful visual lessons in the art and etiquette of holding your violin and bow, illustrated by stock photos. You can also use some random violin, it doesn't have to be yours, or even used to produce music. Because violins are apparently very sexy props that show how very sexy you are. You don't need to already know how to hold a violin to appreciate this tumblr.
posted by Athanassiel (42 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
This has been going around Facebook with my fellow music teacher friends. If I still taught beginning strings I would bring this in and have my 4th graders play "what's wrong with this picture?".
posted by rossination at 10:18 PM on July 11, 2013


That is unexpectedly awesome. Thanks!
posted by guster4lovers at 10:27 PM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I was in third grade, we were given the opportunity to take violin lessons, the instructor came once a day, at exactly the same time as our spelling lesson. I hated spelling, and took violin lessons for the next three years, and well into middle school, to avoid spelling. Fifty some years later I can't spell worth shit and hold my bow exactly as shown in these photos.
posted by HuronBob at 10:28 PM on July 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Proposed rule: require those pictures with an instrument in a stock photo to include a short sample of their playing. Just for fun.
posted by rongorongo at 11:12 PM on July 11, 2013


That was much funnier than I thought it was going to be.

Dat bow hold.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:32 PM on July 11, 2013


Ewwww... gratuitous violins...
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:44 PM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


AHHHH! These make me crazy!!!
posted by lauranesson at 12:08 AM on July 12, 2013


Heh, nice one. See also movies about 'musical prodigies' who can't even move their bow in time to the music...
posted by ZipRibbons at 12:20 AM on July 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's people bowing on the wrong side of the bridge that get me. It's not just that they don't know how to play, they've never tried to make a sound.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:28 AM on July 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


AHHHH! These make me crazy!!!
posted by lauranesson


Right? They're actually painful to look at.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:32 AM on July 12, 2013


I'm not sure whether or not to send this to my husband, who's a pro violinist. He might find these funny. Or he might start banging his head against a wall.
posted by angiep at 12:57 AM on July 12, 2013


Oh man Vanessa Mae
posted by yoHighness at 1:35 AM on July 12, 2013


These are hilarious. I haven't played violin since grade school, but I'm cracking up. Almost makes me want to take it up again.

The people playing on the wrong side, do they not find the chinrest jutting into their neck a problem?!
posted by Gordafarin at 3:05 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's people bowing on the wrong side of the bridge that get me. It's not just that they don't know how to play, they've never tried to make a sound.

I keep telling myself that they're trying to play Penderecki or something just to stop the involuntary fremdschämen gurgles.
posted by iNeas at 3:42 AM on July 12, 2013


Heh, nice one. See also movies about 'musical prodigies' who can't even move their bow in time to the music...
posted by ZipRibbons at 8:20 on July 12 [+] [!]

God yes. This isn't limited to stringed instruments either. I remember watching Emmanuelle Béart simulating playing the piano in a particular film (I forget which), and it looked like she was trying to knead dough. Made the film instantly unwatchable for me.
posted by jonnyploy at 3:50 AM on July 12, 2013


There goes Metafilter, making me cry again.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 3:57 AM on July 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Even Momoko isn't immune to the sleepy lefty.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:19 AM on July 12, 2013


I bought a cheap used violin many years ago, just because. Took it around to the local repair guy who set it up for me & sold me some resin. I proceeded to squeak & honk with that thing for nearly a year before surrendering in abject frustration. Shit is HARD.

And these people are not helping.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:21 AM on July 12, 2013



Devils Rancher: ...I proceeded to squeak & honk with that thing for nearly a year before surrendering in abject frustration. Shit is HARD.

Shit was probably HARDER on your neighbors!

(I played violin very very badly for years as a non prodigy child & I always thought the only people who could have hated the sound more than I did were the people next door.)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 4:42 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Laurie Anderson could play in any of these positions and make it sound cool. Look cool too.
posted by spitbull at 4:47 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know what position Laurie Anderson could play



shortstop

... of my heart

oh god this tumblr so painful
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:52 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was half way to forgiving because hey, a good bow hold is hard and most people wouldn't notice. But actually no, the primary market for these stock photos is going to be publications aimed at musicians, you could at least crack out a thirty second gis for "violin hold".
posted by lucidium at 5:22 AM on July 12, 2013


This is hilarious! Definitely passing it on to my students as a giggle worthy example of what NOT to do.
posted by Fiorentina97 at 5:28 AM on July 12, 2013


Have you ever seen a left-handed violinist in real life. I realize 5% or so of them are left-handed, but every time I see one in real life they bow with the right hand and finger with the left. Surely somebody in history has made an instrument specifically for left-handed people?
posted by bukvich at 5:29 AM on July 12, 2013


Yup, this has been making the rounds among my musician friends, too. I really wish there were more films about wind or percussion prodigies because at least on those if I squint and let my mind relax I can fake that they're doing a good job of "playing." Because the closest I've come to playing brass is flirting with a trombonist by telling him his instrument made my lips numb...
posted by Polyhymnia at 5:32 AM on July 12, 2013


bukvich, I'd be surprised to see a classical player who's left-handed, but it's not that uncommon in the world of traditional music. I know at least a few left-handed old time players and I'm sure I've seen some Irish lefties, too. I'd be interested to know if there's a neurological justification for that being preferable for left-handed folks, because, frankly, playing the violin is really hard no matter what hand you use for bowing or fingering. Also, weirdly, when I'm air fingering tunes (yeah, that's a thing), I can do it equally well with either hand or simultaneously.
posted by Polyhymnia at 5:37 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I should clarify that I mean lefties that PLAY left-handed, with the bow in the left and the instrument on the right.
posted by Polyhymnia at 5:37 AM on July 12, 2013


Surely somebody in history has made an instrument specifically for left-handed people?

I'm not a violin maker, but I don't think a whole new instrument would be required. A violin is mostly symmetric - it would need to be restrung the other way, some care would need to be taken with the pegs (it looks like some left-handers buy a reaming kit to reverse the pegs), the bridge might have to be reshaped slightly, and the soundpeg may have to be moved, if possible (although that's only necessary if looking for the best possible sound). I wouldn't do it with a Stradivarius but I'd probably try it with a cheap student violin.

I'd be interested to know if there's a neurological justification for that being preferable for left-handed folks

Anecdotally, some left-handed violinists appear to make the switch because they feel they don't have the necessary lightness and dexterity in their right hand for bowing (which, I think, may be surprising for people who don't play the violin - bowing is almost the more difficult manouver in some ways). For others it doesn't seem to make a difference. Although, I played violin for like 10 years, as a righty, and I never felt I had the necessary lightness and dexterity, either.
posted by muddgirl at 5:41 AM on July 12, 2013


Ugh, forgot about the bass bar under the G-string. Again, I don't think that would be a big hindrance to the sound of a cheap student violin, if someone wanted to try it out before putting the money into a left-handed instrument (which can be made).
posted by muddgirl at 5:43 AM on July 12, 2013


I actually cringed when I saw this one. That bow is about to explode in her face. I have a powerful need to reach into the screen to loosen it up before someone gets hurt.
posted by Dojie at 6:08 AM on July 12, 2013


Muddgirl, that's a good point you make about dexterity. I'd venture that most of the left-handed players I've seen began playing in adulthood and I can see where a dexterity imbalance would have an impact. I started playing as a child when you're still developing manual dexterity (and your ENTIRE BODY is awkward) so it makes sense that I felt that left or right hand, bowing was just hard.
posted by Polyhymnia at 6:08 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


thank you all for confirming what we violists everywhere have always known.
posted by dorian at 6:41 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm strongly left-handed, but I play the bass right-handed. I've always felt like that gave me an advantage -- the right hand has only 4 things to worry about, but the left hand has 4 x 21 things to worry about. Better to have the strong hand on the difficult side of the instrument.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:53 AM on July 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


My kid just walked by and looked over my shoulder (she's been taking violin lessons for about 9 months) and casually called out "She's holding her bow wrong. And that girl shouldn't be putting her thumb there, and that guy has bad posture."

MONEY WELL SPENT THANKS SUZUKI
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 7:55 AM on July 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


Wow. And I thought model flute players were awkward enough. Photographing people playing music is an art!
posted by sneebler at 9:38 AM on July 12, 2013


I've never played violin, but as a leftie, I never even considered the idea of getting a clarinet or a piano done with reversed hands, when I was younger. If people teaching you are much more likely to be right-handed, you're at a severe disadvantage if you're trying to do everything mirrored. I also use right-handed scissors as an adult because it's so much easier to find them outside of an elementary-school classroom.

A number of these people look like they need to find someone just to help them get dressed, it's no wonder they can't play violin.
posted by Sequence at 9:42 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm strongly left-handed, but I play the bass right-handed. I've always felt like that gave me an advantage -- the right hand has only 4 things to worry about, but the left hand has 4 x 21 things to worry about.

Same here; it always made sense to me to have my more dexterous hand doing the fretting (not that it made much difference when starting off in a lousy punk band).

I could see it would make a difference with a six-string guitar, but since I don't aspire to much more than three-chords-no-waiting garage rock, that also doesn't make much difference.
posted by Gelatin at 9:52 AM on July 12, 2013


The saxophone suffers from this as well. The following horrors I found from browsing shutterstock for a few minutes:posted by Rhomboid at 10:39 AM on July 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


As a once serious cellist, I can attest that bowing is the harder skill (vs. fingering) for most string players I've known, and actually I find the same true on guitars for picking vs. fingering at any speed in any style.

Also, every teacher makes you start from scratch with their bowing philosophy, whereas they may have pet fingerlings, but not nearly as much variation in the discursive construction of fingering technique as a stylistic variant.

The most famous of my various teachers used to weigh my right arm on a scale before some lessons to remind me how much it weighed and thus why no further muscular exertion was needed, simply vectored control of the army's own gravity. I never really got good enough to really satisfy him and sometimes we'd spend the whole hour with me playing long tones on open strings recreating various amplitudinal and timbal "shapes" he would demonstrate.

I quit and took up rock guitar. Much, much less complicated.
posted by spitbull at 11:51 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The thing of it is, I'm not a musician by any stretch of the imagination, and these images look ludicrous to me (especially those saxophone ones, Rhomboid). I can imagine putting one of these images in a publication meant for musicians. Instant Credibility Destruction.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:21 PM on July 12, 2013


Oh it's so terrible, I just can't stop looking.posted by Rhomboid at 5:37 PM on July 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've known one or two (trad) fiddle players who've played left-handed - as has been surmised above, besides re-stringing, they had to have the bridge re-shaped, and the sound post moved.
posted by mr vino at 9:33 AM on July 15, 2013


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