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Arts & Entertainment

Comfort and Posture

Itzhak Perlman

Lesson time 10:35 min

Playing the violin is a physical experience. Learn Mr. Perlman’s methods for staying comfortable and avoiding injury.

Itzhak Perlman
Teaches Violin
In his first-ever online class, virtuoso violin player Itzhak Perlman breaks down his techniques for improved practice and powerful performances.
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[VIOLIN PLAYING] INSTRUCTOR: Violin playing is potentially uncomfortable. And the problem is that if it's uncomfortable, we have to make it as comfortable as possible because we have so many things to worry about. First of all, a lot of the things about playing an instrument-- I always ask people, especially when they, you know, when they are so concerned about doing the right thing, is to breathe. You know, sometimes we are not breathing, you know. And as a result, we feel all of a sudden that we're just out of breath, you know, when we-- that's not good. So always just-- in a sense, you have to relax when you play. That's one thing. The other thing is your posture, which we can talk about also, very, very important. You have to be grounded, well grounded. And a lot of players have different kind of postures without them realizing it. Because when they see something that's very difficult, let's say, they try to-- they lean forward, or they lean backward. And they don't realize that they're doing this. While I always keep saying, you know, the violin should be, like-- you know, if you take the violin, it should be like a table. It should be absolutely straight so that the bow can absolutely do its thing. In other words, you don't want, you know-- when you play the violin, you are not doing body English. You're not supposed-- a lot of people are going-- and all of that stuff, you know, because it's very musical. And they probably do feel very musical when they do that. But sometimes it has a tendency to mess up, to camouflage what you're trying to do technically with a bow. So if you want to play detache, which is on the string-- you know, if you go-- like that, not as easy, not as easy, you know. So you know, just pay attention. I always say, pay attention what your bow arm does. Pay attention of what your left hand does. It'll be easier for you. And then you'll be able to execute better and still be musical. I mean, being musical, you know-- so I always have-- I have sometimes students where I call them the-- they call their violin position the Tower of Pisa position, where they're basically going always like that, you know. They're always leaning to the left, or they're always leaning to the right, and so on. I just believe in holding the violin where it's parallel to the ground. That's where you want to hold. You also want to make sure that you are comfortable between your chin and your shoulder. And that, we're going to talk about with some of my students, because that's a very interesting problem to talk about what goes on the back of the violin and what kind of chin rest you use. A lot of people-- you know, a lot of the reason for comfort, it has to do with how it feels between here and there. And we all have-- we're all built differently. I'm always fascinated by what kind of problems artists or advanced students have. And so we'll have a discussion with some of my present students and some of my former students...

Play with passion

The world’s reigning virtuoso violin player, Itzhak Perlman performs for presidents, royals, and classical music lovers around the world. Now the beloved Juilliard instructor and 15-time Grammy Award winner brings his passion for teaching to a wide audience for the first time. Learn fundamental techniques, practice strategies, and how to add richness and depth to your sound. Give your most dynamic performance yet.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I've learned soo much about expression and I really loved this class!

Good, I like sir's in depth analysis on every topic of violin-playing

Was good to recall my music scholl time, when a child. Found the majority of things said familiar and very close to me and true to my understanding. Good refreshing that comes out of Mr.P's honest and clear style

I loved this. Many thanks to Mr. Perlman for sharing his knowledge.


A fellow student

I want to try different sponges and shoulder rests now to see the difference and see if there is one that works better for me.

A fellow student

Ahh the shoulder rest...I will always need something higher,this one I'm using for a year or so was gifted to me from my old teacher that sells musical related products and I told him that it doesn't support my violin properly but he was don't have such a long neck,why doesn't it fit?And because of money issues I haven't bought another one still causing me some pain... sad

Linh C.

Thank you Mr.Perlman for helping me solve my chin rest problem!!! It work so much! Mr.Prelman is so such great violinist!!! The rumors was right. He is a great violinist!!! I am so happy and surprise.

Janet C.

I feel better knowing that there are options and you can do what is right for YOU.

Alexander S.

I admire Mr Perlman’s flexibility in not being dogmatic about shoulder rests. This is a controversial subject. The giants of the 20th century (including Mr Perlman) did not use shoulder rests. I used a shoulder rest at one time, but Aaron Rosand showed me how to hold the violin without a shoulder rest and I remain forever grateful. I have much more freedom and play without tension. The violin is also allowed to breathe freely and resonate fully. The shoulder rest raises the violin, which forces the entire right arm higher. This is unnatural, which may lead to tension. But I fully agree with Mr Perlman that comfort is the ultimate goal and you do what you need to do to avoid pain and injury.

Kenneth R.

Shoulder rests: Sometimes I feel like I'm about to drop the violin... like it slides off of my collar bone. What do you all suggest?

Kenneth R.

My teacher, Abby Khalek, Los Angeles, tells me to stand with both feet flat on the ground, and not to lean on one direction or even with one hip out. Straight up standing and no swaying. I find that I start to lean forward, caving in the sound as one of your students mentioned. To maintain my posture, I stand with my feet at a 30-45 degree angle outwards, and it keeps me from swaying from side to side.

A fellow student

I am so glad that this lesson shows that both the chin rest and the shoulder rest can be adjusted (because most people believe that the chin rest cannot be changed)!

A fellow student

Excellent to see that Perlman supports people finding what works for them in terms of different types of chin rests and shoulder rests, rather than insisting that it can only be done one way.