How To Stand With A Violin – Let’s Make A Foot Map

How To Stand With A Violin – Let’s Make A Foot Map

Last month, I wrote about holding a violin properly and many of you were keen to receive some more information about the ‘foot map’ I often use with my younger beginners.

Making a foot map is quick and easy and will show students and their parents how to stand with a violin each and every time they go to practice.

Little people, in particular love choosing the colour of their foot map and then adorning it with stickers as they progress, all while working towards correct posture and strong overall technique.

Why It’s Important To Stand Properly

In terms of technique, having your feet firmly fixed in place makes holding your violin at the correct height and angle easier and more comfortable. When I first started learning to play, my teacher likened the correct stance to a tree in the forest; strong, steady and unable to be blown over in the wind.

At recitals, competitions and other performances, a student who stands confidently and correctly makes a far better impression than one whose body is twisted, or who’s feet are not positioned correctly.

You Want To Look Good As Well As Sound Good!

Elayne is one of my current grade six students; she is outstanding in her dedication to practice, quality of sound and attention to correct technique and musicality. Leading up to Elayne’s most recent exam, we spent some time focusing on standing correctly. Although the direction and position of her feet was not directly affecting her sound, it did cause her to look ‘wrong’. Anyone watching Elayne would be distracted from her smooth and beautiful sound by the way she presented physically.

Dexter is another of my talented and dedicated students who will be presenting for his grade 3 exam later this year. Dexter is younger than most grade three candidates but works hard and shows musical maturity well beyond his years. During lessons, its difficult to remember Dexter’s feet when we’re concentrating on fingering and intonation. Lately, however, I’ve noticed that Dexter’s favourite position seems to be standing on one leg with the other foot resting around his ankle, or placing all his weight on the back leg and then having a bent front leg! It won’t matter how beautifully Dexter plays in his exam. If he looks sloppy, it will affect his final grade.

Who Can Use A Footmap?

I ran out of coloured cardboard a few months ago and have been a bit slack with making foot maps for my new students. As I’m writing this, I’m thinking of a number of little and not so little students who’d not only benefit from but also enjoy having a footmap.

Anyone who needs reminding about how to stand can use a footmap. Most older students are fine without one, but for younger beginners and even more advanced students who have developed a bad habit, the footmap is a perfect tool.

Step 1 – Choose Your Cardboard

This seems easy enough but you want to make sure that you can see the foot markings easily on the cardboard. Little people can choose their favourite colour – pink, white, yellow, gold, light blue and flouro colours are all good choices.

Don’t choose colours like dark purple or navy blue; if your child is standing incorrectly, you want them to be able to see this easily when they glance down. When moving from rest to playing position, you also want them to be able to see where to move their left foot without having to bend down or alter their upper body position in any way.

Choose cardboard rather than paper, as this will lengthen the life of your footmap. I still have my eldest daughter’s footmap from over 12 years ago when she first started learning the violin! It has quite a lot of sentimental value and makes me smile every time I see the worn out Hello Kitty stickers and smiley faces!

Step 2 – Outline Rest Position

If the footmap is for yourself, you’ll need someone else to help you with the next two steps.

Have your child stand towards the back of the cardboard with their feet together in rest position. Trace around their two feet in one go so that you get a shape similar to the one shown here.

This is rest position and is where your child should stand before getting into playing position. It’s important to move to playing position FROM rest position as this emphasises the shift of balance as your left foot moves forwards.

Step 3 – Outline Playing Position

Have your child take their left foot out on a 45 degree angle so that they are standing in playing position. Move from rest to playing position a few times to make sure that the left foot moves to a position that is comfortable and stable. Once you are sure that the position is correct, trace around the left foot.

This is playing position and outlines where your child’s feet should be each and every time they begin practicing.

 

Step 4 – Practice Moving From Rest To Playing Position

Your footmap is now complete! Take a look at George’s footmap on the right; He’s been decorating it with all the stickers he gets in his lessons and has become quite proud to use and show it off!

Once you’ve completed your child’s footmap, Have them move from rest to playing position a few times (using their violin) so that they get used to the position and know how to use their footmap correctly.

For little students, the footmap should be used each and every time they go to play, so that standing correctly becomes a habit. Once a solid and natural looking stance is achieved, the footmap has served its purpose and can be kept as a keepsake or thrown out.

You’re On The Way To Great Technique!

The position of your child’s feet while playing may seem trivial, but can impact upon technical development and cause them to become uncomfortable or look sloppy.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and find my instructions useful and easy to follow. If you ever need a hand with your footmap or anything else violin related, please don’t hesitate to reach out in the comments section below; I’m always more than happy to help out in any way I can

Happy Playing!

Marketa

Founder of myviolinbff.com πŸ™‚

This Post Has 36 Comments

  1. Hi Marketa,
    My daughter is 15 and we made a footmap. She’s found it so useful having developed some ‘interesting’ posture problems over the years.

    Thank you for the post and I really enjoyed the read.

    Cheers,
    Kahlua

    1. Hi Kahlua,
      I’m so glad to hear that you’ve been able to use this idea with an older beginner. Thanks for sharing and best of luck to your daughter with her violin journey πŸ™‚

  2. Hi Marketa,
    My daughter and I made the footmap like your instructions but she’s still twisting around a bit when she stands. Any ideas for what should do?

    Thanks Felix

    1. Hi Felix,
      The twisting is a problem and probably something you’ll have to just monitor on a daily basis until it subsides. Perhaps get her to stand in front of a mirror to play so that she sees what you mean by ‘twisting’. I find that many students who ‘twist’ do so because they are wanting to watch their fingers on the violin. It seems obvious but she can look at her fingers with her eyes only, not her head. I hope this helps, Felix. Thanks for your comment and have a great week πŸ™‚

  3. Hi Marketa!

    I love this foot map as I used to play the violin. I wish when I was learning someone taught me. It would have helped me so much!

    Cannot wait to see what else you post!

    1. Hi Katie and thanks for your comment.
      So many adults who gave up learning the violin did so because they got stuck at some point. The footmap is just one way students can focus on correct technique from the very beginning. Have a great weekend and thanks for reaching out πŸ™‚

  4. Hey Marketa! I love this idea and will be making a footmap with my son when I get home!

    Thanks so much,
    Andrea

    1. Hi Andrea and thanks for reaching out!
      I’m so glad that you’ll be using the post to help with your son’s technical development.
      Have a great weekend πŸ™‚

  5. Hi, I really like your post. I found that very interesting. I really liked the footmap. Cute ideal. My daughter is in concert band and marching and they have all kinds or foot movements. I would have never thought there was a foot placement for violin. Thank you for the new info. Sandra

    1. Hi Sandra and thanks so much for your comment
      Best of luck to your daughter with the concert band; it’s so wonderful that she is exposed to music!
      Have a lovely weekend πŸ™‚

  6. Hi Marketa!

    This is a great post! My kid is just learning to play the violin and I would like to help her form good habits now than have to break bad habits later. I played bassoon for years so I was always sitting and never had to worry about my foot placement. I have watched her posture but didn’t even think about her feet.
    We will have to make a footmap this weekend and she’ll love doing it! Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Hi Tina and thanks for your comment!
      Wow, the bassoon has always intrigued me; must be very difficult to play!
      Please do encourage your child to follow the correct technique, especially in these early stages. It’ll pay off 1000 times over in the years to come. Good luck with your footmap and please do let m know if you have any questions or concerns about anything violin related πŸ™‚

  7. I never heard of footmap before but it can come in handy in future for my cousin as he just started learning to play this instrument. Do you recommend it for total beginners?

    1. Hi Furkan,
      Definitely a great tool for total beginners.
      Best of luck and thanks for your comment πŸ™‚

  8. This is a great post for a violin player or instructor. I’m not either one of them I’m a guitar player and there’s a big difference. Would love to learn the violin someday so I now know what to start with because of this post. That is a footmap thanks for this post and all your help and eager to learn more.

    1. Hi Fred and thanks for your comment.
      If you’d ever like any advice about getting started on the violin, just let me know and I’d be happy to help.
      Have a great week πŸ™‚

  9. Hi Marketa,
    I love the footmap idea! My daughter is 8 but I think this will help her stand better. Her teacher is always complaining that she’s all twisted!

    Thanks very mnuch in advance and best of luck with your website – it looks so great by the way!

    1. Hi Dany and thanks for your comment!
      A footmap will definitely be helpful for your daughter! 8 year olds usually love making things like this so it’s still a good age
      Have a great week πŸ™‚

  10. Awesome article!
    This looks like a really great way to get younger players to not only learn the the correct playing positions, but also to engage with the lesson, and have a little fun decorating their Footmap.

    Thanks for sharing.
    All the best!

    1. Hi Tim and thanks for your comment.
      With younger students, anything that helps them engage with the lesson and enjoy their practice is worth a go.
      Have a great week and please do let me know if there’s anything I can help you with πŸ™‚

  11. Hi Marketa,
    How cute! I love the idea of putting stickers and personalising the footmap. My daughter currently puts stickers in her note book after each lesson. The footmap is so much prettier and something that she can display and feel proud of. I think we’re going to make one

    thanks in advance and best of luck with your website

    1. Thanks Phil,
      I hope your daughter loves her footmap and enjoys putting her stickers on it. Have a great week and please do let me know if there’s anything else I can help you with πŸ™‚

  12. Hi Marketa

    I’m looking forward to a post about bow hold. I Love the foot map and have made one with my daughter she is enjoying using it and it helps makes a whole lot easier.

    Thank you for sharing, have a great day and all the success, health and happiness that you desire. Take care.

    Kind regards.

    Dean.

    1. Hi Dean,
      I will get onto a bow hold post asap! Thanks for the great idea. Best of luck to your daughter and yourself and please do let me know if there’s anything else I can help you with πŸ™‚

  13. My five-year-old son has recently started to play the violin. His current violin teacher has not yet taught him how to set up his feet properly and I am really happy that I came across this website. Can’t wait to make one with him this weekend and read some more of your posts

    1. Hi Sophia,
      I’m so glad that you’ve found this post useful. Please do check with your son’s teacher as to how she wants him to stand; this is a vital part of beginner technique. Thanks for your comment and please do let me know if there’s anything else I can help with πŸ™‚

  14. Hi Marketa,
    I love the idea of the foot mat. My daughter just started learning violin and I can’t wait to make one with her. I think this will help her a lot!

    -Jemima

    1. I think it will too, Jemima.
      You two will have a great time making and using the footmap. Please do let me know how you go πŸ™‚

  15. I’m not into violin playing, but posture is so important with everything! Proper feet position aids in having good posture putting less stress on the body. This is such a great and cheap way to train the body to stand properly when playing this instrument.

    1. Hi Nicole,
      You’re so right! Did you know that so many violinists end up with injuries in later life? Standing properly and paying attention to posture in the early stages will definitely pay off. Thanks for reaching out and have a great week ahead πŸ™‚

  16. Very good information. Specific posture is important for just about any instrument, but I had no idea that there was a cool technique like this for violin players.

    It makes perfect sense and I can see how one can easily make it more fun for the youngsters with stickers and colored cardboard.

    Great post, thank you!

    1. Thanks Kevin,
      You’re right about posture and it’s definitely something we want to get right early on. Thanks for your feedback and have a great weekend πŸ™‚

  17. I had no idea there was so much to the proper standing position when playing violin. Conversely, you would think that it would be more based on playing the instrument but this is not the case. I really liked this post because it gave me insight to a subtlety of a particular skill I did not know existed. Nice work!

    1. Thanks so much Dave,
      Yes. playing the violin is full of subtle technical issues that can often be addressed/prevented easily. Have a great day and if you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask πŸ™‚

  18. I am so happy I found your site. My 12 year old daughter just began playing violin about 1 month ago.
    This is a definite site that her and I will be enjoying and learning together!

    Thank you so much for all of this information. It will be put to good use.

    Maureen

    1. Thanks so much for your interest in myviolinbff.com, Maureen.
      Please do let me know if there’s anything specific you’d like me to write about as I”m always looking for great new ideas
      Have a great week πŸ™‚

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