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
Founder of myviolinbff.com 🙂