When you begin a practice session, you might find yourself wondering if it would be best to sit or stand. You might especially wonder if it is even okay to practice violin sitting down. Well, the truth is, there are benefits (and disadvantages) to both standing and sitting! It simply depends on the type of practice session and what you are trying to accomplish. Let’s break it down!
The benefits of sitting when practicing
One of the clearest advantages you have when playing the violin sitting down is comfort. Sitting tends to be more comfortable than standing. Your feet get a rest, and the position is generally less tiring. In my experience, I’ve found it easier to spend longer periods of time practicing when I am sitting down. Thus, sitting can be a good idea if you’re a bit tired when beginning a practice session.
Marking your sheet music
In addition, sitting can give you more freedom to make notes in your music as you practice. Personally, I like to have my pencil handy on my music stand when I am learning a relatively new piece of music. When I want to write in a fingering, bowing, or some other note to myself, I simply rest my violin and bow in my lap while I mark my music. This is harder to do when standing, since you may not have somewhere to easily put your violin down. Alternatively, if you try to mark your music with just one hand, your music stand can often move without the support from your other hand. Having an easy way to get your hands free makes this a far less frustrating process.
When I like to sit
I tend to sit down specifically when I am learning a new piece. In the beginning, I often feel like I am studying the piece as much as playing it, and sitting feels like a more natural study-position. Plus, I feel more focused and prepared to make the numerous markings that are often needed when starting a new piece.
The disadvantages of sitting when practicing
Less freedom of motion
Though we have seen so far that it is okay to practice violin sitting down, this posture can actually have some disadvantages for your violin playing as well. In fact, I always require my students to stand for their performances. This is partly because standing allows for much more freedom in your violin-playing motions. This is especially true for the bow arm!
For example, when playing on the E string, the bow hand often needs to descend below your hips (unless you have an extremely long torso!). And if you are sitting, unfortunately your legs will get in the way. This leaves just two choices: either you leave some space between your legs for the path of the bow (this is easier for men than women for obvious reasons…) or you awkwardly twist your torso so the bow will pass to the right of your thighs.
Of course, violinists do need to know how to deal with this problem! Violin players in orchestras always sit down, and they all have their own way of managing the legs-in-the-way issue. But there’s no disputing that standing gives the bow arm much more freedom since you don’t need to worry about accidentally hitting your thighs as you play higher pitches.
Unfortunately, it can be easy to assume a slouched posture when you are sitting down. It is far easier to slouch when sitting than it is when standing. This is why I often make my students stand in their lessons, because a chair automatically makes them want to lean lazily backwards. If you are prone to slouching, standing might be the better option for you. Or you might prefer a stool, though it is still possible to slouch!
Bad for performance preparation
One of the best times NOT to sit while practicing is when you are preparing for a solo performance. When you are playing in a recital or other solo situation, it is always best to stand. Violinists are more visible and pronounced when they stand. Think of it this way: if you were watching a speaker, would you feel a more powerful presence from that person if they were sitting or standing? Standing communicates confidence and is simply the proper way to perform as a solo violinist. So, if a performance is approaching, get used to standing by practicing that way at home! You’ll feel much more confident standing on stage!
(Side note: The only person who gets a pass on this one is Itzhak Perlman, one of the best violinists in the world! Sadly, he lost the ability to walk when he caught polio as a child, so he always plays sitting down. Check him out here.)
So, if you came here wondering if it is okay to practice your violin sitting down, I hope you now have a better understanding of when it is and isn’t useful! There is no black-and-white answer, and it really depends on your own situation. If you have a performance that is approaching, standing while you practice might help you feel more confident when you’re actually on stage. However, if you are just starting a new piece, sitting might provide a more focused position.
Either way, definitely remember that whether you are sitting or standing, it is never okay to slouch! And it is much easier to stand up straight than sit up straight, so if you are prone to bad posture, standing is probably your best bet.
Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments below! I hope I have helped you just a little on your violin journey!