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The Importance of Stretching by Ivo Jan van der Werff

We have to remember that as violists, we are athletes. Not perhaps always in the sense that we go running every day or go to the gym (though that is a pretty good thing to do!), but in the way that especially the fingers of our left hand have to be athletic. They have to be strong, quick, flexible and accurate. The following exercise is one that I encourage my students to do before any “real” playing. Any athlete does warm ups to literally warm up the body, help its flexibility, and, most importantly, to help prevent injury.

The notes after the exercise explain that you should never over stretch or go through the pain barrier. The idea is to stretch the fingers in the given patterns gently, without undue force.

Even if your practice time is really limited, it is still worth doing these exercises if only to help keep the left hand in good, flexible condition. If your hand lacks flexibility, then no matter how much you practice scales, etudes, etc, they will not improve as much as you might hope. Stretching in this way helps condition the fingers so they can manage the technical issues we encounter.

Stretching Exercise


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