Article by the World Renowned Violinist Clayton Haslop.
A few years ago I read a little article having to do
with repetitive movement injuries and instrumental
playing. In the course of it the writer made the
Musicians are the athletes of small muscles.
Yet, if the whole truth be told, we must also master some
pretty large muscles as well. Just think of quick
changes of string between the G and E strings, for
example. These require very precise control of the large
muscles surrounding the shoulder, and in our back.
You see the real story boils down to fine motor control,
whether the muscles behind a movement are small or large.
Now in thinking about this, and having watched and
listened to a very large number of violinists over the
years, I would like to offer an observation.
Consummate fine motor control is not simply about, say,
getting the bow from point A to point B and making it
sound good. This is simply not enough.
For one interested in REAL progress there are a couple of
additional questions that must be answered. One, am I
doing this movement in the most efficient way possible?
And two, will I be able to put it comfortably and easily
within the context of other movements coming before and
This is why, in my ‘Beginners Circle’ course, I have been
so detailed in the descriptions and demonstrations of the
skills underlying violin playing.
In order for you to progress, as I know you want to, you
must become as fully informed as I am when it comes to
In short, a real violinist leaves no room for
inefficiencies and wasted movements – i.e. ‘bad habits’
when he or she prepares for performance.
Yes, getting it right requires a little more patience and
perseverance up front – anything worthwhile in this world
generally does. Yet the payoffs down the road, in
fluency, ease of playing are huge. How could we want it
any other way?
All the best,
P.S. Here’s a link to check out, if ‘taking it from the
top, to the top’ sounds like an idea whose time has come.
Clayton Haslop made his professional solo debut at age 20
under Sir Neville Marriner and the Los Angeles Chamber
Orchestra touring six major cities of the western United
States. These critically acclaimed performances not only
lead to numerous engagements with orchestras, they also
resulted in his being appointed founding violinist of the
Los Angeles Piano Quartet at Marriner’s recommendation.
Haslop is active in the motion picture industry as solo
violinist and concertmaster on such films as Avatar, Up,
The Matrix films, Titanic, Ratatouille, The Curious Case
of Benjamin Button, Star Trek, The Incredibles,
Jurassic Park, Apollo 13, and The Perfect Storm.
As a student Clayton Haslop was coached
extensively by the legendary Nathan Milstein.