New eBook – Fast Fiddle Fitness – Exercises Stretches and Warmups for String Musicians

Fast Fiddle Fitness Violin EditionI have been interested in health for a very long time, but I started thinking about it in terms of playing music when I was a freshman at the University of Evansville attempting to double major in Viola Performance and Computer Engineering.

I had a friend. We’ll call her Suzy. Suzy hadn’t practiced much in high school. She was talented enough to be the principal cellist in her high school orchestra without too much effort. She even made the all-state orchestra her senior year.

She was accepted into the music program at the University, and that’s where the game changed dramatically. Suzy was now expected to practice 2 hours a day, and she certainly didn’t want to let down her professor, so she went from practicing less than a half hour a day to 2 hours daily without even taking the time to ramp up her practice stamina.

And, she certainly wasn’t warming up properly, cooling down, or stretching. She jumped right into rigorous practice, because she wanted to make the most of her time.

The reality was, Suzy’s body couldn’t handle it. She developed tendonitis in her left elbow and dropped her cello major after just one semester.

The crazy thing is that Suzy wasn’t alone. Many of my friends ended up dropping their music majors because they became injured during that first semester of college. In short, their bodies were very angry with them.

Now, as a professional musician, I often have friends who tell me about their physical pains, and I have had some of my own. Thankfully, I have taken pretty good care of myself, and am in better shape today than I was 10 years ago.

I wrote Fast Fiddle Fitness because I saw that in general, musicians don’t take the time to properly care for their bodies. And, without your body, you can’t play a note.

I would like to create a new pattern in music, a pattern where we can all enjoy playing music pain-free for the entirety of our lives.

The warm-ups, cool-downs, stretches, and exercises in Fast Fiddle Fitness, will put you on a path to playing music powerfully and without pain. If you follow the recommendations daily for 6 weeks, I am certain that you will notice a difference in your level of comfort in your body.

And, if you don’t see an improvement, I will be happy to give you your money back.

ps. I have published a Violin and Viola edition of Fast Fiddle Fitness, and there is a Cello edition in the works that will be out soon.

pps. Fast Fiddle Fitness is also available for Free to all members of [my] Talent Forge. And the [my] Talent Forge version includes 2 bonus videos.

pps. I want Fast Fiddle Fitness to help as many people as possible. If you have an overuse injury, and truly cannot afford $9.95. Contact me, and I will get you a copy.

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  1. says

    Physical injury isn't the only hazard faced by a violinist. Mental obsession (and unrealistic expectations) can also destroy your career.

    I was playing professionally during my senior year of high school, and by then I had worked my way up to practicing an average of 4 hours per day. Back when I was a teenager I won some major contests that I probably wouldn't be qualified to even enter now, but I could clearly see that my chances of making a good living as a violinist were pretty slim.

    I backed off from my 4 hours/day practice when I started college, down to an hour a day maximum (2 if I was preparing for performance). I didn't major in music, although I took some of the courses required for a violin performance degree, and I did some gigging (I once landed the part of the fiddler in Fiddler on the Roof).

    I had a friend named Bill who did major in music (he was a higher-level musician than I was), who dropped out of the university after his 3rd semester, after a nervous breakdown. He told me that he had been practicing 4 to 6 hours per day for the past year and a half, and he could no longer stand the thought of even picking up his instrument again. He had failed to meet his own goals (among other things, he wanted to be concertmaster of the UT symphony). He didn't even want to *listen* to music any more. I never saw or heard from him again after that, so I have no idea how things turned out for him.

    In my sophomore year, I went up before my final jury to play an unaccompanied Bach partita. I got an A, and they told me that I did really well, and that they were impressed.

    They added that I would not be allowed to take any more classes in the college of music for credit unless I declared a major in music.

    Recalling Bill's experience, I told them where they could stick that, and did not take any more violin courses. I only practiced sporadically for several years, usually for one of my infrequent gigs. I graduated with a degree in Computer Science, with elective ("almost a major") concentrations in EE, Phyics, and Chemistry.

    I made an excellent living as a programmer, but I have returned to music now, both performing and teaching. In programming, I started encountering age discrimination over 2 decades ago. In music, advanced age is an advantage, not a liability.

    I made a much better living as a programmer than I would have as a violinist for a number of reasons. Plus, I managed to avoid burning out like Bill. And I still enjoy music. A lot.

  2. says

    “Fast Fiddle Fitness” is an excellent resource, Vi! I’ll be recommending it to my students, as well as using it myself. I especially appreciate that you created a stretching routine that warms up & limbers the muscles in only 5 minutes.

    Just last week, I became acutely aware that I have been “cheating myself” out of a proper warm-up lately. (My arm muscles and tendons were getting tight from a really heavy practice and rehearsal schedule). I made a mental note that I need to add stretching and proper finger warm ups & cool downs back into my musical routines. -I didn’t expect to have an effective new approach this quickly!

    Thanks for creating and sharing such a valuable resource!
    -David Wallace

    DISCLAIMER: I’m a teacher & colleague with Vi Wickam at I sincerely and objectively mean the above statements, and I do not gain financially from sales or endorsements of Fast Fiddle Fitness.

  3. Stewart H Holder says

    It may be of interest to look into the books of Kato Havas the Hungarian Violin Pedagogue.
    There are some videos on YouTube and her books are recommended for playing with freedom from anxiety and pain (and playing with a beautiful unforced tone).
    Hope this may be of help to someone out there. Kato has helped me since 1994 after a head injury resulting in some lasting brain damage.

    • says

      Thanks for the information, Steward, I will check her out. I’m always into learning more. When we stop learning, we might as well be dead. 😉

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