Profiting from a foot massage: this is how!

Using foot rollers

A conscious activity while practising can be combined with a pleasant relaxation at the same time. An effective way to relax while exercising is to use small textured massage rollers: while you are playing, the rollers massage the soles of your feet by moving your legs back and forth. This can be practiced sitting with one or two rollers and standing with one. Basically, it can be done "just like that", that is, regardless of specific projects: Take two rollers and move them back and forth independently of a meter. However, it is advisable to consciously incorporate this relaxation into the concentrated practice and take many advantages with you:

  • rhythm stability,
  • internalizing rhythm,
  • internalizing musically phrases,
  • coordination, 
  • concentration.

This is a way you can start

1. Each foot on its own
The acclimatisation phase, when a person learns to use the roller while playing the violin or viola, can for instance be structured as follows. First shift your chair to the desired place and slip a roller under your foot. Starting slowly, try to perform the backwards and forwards motion in time with the beat, such as in quavers or crotchets. Once your foot is accustomed to rolling, simply put the instrument to your neck and follow the beat. If the player feels fine with that, the roller should be placed under the other foot and the procedure repeated.
2. With both feet
Now both feet can be used at the same time. Initially without any instrument. As soon as you feel fine with this slowly begin playing along to the beat. Once that has been accomplished the fun of experimenting can begin: for instance, you can move your feet in opposite directions or in different rhythms. They can move in synch or out of synch with the violin, and with that the player can begin to adjust their movements to the phrasing.
Advanced players

In this short >>Video<< Wei shows, how advanced players can benefit from using textured massage rollers: phrasing is combined with rhythmic stability and the playing flow. 

Guiding the rollers

Ideally, the foot roller is guided across the entire foot, from tiptoe to heel. The feet can be moved in parallel and opposing directions. When guiding the foot roller, it is important that the speed remains as constant as possible along the entire length of the movement.

Right from the start ...

Laura can be seen here in her first viola lessons: from the beginning she learns the coordination between the bow hand, the grasping hand and the feet.

Advantages for "active" students

We have observed with several children and adolescents that they can concentrate much better and, above all, longer with the rollers. Some of them were simply "physically active" and others were diagnosed with ADHD. This also made it possible for some of them to play together with others at a high level in a chamber music ensemble, which probably wouldn’t have been possible without. 

Different instruments

The principle of working with the foot rollers does not differ between the different instrument groups. The transferability is therefore very high. However, in order for practitioners and teachers to have access to concrete exercises and recommendations, it is worth taking a look at the publications. Further publications are in preparation: we are pleased to inform you about the emaNews

High strings

The following publications use the active insertion of the rollers

Pizzicato-World violin and viola

Arm vibrato

Warm-Up in four steps

Lower strings

We do not yet have a specific collection for use with low strings. So far we have worked with cellists of all skill levels, especially during chamber music rehearsals, using the rollers. The most common concerns related to the fact that after all, the legs have to hold the instrument tightly and should therefore not move unnecessarily. Everyone who has said this to us so far was enthusiastic about the idea afterwards: the legs no longer played a role. However, the different players have developed very different strategies to actually let the rollers "roll".

Recommendation: experiment with the seat height when trying out the rollers.


The use of rollers when playing the piano, for example, in combination with internalizing rhythm and building independence from the right and left hand is very valuable. A collection of practicing ideas you can find on >>studioTSNH<<

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Other instruments

The mentioned principles and ideas can also be transferred to other instruments. We have already worked with singers who tried it out right away, as well as with a harpist and all the winds/brass. The rollers can also be moved while standing: just take one!