February 6, 2012 at 2:39 AMI've been spending a little bit of time each day practicing without my SR. It is starting to become not necessarily more comfortable, but more familiar. Downshifting is something I can still only do if I have several beats of rests to do it in, and vibrato - well, that just ain't happening at the moment.
What I have noticed is that my "chin-clench" is ever so slowly disappearing as I learn my balance point, my elbow is coming around more towards the right, and things are generally becoming more open and not as tense and tight.
In quartet rehearsal today, the 1st violinist and I challenged each other to play the entire first movement without a SR. He was able to up and downshift with seemingly ease, I resorted to playing everything in first position, but I did it. My thumb was sore as heck from holding the instrument up, but my neck was still relaxed. Our 2nd violinist noted how much more powerful my viola sounded, something that I noticed but wasn't sure if it was just because I was holding up on my shoulder more or not.
Am I willing to ditch my SR permanently yet? No, but I'm willing to continue experimenting playing without it to see what happens next.
I will always need one, for ease of playing.
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