Violin Wobble Without Shoulder Rest
So I have followed the whole shoulder rest vs no shoulder rest discussion and have recently decided to try to learn how to play without one. But I have come across a couple problems (naturally) from this.
1. I can't hold the violin up using just the neck and shoulder. It just slips down in front of me.
2. Shifting has gotten more difficult and vibrato is almost impossible.
3. Lastly, every time I place my fingers down on the E or G strings the violin 'wobbles' it goes down the comes back up after the pressure is released.
Did you experience this when you were learning violin? I would prefer to be able to play without a shoulder rest but should I not bother?
Some folks play better without a SR, and are very proud of the fact.
Something like a chamois leather on your shoulder should solve 1.
In the past 55 years of playing music with other people on at least a weekly basis, I am the only one I have seen play the violin without a shoulder rest - and I have only done that about 10% of that time.
What Andrew said.
No reason to avoid a rest if your playing works well with one, and you like it - as Mary Ellen said, top players in my generation and younger use one aplenty. If you have a stable equilibrium that you are technically and musically happy with, fine, why mess with it?
First of all, have you thought about using a different chin rest? Have you thought about a higher chin rest if you're going to go restless? I agree with others that if playing with a shoulder rest is the only way for you to play with ease and comfort, do it. Alternatively, maybe a sponge or pad might be a compromise.
Right. Some good points brought up so far.
Thanks, Francis that really helped me to understand more about not using an SR. Craig, I did feel a little restricted from the SR which is why I wanted to try without it! I'm just experimenting with what works for me since I haven't been playing very long. Ella, I do want to get a different type of chin rest, but I live in Africa in the middle of nowhere, but I am trying to get one, its just taking a while. (also new strings).
Mary Ellen Goree wrote, "I do not understand the mania for going restless against all evidence to the contrary. You might find it instructive to go to YouTube and look up videos of professional soloists and professional orchestras. Take note of how many players at the highest level are using a shoulder rest."
I would like just to note that in my opinion, although watching performers, top ones included, may be helpful and insightful, the combination of movements is too difficult and subtle to observe in their entirety and variety. Even more difficult to emulate.
I'm fascinated by the idea that some people think that using a shoulder rest is wrong in some way. I had not encountered this until I became a member here.
Ryan, have you ever experimented with a taller chin rest?
I've seen them but I've never felt compelled to try one, mostly because I feel perfectly comfortable using a shoulder rest. They look awkward to me.
A taller chin rest can help, but I think there's a limit as to how tall chin rests are crafted. I think having to support the violin with the left arm slightly is totally acceptable.
I recall when an excellent teacher or mine wanted me to try going restless. She looked at me and my violin and decided I should get the Menuhin SR instead. My shoulder and collarbone were thinner then - I was skinny. Fast forward years of developing upper body muscle and strength through various activities and the loss of lower body mobility. Recently found I can play comfortably restless. If I’m playing with my kid, no SR is fine. if I’m playing difficult pieces for a long time, I like having my SR for support.
Totally agree with Jane. Playing restless is largely anatomy and posture dependent. The violin (or viola for that matter) should rest on the collarbone/chest region and not on the top of the shoulder. Otherwise, you are restricted and uncomfortable due to the left shoulder joint being locked and clothing seams cutting into your shoulder by the pressure of the violin and shoulder rest.
"A key point is that the violin rests on the collarbone" -- Amen, amen, amen.
..And if your collarbone is too discreet to provide secure support, you can try the scarf passing behind the tailgut.
Is playing restless anatomy-dependent or technique dependent? Before shoulder rests were invented, weren't there players with varied anatomies? Also aren't there also players with similar anatomies some who prefer with shoulder rest and others (I think fewer) who prefer restless?
In case anyone is interested: here's a video I made going over essential techniques and postures to understand when playing without SR: https://youtu.be/vxkfBNC32wk
"Indeed, but garments often had, and still have, padded shoulders, collars, lapels, etc."
For sure wobble good, fixed bad!
Christiaan's technique was used by Menuhin later on. Their hands, especially the thumbs, seem to allow this .
A lot of what he says in the video can be done with a shoulder rest. i.e. freedom to move the instrument and have your head off the chin rest.
Sure, as long as you hold up the violin with the left arm and not the neck it can be pretty similar!
Christiaan - it is great that you are not dogmatic about this subject, as I hope I'm not. It's a pleasure to exchange views in such a civilised manner. I hope people can discuss instruments (old and new) in the same way.
Haha, thanks. I actually play all my concerts on a 1200 dollar Chinese instrument. It sounds wonderful and plays super easy. I've played old Italian instruments and new Italian masters and you know what, I sound pretty much the same on all of them!
Yes, that's what i think too. It's the player that produces the sound. Last night I heard a terrific violinist in a lecture recital (Emile Sauret Etudes-caprices - even harder than Paganini caprices). She was playing on a Strad violin owned originally by Sauret and loaned for the recordings she's doing of the works. It had a lovely rich mellow sound. Not dissimilar to a lot of top modern fiddles.