Hi, the topic is not clear cut as Im not sure of the origin of the proble..so bear with me.
I've recently been experiencing pain in my shoulder and neck, and its not just limited to when i play...rather after I play and the day after. Specifically, the area between my right shoulder and neck and the upper base of my neck (Alost in line with the bottom of my ears, where the head and the neck meet I guess) , more so on the right side but also, lesser, the left side. I sometimes suspect that it is a compound pain rising from the bowing arm as well as from the head itself in relation to the violin. this has been going on for a week or two now. I practice around 1:30 to 2 hours a day, 6 days a week. so its not a very long duration.
My teacher and I have recently been focusing on making me play with the violin facing less to the left, bringing the violin closer to the bow arm. this has improved my tone and, aside from the pain, Im happy with progress Ive been making and I certainly do not want to stop playing. I dont play with a shoulder rest and I dont think that is the reson (I dont Hitch my left shoulder up, I dont find it tough holding the violin up or shifting).
Its difficult to get down to the core reason but I suspect that my chin rest, side mounted, is not helping...so Ive been thinking of getting a custom made center mounted chin rest or a Kréddle chin rest. Has anyone had experience with the Kréddle and do they recommend it? Aside from the Kréddle, the other option is getting someone her ein Montréal to make a chin rest.
I follow Simon Fischers advice in turning the head then lowering it and not doing it diagonally but to no avail...and my chin rests on the left side of the chin rest which isnt where its cup is.
the pain is sometimes bad enough that it hurts getting off the bed, raising my arms to dress, etc.
Any advice would be appreciated.
Edited to add videos of me playing:
I suggest going to a physical therapist and taking your instrument with you so that they can see what you're doing. They'll get 5 or 10 minutes of a free concert and you'll leave with four or five exercises that you can do to increase your range of motion, soothe tension, and strengthen the muscles that are used to keep your spine aligned properly so that bone does not impinge on nerve. I had neck strain a year ago from too much viola practicing. I had to stop practicing for a month and get physical therapy. My PT explained exactly what was happening to me anatomically and her exercises worked beautifully and I have not relapsed since then.
Another option might be to post some videos of your playing, and someone here might be able to diagnose the issue rather quickly.
Not knowing the OP or teacher I cannot offer judgement as to what they do or don't know. But I do know what I do and don't know. And one of the things I know from 79 years of violin playing is that the seemingly most insignificant, tiny things can have devastating effects on one's playing and on pain!
I recommend trying a variety of chin rests and picking your favourite design in addition to the above suggestions.
I am sure that if you used SR, we would advise you NOT to use it.
Sorry to hear that.
Your description fits my case 100%.
Youre all very kind in giving advise and I took up David's suggestion as it really is more fair to give an accurate illustration of how I play.
Remember that your decision to use a shoulder rest or not largely depends on physique (except Baroque/early/historic performance, which requires you to go restless).
I saw a huge gap between your collarbone and the violin. Unless you are extremely comfortable playing with only the support of your left hand, where you feel at ease and secure (even during big shifts from first to highest position) without worrying to drop the violin while you play, else looks like you could benefit from a SR.
Hi Kevin. Actually the violin feels secure there, the only moments of insecurity is when i lower my chin or jaw to support the violin (i dont press either) and the chinrest is not properly shaped being tgat i descend towards tail piece. I suspect a big problem is there, the shape and height of the chin rest. It doesnt need to be too high either, i just need it to take my jawbone during shifts and vibratos (which im still not serious about as we're working on more basic things). When i played with a shoulder rest, i seriously disliked how i had to always fiddle with it and ot never really gave me a big advantage in terms of shifting.
"the pain is sometimes bad enough that it hurts getting off the bed, raising my arms to dress, etc"
Similar issue here. I had pain that ran down my right collar bone. Saw the doc and he has sent me for therapy. One thing, weird as it may be, that has helped a lot was moving to sleep on a hard surface. 80% better almost immediately. Started therapy and now it is almost gone all together. That is until I sleep on a soft surface, then it starts up again. As for the neck, I had whiplash a few years back so it is always acting up a little- hard to tell if it is because of the violin or just because of the whiplash. The doc had no suggestions.
The youtube vids look as if the neck and chin are having to do some work to keep the violin from falling. (If you relase the chin and the fiddle crashes to the ground, that is a clue!)
From the second video, it looks like you may be raising your left shoulder to support the violin. For me, this was a very difficult habit to overcome. I realize that you are mostly experiencing the pain on the opposite side, but this still might have something to do with it.
Okay so you don't like playing with a shoulder rest, and I get that your reason is that you don't want yet one more thing to deal with.
Thank you very much all. I will read your posts carefully and try to study how to apply your advice. Ive given myself a few days off to see whether it is the violin playing that is at the root of this but I suspect it is as the ache is less acute now. Christian thank so much for the through analysis. Same to Paul, David, john,all really. Yixi, I might end up seeing someone but Id like try a few things first in terms of setup and technique (per the advice here).
Tammuz, if the pain persists and affects the range of your arm mobility, as a fellow Canadian and former nurse, I have to urge you to book an appointment with a doctor, who might order some tests for you. It's free and worth the trouble. If you don't have a regular GP, you should be able to go to one of those walk-in clinics. Hopefully, it's just soft issue injuries. A certified physiotherapist can help you better with test result and doctor's advice, as she/he would have a better idea about your injury and where exactly the spots need work. Violin playing could be the root of the problem but apparently the injury has occurred to the extent that it affects mobility. You should deal with it properly without delay. Sorry to nag you like this, but I've been there myself a few years ago.
yes, listen to Yixi.... there are blood vessels and nerves placed under the collar bone. If neglected and compressed, this could lead to more serious issues than violin playing!
I'd do a combination of both.
Many good advices from others and very thorough.
Work this out with your teacher. There are too many variables to solve this on a chat board. It could be as simple as new muscles involved when you moved to violin to the right, or as complex as some bow motion. Your teacher is your best resource on this one.
Very nice and insightful thread! I actually admire Tammuz's posture (and your playing is not bad with brisk use of the bow!, but listen to Christian!) but indeed the only thing that may be worrisome is that you are fixing/forcing your neck. Like others I believe that's probably where the problem is. I actually don't think you are raising your left shoulder, but, playing without a shoulder rest, you are indeed required to bring your shoulder to the front (without really raising it, this is actually advised by Raphael Klayman, so what Christian is saying and what Klayman is saying contradicts each other, as always there may be different routes for different people). anyway the pain is hurting your life so if I were you I'd stop playing for a few weeks... by the way practicing for more than an hour each day is not so little. if you want without a shoulder rest, you probably have to step back a bit and start practicing with your head off the violin. professor Bruce Berg has reported here earlier that he had to practice a lot on playing with the head off. in the end you should only really need to touch your violin for downward shifts and intense vibrato. a final hint, for downward shifts, move the thumb back first so that the support of your violin remains while shifting down. all my best wishes!
small extra: you should also make sure that it is not simply a matter of where your music is on the stand, if your stand is too low or otherwise badly positioned and you practice for an hour, perhaps unaware of it, forcing your body or neck to look at the music. sorry for the bad grammar!
Also, consider a wedge.... search this site for my comments and link to other web site how to make it. The beauty of that solution is that it is inexpensive, you can make it in no time and can move it along the violin's back until you find the best placement. I use it in combination with Shar's cosmetic pad - the later to cover CR clamps at the centre, while wedge sits somewhat diagonally. With SR.... the problem is in their shape and rigidity - one has to try quite a few in order to find the one, but it does not allow for changing the tilt often no freedom on the horizontal dimension. With the wedge it moves a bit until it stops at the best position - it also bends enough to accommodate your collar bone. After trying many shoulder rests, I found this to be the best solution for my physique - both for violin and viola! hth.
Thank you all for the advice. I really appreciate how generous everyone here is with their time and with their will to help others.
I m in montreal and know peter purich if u need to reach him
Thank you Denis :). Ive got an appointment with him this week. Im looking forward to it. Im glad to hear of yet another recommendation. I first came across his name in searching threads on this forum.
Tammuz, since everyone else is giving their opinions, I will as well. As a fellow adult beginner (playing about 5 years so far), I tried using shoulder rests for a while. Tried many different types, adjusted the beejeepers out of them trying to get things "just right", not to mention another important factor, which is to get a chin rest that is of a correct height for your neck. Even after all that, using a SR always gave me neck pain.
Denis Cheng, would it be possible to email you (or you email me)? My contact is on profile page.Thanks
I noticed that your chin is on the chin rest, and contrary to the name, use more of your jaw.
Violin master i think this to sone extent a symptom; it occurs partially because of bringing the violin more towards me (as per my teacher's instructions) and consequentially due to the chin rest I have. Putting my jaw on it would mean violin goes to the left side (with or without shoulder rest).
How much one uses the jaw vs. chin depends on the shape and angle of the collarbone, and position as tammuz says. You can't use the jaw if doing so simply pushes the fiddle flat and falling off the other side of the clavicle.
Hi Tammuz, I can't seem to be able to contact you from this site. My email is
Thank you Denis. I sent ou an email.
Highly recommend you seek out an Alexander Technique (or Feldenkrais) practitioner to help you identify where and when you are creating excessive tension and learning to inhibit them.
I agree with Dorian that CR-SR setup doesn't solve discomfort issues 100%. There are so many variables. In my personal experience, though, most good violin teachers will teach you to play without unnecessary tension.
Er, I don't think one should blame the teachers :-) I've heard that injuries commonly occur among students in Juilliard and Curtis, where they have the best teachers in the world.
@Jeewon Kim - I tried the Feldenkrais to get rid of neck pain - 5 minutes and the nagging neck pain is gone. I'm sold and will be trying the other exercises.
We all struggle so much !! If in serious doubt/tied in knots/tension :