Neck/shoulder pain

Edited: December 3, 2017, 5:43 PM · 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:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wy4M5NsD4eA

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=e6XQc_5Dink

Replies (45)

Edited: December 3, 2017, 12:32 PM · 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.
December 3, 2017, 1:41 PM · Another option might be to post some videos of your playing, and someone here might be able to diagnose the issue rather quickly.
Edited: December 3, 2017, 2:10 PM · 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!

Why is your teacher having you move the violin facing less to the left?
Do you have short arms?
Do you have small hands?
What kind of chinrest do you use?
Has a competent luthier assessed the width and cross section of your violin's neck? The neck cross section should be elliptical and not a semi-circle. 28 years ago I had a neck injury that was probably due to this problem with a new violin and the three herniated cervical (neck) disks that resulted paralyzed several parts of my left arm and hand and forced me to give up playing chin instruments completely for a full year. My neurosurgeon told me to wait before he would consider surgery and that there was no exercise to help my problem. Fortunately I was able to relieve the paralysis (buzz) after 6 months, but my arm vibrato never recovered and the wrist vibrato that now substitutes is still pretty weak in 1st position. Nerve connections from my brain (I presume) to my left-hand fingers (3 & 4) continued to be uncertain for several more years.

In my own years of playing I have been through a number of different chinrest designs, although the one I settled on in my 30s is still good for me 50 years later. Since finding my perfect chin rest II have played with and without shoulder rests and found that my body tells me when to use a shoulder rest, when to pick a different style (at least for a while) and when to not use one at all.

Paul's idea sounds pretty good to me. You should not fool around with this!

December 3, 2017, 2:14 PM · I recommend trying a variety of chin rests and picking your favourite design in addition to the above suggestions.
Edited: December 3, 2017, 2:48 PM · I am sure that if you used SR, we would advise you NOT to use it.
In this case, my advice is: use the SR..
Jokes aside, your teacher is in the best possible position to do a proper assessment of your posture, violin and bow hold and recommend changes.I second Paul's recommendation to see a physiotherapist specialized in working with musicians, preferably string players, ideally violin / viola players.
Pain is always a message - you are doing something wrong or are not doing something.
At the end of the day, if you bring more awareness into your body sensation / posture, you could solve this problem on your own. Alas, that is the most difficult part of the process!
One way would be to go to exreemes for a very short time and pay attention to what happens.
For example:
Very hight CR, lower, the lowest, no CR.
Very high setup of SR, lower, the lowest, no SR.
You could also pick-up a viola - it will show you it 30 minutes what are you doing wrong - you will not be able to play at all! Then pick up your fiddle toy and find out what is missing.
...

December 3, 2017, 2:59 PM · Sorry to hear that.

I am not a shoulder rest fan. Nevertheless if you support the violin mainly with the chin rather than mainly on the hand you may need a shoulder rest. I did try for a while supporting the instrument with the chin, without a shoulder rest, and it whilst it did work, up to a point, it was not comfortable. If you are supporting the instrument mainly with the left hand, then something else must be causing a problem.

Edited: December 3, 2017, 4:04 PM · Your description fits my case 100%.
I went through a lengthy process to resolve the problem.
1) find the right chin rest
- and make sure the height and cup suits your playing position.
2) then find the right shoulder rest (I used to play with foam pad as it’s comfortable, but ended up changing to a korfker given its adjustability. I own all others.
- believe it or not, the model and adjustment matters too. It’s as complicated as selecting a CR
3) last but not least, the posture.
- I got into many bad habit with previous set up, and used extra unnecessary pressure from time to time. Eg. Vibrato and shifts. Your teacher should be able to spot this for you.

I went through weeks of classes with my teacher to resolve this problem. Often times the entire class was drawing long bow with vibrato, or shifting up and down with simple notes. she would try to spot tense muscles or imbalanced postures. Until she thinks I can play really comfortably with close to zero unecceasry pressure on the unwanted muscle (shoulder, thumb, upper arm, lower arm. Often times the bowing arms too as tense muscle at one spot will affect both side)

Then wa la, no more neck pain from right shoulder and neck joints. The pain I had even extended down to a tense upper back along the spine.

You could check out Alexander technique if it’s available in your area.

Edited: December 3, 2017, 5:07 PM · 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.

First thing first, ive had a couple of years of violin study then stopped s few years ago and now back to it since 2-3 months.so in no way am i advanced nor do i wish to convey that image. Second, i really cringe at the thought of being in front of a camera but this is for a good reason. Third, please forgive me for massacring Vivaldi then Wolfhart. :)

Im very glad to read your suggestions or advice.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wy4M5NsD4eA

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=e6XQc_5Dink

Ps if i move around a bit, this is just to give you more angles to view me from...im not so hyperactive normally :)


December 3, 2017, 8:40 PM · 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).
Edited: December 3, 2017, 8:48 PM · 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.

The key is total relaxation and comfort, one tense muscle will lead to many others.

December 3, 2017, 9:03 PM · 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.
Admittedly, the base of my left hand thumb also tenses up ...but im not sure this has to do with presence or absence of the SR. im just unappy that there is needless tension as sometimes i can feel how easy things can be until i tense up for whatevrr reason. Then of cpurse there is this mysterious neck problem.
December 3, 2017, 9:43 PM · "the pain is sometimes bad enough that it hurts getting off the bed, raising my arms to dress, etc"
Tammuz, this sounds serious. Have you checked with a doctor for this? Just to rule out any issues that may not be violin related.
December 3, 2017, 11:08 PM · 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.

Anyway, good luck pinpointing the problem- hope it works out for you.

Edited: December 4, 2017, 2:58 AM · 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!)

I learned from v.com, the idea that the violin should be balanced without any of that effort (though you need a little chin grip on the downshift). It is explained at http://www.violinist.com/discussion/archive/5745/ (search for Milstein Master Classes in Zurich). What Lisa said there about the instrument being balanced, took a bit of practice and personal guidance.

(Another former poster, Emily, learned this from Lisa: see http://www.violinist.com/discussion/archive/11762/ and search for 'When I teach my beginning students to shift,' a thread worth reading).

When you are in higher position you could probably do more with the left palm to support the instrument? It is hard to see how much contact you have. There is nice a view of a fine fiddler (Milstein) making good use of the left hand to support the instrument from third position up in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQjzKVkFqag. Milstein's neck is free and the instrument does not fall when he removes his chin from the rest (also in the video of his Tchiakovsky concerto), so you his comfort with the instrument was not just because he a short neck: the instrument was nicely balanced as well. Admittedly that is easier said than done :-)

(I know there was a theory that supportive contact between hand and bout restrict movement and vibrato, and is a bad idea: I was taught that idea before the days of youtube, when the availability videos like that proved us mistaken.)

December 4, 2017, 2:54 AM · 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.
December 4, 2017, 5:20 AM · 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.

But I'm sorry to say that from your videos it sure looks like you could use one. Here's why. The "chin rest" is a misnomer. It's really a jaw rest. But your chin is planted squarely on yours and I can see from the tension in your whole face and forehead that you're bearing down on it mightily. You don't have wide (front-to-back) shoulders and you don't have the big squishy jowls of a Perlman or an Oistrakh. So if you're going to play restless then you need to find a chin rest into which your jaw can nestle even if it means rotating your head slightly, and you'll need to let your left hand do more of the work holding up your instrument. I also don't want to controvert your teacher, but from your physique I don't see why you want your violin more in front of you instead of toward the side.

Edited: December 4, 2017, 1:39 PM · Hi,

A little in a rush, but I took a quick look at your Vivaldi video. Here is what I can see, and some suggestions to investigate things and hopefully reduce your pain.

1- You are pressing the neck/chin into the violin. Your head can rest on the violin, but there should be no pressing in. It should be released. This can cause stiffness in the muscles of the neck and shoulders which will lead to pain.
2- You are pressing the thumb and the fingers into the bow. You need to release the right hand, and use the weight of your arm sitting on the bow, which sits on the string. The tension can cause inflammation higher up in the arm up to the neck and shoulders.
3- As a result of pressing the thumb/fingers into the bow, you're elbow is not moving freely in the détaché, and locks creating a movement from the shoulder that can lead to inflammation due to the repetitive movement.
4- You are bowing from the shoulder instead of the forearm/elbow. This swinging of the shoulder can lead to inflammation. In your case, releasing the right hand, and making sure that you lead from the elbow and not the shoulder should help.
5- Your right shoulder is up instead of sitting down. The right shoulder should be sitting down at all times. A raised shoulder can create the problems you describe.
6- You lead with the shoulder up on "up-bows". In essence, there is no such thing as an up-bow. The bow moves laterally out-and-in, and that movement should be lead by the elbow/forearm, not the shoulder. The shoulder should stay down and actually comes in at the frog in the last 1/4 to 1/3 of the bow (depending on the geometry of the arm). Keeping the shoulder down, and avoiding and up-shoulder on "up-bows" and drop on "down-bows" should help to reduce the pain.
7- On the left side, in bringing the violin more to the front, you are bringing in your left shoulder with it. Regardless of where you put the violin, the shoulders should be open. A closing of the shoulder is usually symmetrical and a bringing in of the left shoulder will more often cause problems for the right one as it moves more, and becomes constricted, which can lead to inflammation.

Hope this helps you diagnose and solve your issues.

Cheers!

Edited: December 4, 2017, 11:28 AM · 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).

In passing, does anyone know how to get in touch with Peter Purich (being that Im in Montreal and I read his name mentiinned here on v.com)? I tried phoning and emailing but so far no response, I dont know if I have the right info. He's a violinist/violists who is also a luthier who makes custom made chin rests.

Again thanks for your kindness

Edited: December 4, 2017, 1:52 PM · 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.
December 4, 2017, 3:13 PM · 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!
December 4, 2017, 5:36 PM · I'd do a combination of both.
December 5, 2017, 9:06 AM · Many good advices from others and very thorough.
I had exact same problem and I strongly suggest asking your teacher and spend some time correcting the posture and setup (chinrest and shoulder rest).

I believe this would solve your problem.
I could only practice 30min and I would have neck pain with wrong setup (which I also felt and thought was comfortable). But after spending a lot of time correcting setup, I could practice 1-2 hours without tense muscle. Big difference and I strongly suggest you do so. (It takes time to find the right chinrest and shoulder rest setup). And it’s very personal. Even Mutter spent years to find what’s best for her, and so did Hilary Hahn.

December 5, 2017, 10:19 AM · 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.
December 6, 2017, 5:02 AM · 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!
Edited: December 6, 2017, 6:42 AM · 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!

my own way of avoiding this is turn away from the music when practicing a passage and phrase because you have that memorized quickly.

Edited: December 6, 2017, 4:28 PM · Tamuz_
I agree with those who say try a shoulder rest. this may enable you to
move the fiddle around. It seems it has to be in one position. With a should er rest you could at least experiment with swinging her up and down and round about - every direction you can think of
and shooting the scroll in lots of different directions.- Seeing what that does to tension /excessive holding . _ Still get rid of the shoulder rest if you want - but at least you get to try out all different angles and planes and effects of gravity etec etc . It looks kind of gingerly fixed , so it won't fall, and perhaps with tension there too, certainly
for your neck and chin. Throw everything around as much as possible and see what works best then choose to do what works best. And works best for what too? Don't forget that !!! So you want a clean typ-ewriter passage in Vivaldi or something - what do you need physically or anatomically for that . You want a burst of gypsy passion - you might need very different parameters.

I still have difficulty with my shoulder , left one, too. I broke it years ago,and the NHS let it fix completely wrong (though i told them
it was setting wrong) - so the broken ends are not lined up ,
but one branch is on top of the other. It is quite near my chin where the skin obrtrudes where the bones are parallel , then there is a sargasso sea of nothing till the collar bone re-emerges quite near my (left ) Shoulder. Anyone had any similar problems? There is tendency for my collar bone to push the violin out and away. Does that occur with a normal collar bone? I have thought of trying to play on my right shoulder and see if that is better. My hold of the violin just does not
, even after years and years - feel easy/natural/completely effortless/unforced/and conducive to instantaneous translation of musical impulse to realization in sound. As somebody said above TINY things can make a massive difference to playing . I now definitely believe that.
A small opening in jungle -growth can lead you into unsuspected
glades of light .

Edited: December 6, 2017, 5:56 PM · 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.
Edited: December 7, 2017, 5:14 AM · 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 am reading everything here and taking note. Ive stopped playing as well and its starting to feel better...so I have good reason to believe it really was my violin playing that was at the root of this. I've also started going back to gym to do light exercises.

I've booked an appointment with a luthier/violin player here who specializes in setups for musiciens (professional and other) who have such problems. I described my situation (and I sent him my videos, thank you very much David Burgess that was great advice on more than one front). MY impression is that my problem is far from unique and that setup then technique is at the root of it. About with or without shoulder rest; he mentioned that it depends on the technique that goes with the choice. So Ill wait and see about that. He gave me the exact advice you gave me jean (dubuission). He said not to let my chin -or jaw- rest on the violin until we sort this out.

Yixi, ROcky (and the others) I deeply appreciate your advice about seeing a health professional. Im going to follow this trajectory: Rest-Light exercises without playing-fix setup-practice lightly with emphasis on finding a better technique....
if after a week or two the pain persists, I will see a specialist. but the pain is already fainter than before ever since I stopped playing (a couple of days). if the pain doesn't disappear or if it resurges, I will definitely go see a health specialist.

Sylvain Moir Im very sorry to hear that your shoulder had been broken and not properly fixed. I hope it doesn't give you pain.

Thanks Rocky. I just googled the original article. I think this is the link
http://nicole.guery.free.fr/anglais/Music/art-of-playing-violin.html

December 6, 2017, 7:07 PM · http://www.elizabethwallfisch.com/page13.htm
Edited: December 7, 2017, 1:19 AM · I m in montreal and know peter purich if u need to reach him

There are not so many teachers here who can teach how to play without shoulder rest in a healthy way..He s one of the few..

Beware, there are a few teachers here who teach a very tense way of playing without a shoulder rest. They are great players, but they re either genetically lucky, or will one day be crippled. I know one guy who had to switch to shoulder rest because he came from the tense school of no shoulder rest

Edited: December 7, 2017, 5:21 AM · 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.

Yes Roxy. It's the same article (on googling, the link i found was to page 5 rather than page 3 of her website..i tried that and didnt get anywhere so i googled the text and came across the other site). Great idea. Thank you.

Edited: December 7, 2017, 8:36 AM · 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.

I attribute that to simple physics--using a shoulder rest is fantastic for removing the weight of the instrument from your left hand, a marvelous innovation. However a shoulder rest does not actually remove that load, it simply transfers it somewhere else---to your head/neck.

So, then we are confronted with the concept of playing without a SR. That can be very nice as there are no constraints to finding an optimal violin angle relative to your body and bow. There's no contraption strapped to the back of your fine instrument, etc, etc...

But the violin is all curves and is rather slick. Playing without a SR can lead to a feeling of insecurity. Most especially the neck of the violin feels like it is going to slide down off its' position on your left thumb due to the constant pull of gravity (this feeling occurs even with using a SR, I've found). So, the advice is to "gently" counteract this by "lightly" supporting the neck of the violin with the base of the first finger. For most mere mortals not named Yehudi Menuhin, this "light" support turns into tension, or even the dreaded "death grip", or some other type of hand contortion to prevent the feeling of slippage.

My solution was none of the above. I developed a new left hand aid that transfers the support of the violin off of the thumb and directly down into the body of the left hand. There is no way for the violin to slip down as the space is taken up, allowing the left hand to relax.

It's a totally new concept, so those who already have adapted to whatever style they now play (with or without a SR) may scratch their head and not see the need. But as a beginner myself, this has certainly aided me in finding my own sense of balance with the instrument. At one time the chinrest was a new concept, as well as the now seemingly ubiquitous shoulder rest. I hope that my innovation may too prove to be an aid to those learning to play. Whether it acts as simply a set of "training wheels" temporarily to get the feel of playing without left hand tension. Either with a SR, or as an alternative to a SR altogether. Time will tell.

So, here it is:

Edited: December 7, 2017, 5:47 PM · Denis Cheng, would it be possible to email you (or you email me)? My contact is on profile page.Thanks
December 7, 2017, 10:17 PM · I noticed that your chin is on the chin rest, and contrary to the name, use more of your jaw.
Edited: December 8, 2017, 6:37 AM · 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).
Of course the other reasons being my own technique as Christian Vachon and others have kindly pointed out and given me things to work on.
December 8, 2017, 7:08 AM · 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.

tammuz, you have a lot of great advice already. After you've determined whether there's a serious problem, I'd suggest getting a feel for what neutral is. One exercise you might try is to get a friend to snatch the fiddle away from you as you play. When the fiddle is out of the way, you'll suddenly become aware of what unnecessary tensions you hold in your neck and shoulders and spine. Check how you hold your body from toes, ankles, knees, hips (rotations, but especially pelvic tilt--if you have a posterior tilt, 'tucked' tail, slouchy shoulders, you may be pulling your whole spine down and if at the same time you're trying to stand straight, great internal tension results), lower back/lumbar spine, upper back/thoracic spine, neck/cervical spine, shoulders (are they pushed forward or back, or neutral), head. For least effort a lot of specialists suggest you learn how to stack your bones, so your muscles don't have to do all of the balancing.

To me it looks like even before you place the fiddle into position, you tighten the neck and probably your shoulders and upper spine. You tend to thrust the neck and chin forward and onto the rest, i.e. you wrap yourself around the fiddle; instead, you need to feel neutral, or as close to it as possible, and bring the instrument to you (something Kato Havas describes well in her books.) When you do that and the fiddle just won't fit your body in a stable way, then it's time to start looking into filling some (but never all) of the gaps. I wrote a bit about coordinating the spine in Katie's thread: http://www.violinist.com/discussion/thread.cfm?page=790, but you might consider taking some movement classes, AT, Feldenkrais, etc. and/or researching yourself.

https://www.thefeldenkraiscenter.com/free-feldenkrais-exercises/
https://twincitiesfeldenkrais.com/classes-lessons/audio-lessons/
http://openatm.org/
https://www.feldenkrais.com/join-us-free-atm-lesson-taught-moshe-feldenkrais/

I love this blog: https://www.bettermovement.org/

Kato Havas workshops: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5O_WnYTO-qDKOgrEwtJHsw

December 8, 2017, 11:05 AM · Hi Tammuz, I can't seem to be able to contact you from this site. My email is

m i s t e r d m m c (without space) AT G mail, etc...

December 8, 2017, 11:24 AM · Thank you Denis. I sent ou an email.

Jeewon, thanks. Ill read your post more carefully when Im back home and look into the links you kindly sent me. thank you so much.

Edited: December 9, 2017, 2:41 AM · 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.

The set up is only half of the picture. Many of my colleagues have spent $$$ dozens of shoulder rests and chin rests for years and are still experiencing pain and discomfort because they haven't found a natural balance for the instrument on the body and are essentially misusing their shoulder rest and chin rest. The idea that the perfect set up will solve 100% of your problem is a fantasy.

From a quick look in your videos, your facial grimace already show much unnecessary tension going on. I suggest you take a minute of your warm-up to play some scales in first position without your head on the instrument and feel how the instrument can sit on your body and left hand, as recommended by Simon Fischer in his Basics I believe. It appears there's a big fear of dropping the instrument and the neck is compensating by gripping the instrument. Good luck!

edit: *head off the instrument!

December 8, 2017, 10:51 PM · 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.
December 9, 2017, 12:11 AM · 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.
December 9, 2017, 7:18 AM · @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.
Edited: December 9, 2017, 10:41 AM · Tammuz,-
Oh thank you - yes the collar bone doesn't hurt. It just set wrong . Sometimes when i dig into it with the fiddle it feels compacted and strange - but its' ok it doesn't hurt.
Just wondering also,- have you thought of trying to play without CR?
Rocky reminded me of that, because when you go to the Gemminianni in his link, he is playing without a chin rest. That is the way I play now, (but I use a SR) and even tried shifting my chin to the right of the tail -piece button, as Geminianni suggests. That might be worth trying too . A slant to the right might be good. I notice Hilary Hahn seems to play it quite snuck into her neck going more forward and less out from the shoulder. Anne Sophie Mutter , who plays restless too, seems to have half or more of the body of the fiddle to the left side of her chin - and she has a chin-rest over the middle of the heel-end of the violin (can't remember what it is called) - not sitting to the left of the tail -piece - it is OVER the tail-piece.
All things to consider and try. I am trying all these.
Edited: December 9, 2017, 6:23 PM · "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?"

I play restless and am not without problems myself (I'm also pressing too hard on the chinrest). I've tried a Kreddle, and it didn't work well for me -- the surface is too flat, and doesn't provide enough of a groove for me, and the mounting system being in the center and directly in contact with the body is uncomfortable. I tried many different angles, etc., but gave up on it.

I use a Wittner "Augsburg" now, which is cheaper, lighter, has a better mounting system and more of a groove, and is also mildly adjustable. In all it works a lot better for me. I think it may be worth a try for you, but I wouldn't expect that to be a complete solution.

December 11, 2017, 4:05 PM · We all struggle so much !! If in serious doubt/tied in knots/tension :
remove instrument from shoulder
three leisurely paces to fire place;
add fragments bit by bit to the fire , starting with the neck ,
crouch down and warm hands from the fire
- rubbing hands , spreading hands for warmth-
rock gently on heels, sigh with satisfaction:
Job done!!


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