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Jaimie Wisnia

Shoulder Rests - The Elephant in the Room Debate!

January 22, 2013 at 1:58 AM

I am almost certain that the shoulder rest debate is one of the most popular, and apparently at times vicious, debates.

I understand both sides, which confuses me even more until my teacher has decided I really ought to get one.

My left shoulder has bad tendinitis, but I know that the violin isn't supposed to be placed on my shoulder. The real problem is in my collar bone; my clavicle barely protrudes enough to just keep the violin on it even with full support of my left hand (which I was taught that I CANNOT do). Without any possible way to fill the gap between my neck/shoulder/clavicle and the violin, it's time for a shoulder rest. Unless I rest it on my shoulder and crane my neck or bunch up my shoulder, there is no physical, possible way I can play my violin without supporting/gripping with my left hand.

Does anyone else have really strange or unstable collarbone areas that shoulder rests are highly recommended because of it?


P.S. - I've tried a folded bandana and it works... for five minutes, as well as a sponge BUT the sponge is a literal kitchen one and I have no elastics to keep it steady...

From Mallory Linehan
Posted on January 23, 2013 at 12:48 AM
Of course! I've been fighting for years with shoulder rests. At this point, I don't really think anyone ever finds that "perfect fit," because every once in a while, I find myself doing things just a bit differently, or picking a new approach altogether.
In my experience, most students these days use shoulder rests. I would definitely suggest playing around with them, they can change your comfort level TREMENDOUSLY when you find a good fit.
^^^^ The shoulder rest I use has a little hook-type bend on the left end, to keep it secure on my shoulder. This really helps when shifting into high positions on the lower strings.
In addition to shoulder rests of all different shapes and sizes, I know Shar sells loads of little spongy things you can attatch to your instrument, this way and that VVVV
(although many of them are shaped like whales and ducks...).
Lastly, experiment with chin rests, too. My violin teacher had shoulder and back issues a few years back, and she now uses a sponge (attached with rubber bands) and a very high custom made chin rest with a little cushion on top, like this:
I hope this helps, and good luck with your problem!

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