Written by Zlata Brouwer
Published: July 14, 2015 at 9:44 AM [UTC]
Our viewer Anne wrote me an e-mail and asks:
I very much enjoyed the Weight vs. Pressure Workshop and learned a great deal. Unfortunately, at the same time I have come to the conclusion that my violin chin rest and shoulder rest are all wrong. Because the chin rest is not high enough I have been using a shoulder rest (as is suggested by my previous experience trying to learn the violin). However, the shoulder rest lifts the violin so high that it cannot rest on my clavicle, while at the same time does not lift it enough for me chin to rest on it comfortably.
It has taken me almost two years to realize all of this is the cause of much pain that happens in my back after playing or practicing for only five minutes. Because of the pain I have not even played the violin for almost a year, but have spent time researching to try to find answers. This is how I found your site on the internet.
So now I am hoping to get a raised chin rest soon, but they are very expensive, aren't they? Until I can get the right chin rest, I cannot even practice, and I cannot try out the things I learned in your free workshop.
Do you have any suggestions for my situation other than spending $275 for a fitting kit to come to me through the mail and then another $45 for the chin rest?
If you have to tilt your head a lot while playing violin, your spine goes out of balance and you can feel pain through your whole body.
As a solution to this problem, you can raise your shoulder rest. The downside of raising your shoulder rest is that you also raise your violin, so the violin doesn't rest on your collarbone anymore. The downside of a high violin, is that you can injure your right arm and shoulder, because you have to hold your right arm higher while bowing.
That's exactly the dilemma I'm talking about in this video. You want the chinrest higher for your neck, but you don't want the violin to be higher for your bow arm.
An inexpensive solution is the Wittner Augsburg rest, which you can adjust in height yourself. You can experiment with different heights without buying other chinrests. Click here to buy this unique chinrest. Click here to watch a video in which I demonstrate this chinrest and show you how to adjust it in height.
Here's a solution that doesn't costs you a dime: Tilt the violin a bit, so the scroll is lower than the rest of the violin.
Lots of people have learned to hold their violin up. Teachers tell you that, because lots of beginners hold their violin almost with the scroll on the floor. That's not what I mean.
If you tilt your violin just a little bit, it's more relaxed for your left arm and your right arm. Also the violin will fill up more of the void between your shoulder and chin. It doesn't have to be a big change to make a big impact.
In the video I show you exactly how to do it right and how to do it wrong. I demonstrate what different violin holds do with your neck.
In this way you don't have to spend lots of time and money on searching for the right chinrest. Lots of people hold their violin too much up and too much to the left. It doesn't have any advantages and causes lots of problems.
Another cheap solution is to put wine cork in between your chinrest and the soundboard. In this way you can make your chinrest a bit higher and try out if this solves your problem. Perhaps it's a temporary solution and you might decide based on this experience to order a higher chinrest.
Just to summarize there are three solutions to this problem:
PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to email@example.com and I might dedicate a Violin Lounge TV episode to answering your question!
This entry has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.
Violinist.com is made possible by...
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins
Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine