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John Chew

No Shoulder Rest?

June 25, 2006 at 1:10 PM

I am reading “Violin Playing: As I teach it” by Leopold Auer, the great violin teacher. I thought it would be a long book, and overly technical, but the books reads easily, and offers many tips on how to hold the violin, producing tone, bowing, etc. He is probably most controversial for writing that the uses of a shoulder cushion or shoulder rest should be avoided at all cost because it diminishes tone. I tried playing without a shoulder rest, and it definitely would take getting use to, however, my violin does resonate more. However, I look to Hahn, and Vengerov and they all use shoulder rests. My only concern is whether not using a shoulder rest could hurt muscles in the neck and shoulder in the long run.
From Charlie Caldwell
Posted on June 25, 2006 at 2:01 PM
Use a shoulder rest/pad. They have come a long ways since Auer's day.
From Richard Hellinger
Posted on June 25, 2006 at 3:02 PM
I have "refused" to use a shoulder rest for 7 years now. Don't worry about hurting your neck, if you are holding the violin correctly then it should be fine (I've never had a problem). I tried one for a year but I didn't like it, but it would prob. take a lot of getting used to not having a ton of support for a vibrato.
From sevi dielemans
Posted on June 25, 2006 at 7:34 PM
i had read several old violinists never used a shoulderpad, on the famousbook "the way they play". and each violinist writes why they do not use one.
i always use one cause i do not feel comfortable without a shoulderrest. when i started tho, i did not use it. for about 12 years since i started i never used one but once i started using it i figured i couldnt do without it :P
go with what they say: the correct hold of the violin is the most comfortable way you hold it.
From Man Wong
Posted on June 28, 2006 at 10:40 PM
I'm just a complete newbie. :-) Haven't tried using a shoulder rest yet, but I think I can understand the comment about difficulty playing w/ vibrato w/out a shoulder rest. I bought these cheap sponges from Peter Zaret's site, and Jackie uses one for her 1/4 size violin. So far, I haven't felt a real need for it yet, so I haven't bothered to try the sponge on my violin.


From Jamie Puffer
Posted on June 29, 2006 at 2:29 PM
Depending on your body, you could actually hurt yourself by *not* playing with one, if you're straining to hold the instrument.

There's no right or wrong about shoulder rests, despite what people say. You do what works for you, no matter how "unorthodox" it might be.

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