April 2007

Kaplan Shoulder Horn

April 1, 2007 19:40

Hi guys. I've not had a chance to catch up on all the reading (blogs and discussions) that I've missed the past week or so. I will do that in the morning when my brain is fresh.

I have been a bit out of order for about 9 days. I had a surgery and it took what seemed like forever to get back into the swing of things. For the first time since my violin flew off my car into the hyway and I lost it for a week, I've not spent so many days in succession without even opening my case.

But then, coming back to it today....My friend got me a Kaplan Shoulder Horn (shoulder rest) for christmas. Due to mail problems, I didn't get it until the day before yesterday. Today I fiddled (bad pun) around with the little boxes and rubber bands and....
The Kaplan is AMAZING!!! I can use it on both the violin and the viola. Depending on how I position the boxes, it sounds almost as if I am picking up different instruments (at least on the viola ). On the violin, all I can say is ...WOW. You know that crisp clean wholesome sound where the note articulation seems to come from the bowel of the instrument? (without the aid of prunes....) Imagine my delight when I pulled that sort of sound from my violin! It responds so well and the tone is everything it was lacking. The violin sounds thousands of dollars more. Every instrument is different, but somehow, both of mine needed something like this rest. I also think using cosmetic pads and assorted rig-ups to make the instrument fit and stay on my shoulder dampened more of the sound than I realized.

Plus, the boxes fit in my case and I can use them for both, so no lugging around shoulder rests and THEIR appendages.

Aside from sound...
my posture changed with using them. At first I couldn't get them in a place where I could hold up the instrument, and they were seeming quite low and I was about ready to cry, but then, I don't know. I had an idea and moved them far apart from each other on the back of the instrument and angled them almost over the edge and, YES!! I can open my shoulders and pull my rotator cuff joint back and I can lift my head and not clench with my chin or my neck and I can have a good violinist/violist posture.
I had to draw pictures in my practice notebook so I can remember how to put them next time....

And my C string!! I've been battlin my C string for a year now, and all it does is growl back. Now it is quick and full and not muddy at all. I have the looseness in my posture to relax my left hand more and all of a sudden I had the feeling of "this is right". Like, lightbulb. Not that I've been really holding it "wrong" before, but I found my plane. Or my balance. The space my hand needs to find on the instrument for it's shape and physical attributes. And then I played and played.

TOmorow I try the set-up in a seated position. Who would have thought that something like a couple of boxes and rubber bands could make such a huge impact on so many aspects of my playing??

Well. Dvorak and Bach like my new equipment. Getting my viola bow rehaired also helped matters a great deal. I'm looking forward to my lesson, for sure.


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