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Shoulder rests -- ithe debate never ends!
Shoulder rests depend entirely upon the individual upper body physique of each individual violinist & violist ~ Exceptions to this idea were heightened in our Jascha Heifetz Violin Master Classes at USC, & particularly in our original JH Violin Master Classes (available to all violinists & 'civilian's' to now watch in our online YouTube JH Violin Master Class USC films.). By far, our tallest classmate, the now late Claire Hodgkins, with an exceptionally long neck, was compelled to use a shoulder rest to align her upper body with her chin where techniques of holding the instrument steadily - fused w/ the continually active left arm, hand & fingers need a fingerboard of 'steady as you go' plus an individually tailored right shoulder bow arm in physical harmony with the 'comfortable-ness' of the left arm/ hands/fingers emanating from the shoulders of the (pardon the expression) Body of whom is playing ~ Mr. Heifetz, naturally physically endowed w/a very short neck & my 'other' mentor, Nathan Milstein -- also naturally endowed with a very short neck needed no accessories for violin-hold ... Based on his from birth to last years violin Art, JH, in his teaching, always insisted none of us use shoulder rests, Period! If one had to question the cast-in-stone Heifetz insistence upon No shoulder rests, it could well be traced to his own uniquely physical proportions which were made to embrace the violin! JH also felt (as did NM & a few other Giant's in their elite and rarified violinist peer company) that the use of shoulder rests seemed to interfere with the deep connection, physically & emotionally, of the player with the violin + All that entailed/s ... The ear is changed when the shoulder rest is absent which boosts the intimate relationship of sound emanating from the heart & soul of the violinist in major violin concerto/sonata/ unaccompanied literature ~ Some splendid artists, due to un natural body violin physique, need an aide (i.e., shoulder pad or rest) to bridge the gap of body flesh to violin ... My own feeling is not to Suffer if one's neck is a bit too long coupled with every other quality & 'ingredient' required in the Menu for Great Violin Playing and Music Making!
Leaving off with a direct quote from one of my illustrious violin mentor's, think on this: ~ "If it Looks good, it Is Good!" ~
Profound words from one who was Profound ~
One Huge Factor to be addressed at another time ~ the use of shoulder pads/rests in the early stages of teaching children, not yet fully physically grown nor yet detected re their full adult physicality & the conundrum of teacher's: 'Do I teach little Lyle with or without a shoulder rest NOW at aged 6 or even 10?' The Talent & early ease of navigation on the 'board' is most certainly a telltale sign, but physical growth can come in spurts unexpectedly ... Only The Creator knows the final physique of each babe when a full sized adult, so this serious question is not so easily "fixed" as experts might think! One Size doesn't always fit all or in other words, the demands for shoulder pads and rests do not always fit All nor All at varying times ~
Being a teacher of children requires More not Less sensitivity! As one who began teaching at aged 9 with 5 younger 'pupils', & personally progressed, violinistically, to JH artist pupil status & acceptance, I can truly say that dogmatic attitudes toward shoulder pads/rests can & often do physically injure those so gifted by nature needing no intermediate pad to fuse the fiddle with upper chin/neck/ left shoulder & 2 moving parts - both the arms which transmit one's soul ... Be careful as you go ~
Wishing all violinists to find their true physical selves from youth to mature adult physique-hood, perhaps William Shakespeare's Mantra: "To Thine Own Self, Be True" is a profound Guide and Answer with clues to what Laurie Niles rightly titles, "Shoulder Rests -- the debate never ends!"
Respectfully submitted by ~
Elisabeth Matesky / Chicago *
*www.linkedin.com/Profile. YouTube Jascha Heifetz Violin Master Classes, USC. Aram 'Khachaturian 1st Mov't., JH-7, Elisabeth Matesky (Russian Version) Nadia Boulanger in
London with Violinist, Elisabeth Matesky ~ Stravinsky Duo Concertante (CBS/Paris Co Television Production) 'EM Plays' Recordings + Teaching Video Master Classes in Chicago / London (presently available only upon request ~ )
Would you please share some of Mr. Heifetz' insight on vibrato?
I know he didn't care how it was produced, but it seem rather difficult to emulate his vibrato. When I hear it, it sounds like a mixture of constant finger tapping (on-off string) mixed with arm or wrist motion.
Did he have any exercises for improving vibrato (although he only taught more advanced students)?
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May 10, 2017 at 12:25 AM · Regina Carter- Great, finally decided to be a little healthier and get a chin rest instead of her old shoulder rest (which was used with no chinrest, and was monstrously tall, to the tune of 15 cm or more). :O