S. Suzuki - shoulder rest proponent?

June 17, 2011 at 12:13 AM ·

I've been told that Suzuki was a shoulder rest proponent. Is this true?

Replies (74)

June 17, 2011 at 12:15 AM ·

 He put an emphasis on making students as comfortable and easy holding the violin as they are walking. For most people, that involves a shoulder rest. 


June 17, 2011 at 09:21 AM ·

 My teacher was taught personally by Shinichi Suzuki, and uses a shoulder rest. She is not concerned that I generally play without one. She may also refer to the Alexander technique when talking about posture.

June 17, 2011 at 11:57 AM ·

For the love of all that is holy, please... not another one of these threads!

June 17, 2011 at 12:45 PM ·

How long can a dead horse be flogged. Ask the posters on v.com. 

June 17, 2011 at 01:01 PM ·

How about one on the metatarsal rest?  OK, I know there's no such thing but metatarsals deserve some attention too...

June 17, 2011 at 05:31 PM ·

Thanks Laurie and Trevor for your responses. It's exactly the sort of responses I was looking for when I posted.

So, what happened is that my daughter is taking Suzuki violin and decided to ditch her shoulder rest. She's 5 years old, has been playing about a year, and is wrapping up book 1. I think I corrupted her since I don't use a shoulder rest. Her setup looks pretty good without the shoulder rest, although unfortunately, she is also capable of looking pretty bad with or without the shoulder rest, depending on how tired she is. I do think her setup looks better without than with the shoulder rest, although it's a little too early to say. Contrary to what some might say, I don't withhold food and water if she uses a shoulder rest ;) .

She did it entirely all on her own (Well, a few subliminal messages in her sleep, but nothing conscious).

But her teacher is not comfortable with it and suggested that Suzuki was a shoulder rest proponent. Since I couldn't find anything definitive about her comment, I just wanted to know.

I am not necessarily interested in starting a shoulder rest discussion here otherwise, despite the fact that I find them interesting.

June 17, 2011 at 07:44 PM ·

My son has a Suzuki teacher and she all but insists on a shoulder rest.  Every single one of her students uses one.  In the beginning, my son was playing without SR, but eventually we succumbed and he now uses a SR.  He is 9 and has been playing for 2 years.  I figure if he develops tension issues, he can ditch the rest and go through the same painful transition I did.  It won't be the end of the world.

June 18, 2011 at 02:28 PM ·

I'm not necessarily opposed to use of a shoulder rest. But my daughter's teacher mentioned that Suzuki advocates use of a shoulder rest, and that part didn't sound right. And my daughter's teacher also considers hands free holding of the instrument as beneficial. And it seems to me, based on my experience, as well as some rather lengthy discussion on v.com that that is not so great.

So I'm a little concerned. I'm okay with use of a shoulder rest but I want to also emphasize the importance of using the left hand in lieu of clenching with the chin. It was also a problem that entered my playing that has been remedied to a large degree by tossing the shoulder rest.

My wife has been monitoring my daughter's practice and has been going to her lessons. So I'm sort of in a consultant role when it comes to the violin. When I saw how good my daughter could look without the shoulder rest I was really surprised. At that point I thought, heck why not?

June 18, 2011 at 04:17 PM ·

Shoulder rest? Shoulder rest?????? Slowly I turned, step by step, inch by inch....

OK, I'm better now. Just found this posting on another website:

I do not use one. 

Firstly, because classical Suzuki as I was taught as a child, said, No shoulder rest.  (btw, I found my old Suzuki books and double-checked.  In each picture of a child, and the instruments quite clearly do Not have shoulder rests.) 

No less a virtuoso and nearly fanatical proponant of NO shoulder rest than Aaron Rosand, has time and again given credit to none other than Suzuki for articulating an easy technique for teaching one to play w.o. the SR. I learned this from Mr. Rosand. In my website I explain it in my "writings - fundamnetals" section http://rkviolin.com

That's one more reason for me to respect Mr. Suzuki, as opposed to the latter-day "Suzuki-ism".

Now for goodness sake, can we stop bringing up this infernal SR subject? I for one, will not respond to anymore SR postings. Really. I mean it. No, I wasn't crossing my fingers - it just looked that way becuase I was playing a tri-tone! :-)


June 20, 2011 at 12:58 AM ·

My daughter's Suzuki teacher doesn't care whether or not she uses a shoulder rest as long as her posture is good. When she went up to a 3/4 violin she had shoulder problems playing with a rest and so took it off and found it more comfortable that way. Now she's grown again she is more comfortable using a small collapsible kun shoulder rest (we couldn't find a taller chin rest locally that didn't dig a hole in her neck). I suspect when she goes up to a full size violin and she's closer to being fully grown it may change again.

June 20, 2011 at 01:31 AM ·

One of my friends I think made a good point the other day when we were discussing Suzuki.  I will quote what this person had to say here:

'It is strange that would-be physicists strive to follow in the footsteps of the greats of physics, such as Newton, Dirac and Einstein; art students study the likes of Michelangelo, Van Gogh and Matisse; students of astronomy look to Galileo, Copernicus and Kepler for inspiration...


..yet do budding violinists choose to learn the instrument in the manner that the greatest violinist, Heifetz, learnt and played it?

No, they follow amateurs, dilettantes.'



June 20, 2011 at 02:13 AM ·

Hmmm. I've known some brilliant people in my own field who couldn't teach for toffee, while some mediocre researchers were inspiring and brilliant teachers. Pedagogy and proficiency aren't always the same thing. If you can get them combined then things are wonderful.

Mind you I haven't swallowed the Suzuki  method hook line and sinker without keeping my eyes open wide and retaining a healthy dose of cynicism. Some of the proponents of the teaching methodology do make it seem rather cult like.    We have stuck to it as my daughter's teacher gets on well with her, and is quite happy to pull out materials and methods from more traditional violin teaching.


(We now return you to your usual arguments over shoulder rest and non shoulder rest playing...)

June 20, 2011 at 04:09 AM ·

 AngryYes I  can see how this thread is going to deteriorate into a battle over the use of the shoulder-rest between the elite and the bourgeoise. Zuzuki's preferences will be a vague memory, while the influence of Heifetz et all will be 'extoiled'. I do not need to be a Nostradamus to see whats coming!

June 20, 2011 at 04:38 AM ·


June 20, 2011 at 04:38 AM ·

June 23, 2011 at 02:40 AM ·

June 23, 2011 at 12:21 PM ·

I think a more fruitful inquiry would be whether the left hand holds up the violin or not. One can be restless but still support the violin with chin and shoulder or restless and support it with the left hand. I suppose one could have a rest and make both of these choices as well.  In any event the discussion would be much more fruitful if it were focussed on the function of the left hand and let the issue of furniture for the shoulder fall out of those choices.

Of course that is a simple start to a complicated question. The SR does raise questions about the height of the right elbow that must be addressed along the way. But don't address it as an SR or no SR issue but rather the appropriate height of the right elbow when bowing. 

June 23, 2011 at 01:15 PM ·

Corwin, I agree with your approach. I also agree that it would probably be a much more fruitful discussion if I had phrased the discussion to talk about shoulder rests in the context of holding the instrument.

But the point of my post was very specific (and boring?!) :) ) - to find out from v.com readership whether or not Suzuki was specifically a shoulder rest proponent or not.

To arrive at a little closure on the issue, it appears that my daughter's teacher is open to teaching without the shoulder rest.

She's saying all the right things in my mind: using the left hand to help support, not clenching with the chin, head forward and up and neck free in accordance with Alexander Technique principles. My wife mentioned the www.violinistinbalance.nl/ website to her teacher and she's open to looking at it. It does seem like she could be backtracking a little on her original stance, but as long as it works that's all that matters in my opinion.

My daughter is playing on a 1/16th size instrument so it's not like this is anything permanent. I'm sure we will be dealing with setup issues up and through the time she ends up using a fullsize instrument. I'm presuming given her current progress, interest, and my own interest as an example, that she will be going that far.

June 23, 2011 at 02:16 PM ·

June 23, 2011 at 02:23 PM ·

I think it's worth noting that in the www.violinistinbalance.nl/ website, more than half of the people there are using a more or less conventional shoulder rest.

Also worth noting is that some are not!

June 23, 2011 at 02:46 PM ·

1/16th size violin?  Last week in my local violin dealer's I saw a 1/32nd hanging alongside a 1/16th.  They were both priced at about £100, so I was seeing serious instruments. Since the 1/32 was clearly not half the size of the 1/16, or even close, it is possible someone may have devised a non-linear formula to designate these tiny sizes. Or perhaps not.

June 23, 2011 at 02:54 PM ·

June 23, 2011 at 03:14 PM ·

This is the funniest topic, because it does come up over and over (with new people mostly - which is fine) and gets so many responses from both sides.

I don't use one, didn't even know they existed when I was young.  Tried one when I was older and started taking lessons.  It hurts.  Can't/won't use it. 

My advice...use one if it's more comfortable.  Don't use one if you're comfortable without.  It depends on the individual and their conformation.


June 24, 2011 at 03:55 PM ·

When you always have your thumb bent back like a hitchhiker and the neck resting on the joint bone like a shelf to support the weight It dosent seem to make much difference with or without a rest so there is no good reason to use a shoulder rest. Thats not my favorite thumb position but I have tried them all now and it really also seems best for free finger movement, very good finger stretch, easy to play on fingertips/arched fingers, and it shifts easy and fast. Maybe its really bad that there are too many varieties of options of thumb positions and if you get used to that you can easily play with or without a shoulder rest.

June 25, 2011 at 03:09 AM ·

 It's a balance between supporting the fiddle with the shoulder and supporting it with the hand. There has to be freedom in both places. See this excellent article.

January 19, 2013 at 12:24 AM · Here are some videos and exercises on the subject:

How to Play the Violin without a Shoulder Rest

Let me know what you think!

January 27, 2013 at 09:45 PM · In teaching little "Suzukists", (and, Nate, I am neither a dilletante nor an amateur!) I found that at, say, 3 yrs, their shoulders slope a lot and they need the support; at 5 yrs, they have squarer shoulders, so a much thinner rest or none at all; at 7 yrs, their necks are longer, so a rest again.

By the way, Heifetz supported the violin on his shoulder much of the time (in all the films I have seen) and so he didn't need a shoulder rest!

IDASPY again? (q.v.) I'll say it yet again: pro-resters can be very obstinate (like me!) and anti-resters can be insufferably arrogant..

January 28, 2013 at 02:18 AM · I really don't understand those against SR. It's almost like "you're not a real musician" if you use one. Unless you can make a violin contoured to the individual violinist (not possible), then how can we say that a violin should not be used with a SR when every musician has a different body shape/type/size? Some people might feel comfortable without a SR, some might need it to have the violin in the proper position. What's more important is that the musician is comfortable.

Anne Meyers and Sarah Chang both use rests... those two players are not too shabby.

January 28, 2013 at 06:44 AM · Trevor, From 4/4 size down to 1/8 there seem to be about one inch difference each time. Arithmetical rather than proportional.

For tiny tots, the jump fromm 1/16 to 1/8 is too great, so they invent a 1/10. I suppose the jumps from 1/32 to 1/16 to 1/10 to 1/8 are about the same. Vaguely arithmetical.

January 28, 2013 at 12:07 PM · If any of you who are taking or have kids taking Suzuki lessons I recommend getting one or both of the books Nurtured by Love by Suzuki, The Suzuki violinist by William Starr. These will answer all your questions and make you better informed. To those of you who bag on the Suzuki method for whatever reason read the books to understand it first. A bad teacher makes any method bad. As far as a shoulder rest goes, use a cosmetic sponge first. Gheeze louise, the purpose is to maintian proper posture and since all neck lengths are different there is no one size fits all solution. Even if Suzuki said no, Id still do whatever I had to to be able to hold it correctly. The comment regarding Alexander technique was the most intelligent so far in my opinion.

January 28, 2013 at 12:34 PM · You guys are all hilarious. I got the answer to my question, years ago. :) It's time to stick a fork in this thread.

January 28, 2013 at 12:41 PM · In our teacher's studio, the little ones often use a little sponge or bit of foam secured to the violin to give them some padding and support and so that the violin does not slide around - sometimes a shoulder rest is just too much hardware for little necks. Just an observation.

And Terry - isn't it time to start a whole new crop of v.commers on the SR issue? Keeps it fun, no? LOL!

January 28, 2013 at 06:05 PM · I'll just stay out of the crossfire.

I suppose I could've said abortion activist violin teachers advocate use of shoulder rest in the name of Suzuki and gotten a more volatile response. Maybe... ;)

January 29, 2013 at 12:04 AM · I think its interesting to read past posts on a subject. See where peoples thoughts have evolved and such. I mean since there arent any new inexperienced violinists coming up the ranks to learn this information. That would make these discussions valuable to some at least, even if you are bored with the topic. I hadnt read the sponge suggestion previously in this thread though, maybe I missed it. I hope the result you settled on worked, perhaps you could let us know what you decided on and the results?

January 29, 2013 at 12:35 AM · In my opinion, there are many ways to play the violin. There are excellent violinists who use shoulder rests, there are excellent violinists that don't.

My playing benefited significantly by removing my shoulder rest, so while I think that playing with a shoulder rest is clearly a way to play that's valid, it's not the approach I have.

As stated earlier, my daughter's teacher relented to having her play without a shoulder rest.

At present I'm teaching my daughter, which is an interesting process in and of itself. Since playing sans shoulder rest is the best way I know how to play, that's what I do with her. I thought I had a definitive no on shoulder rests use from Suzuki but am now getting conflicting emails from some others.

I have a friend who studied with Suzuki himself -he had two lessons a day for a solid month. His mother also took teacher training from Suzuki. So I will ask both of them and report back. Stay tuned.

January 29, 2013 at 05:31 AM · Perhaps we should all adopt the Indian style of playing the violin and put the SR debate to bed once and for all.

Imagine the whole violin/viola sections of the orchestra sitting on the floor !

January 29, 2013 at 09:47 PM · ..yet do budding violinists choose to learn the instrument in the manner that the greatest violinist, Heifetz, learnt and played it?

No, they follow amateurs, dilettantes.'"

Hmm.. that sounds more like hero worship than sound pedagogy. It's not unlikely that had Heifetz's physique necessitated a shoulder rest and some doctrinaire teacher prevented him from using one, the world may never have had a Heifetz.

January 29, 2013 at 10:46 PM · My two centimes d'euro, as a Suzuki trainee:

- The Very Small Children are required to be able to hold their violins between chin and shoulder: a sponge is enough; this avoids parasitical tensions in the left hand, which are so difficult to undo later, are they not!

- Videos with trainees show Suzuki with no pad, but allowing trainees to use one. He didn't use one when I saw him live in Scotland.

- Trainees I have met who knew him said he didn't like the rigid rests, but he was adamant that the left hand must be able to leave the instrument at will. He was certainly anti-tension.

I am puzzled by Raphael's post: I have plenty of photos of Suzuki classes with foam pads (but, I admit, not rigid rests.)

January 29, 2013 at 11:59 PM · Ironically, I think I should mention, since it does relate to the original question Terry asked, Dr. Suzuki picked one of my violin teachers, David Nadien, Concertmaster of the NY Philharmonic, to record all of the tapes for Suzuki. Nadien shuns the use of shoulder rests and discourages all of his students from using the shoulder rest for the various reasons I've discussed which you can read about doing a search of the archives on this website.

January 30, 2013 at 01:02 AM · So... you're suggesting the criteria for a violin to do the recordings was that the violinist not use a shoulder rest? So other violinists were considered but rejected because they used shoulder rests?

If not, then what's your point?

January 30, 2013 at 01:03 AM · @Nate,

I'm curious what your response would be to the violinist in balance Alexander Technique study that was done in the Netherlands. It seems that about 1/3 of the people in the study ended up with no shoulder rest, and 2/3 of the people ended up with some form of shoulder rest. Some of the people with a shoulder rest ended up with rigid ones, although the majority of those without shoulder rests used foam/playonair/etc.

I also had an observation about your comment that Scott made. As you say, people in many fields study the "greats." But there are also many people in other fields who make original advances from what the "greats" have done.

As you know, I don't use a shoulder rest, but am not adamant about their nonusage.

BTW, I love your playing! Keep us posted the next time you play or about your next recording project. :)

Still waiting to hear back from my friends who have had direct interaction with Dr. Suzuki but will let you all know as soon as I do.


Very interesting observations. Based upon what you say, it seems that Dr. Suzuki is okay with shoulder rests but not rigid ones and didn't use one himself. To me, that would suggest that he overall is inclined towards non shoulder rest playing.

The fact that Suzuki didn't demand shoulder restless playing of other teachers during teacher training doesn't really say too much to me. It seems that it would go against his principles to be too dogmatic about it. He was, above all, a very positive person.


January 30, 2013 at 01:35 AM · 'From Scott Cole

Posted on January 30, 2013 at 01:02 AM

So... you're suggesting the criteria for a violin to do the recordings was that the violinist not use a shoulder rest? So other violinists were considered but rejected because they used shoulder rests?

If not, then what's your point? [Flag?]'

>>Where did I say that Scott? I just noted that Nadien was picked by Suzuki himself, to record all of the tapes. Obviously Suzuki must have thought very highly of his playing and the way he played the instrument at the time, to ask him to represent the method in those recordings.

'From Terry Hz

Posted on January 30, 2013 at 01:03 AM


I'm curious what your response would be to the violinist in balance Alexander Technique study that was done in the Netherlands. It seems that about 1/3 of the people in the study ended up with no shoulder rest, and 2/3 of the people ended up with some form of shoulder rest. Some of the people with a shoulder rest ended up with rigid ones, although the majority of those without shoulder rests used foam/playonair/etc.'

>>I am not familiar with this study but I will certainly look it up. From my observation, the players that play successfully without a shoulder rest, tend to be very relaxed to start with. The foam or playonair, would be the next best option in my opinion. The very rigid shoulder rests, in my opinion hamper facility, and maneuverability.

'I also had an observation about your comment that Scott made. As you say, people in many fields study the "greats." But there are also many people in other fields who make original advances from what the "greats" have done.'

>> I agree with your assertion. It is true in many fields such as medicine, athletics, and technology, but I can't say I have personally really seen what I would call an 'advance' in violin technique or pedagogy in the last century.

'BTW, I love your playing! Keep us posted the next time you play or about your next recording project. :)'

>>Thank you very much! That's very kind of you. :)

January 30, 2013 at 01:52 AM · All violinists are built differently. Some (like myself) are long-necked and need a shoulder rest. For others, a thin foam pad will do. Still others seem to do just fine without any support. Personally, I can't play well without a shoulder rest - my posture slips. However, I have experimented and found that, without rubber clamps (a shoulder rest) on it, my violin gives off a somewhat more brilliant sound.

Maybe I should mention that I have been through the Suzuki books - I made it through book 2 (I was probably about 10, then) before my teacher told me I was so long-necked that I really needed a shoulder rest. At the time, I was using a little foam pad.

January 30, 2013 at 03:44 AM · "Where did I say that Scott? I just noted that Nadien was picked by Suzuki himself, to record all of the tapes. Obviously Suzuki must have thought very highly of his playing and the way he played the instrument at the time, to ask him to represent the method in those recordings."

Your implication was pretty blatant, beginning with the word "ironically" (which should have been "coincidentally"). If you had not meant to imply a connection, you wouldn't have pointed out that Nadien didn't use a shoulder rest.

January 30, 2013 at 04:28 AM · I'd like to insert one small point which is not directed at any one person particularly:

The decision to use a shoulder rest is not based on the length of the neck. There are many other factors involved including technique and setup. I'm not arguing for or against shoulder rests but I will suggest that the tendency of people to use them for compensating for neck length is by far the source of most of the controversy in the first place, as well as the source of many technical flaws on the part of those involved.

Famous shoulder rest users who play well are using the devices within the bounds of correct violinistic technique. They are not using them to teeter-totter their violins on their shoulders. Truthfully, I don't believe that there should be a huge difference between correctly using a shoulder rest and not using one at all. If there is a huge difference, then the shoulder rest is over-compensating for some problems with the left hand and the setup of the chin rest.

January 30, 2013 at 04:58 AM · I have a very long neck (I can back this up factually with numbers if you ask ;-) ) and I agree with Michael, but maybe the idea of using an SR to compensate for a long neck is because it is so hard to find a suitable chin rest. It has been for me.

January 30, 2013 at 07:35 PM · I have rebuilt and recarved my chinrest, and my fiddles can sit on the collar bone (12cm from my jaw), but my broad but sloping sholders are 6cm below the fiddle's back. We all need to release the left hand sometimes, and I need some kind of support, as did Suzuki's young pupils. Heifetz and Suzuki apparently did not. Does this mean I shouldn't play?

Violins are all very similar: people are not! It is not for us to adapt to the violin, but for the violin to be adapted to us, so that we can communicate our inner music without hindrance.

I gradually returned to a rigid SR for orchestral work: 3-hour sessions at someone else's behest! Almost all orchestral players use them.

I admire Mr.Rosand' playing, but I would look for lessons with someone who was interested in my musical qualities rather than my appearance!!

Terry, I interpret Mr Suzuki's practices to mean that he was (a)adamant about a free left hand, (b)not against pads, and (c)he didn't need one himself.

Nate, I am surprised you see no advance in violin technique in the last century! The tremendous inpiration of Leopold Auer and his acolytes, and the finely tuned analtytical minds of Carl Flesch an Ivan Glamian have ensured that even the slightly-less-than-geniuses have acces to the greatest music. Compare the recordings of Joachim with those of Auer, those of Flesch, and of course Heifetz(on a technical level.)

January 30, 2013 at 08:32 PM · "I admire Mr.Rosand' playing, but I would look for lessons with someone who was interested in my musical qualities rather than my appearance!!"

I agree.

I will make one prediction about the majority of people reading this who get their boxers in a knot about whether they should or shouldn't be using a shoulder rest, especially when people as accomplished as Nate (whose videos I've greatly admired) and others advocate against it:

They try to go without it and get frustrated. They'll put the rest back on, but by now it'll also feel uncomfortable and they'll be more frustrated. They'll go back and forth between "shoulds" and "I'm supposed to be able to do this." If they persist, they'll probably be able to hold the violin and shift. More likely, they will not be able to vibrate the same way. If they're an amateur or a student who have not fully developed a vibrato, they may not notice (and indeed, they may run the risk of failing to develop their vibrato to its potential). If they are an advanced student or professional, their inability to vibrate as before will probably drive them back to a shoulder rest. In the end, only a tiny minority of those who try to do without will succeed. The rest will just drive themselves and their teachers crazy. Those who have a professional need to be able to vibrate beautifully in all positions and on moving passages will just leave the rest on and get on with real issues like phrasing and rhythmic integrity and bow distribution.

January 30, 2013 at 08:37 PM · "..real issues like phrasing and rhythmic integrity and bow distribution.."

In a nutshell!!!

January 30, 2013 at 08:38 PM · Adrian, I think Mr. Rosand, and other great violinists who do not use a shoulder rest, deliberately position their hands and instrument with only one intent in mind: how it sounds. Not how it looks.

There's a reason Mr. Heifetz never held the violin with the kind of positioning some well known violinists today do. It wouldn't sound the same.

Positioning (and yes shoulder rests) do affect the way a violinist sounds. There are many very fine violinists who do play well in spite of using a shoulder rest. I do feel though that, they'd play at a much higher level and have a greater sound without the shoulder rest. As I have explained on other discussions here, placing a shoulder rest on the violin, that clamps the ribs of the instrument, is like essentially putting a mute on the violin.

Since you brought it up, yes, appearance wise, it does also look much better to play with good posture, and without a piece of scaffolding holding up the instrument. I've heard compliments from many non-violinists on how much better it looks from an audience member's perspective, when someone plays without a shoulder rest, and with good posture.

January 30, 2013 at 08:48 PM · Nate, my own progressive return to SR use is also governed by sound. My own instruments are not affected (if I play them 'cello fashion, not right under the ear, where the different angle affects my perception), but my finger pressure, articulation, varied vibrato etc. most certainlty are..

I am certainly on the lookout for a more flexible alternative to the rigid rests.

I quite agree about the apparent stiffness of SR users, but my ears tell me otherwise!

Scott, it's true, I have had to go back to briefs!

January 30, 2013 at 10:17 PM · Violin setup hell:

Long neck (same as Adrian's with head turned and lowered, 15 cm erect), narrow sloping shoulders and "weak" angular jaw line.

Started with two rigid SR's. Felt they were not tall enough (even with longest leg from Kun) because they forced me to keep the violin too low, else contact with the shoulder was lost and the extra "dead" weight would gradually make the violin slide off my collarbone.

Tried two chinrests but both far too low. Had to crane my neck to reach at all, causing discomfort and, a couple of times, stiff immovable neck for days, or try to compensate with SR raising violin off collarbone.

Could get no help so raised chinrest myself with a rosewood extension, but had to remove or replace it every time I put the violin away or took it out.

Finally replaced the SR with a foam pad fashioned from a car wash sponge to fit shoulder and violin back, about 5cm wide and height varying between 1cm (near clavicle) and 6cm over shoulder. Augmented standard Teka chin rest with 5cm high foam pad.

Works much better but do have to use left hand in supporting violin as chin rest too flexible to allow me to hold without. Down shifts more difficult without more solid chin rest.

Now trying to reduce pad to bare minimum. Still would like a more solid chinrest and hoping Kr├ęddle will help there. Has been hard dealing with admonitions about raised chin rests and feel the chinrest has been the major part of the struggle.

January 30, 2013 at 11:15 PM · Well, I'm still waiting to hear back from my friend who took teacher training from Dr. Suzuki. But it seems based upon what Adrian's saying, that Dr. Suzuki was not a shoulder rest proponent. He may not have been opposed to them. But he certainly did not appear to demand their use (since, after all, he didn't use one himself!).

If I hear back from my friend, I will post what she said.

January 31, 2013 at 06:52 AM · Two points (a) foam pads and indeed the shoulder itself without an SR, damps the sound much more than most SR's (b) who says that the chin must be on the chinrest at all.

January 31, 2013 at 07:43 AM · a) it is a small piece of light sponge to provide friction mainly and positioning support for the violin but it is not being pressed against it.

b) Peter, please feel free to post a video of yourself shifting up and (especially) down the fingerboard with ease with your head tilted away from the violin at all times or playing something difficult like the Bach Chaconne.

c) why does it feel as if whenever I "open my mouth", someone sticks their foot in it? ;-} (half a wink). I guess its kind of funny that while others are being chastised for using a SR, I'm being chided for wanting to use a chin rest.

January 31, 2013 at 09:35 AM · Eric

I did not mean the chin is off the rest all of the time - but yes, I can shift up and down without the head on the chin rest - but obviously its slightly less secure. (I would just have it touching the chin rest but not gripping on shifts for extra safety).

I won't promise a video but on the other hand there are other things mounting up from conversations on here which might be worth trying to demonstrate - so it could happen, but don't hold your breath. (I have found that when on one occasion I put up a video it was ignored so I took it down after a few hours).

What I am getting at is not clamping the chin on the rest as this kills the sound and creates great tension. The fiddle must be free most of the time - or else how can you bring in the other players in a quartet, if you need a big gesture?

January 31, 2013 at 09:56 AM · I agree with that but in my case, I have physical difficulty touching a normal rest at all.

Paradoxically, I don't clench with the extra padding because I can hold my head up and still be near enough just to touch it lightly.

January 31, 2013 at 10:12 AM · Eric, in that case it would be useful to swap videos, so I will try and find the camera and oil it. (I'm not sure what you mean about not physically being able to touch the chin rest).

EDIT: Actually it might be an idea to swap videos via email or PM so we don't have too many people commenting on my lousy playing and also as I've only just escaped from Broadmoor High Security Detention Centre I don't want the authorities catching up with me ...

EDIT 2: I've made a video but I'm having no luck in uploading it and it's wasting a lot of time so for the moment I'm stuck.

January 31, 2013 at 01:26 PM · I talked to my friend who took teacher training in Japan from Dr. Suzuki 40 years ago. She was there for an entire month. She had two kids that had daily lessons with Dr. Suzuki. This is what she said.

Dr. Suzuki had a "research" center in Japan. As a result he was always trying things. One day he would have everyone play with a bowhold where the thumb would be opposite the third finger. Everyone would have to do it, from the teacher trainers to the 5 year old kids that were there - it would be an experiment. Dr. Suzuki did not use a shoulder rest. But it would be contrary to his nature to demand a particular setup or shoulder rest. He was very difficult to pin down, he was very prone to changing his mind.

Above all, his focus was on listening. He thought that anyone could be taught to play by absorbing good playing through listening and a desire to play.


January 31, 2013 at 11:23 PM · Heros, SRs & Tone:

Of those whose tone enthralls me:

- Those who support their violins on their shoulders (at least part of the time): Heifetz , Perlman, Zukerman, Gitlis;

- Those who rarely allow the violin to touch the shoulder: Rosand(?), Milstein, Menuhin;

- Those who use SRs: Chung, Chang, Vengerov, Hahn.

Nate, to suggest that the latter group would sound even better restless I find very childish, and does not correspond at all to the finesse of your own playing!!

For the record, I find Ms Hahn's playing fully equal to, though different from, that of Mr Heifetz. I find her SR ugly, so I prefer to look at her fine features and lithe figure, and listen to her exquisite tone! Her renderings of Beethoven and Brahms I find far more musical than his. For Korngold I prefer Perlman (just).

February 1, 2013 at 03:31 AM · If Menuhin was so against it, why did he invent one?

(Perhaps the fact that it was so appallingly poorly designed was part of his plan of convincing people not to use them....)

February 1, 2013 at 05:06 AM · If you have a long neck, you don't necessarily need to seek out a special chin rest, just put blocks of cork under the one you have. I literally took cork from wine bottles, cut them evenly, beveled the edges and sanded them soft. I had to take the extensions from a viola shoulder rest to make it fit. Problem solved. If it works for me it'll work for just about anybody. I don't look like I have a long neck because it's proportional to me, but I'll put it this way. If I can play with my violin sitting on my collarbone I don't think anyone (except for Shaq maybe) should have any problem.

February 1, 2013 at 05:25 AM · How high is the rest with the cork?

February 1, 2013 at 08:18 AM · Yes Adrian, I fancy her too!! The look of the SR is not important - I'm too busy listening and being charmed by her when she speaks. I should have gone to her recent concert here in London then I could have chatted her up AND told her how much you love her ... (Unfortunately though she has a boyfriend and he's probably bigger than me ...)

February 1, 2013 at 11:42 AM · Adrian, take another listen to Heifetz's Brahms. It's pure fire! But point taken regarding Hahn, and her boyfriend. Although my money's on Peter in a bar room fight!!

I'd say Menuhin got paid to endorse a shoulder rest he in no way advocated using.


February 1, 2013 at 12:05 PM · I think it will more likely be a green room brawl ... fiddles at dawn ...

Yes, Heifitz often sounds like he's on fire, no one else does it like that. Just brilliant.

February 1, 2013 at 03:31 PM · More like green with envy, Peter! ;)

But if there are fiddles involved, my money's on Ms. Hahn. :)

February 1, 2013 at 10:24 PM · Can we give the testosterone a rest!

I listen to Ms Hahn and Mr Perlman alternately, depending on my mood. Mr Heifetz too, especially for Walton, Korngold, but definitely not his Mozart and Bach concertos. But I really enjoy his Bach Sonatas & Partitas.

I believe Nate when he says a SR mutes his violin; I hope he believes me when I say it doesn't mute mine. On the other hand,I can't judge the muting effect of resting the violin directly on the shoulder, as I just can't do it!

By the way, would folks actually answer Eric's precise queries about measurements? I should be interested to see the answers..

February 1, 2013 at 10:27 PM · Adrian, I think they must be state secrets. Either that or I am persona non grata.

February 1, 2013 at 10:43 PM · What does testosterone have to do with a shoulder rest?

February 2, 2013 at 07:05 AM · I've had mine drained out so I can get on good terms with Ms Hahn ... but I might give her some of my fingering ... (wink)

February 2, 2013 at 11:48 AM · Now I've had a cold shower, I can retern to the original question!

Suzuki didn't need a SR, but he wasn't against them. But he did instist on a free left hand.


February 2, 2013 at 06:34 PM · I've just listened to Heifetz's Brahms, as instructed: it is indeed pure fire.

Hilary Hahn's is pure sunlight..

February 3, 2013 at 12:29 AM · They're definitely both great violinists.

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