playing rest-less YouTube?

August 25, 2011 at 02:06 AM ·

I occasionally run across fiddle players who prefer to play rest-less, but have technique questions for me. My spin on some topics is surely tied to using a shoulder rest. Can anyone recommend some YouTubes or other video sources that show people playing without rests, who have good success with rapid fingering, shifting & vibrato (the kind that adds a little warmth, not a big vibrato useful for virtuoso pieces.) Thanks! Sue    

Replies (23)

August 25, 2011 at 02:22 AM ·

A true "rest-less" style:

Truman came to the Portland get-together, and all of us there were fascinated by his playing.

August 25, 2011 at 02:26 AM ·

 Stefano Montanari, Rachel Podger, Monica Huggett, Fabio Biondi, Gottfried von der Goltz --type these names into Youtube!

August 25, 2011 at 08:20 AM ·

hahaha joyce :D Nice!

There are some videos of Yehudi Menuhin about his technique. It is very good if you do his exercises but difficult too.

Look here:

August 25, 2011 at 12:18 PM ·

Truman's fiddle-on-chest style is how the fiddle-playing dancing-masters of centuries ago did it. The fiddle doesn't get in the way, the dancing-master can see everything that's going on, and dance, too.  Probably not ideal for a Beethoven quartet, though.

August 25, 2011 at 12:23 PM ·

Hi Sue,

I would recommend personally watching any of the videos of Henryk Szeryng because the camera angles show a variety of things from different angles (the Novacek one is very interesting), the Milstein ones of the Mendlessohn and Tchaikovsky concerti for the same reason.  There are many videos of Heifetz too that are very good, but often I am disappointed by the camera angles.  In my opinion, the most interesting is the one where he plays the first movement of the Mendelssohn concerto for camera angles, but I don't know if it is on youtube.

For a different perspective I also would recommend that you watch the video of the Beethoven F Major Quartet with the Tokyo String Quartet.  Martin Beaver, one of the world's great violinists and musicians plays without a rest, and in this video the camera shots show a variety of angles, and it gives the opportunity to see someone playing beautifully without a rest but in a chamber music situation.



August 25, 2011 at 01:58 PM ·

Dylana Jenson is a "rest-less soul" and everything is on point fingering, big rich tone, it's all there!

August 25, 2011 at 04:45 PM ·

 Maurice, THANK YOU for Dylana's link!!! what a joy!! :)

August 25, 2011 at 05:33 PM ·

One of my favorites, courtesy of Laurie's blog on her friend Tricia Ahern. Tricia plays in Tafelmusik, the baroque ensemble.

When she plays baroque, it's no shoulder rest. When she plays modern, she uses a shoulder rest. Talk about diplomacy in the shoulder rest wars!


August 25, 2011 at 08:51 PM ·

Excellent Tchaikovsky from Dylena Jenson! Also check out Rosand, Nadien, and Perlman.

meanwhile, a little closer to home...ahem...

August 26, 2011 at 03:56 AM ·


Great playing! Great tone!

August 26, 2011 at 12:29 PM ·

Thank you so much!

August 26, 2011 at 03:00 PM ·

People betwixt and between might consider trying looping a band of elastic fabric around their chin rest and under their bowing arm.  It is simple, light and cheap and it doesn't interfere with anything.  It will prevents any in-and-out motion of the instrument.  You may wonder why you ever gave shoulder rests a thought at all.

August 26, 2011 at 04:55 PM ·

 I think this girl has good success with rapid fingering, shifting and vibrato :)

August 26, 2011 at 07:20 PM ·

Yes Jo ,she plays very very well , but she holds the violin with her shoulder up.

August 26, 2011 at 09:09 PM ·

that's right Charles, we can then start a new thread about picking 'everything' under the sun about every player out there, then we can start wondering and debating if this causes them pain/tension or problems with their technique.

some might be obvious? I mean, do these players ever publicise anywhere: 'my career is on hold as I am suffering from a bad back/neck due to so many years of raising my shoulder?'  I doubt it..... do they?  so how do we ever know if the raising of the shoulder actually does impact one certain person unless he/she volunteers the information or you actually ask him/her and actually get a polite answer instead of being told where to go?

I/we can make our assumptions of course....we can assume some players are fine just because they appear not to raise their shoulder and we can assume some others will not be fine as they appear to have appalling posture.  For example, I can guarantee you I would be crippled by now if I played like Midori does, I would have been in a plaster cast after 6 months of playing like she does....however she 'seems' to keep going strong! (she bends her neck forward so much 90% of the time while she plays I hurt just watching her!)

I have to admit I have seen Ann Fontanella's shoulder raising, in fact she has quite a long neck compared to mine and she uses quite a low/flat chin rest, but how can I judge? I am not her....also I have noticed from her videos that she has changed her posture quite dramatically in the last one to two years, she now does not face the scroll anymore when playing, but now bends her head left and uses her violin as a pillow bending her neck quite a lot as a result, watching her I get worried this will cause her bad injury but again, I don't know, I am not her, just like Midori seems to be going strong, equally Ann might too.  These are hopefully people who are clever enough to know that bad posture leads to injury and hopefully if they hurt they will seek advice right? Also, they are professionals and do this for a living so it's in their best interest double folded to do so.

Sorry, not having a go at anyone, just 'reflecting/debating' that's all :)

August 26, 2011 at 09:38 PM ·

oh I see John, thanks for pointing it out..... I'd still end up in a wheelchair if I played like that ;) 

August 27, 2011 at 02:00 AM ·

Hi Sue,

I started a thread a while back on this subject.  I also posted a few videos that illustrate the issues I faced when I went rest-less.  Here it is in case you missed it. 

Playing without a shoulder rest

August 27, 2011 at 01:38 PM ·


August 28, 2011 at 05:13 PM ·

Violin chin rest

This is a photo of a gizmo I use on one of my violins (the Jay Haide) instead of the standard centrally-mounted or bass side-mounted chin-rest. My chin sits comfortably in the angle between the tail-piece and the gizmo with virtually no pressure on the table. There are no problems in shifting up and down the fingerboard.  In fact, it makes it easier for me to reach the highest parts of the fingerboard than when using a standard chin rest, and certainly more so than when using a shoulder rest (which I don't now use, anyway).

I discovered two of these gizmos ("chin anchors" perhaps, rather than "chin-rests"?) in a "remainders" box in a local violin shop a while ago, saw the possibilities, and bought them for a nominal sum. The proprietor thought they might date from the late 19th or early 20th century. The threaded holes in the ebony pieces for the tie bars were worn, so all that each needed to secure the tie bar was for a drop of epoxy resin to be inserted. I like it so much on the Jay Haide that I am about to fit the other "chin-anchor" to my old violin.

[Edit] I should perhaps make it clear that the chin-anchor is on the treble side of the tail-piece. A couple of reasons: the violin is very stable because the tail-piece is resting against the left side of my chin, so stopping the violin from tending to slide downwards towards my right; secondly, I understand the G-string side of the table vibrates more than does the treble side, so it follows that anything attached to the G-string side is going to modify the vibrations to some extent. This is less likely with the treble side of the table.

August 28, 2011 at 08:15 PM ·

@Trevor:  I assume your violin then has a pretty flat profile on your shoulder w/ no shoulder rest to tilt it to the E string side.  Do you have to raise your shoulder to play on the G string?  Otherwise it looks like a great idea.

August 28, 2011 at 10:27 PM ·

@Sue,  the treble bout rests on my collar bone close to my body axis. This is the lowest region of the collar bone, and it rises from there to the shoulder joint. This, I think, naturally causes the violin to be at a comfortable playing angle. In fact, following your post, I tried holding the violin horiozontal, and it was difficult and uncomfortable. I do not need to raise my left shoulder to reach the G-string because the violin is tilted (side to side) at a measured* angle of about 20 degrees to the horizontal - roughly the same as with many violinists using rests.

An advantage of the "chin anchor" I've described is that it would be fairly easy to make with basic carpentry tools, the required materials being just two small pieces of a hard wood, a couple of pieces of chamois to protect the violin, and a threaded tie rod bent over at each end.

* I measured the angle by holding pressing the scroll while in the playing position against a sheet of paper pinned to a wall, making pencil marks corresponding to the left and right sides of the violin, using a long ruler to get the alignments, and finally measuring the distances between the marks and doing a bit of trigonometry. A bit Heath Robinson, but it worked!


August 28, 2011 at 11:35 PM ·

@ Trevor again:  Wow--thanks for all the effort!  Looks like one could take apart an old chinrest with the single feet to do this. 

Someone's bound to wonder about the pressure on the tailpiece from your chin.  You said "virtually no pressure," now that I look again.  Does that mess up anything?

Got me curious, certain.  Thanks for the suggestion.  I'll try it sometime.

August 29, 2011 at 12:56 AM ·

@ Sue,  by "virtually no pressure" I was referring to my chin touching down on the violin's table, not the tail-piece. Having said that, my feeling is that before the chin rest was invented (c. 1820) some violinists would have used the tail-piece as a temporary chin rest, especially when stabilizing the instrument during down-shifts from high positions. You wouldn't need much pressure anyway, just enough to provide the necessary friction between the chin and tail-piece – a bristling beard would surely have helped!

I spend an evening a week playing English or Irish folk music in a local pub. Most of the time my chin never touches the instrument because I'm usually looking round at the dozen other musicians sitting round the table. Admittedly, it's not quite like that in my orchestral playing, but my chin certainly isn't glued to the violin all the time.

Whether or not you feel attracted to the baroque style, I believe one can learn a lot from inexpensive and easily reversible experiments such as this.

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