a funny thing happened after my lesson...

January 22, 2013 at 06:11 PM · The lesson was great but a bit frustrating - I just could not get the SR 'right'. Sometimes its good but too often its infuriating (its been a long saga).

Went home - pulled out the violin, looked in disgust at the SR (its a very fancy Mach 1, but I own 5 or 6 different styles, none of which are ideal) and started playing without it.

And yes, it was great. No SR, no pad no nothing except a piece of chamoise leather tucked over the chin rest and along the back of the instrument. That serves mainly to stop slippage and to protect my neck from the end pin! The other thing was that I positioned the violin with my chin more over the tailpiece. Result? The violin hangs from my chin/chinbone to rest on my natural shoulder. No hands no stress - no thoughts about extra work for the left hand... go figure....

Its amazing - no problem shifting and no problem with anything. Indeed, a lot of the fast playing became easier. I honestly feel like I took the training wheels off. Its almost embarassing to admit but the sense of liberation is acute. Perhaps the biggest plus (which I don't think I've read, despite all the previous posts on the subject) is that the SR can get in the way when you are playing in very high positions, without you have maximum freedom.

Thats not to say I'm suddenly against SRs nor that I won't try them again. One thing I've noticed is that you have to be much more careful with your technique to not get muscle strain - which means relaxing all the time and adjusting the music stand height (for me as high as possible). Is this permanent? No idea - I'm not tossing the SRs out yet - but it certainly looks that way.

Replies (75)

January 22, 2013 at 07:20 PM · Hi Elise...

You keep adjusting music stand's height, now that you play without SR? It's a matter of getting used, and comfortable, i think.

January 22, 2013 at 07:31 PM · this sounds really good :)

thanks for posting

January 22, 2013 at 09:13 PM · The next funny thing will be when one of your chinrest tie rods strips its thread, the chinrest falls off and you find there is no violin store within 50 miles. However, your kind and thoughtful tutor at violin summer school shows you how to cope without a chinrest and not to panic.

All of which happened to me some years ago at a summer school in Ireland.

January 22, 2013 at 09:58 PM · Vanessa - I don't have to repeatedly adjust the stand height (which would mean stand-blues instead of SR-blues :D ) just make sure its high enough that I don't stoop - that causes fatigue and stress. I'm definitely more sensitive to posture.

Trevor LOL! "Mamma please don't take my chin rest away uhuh..." but there again... maybe... I do find it mildly irritating.

One thing I did recall: when I started playing (age 6) I did not have an SR; that was added when I was about 9 yrs old - after I swiched from a 3/4 to a full sized instrument. Thus, I might be reverting to primal instincts and reflexes. Its a great thought....

Also, before I had an SR I had a strange narrow ebony band that fixed onto the lower edge of the violin immediately below the chin rest (on the same clamp. If I recall right, this hooked over your collarbone and made holding the violin with the chin easier.

I wonder if such devices are still made?

January 23, 2013 at 01:34 AM · Yeah-I came to that conclusion about the height of the stand. I am a restless player (is that the right terminology)? Anyways I was always looking down. So I too heighten my stand, What a difference!

I tried to play with an SR recently, but it just didn't feel right to me. I know I know, I probably have to customize it and adjust it to my personal build. Blah-gave up, and I am happy again being restless.

January 23, 2013 at 08:09 AM · May I "borrow" my post of this morning on Jo parker's thread:

I found it refreshing and stimulating to remove both chin- and shoulder-rests, and find what I could and couldn't do on my viola. Then I could very gradually re-introduce minimum support as needed, to produce the sounds I wanted. (The viola requires firmer pressure on the string, firmer finger articulation, and a wider, very flexible vibrato).

Before finding a comfortable SR, I have cut and carved my CR, until I am am hardly aware of its presence; only then do I deal with the shoulder.

I have done the same "customisation" on student violins too (with permission!)

May I insist on the word "rest"? To support the fiddle, rather than hold it? I don't hold my instrument, I just "hold it up".. (As with the bow!)

I appreciate the tone of this thread: open and enquiring minds, completely free from the insufferable arrogance of many anti-resters (and the utter obstinacy of many pros!)

January 23, 2013 at 08:23 AM · While we're on the topic of viola - William Primrose says it should be held by the left hand, without the aid of the chin, unless changing position down.

January 23, 2013 at 10:12 AM · That looks like baroque technique.

January 23, 2013 at 10:35 AM · He wasn't that old.

January 23, 2013 at 03:13 PM · Congratulations Elise! Enjoy the freedom!

January 23, 2013 at 03:41 PM · I was, of course, worrying if it was for real or just something I could sustain for short periods - but went to a 2 hr orchestra rehersal and hardly noticed (except that I had to somehow stop the chamoise from crumpling ... bring on the 'lastic bands!

January 23, 2013 at 05:38 PM · Viola joke:

How many violists does it take to change a light bulb?

One to change it, and the rest to argue about how Primrose would have done it!

January 23, 2013 at 06:08 PM · When my daughter started the cello I found that her instrument (1/8 size) fit pretty well under my chin for tuning, with neither chin rest nor shoulder rest. And I could play simple things like the "Reiding Concerto" on it (transposed down a fifth plus an octave, of course) without much trouble. I did sort of feel, however, that my left arm was doing most of the holding. I'm very pleased to know that it's consistent with the teachings of Maestro Primrose.

January 23, 2013 at 06:11 PM · LOL Scott! But maybe on this subject we can learn from them after all, they have to manage a much bigger weight;)

The other thing to note is that I also have a long neck (see photo). I think the reason I can get away wihtout any padding is that I also have relatively broad shoulders: the angle of the violin is really determined by the height (measured from the floor to avoid confusion) at the collar bone and the point of its contact of the violin on the shoulder (assuming its at rest and you aren’t lifting it with your hand). Those two points set the ‘plane’ of the violin and are fixed – however you can get quite a bit of angle variation by adjusting which part of the violin contacts either point. Something I’ll get back to later.

Its interesting that according to this point of view the length of your neck is irrelevant – which is why it should be dealt with separately (such as by varying the chinrest height) and also why I can go rest- and pad-less.

January 23, 2013 at 09:22 PM · "The other thing to note is that I also have a long neck (see photo)."

Numbers, cold hard numbers, please.

January 23, 2013 at 09:32 PM · ...chuckle x2

January 23, 2013 at 09:37 PM · BTW, finally a light bulb joke that doesn't contradict itself!

January 23, 2013 at 10:03 PM · Elise, coming back to the serious realm, you've got a great opportunity to document your initial experiences with going restless and I have been "restless-curious" (sorry!) for a while so I value this thread very much. What I am mainly curious about is where does your chin (i.e., jaw) go on the violin. What I see is that, regardless of what type of chin rest is used, the SR-free folks are moving their chin over the tailpiece and into the eastern half of the violin, if you know what I mean. I think that's natural because you have to balance it somehow and if it is not well onto your shoulder then it's falling down the front of you all the time. What I see among children especially is that shoulder rests are more like chest rests. But when people move their chins eastward, then I always wonder why they don't go for center chin rests. Any downward pressure of the chin/jaw on the tailpiece itself would change the string tension and pull the violin out of tune, no?

January 24, 2013 at 02:57 AM · Paul - you are right on the money!. Now I already have a centre chinrest - and one with a large lip to boot (I had to trim it because it was too 'spoon' shaped).

So this is where things get VERY interesting (for violin dorks anyway). The placement of the chin has as much to do with the angle of the instrument from your chin as with balance. You achieve this just as you say, by moving your the contact point of the violin to the collarbone towards the e string. Thus, your chin now hangs over the tail piece and may even to to its right hand side.

If you look at old pictures of people playing sans SR or chin rest the chin is usually on the estring side. What that does is multiple things but, as I see it, the most important is that it places the body of the violin squarely over the shoulder - that was a major revelation and explained why it was so comfortable. However, I had to point the instrument more along my shoulder than I was used to.

This last change causes a bit of initial havoc because one thing we are very used to is the degree with which we have to rotate the left hand to place the fingers on teh keyboard (and align them with it too for easy playing) vs the need to place the bow on the string and draw a straight line. Anytime the violin is rotate toward the midline (paralell to the floor now) you faciliate the left hand and make life harder for the right and vice versa.

I suspect this may be a major reason it is hard for adults to learn - they don't have the pronation capacity in their left arm to align the fingers and hence are always crowding their bow arm. I suspect one major reason why I could suddenly go SR-less was because, due to an amazing teacher I had last summer, I have been training my left hand to rotate so that the fingers line up the keyboard. That must have reached the threshold for everything else. [Remember I played restless as a young child so the capacity was probably already still there.]

This may also be a reason why some people simply can't play without an SR - they don't have teh left arm rotation. So to compensate they will have to displace the violin off the shoulder - making it impossible to hold - and also crowd the bow - making it impossible to play.

Thus, to summarize: going SR less for me meant shifting the chin towards the E-string which permits the violin to lie along the shoulder - and the all important increased pronation of the left hand.


January 24, 2013 at 04:12 AM · Do you use arm vibrato, wrist vibrato or both ? Vibrato is the reason I still have to use a shoulder rest ; I cannot do vibrato without it. I know it can be done but I just cannot get the hang of it.

January 24, 2013 at 05:06 AM · Chin Rest maybe misleading because this implies the front most part of the 'mandible' rests on the 'chin rest'. Where it is the side of the 'jawbone' that is directly above the collar bone, in between which the violin is positioned. Thus the violin is held high on the shoulder which becomes appearent when being a 'restless player'.........

January 24, 2013 at 05:11 AM · Click on my name and go to my picture. This is my interpretation of where the violin should be. Comments welcome

January 24, 2013 at 08:46 AM · Henry - yes indeed; but if you use an SR you have more options for where the violin goes and (if you can surivve my diatribe above :) ) maybe the reason why some people (myself included a few months ago) have a hard time without! Its different - I can't say it takes a lot of getting used to, cause it suddenly happened to me!

Whats very interesting now is to go back to using the SR. Already I feel like someone put me in a straight jacket - but its also somehow easier. Which needs an explanation. Whats easier is to move my left hand - but the scope of movement has changed; it now works alone because the violin is ridgid.

I tried recording the same piece of music w and wo the SR - the first of Dvorjak's Romantic pieces. It was easier to play with the SR and as I was playing it sounded bigger and more expressive. My L hand felt freer. When I played without it sounded thinner and felt less expressive. But when I played it back the contrast was stark. With the SR it was louder - but it was harsh. I blew me away - so much more musical without.

How to explain? I think that without everything is in motion and this contributes to melding the sounds together - which is much more pleasing to the ear. Also, because the violin is angled a bit more away from my ear (no doubt this is more flexible than I've discovered yet) I heard less volume while playing.

January 24, 2013 at 08:48 AM · Hi Elise, I think it is normal when you start going restless to have the violin a bit exaggeratedly to the left on the shoulder, you are still a bit uncertain and you want safety. That position goes naturally with a center chinrest and your chin on the E-string side as you say it. But gradually, as you gain confidence, you will move your violin back to the right, more depending on the collarbone and less on the shoulder. At least that is what happened with me. Consequently I then went back to a left-mounted chinrest. It is easier on the left arm, as you write, the more the violin is to the left, the more you have to twist your left arm. The other thing is that I was concerned that the shoulder touching the back plate of the violin would have a negative effect on the sound. So I worked for a while on getting the violin back more to the center of the body. But I don't want to push you, just let it happen naturally, or not at all, like Anne-Sophie Mutter, she has her violin firmly on her shoulder and seems more than happy with it. The final step for me was to get rid of the chinrest alltogether. To be honest that step was trivial. Actually the metal clamp hurt my skin, so I started using a chamois leather (initially I did without one), but then I noticed that the chamois leather gives such a good support and comfort, avoiding slippage, that you don't need a chinrest at all. Note that I don't actually push with my chin down on the top of the violin (indeed nobody should push with the chin down, even with a shoulder rest) so it doesn't harm the sound or the wood or mechanism of the violin. The added benefit is that the irritation from the chinrest is gone. At least that was my personal voyage. I never played better than now that I am double restless (which is not saying much mind you). The only negative thing (but I definitely can live with it) is, as you describe, that in an orchestra setting where you have to repeatedly play, then pause, then play, then rest, you are initially constantly fumbling with your chamois leather piece. But after some time you become handy with it and now it is mostly just a flick of the finger to get my chamois in place.

January 24, 2013 at 08:48 AM · Brian - I am mostly arm vibrato. I've tried to learn wrist but its not very good still - but probably contributes 20% or so.

At the moment I think vibrato is reduced but adequate. Its something I am going to have to work on too.

January 24, 2013 at 09:02 AM · Jean - thanks for that input! Of course it is very early days and I am sure to see a lot of evolution. I suspect the final location of the violin may depend in part on larm length too - mine are long which means my bow arm needs space - and that tends to favor a more over the shoulder location.

I just remembered Yehudi Menuhin's tapes on holding the violin - the preparation one discussees location of the violin:

Yehudi's method

Look at 5'30" on - I think thats exactly where I have mine now. the only difference is that mine slopes down a bit more I think because my neck is longer so the contact with my jaw is higher. Of course Y also has long arms.

I've attached the chamois to the chin rest so that no flicking is necessary - not an option for you. Will I go chin-rest-less? Can't imagine it - but couldn't imagine this either!

January 24, 2013 at 09:46 AM · If you won't post numbers, how about a picture?

I, for one, would be very interested in seeing exactly what you mean as it pertains to you.

January 24, 2013 at 02:04 PM · Elise, I totally agree with your argument about hand position. We are very sensitive to the relative positions of our hands (in fact this is an advantage when playing and we are taught to make use of it), so when you move your violin all of that changes. And it does not take much of a change to cause a problem.

There was a thread started by Jo Parker a while ago (but recently resurfaced) where she said that she went restless with a center chin rest but ultimately she changed back to a Kaufmann type. This is consistent with Jean's comments above. (Also note that Nate has consistently recommended the Kaufmann chin rest.) Well I use a Kaufmann already (modified), but when I took off my SR it was a train wreck. My jaw really needed to be way over the tail piece to stabilize the violin on my shoulder and I could not deal with that. And I also played restless for my whole childhood, but then I gave up the violin entirely for 25 years. I had one of those large-hump Flesch chin rests as a kid. One thing that I have to deal with is a bony lump on my collarbone that exists because of the metal chinrest clamp contacting my collarbone throughout my childhood. So if I try restless I will have to pad that, because contact there is painful now. One thing you see on the kids' violins is moleskin. That seems better than a cloth that slips around but one needs to be careful to defend the surface of the violin from the adhesive.

Finally I know this is going to sound real weird against the background of all the "freedom" that is talked about in the restless context, but I wonder if there is a way to use Velcro to gain a little bit of positional security.

January 24, 2013 at 02:42 PM · I don't have a Kaufman - odd, probably the only one I don't have :p so I can't test it yet (this is all so new I haven't really thought about re-optimizing the chin rest) but from its look I think its designed to fit the rear cornder of the mandible - if so (and I need some input from a Kaufman user) that would seem to put the tip of the chin right where mine is - over the tailpiece.

What I use now is a Berber (but I had to take off most of the right hand lip as it stopped my chin from going over the violin - which makes it difficult to hold with the collarbone). Its a bit like an extended Kaufman I guess with the mandible supported full length. It has enough height to compensate from my neck length.

I hope I did not mislead here - the most useful way of defining the lateral position of the head to the violin that I've found (and it may be personal) is to open the right eye and look along the strings towards the scroll; I used to look to the left of the D string but found my playing improved when I looked dead centre on it. Now without the SR I'm looking dead centre between the D and A. Thats sufficent a shift to line up the violin mid-point to the left edge of my nose.

I hope thats understandable - I can make a diagram but I have too much work to do it now.

January 24, 2013 at 04:10 PM · Im a newbie compared to you and haven't moved out of first position yet. I'm still practicing in year 1/2 pieces out of Suzuki and the Sitt etudes book 1, however im in a very very similar situation with my SR.

At first i could not for the life of me play without it. I wanted to make sure i was learning with complete left hand freedom for when the time came that i started to incorporate vibrato. I didn't want to have to relearn how to play when my left hand needed to separate from the neck of the violin (at the base of the index finger) for vibrato, so i just ended up using an SR as a crutch. Just last night i started noticing that i was instinctively using my left hand contact point at the base of the index finger to assist in holding the instrument up when not using vibrato along with the pad of my thumb, and when i did use vibrato, the finger stopping the string became a substitute for the base of the index finger. So out of curiosity I removed the SR and was completely amazed. I still have to focus now on shifting weight to my chin just ever so slightly when i separate from the neck, but the fact that i can now feel the vibration of the note i'm playing in my collar bone which transfers to the rest of my body is something i was very surprised at. What is even more surprising is that all of the problems I originally had trying to play without the SR when i first picked up the instrument are now gone. For example the feeling as though i need to squeeze the neck to keep the instrument up, the problem where the second i moved the base of my index finger away from the neck the violin would feel as though it were dropping to the floor, the bent wrist resulting from trying to improperly support my instrument, etc. I have to say that using the SR as a crutch for a few weeks, while making a subconcious effort to rid myself of its aid slowly but surely must have trained my body to work without it. And the feeling of the notes resonating throughout the body through the wood on bone contact with my collar bone is completely worth it to me, not to mention the more 'intimate' connection with the instrument that i thought everyone was speaking complete nonsense about when i read opinions of SR/no SR in the past. Glad there are others in the same position as me! :)

January 24, 2013 at 04:18 PM · Aaron - very similar except you made the discovery way earlier than I (I guess I wasn't ready yet).

And welcome to the clan of the SR-moderates! A newly recognized (but long-existing) species on V.com ... :)


January 24, 2013 at 06:15 PM · @Aaron

Good on ya cobber!

January 24, 2013 at 06:30 PM · I don't normally use a SR because I find it more relaxing without, but I do use it sometimes for orchestral concerts and the dress rehearsal — I have one such this weekend — for one reason only, and that is for quick and reasonably fool-proof turning over the pages of the music. It's my first concert with this particular symphony orchestra (Bristol Classical Players), so I don't want any embarrassments with several VS's in at least two demanding works!

January 25, 2013 at 11:15 PM · Update... well - it didn't work (but please read on :) ).

The problem I encountered was that the violin was too horizontal: what that meant was that while playing on the e and a was easy, the d OK - the G was a strain and I found that I had to bring my L elbow too far under the violin to finger and raise my R hand too much to bow. What to do - well, I figured the problem was the chin rest - the relationship between it and my chin is fixed so there was no flexibility to increase the angle of the violin (to bring down the R side).

So I dug into my parts box and pulled out the old SAS chin rest which has a variable angle - and a longer stem too which should (in theory) be good for my neck. It was awful. The main problem (other than just being the wrong curved surface) was that it attaches to one side of the tail piece and was too far to the left. So I took it off - but since the violin was now naked I thought I would see how we would make out. [Just testing how many people actually got this far].

Wow! Gravitas was so light and as long as I used a material sheet with a bit of sticky to it (I have a wash cloth with an amazing texture which works great) all the problems went away. Now my chin rests (gently) against the tail piece and the violin is so light and maneuverable. A big plus is that the sound from the G string (always rather muted) suddenly opened up.

Can I stay like this? The big question is whether I can play without stress. My long neck has not gone away but what I found is that by angling the violin more it increases the distance from chin to shoulder and I'm hoping thats enough. If this does not work I will have to explore more chin rests or even get one custom made....

January 26, 2013 at 02:45 AM · I must admit the thought of wondering if there is anything else left to take off :D

January 26, 2013 at 03:34 AM · I don't think it will be possible to play with a lot of vibrato. And downshifting, especially from 3rd position down to 1st will be a problem. I don't really see how it will be possible to accomplish those things without a chin rest.

January 26, 2013 at 03:46 AM · BTW, violins DO sound better without a chin rest. The trick is to find a chin rest that affects the sound the least. I have tried center mounted chin rests, but they make my violin sound awful. So, to get the best sound, I have to go with a side mounted chin rest. Some violins are better the other way around. It all depends on the instrument.

January 26, 2013 at 05:07 AM · With a long neck you'd be lucky enough to find a chin rest that suits you* .

*non-specific you.

January 26, 2013 at 07:19 AM · I'm only a beginner (though I play in an orchestra) and chucked my chin rest last summer (after getting Stanley Richie's book Before the Chinrest: A Violinist's Guide to the Mysteries of Pre-Chinrest Technique and Style on recommendation from here). The thing is, you only put your chin on when required (shifting down) though being an awkward cuss I don't do it at all at the moment - my neck stays aristocratically erect). It's the amazing lightness of the instrument that convinced me. Though it's going to be a tough road, it'll be a most pleasant one.

January 26, 2013 at 08:03 AM · Smiley, I went totally restless for about six months (after a neck injury, I couldn't put any pressure at all on my neck). You get used to playing that way. I don't know about vibrato, because I don't use a wide vibrato even with all the rests. But the shifting was fine with a little work. But I do see why you are able to creep around from 1st to 2nd to 3rd in Baroque repertoire. It's much cleaner to creep up and down, rather than shift up and down. My left hand also collapsed inward with no support from the neck. I didn't have problems, but I think if I played that way for any length of time, I would have. Speed was also effected. You just can't play very fast without some chin support.

In summary, it was an interesting few months, but I was glad to get the chin rest back.

Edit: I might have been more successful had i used the opportunity to take baroque violin lessons from someone who could have helped me navigate the position change. But I didn't.

January 26, 2013 at 10:09 AM · "I don't think it will be possible to play with a lot of vibrato. And downshifting, especially from 3rd position down to 1st will be a problem. I don't really see how it will be possible to accomplish those things without a chin rest."

Well, I'm clearly doing something different Smiley because I have no difficulty with either -shifts from third - or 7th are really no trouble at all. I think its the 'sticky cloth' that makes all the difference. It was mentioned above and is, I think, essential (I can't control the violin without). I have a chamoise and its OK but a piece of synthetic cleaning cloth that I got from who knows where is tops - I just hope i can find it again somewhere.

For the record, I put another chin rest on - a Guarneri - and that seems to be working much better. Ironically, its the one that came with the violin.

January 26, 2013 at 05:50 PM · I remember watching a video Smiley posted at some point. If I remember correctly, his shoulders were more sloped than Elise's, so it makes sense to me that he would have more trouble than Elise shifting without a shoulder rest.

Elise, maybe the picture at the top of this topic is deceptive, but your neck looks average to me. or maybe my eyes are defective :)

Eric mentioned numbers - I suppose if we got really technical, we could find a way to measure ourselves for threads like these - neck length; the precise angle of the slope of our shoulders; the distance from the collarbone to end of shoulder; the distance from the front of the shoulder to the back. And then there are the hands - hand width, finger length, finger width, etc... Just think how we could drive ourselves crazy comparing all the dimensions! ha

January 26, 2013 at 06:23 PM · Average neck? Me?? Nothing about me is average :D

"Eric mentioned numbers - I suppose if we got really technical, we could find a way to measure ourselves for threads like these - neck length; the precise angle of the slope of our shoulders; the distance from the collarbone to end of shoulder; the distance from the front of the shoulder to the back. And then there are the hands - hand width, finger length, finger width, etc... Just think how we could drive ourselves crazy comparing all the dimensions! ha"

Love it - violin dorks strike again!

January 26, 2013 at 06:44 PM · Maybe one of our more technical resident dorks could even come up with a formula where you enter all the measurements and it comes out with a list of your perfect equipent - chinrest type, shoulder rest/pad/none, bowhold, etc. :)

January 26, 2013 at 07:42 PM · Elise,

For 3rd position and higher, shifting is less of a problem because the heal of the left hand contacts the violin keeping it pressed against your neck. It is shifting down from 3rd to 1st where the friction of your left hand on the neck tends to pull the violin away from you. So I can't really visualize the chamois cloth you are describing, but somehow, that is preventing the violin from sliding off your collar bone. But in the long run, I believe you will need something more secure to keep the violin in place, like a chin rest.

As Eugenia points out, and you confirmed, it can be done. But it just is not optimal, especially when you are working on more advanced repertoire and stuff that requires gobs of vibrato.

January 26, 2013 at 09:52 PM · Really, I'm just curious about the length of neck from collar bone to jaw, not a PhD thesis. It can be measured in 5s. I just tried to phrase it lightly to hide embarrassment :-(

So many people say they have a long neck but somehow seem able to use a standard chin rest. When I look at my own, with a teka rest, there is a huge gap of about 5cm (the height of violin and rest again!) and unless I ridiculously crane my neck I don't come close. I'll see what happens with the Kréddle.

The most like this I have seen is the violinist in the Chatham Baroque who plays "au sauvage" but the violin is way over his shoulder and he does have to use his shoulder and crane his neck at times, in a way I wish to avoid....and it is baroque music.

Some will no doubt say you don't need to contact the chin rest, but it is OK for those who can do it when they need or want to, to say that.

For me it is not about SR, I am actually finding it better without.

January 26, 2013 at 11:55 PM · Shame I didn't ask for another length....

....most guys would know that one off by heart.

January 27, 2013 at 03:04 AM · So had my first lesson sans SR (I chickened out and put the chin rest back - but its an experiment that is going to recur ;) ). Teacher was most amused - and agreed that I play much better without it - its palpable. I'm not attacking the instrument so much so it sounds more musical.

Today I played for nearly 4 hours - practise, lesson and and a wonderful afternoon of trios (with flute and cello). No sign of fatigue or frustration either so I think the SR is going to stay in the drawer for the near future.

January 27, 2013 at 03:07 AM · Smiley: "For 3rd position and higher, shifting is less of a problem because the heal of the left hand contacts the violin keeping it pressed against your neck. It is shifting down from 3rd to 1st where the friction of your left hand on the neck tends to pull the violin away from you. So I can't really visualize the chamois cloth you are describing, but somehow, that is preventing the violin from sliding off your collar bone. But in the long run, I believe you will need something more secure to keep the violin in place, like a chin rest."

I don't think you have the picture. I can hold the violin without my hand without the SR and also without the chin rest. Thus shifting is simply not an issue. The chin rest serves more to avoid stress; I found you are a bit more sensitive to incomplete relaxation without an SR and a lot more so withoutthe chinrest.

Sell you a sheet of magic cloth for $1000....

January 27, 2013 at 03:10 AM · BTW the chin rest that sounds best on my violin is the one it originally came with (fitted by the luthier). Surprise eh? Its centre mount but uses two feet to grab the underside of the violin rather than that horizontal bar. Perhaps that lets the plate vibrate more? Just wonderin alous...

January 28, 2013 at 03:55 AM · So, what chin rest have you settled on (when you are using one)? I lost that somehow in all the rest of the thread.

I tried taking off my SR just for kicks and you know the old skills (I played restless as a child) kick in very quickly. Chin automatically grabs onto chinrest on the downshifts. What I am finding is that my left hand gets tired very quickly without the SR because, of course, it is doing more work holding up the violin while stopping the notes. Probably that fatigue would subside in time.

January 28, 2013 at 04:10 AM · Right now I have a guarneri on - the one that came with my violin. The key thing is that there is a little gap between it and the tail piece which serves as a nice marker for where my chin goes and gives it a little bit of traction to stabilize the violin in the horizontal direction - and its nicely ballanced.

But for stability the magic cloth is key. Without it you do have to work; with it I can happily hold the violin without my left hand indefinitely, as if I had an SR - and without any gripping of the chin at all.

I actually feel as if I'm cheating....

Edit: the cloth is rectangular, a bit wider than the chin rest which it covers and then folds under the violin and extends the full length of the shoulder - it lies along it. Thus, it both provides resistance at the chin rest and between the violin and shoulder.

January 28, 2013 at 12:21 PM · Hi Paul,

If the left arm is getting tired, I think it is more likely that you are changing your technique, perhaps moving the left shoulder forward. The scroll end of the violin weighs practically nothing compared to the weight of your arm. I doubt it is that weight that is causing the tired sensation.

January 28, 2013 at 12:31 PM · BTW, one or two lessons in AT is all it would take to figure out the cause of the tiredness.

February 4, 2013 at 05:00 PM · Well I tried it again yesterday, not playing anything strenuous, just stuff like Kreutzer No. 2 and a few pieces out of some lower Suzuki books, and I find that there is no fatigue in my hand but after about half an hour there is fatigue in the upper part of my left arm. I suppose I will just try it for 20 minutes a day or so and see if it just goes away. My violin without an SR is in a slightly different position so maybe my arm has to hold itself differently now too. In addition to the violin that must be held up, the arm must be held up too. I think this is probably most of the problem because the violin is fairly light after all.

February 4, 2013 at 05:05 PM · Make sure your shoulder is TOTALLY relaxed. If not you have to adjust something. And don't forget the magic cloth :D

I'm so used to it now I can't imagine going back to an SR - I'm not going to even try for a while so that when I do I'll be open to any improvements.

February 4, 2013 at 05:37 PM · Elise, i'm glad to know it works for you,

Few months ago i was still the one thinking,"what shoulder rest do i have to buy? The ones i have just don't make me feel comfy!" I have in total 6 SR, but me being stupid, never thought of,"perhaps i need another chinrest!" <<< i've always been thinking,"chinrest? But i already have it!" (The usual guarneri). At that time i've always had pain, whether it's my left or right shoulder, or my back, but i thought,"yeah, it's obvious, right? I exercised way too much today!"

But i was wrong! One day i was so upset of the pain and being depended on a massager, i ditched my SR and started playing. And hmmm....it's like....wow magic!? "Why had i not done this earlier??" Haha. From here I realized that, if i could try out shoulder rests, i could try out chinrests, too! So i browsed this site, and i also got chinrests recommendations from facebook friends, and then i went to local luthier to try out chinrests.

Since that time i play restless most of the time. With and without pad (cosmetic pad)

I don't hate SR, in fact i love VLM diamond and sometime i use it if i want (although only for a few minutes), but i don't have a very long neck and my shoulder is a little square so my violin rests just naturally on my collarbone.....i think this is the reason why any SR i have used is still too high for me even though i modified it (vlm diamond is the lowest i have, i love it!)

February 6, 2013 at 09:33 PM · All this must be working on my subconcious: I forgot to take my Kun Bravo to 4-hour orchestral rehearsal on Sunday, and had to hold the violin in my hand (as my shoulder is several kilometres too low).

My violin neck had to rest against the side-of-the-base-of-the-index, which limited my vibrato. For more vibrato, (if I had been playing viola, or in chamber music) I would have to put the thumb pad under the violin-neck, way behind the index, or even under the scroll...

However, this diasaster "awakened" my left hand sensations, and leaving my shoulder completely relaxed meant no stiffness the next day.

Like the "antis", who claim-not-to-use-their-shoulders-but-in-fact-do-so, I realise I usually raise mine more than I thought. I may have to lengthen the feet of my SR considerably, to avoid hunching the shoulder when I want a nice juicy vibrato.

Once again, I am enjoying this thread for its spirit of open-minded experiment, far from the dogmatic hero-worship of certain antis.

February 7, 2013 at 04:06 AM · the main residual issue I've had has been the angle of the violin. I thoughtabout addinga pad to my shoulder to fix that but am reluctant because I now want my shoulder to be mostly irrelevant to how I play. IN looking for an alternative I discovered that I could add a tiny- and I mean really small(2 folds of a cloth) , pad to the back of the violin, at the left end of my collarbone to achieve quiete a substantial chang in the violin angle. This seems to bring the (right) edge of the violin into even better contact with the corresponding region of the collarbone and, hence, does not reduce the control from the collarbone/rib/chin contact.

This is still a work in progress but looks quite promising ...

February 7, 2013 at 04:57 AM · I am curious.

Would you say you hold the violin scroll high (like Heifetz) or low like Milstein et.al. without SR?

February 7, 2013 at 09:21 AM · definitely low. It feels as if the violin sort of hangs from my chin. Curiously, however, in the mirror it doesn't really look like it.

Its something I was advised to do by a pro i worked with last summer. She said that in most cases she encourages people to hold thier violin higher but in mine I should let it hang more. I don't know if that meant I was holding it up too much or that that posture suited my physique more.

February 7, 2013 at 10:48 AM · I think it's your physique.

I was mucking around with my SR (Kun Bravo) again and looking at some video of Simon's and thinking about long necks and came to the conclusion that I could use a standard chin rest (at least with SR) but only if I did as you describe (I presume the violin is more to the right as well?). In my case my arms don't feel comfortable though and I prefer the violin higher and then the chin rest is miles too low.

February 7, 2013 at 05:46 PM · Actually, my violin is moreto the left - but thats location is because I have relatively long arms and that creates space for my bow arm. I think everyone has an ideal rotation of the violin to make it easy to draw the bow at right angles to the string. I don't think you can mess with that.

I was experimenting a bit today - I can easily hold the violin with just my chin and even move the scroll up and down. Maybe the secret is in both how much body fat you have over the collar bone (very little) and how far the latter is from your neck (if that varies much).

February 7, 2013 at 08:00 PM · I think you may be on to something about the collarbone. Mine is pretty close to my neck so not much of the violin can rest on it.

February 7, 2013 at 08:04 PM · hey, thats neat Don, thats what I've been nibbling at but put much better. I had not thought of that 'square off' idea -give it a try myself....

February 7, 2013 at 08:06 PM · Do you work out DL? I suppose powerful neck muscles might be a problem. But can you feel thecollar bone? I can get the side of one finger comfortably behind it.

Whats weird though is that I tried all this a few months ago and gave up in disgust so something changed ...

February 7, 2013 at 08:39 PM · I hold similarly to the tall player on that site. I have a prominent collarbone, in fact my shoulder is all collarbone from the front. Ha.

Is your left elbow against your ribs or free of the body?

Wolf was making an adjustable chin rest based on that group's findings but told me they were having production problems and it doesn't seem to have happened.

February 7, 2013 at 10:18 PM · elbow is totally free - contact would take a LOT of slope... shoulder is free too BTW.

February 8, 2013 at 03:47 AM · The only challenge with playing the violin without a shoulder rest is shifting downward. And the key to that problem is to anticipate with the thumb. The worst thing you can do is remove the shoulder rest and clutch with the shoulder (ouch!).

February 8, 2013 at 02:25 PM · Even with an SR you anticipate with the thumb. That's what my daughter was taught. Lead with the thumb.

February 8, 2013 at 03:18 PM · Paul - which is why playing without an SR, if just for a while, is so good for technique. You suddenly find out what the thumb was evolved for!

February 8, 2013 at 06:46 PM · Elise, actually I agree even though so far my forays into restless playing have not gone well. I have not given up but I am going to see if I can get some professional instruction on it.

After playing restless for half an hour, putting the SR back on was just such an incredible relief that everything seemed suddenly so easy, including downshifting. A bit like swinging the bat with one of those lead donuts on there.

February 8, 2013 at 07:40 PM · I'm guessing that you are ignoring the magic cloth advice...

Mine is an artificial chamois (works better than the real thing) but, horror of horrors, its been discontinued.... (fortunately I have one spare pack. Hmmm lets see, starting with bids at $10,000. Maybe I can buy that french bow after all....

February 9, 2013 at 07:55 PM · A chamois alone doesn't work for me. Guess it depends on your particular anatomy. I'm doing pretty well with my homemade shoulder pad, though.

February 9, 2013 at 08:20 PM · Its magic M.L. .... going once...

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