How to get a Violin Hickey

March 30, 2015 at 07:17 PM · I've been playing the violin for almost 10 years now, and I still haven't experienced even a trace of the famous violin hickey. All the violinists I meet have it, even those who have just started playing! I want to know how I could have one? For me, if you have one, you're part of the Elite Society of Violinists. Also, people don't really question your credibility if they see one. Please share your thoughts and advice in the comments? I'd really, really, like to have one. It might be weird, but I do. Thank you! :)

Replies (33)

March 30, 2015 at 07:39 PM · There is never a good reason to have one. I practice 3-4 hours daily and I don't have one.

March 30, 2015 at 07:39 PM · It depends on the sensitivity of your skin. You won't develop one if your skin isn't sensitive to the abrasion, or if you do something that prevents that abrasion (cover the button with a cloth, wear collared shirts and place the instrument in such a way that the collar covers your neck, etc.).

March 30, 2015 at 08:00 PM · What Ms. Leong said. In any case, the violin hickey is avoidable and I deem it a good thing that you don't have it-which is not to say that players who have it must be "doing it wrong."

I stopped having it since I switched chinrest, shoulder rest, and violin position. Not only does the violin feels super easy to play, but the hickey disappeared. I don't even use a cloth, but then my skin may not be as sensitive as others.

As long as you are doing your violinistic labor of love, let your music-not your hickey!- do the talking about being part of any so-called "elite" violinists. :) The hickey only demonstrates irritation, for better or worse.

(I do not think any less of anyone with "hickeys" though-to feel "superior" about such nonsense is silly, as plenty great players do have the hickey.)

March 30, 2015 at 09:34 PM · To get a decent hickey, choose a chinrest in a material to which you are allergic, and with a shape that only touches your skin over the smallest possible area.

Goodn luck!

Keep us posted..

March 30, 2015 at 09:35 PM · You could get a real hickey, and pretend that it's a violin hickey.

March 30, 2015 at 10:08 PM · Get some makeup from the horror department of a theatrical store.

March 30, 2015 at 10:35 PM ·

March 30, 2015 at 10:39 PM · The funny thing is I was just listening to a podcast today that was discussing how to get rid of a violin hickey. I guess the hickey is redder on the other side of the music stand.

March 30, 2015 at 11:19 PM · Now I know what a hickey is. I hadn't heard the word before, except as a surname.

March 30, 2015 at 11:37 PM · I can tell that David's experience is not limited only to carving some good fiddles!

March 31, 2015 at 01:36 AM · Be careful what you wish for. A violin hickey can easily turn into a boil!

March 31, 2015 at 01:46 AM · David's idea sounds much more fun!

Seriously though -- an ill-fitting chin rest combined with a shoulder rest that is jacked up to the heavens is a good way to get one. It would help if you have a nickel allergy, or an allergy to a certain type of wood, and use that material :-D

March 31, 2015 at 03:36 AM · The image in the following link looks painful to me: Joshua Bell

March 31, 2015 at 04:49 AM · Whyyy?

I've spent pretty much my entire violin life trying to GET RID OF THE VIOLIN HICKEY

My teacher actually stopped in the middle of class, all the way across the room, and point at me and yell, "You have a hickey! Katherine has a hickey!" (no joke! our teacher is pretty crazy)

So embarrassing.

But anyway

To add to all the advice so far, it would be nice if you scratched the irritated spot just to annoy it further. The majority of rashes come from itching, right?

If anyone here is looking for a way to get rid of it instead, apply some petroleum jelly or ask your doctor for topical steroids (if it gets serious). Either that or put a cloth between the violin and your skin.

March 31, 2015 at 09:14 AM · Rocky wrote:

"I can tell that David's experience is not limited only to carving some good fiddles!"


Unlike the more popular kids, I had to resort to making a special vacuum cleaner attachment so I could self-administer. So sad.

Do you think there might be a good market for these attachments? They could be carved out of a pretty wood, and kept in the accessory pocket of the violin case, ready for use at a moments notice. I was thinking of calling it the "Quick-Hick".

March 31, 2015 at 11:10 AM · I can't remember whether it was Sandor Vegh or Bruno Giuranna who said it at Prussia Cove, and they used the word "mark" rather than the word "hickey", but the message was that a mark on your shoulder/collar bone area made by the bottom of the violin was more important than what's visible on your neck/jaw.

March 31, 2015 at 12:07 PM · I call the violin hickey "the mark of the covenant."

As for the collarbone, I have a "thing" there that was caused by playing without a shoulder rest throughout my childhood. Now I cannot do it, it hurts too much, so I use the "medium" polypad, which stands the violin off from my collarbone just enough.

March 31, 2015 at 12:15 PM · One answer to the OP is to practice a whole lot more!

And douglas, you pinched my idea!

April 8, 2015 at 03:52 AM · Hahaha! The comments left me feeling really, really amused, and kind of confused. I am definitely going to try some methods (but not getting a real hickey, David!)

I want a violin hickey because

1.) It makes me feel experienced (don't get any ideas not related to music)

2.) People don't believe I'm a violinist without it. They're like, "Don't violinists usually have those marks? How come you don't have one? Oh, it's probably because you're not that good" yada, yada, yada.

And 3.) Well, this part is kind of sadistic, but no pain = no gain.

I know, I'm weird. Thanks for the advice, guys!

April 8, 2015 at 05:45 AM · There would be a market for stick-on silicone hickeys?

April 8, 2015 at 08:37 AM · The mark of the real cellist is of course the thickened skin on the side of the left thumb.

April 8, 2015 at 10:34 AM · I believe that it is caused by bacteria. At least that makes sense to me. I have always kept my violin/chin rest quite clean. I've never had one. Maybe it has to do with your skin type also, or how resistant you are. I think once you get one it's hard to get rid of. I wouldn't want one. I don't understand why anyone would want one.

April 8, 2015 at 11:19 AM · Girl, you must be crazy. Violin hickey is NOT a sign of your technical competence, rather the opposite of. Press the end button against the skin of your neck as much as you can and preferably use chinrest with nickel attachment. Once the skin gets itchy, scratch it and keep low hygiene, do not clean your violin or the chinrest. You will end up with a nasty skin infection, hickey is nothing else. Be careful what you wish for.

April 8, 2015 at 11:56 AM · I wouldn't say "the opposite of" technical competence, as many great players do have it, but is frankly a rather useless "badge of honor" that no one needs. Whoever thinks less of you for not having it is being foolish, so don't join their kind of "logic."

Intelligently practice a LOT, whether you get a "violin hickey" or not-technical and musical proficiency are "proof" of being a "real violinist", not skin irritation.

(Also consider the great many players and soloists who DO NOT have the so-called hickey-are they not "tr00 violinists" as well?)

April 8, 2015 at 02:41 PM · In the last week or so I have developed hives in the exact shape of the chinrest on my neck. Apparently one may develop allergies to rosewood. It's itchy and burns and looks awful. Why anyone would want this is beyond me. If your friends think its a gauge of ability, you need smarter friends.

April 8, 2015 at 03:06 PM · I've never had a violin hickey in 14 years of violin playing, even though the violin rests on my collar bone and the end button seems to be in some sort of contact with my neck. I don't use a shoulder rest and the pressure of my chin on the chin rest is low and often zero, so that may be a factor.

Referring to my previous post about the “mark of the real cellist”, my lifelong friend* since childhood has now gone to the care of my daughter in continental Europe. Her cello needs are greater than mine, and I do next to no cello playing nowadays. I can always borrow one if necessary.

* a mid-19th century French cello.

April 9, 2015 at 03:49 AM · I had a hickey until I started using a shoulder rest. I guess if you really want one you can try playing without one, and clenching your jaws really hard? Maybe use a suction cup? LOL I'm not going to recommend anything like that of course.

April 9, 2015 at 03:39 PM · I had a violin hickey for years, and I don't recommend it for a number of reasons. One, it got really infected with painful open skin and bleeding. Sometimes I couldn't even play until it healed. Two, one of my employers almost fired me for violating company rules on having visible marks like that.

But what was interesting was that I started studying with a teacher who really helped me attack my tension while playing. As I learned how to hold and play the violin without the excessive tension my hickey went away and I've never seen it since then. I'm playing tons more music now then I was then but not once has my skin had that issue again. That teacher will always hold a special place for me for helping me with that.

Don't try to get one. On their own, they're not a sign of a players skill - good or bad. But they're not necessary and anytime your skin gets infected like that it could lead to more serious issues. It's just not worth it.

Good Luck!

April 9, 2015 at 08:44 PM · Why would you be fired for having a scar? And how is that legal?

I've never had one to speak of. I might get the occasional pimple there in the summer. I'm okay with not having one.

April 10, 2015 at 03:25 AM · Sarah, the job I was referring to had a policy about "marks" or tattoos on the body that wasn't a birthmark or unavoidable. A hickey was considered a sexual type mark and therefore was avoidable. Anything that detracted from a professional appearance wasn't allowed. Once I proved what the mark was from, the company was fine with it.

April 10, 2015 at 01:42 PM ·

April 11, 2015 at 03:08 AM · I'm starting to get a hickey again. I think it's because my chin rest is very dirty, and I've been practicing with very short to no breaks during the session.

April 14, 2015 at 05:04 AM · if someone wonders where your violin hickey is, just say you don't have one becasue you hold the violin correctly

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