Experiencing neck pain

June 4, 2005 at 05:41 AM · Hi everyone!

I don't know if I've developed some sort of bad habit, or perhaps have never developed the good habit; I've been getting neck pains as a result of my violin practicing. I find that I have to strain my neck by pushing my chin down to support the violin. I use a Kun shoulder rest, and I don't find it extremely comfortable. Perhaps my collar bone/neck system doesn't fit traditional shoulder rests?

Can anyone suggest a more comfortable shoulder rest, or assist me in ridding myself of these aweful neck pains?

Replies (8)

June 4, 2005 at 05:42 PM · Perhaps you should have a teacher or another person look at your setup to see if it makes sense for you. I know that I used to press on my chin rest to keep the violin up while using a shoulder rest as well. My neck would hurt after playing for a while from the strain. I've since done away with the shoulder rest, but got a higher chin rest to make up some of the space difference. It's worked much better for me, and the pain is gone.

June 5, 2005 at 01:24 AM · i would sugggest trying the comford shoulder cradle... it forces your left shoulder back and is higher so that you don't have to "press".... i works really well for me

June 5, 2005 at 01:36 AM · It really helped me to make sure I was holding my violin up with my left arm rather than my chin because that causes the neck to get stuck and stiff.

Oh and try moving your head from left to right whilst you play something to make sure your neck isn't stiff.

June 5, 2005 at 03:49 PM · D Chin - that sounds encouraging, but is it not very uncomfortable to hold the round violin bottom directly on your shoulder without any cushioning? Do you use a cloth or anything?

June 6, 2005 at 12:20 PM · If you have a long neck, you need to find a way to support your violin without pushing your shoulder up and head down at the same time. I also use the comford shoulder cradle and it works really well as I have a long neck and basically, I put the violin on my shoulder and don't need to move anything (shoulder or chin height) and I just rest my head without pressure on the violin. I used to use the Kun and it wasn't high enough and I had pains in my back and neck from trying to close the gap between violin and shoulder.

June 6, 2005 at 01:10 PM · Yoni, the violin is mostly on my collar bone, but a bit of it is on my shoulder. I don't use a pad or anything. I just wear a shirt while playing. If you like the Kun rest you are using now, you might want to consider trying to support the violin just a little bit with your left hand to relieve your neck a bit.

Looking at myself in the mirror, I could see that I would pull my neck back and away from the violin so I could gain leverage on the shoulder pad. That would enable me to hold up the violin with just my chin.

Do you have a teacher, or an experienced friend who could look at your set up?

June 8, 2005 at 02:30 PM · Hi,

If you're feeling pain in the left shoulder/neck, I agree that you should have your setup looked at.

However, I would also suggest that you strengthen your back muscles which will help you keep from raising your shoulders, which is usually what causes neck pain.

First, to stretch the neck muscles, simply tip your head to the side so that the ear is going toward the shoulder.

To strengthen, bring your shoulderblades together (this should pull your shoulders down). You can do this while sitting. Also, you can do this by lying on your stomach with a pillow underneath your forehead, arms at your sides, palms down. Bring shoulderblades together WITHOUT using your neck muscles, then slowly raise your arms and back down. I find that this helps me a lot when I practice.

Good luck!

June 10, 2005 at 03:17 AM · Two points which relate to your question are:

1.Focus attention on feeling the weight of the violin, as if you had been asked to estimate its weight. The keener the awareness of the violin's lightness, the more the muscles which might grip it will relax.

2.Expect the violin to move around a little under your chin, on your collar bone...get comfortable with that, rather than aiming for a rigidly stationary violin. The sensory feedback which tells you that the violin is not being tightly gripped is key to using minimal effort to support it. Look at a Heifetz video and you will see this. Erick Friedman once said that while standing next to Heifetz while he was playing, he had the feeling that if he (Friedman) were to exhale hard, it would blow the violin out of Heifetz's hands!

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