Mum’s raging / violin hickey

Edited: April 10, 2018, 9:28 AM · My mother is very unsupportive of I picking up violin. I understand her concerns as she’s a widow and doesn’t appreciate I ‘wasting’ my time practising music. I’m 21 years of age, a college graduate, preparing for Masters in a Economics, am ‘adult beginner’.

She expects me to play melodious pop songs. I hate them.
She’s rages when I practice scales and etudes. She says I ‘hurt her eardrums’. I understand that, considering we live under the same roof. So I try to practice when she’s not home.

I’ve been playing violin for 1.6 years now. And I’ve developed a nasty ‘violin hickey’ underneath my jaw. It’s not because of skin allergy, but it’s wound caused by constant rubbing of the Chin-rest against my neck.

I never cared about it. I still don’t. What I look like is the least of my concerns. But my mother gets extremely furious whenever she notices it. She would develop a frown on her forehead, would yell at me, and threaten to break my violin if I don’t get rid of it soon, and tells me to either live by her rules, or leave playing violin. She’s very short tempered, goes without saying. I’ve tried explaining to her that it is normal, and that if I don’t care, she too shouldn’t. But alas! She does. Beats me why she does. It infuriates her atleast 5 times a day.

How do I get rid of the ‘wound’. I do apply ointment every night, and after I practice. I’ve also started using a cushion to prevent direct contact of chin-rest with my skin. Doesn’t seem to be working significantly. How do I get rid of it. Is there a quicker way?

Replies (23)

April 10, 2018, 9:37 AM · Likely you do not have the right combination of chin rest and (if you you use one) shoulder rest. Or your posture and setup are wrong and that's creating pressure in that spot which has led to irritation.

Let it heal, that's my advice.

April 10, 2018, 9:51 AM · I used to install my shoulder rest in an incorrect way. Which probably caused the injury.
I’ve started installing it in the correct fashion now.

I understand that I need to ‘let it heal’.
But my mother won’t understand that. :)

April 10, 2018, 10:02 AM · May I respectfully suggest that you play the occasional "melodious pop song" for your mother to enjoy?

Other than that, I agree with Paul. I think you should consider different chinrest styles. If you don't have a teacher, perhaps you could at least have a consultation with a qualified teacher or professional player to look at your posture and setup.

April 10, 2018, 10:51 AM · I believe Aditya lives in a place with no suitable violin professionals except the cellist guy who can play a bit of violin. Maybe try looking at yourself in a mirror and see what your posture's like. I believe there's an article in the Strad Magazine on how to cure a neck hickey. Do some googling. How does your setup feel? Do you think your chin rest fits the shape of your chin? You can maybe feel yourself and see what it's like.
April 10, 2018, 11:02 AM · To appease your mother you can buy mutes that sit on your bridge and reduce the sound output. A heavy metal mute cuts the sound the most and rubber less so. Use of a mute can alter your bowing because it is a natural reaction to press harder for more sound.

Some people are prone to hickeys and perhaps you are one of them. You could try placing a small soft cloth between your violin and your affected area and maybe it will help clear up the inflammation in a couple of weeks.

April 10, 2018, 11:10 AM · @Ella Yu, think it does. I can sandwich the violin between my jaw and my shoulder for as long as I wish to, without breaking a sweat.
One reason could be, I keep digging my violin further into the cavity formed by my shoulder and jaw, to get a good hold. But it seems that one should dig it into the cavity. Violin should be rigid while performing a vibrato. Right?
April 10, 2018, 12:20 PM · Most of the violin's weight should be supported by the shoulder/collar-bone region. The left arm takes a small portion of the violin's weight. In other words, your violin only needs to be secure enough for ease of shifting and vibrato. If you want something for your chin to hold on to, consider a chin rest with more of a scoop shape e.g Flesch, side-mount version. You shouldn't have to bend your head too far forward to hold the violin. Maybe try a higher chin rest or a higher shoulder rest setting. If you want more relevant advice, consider posting a picture of your hold. Several pictures from various angles would be even better.
April 10, 2018, 12:20 PM · Well, if it makes you feel better, my mom thought I was a fool for becoming a teacher, and it's worked out pretty well for me.
April 10, 2018, 1:25 PM · Echoing a previous poster: Use cloth between your instrument and the affected area. You can also get special chin rest covers. My recommendation: Strad Pad. I've used these for a long time. Mine come with small adhesive strips. I affix the strip to the chinrest and then attach the pad to the strip by Velcro. These devices are washable. Two things about them I especially like: 1) Excellent grip for chin/jaw area -- no slippage. 2) No skin irritation.
April 10, 2018, 2:45 PM · Also, try applying Witch Hazel to the hickey with a cotton pad, two or three times a day. It's a soothing natural astringent, which can be purchased at any drug store very cheaply, and will probably clear up the redness fairly quickly.
April 10, 2018, 2:48 PM · Try practicing at a friend's house or with a mute. Or soundproof your practice room. If she isn't encouraging, well, her loss. Also, have you tried foundation on your hickey?
April 10, 2018, 2:48 PM · you can buy a cheap electric violin, they produce almost no sound unless it's plugged in...not ideal, but it's probably the quietest solution
Edited: April 11, 2018, 7:19 AM · Chamois (a "cloth" made from leather (animal skin) is useful covering the chinrest to prevent "violin hickey." The hickey itself will probably cure quickly with an antibiotic ointment or the antiseptic ZEPHIRAN CHLORIDE, which used to be fairly easy to find.

Also there are many styles of chinrests and you might find one that better suits the shape of your jaw.

April 10, 2018, 3:30 PM · But why do you play so many études? They only exist to help us play real music.
April 10, 2018, 5:38 PM ·
Violin hickey can be caused by poor technique also: too much left hand movement. For example, when playing a one octave scale over two strings, you need to work on as little movement as possible by the fingers and there should never be any movement at the wrist or forearm. Look at your first finger when it travels from B note on A string to F# on E string, there shouldn't be any hand movement or forearm movement at all, just a simple twist of the index finger. A lot of beginners do this movement incorrectly, and it is something all beginners and teachers need to pay special attention too.

Practice one octave scales starting with open strings(g,d and a), ascending and descending, with as little hand and finger movement as possible.

Helicopter Mom's? How to fix that? ...............hhhhmmm.....

April 10, 2018, 6:07 PM · "She expects me to play melodious pop songs. I hate them.
She’s rages when I practice scales and etudes. She says I ‘hurt her eardrums’. I understand that, considering we live under the same roof. So I try to practice when she’s not home."

There's nothing intrinsically wrong with 'melodious pop songs'; violin is a melody instrument. You should be able to find melodious music you like to play and others might like to hear. It'd be very unusual for someone to want to hear a beginner practicing violin. I don't know how teachers can take it.

Use a mute - a heavy metal one if you can stand it, or a hybrid like an Artino for something less damping, and practice behind closed doors if you can't avoid practicing when others are around.

April 10, 2018, 8:45 PM · Sounds to me like you have a very unsupportive parent and you should be examining whether or not you would have a better relationship if you were in you own space not hers
April 10, 2018, 8:55 PM · OP, this sounds really dysfunctional to me. Raging about a violin hickey not on your own body is not normal. Neither is demanding a grown adult play particular types of music or demanding they spend their free time pursuing particular hobbies. Please google Narcissistic Personality Disorder, read up, and if it applies to you, please seek some mental health counseling.

April 10, 2018, 10:40 PM · My initial thoughts were along the lines of what Matt and Julie said.

As for the violin hickey, make sure that you can play without touching your chin/jaw on the chinrest. You should be able to turn your head to either side and nod your head up and down while playing. I'm not recommending that you do this all the time, but maintaining flexibility in the neck is perhaps the most important aspect of eliminating tension from all aspects of your playing.

I would agree with the previous suggestions about the chamois and Strad Pad. A third suggestion I would offer is the Kinder Chinder. In my quest to play comfortably without a shoulder rest, I eventually settled on a Kinder Chinder with a couple of sponges in the bottom pocket.

April 11, 2018, 5:44 AM ·
You better not let her see this or man you in trouble.......

Edited: April 11, 2018, 5:53 AM · Well, this doesnt sound good.
For the hickey: as others suggested, you should put a padding in the chinrest and watch your posture.

As far as the rest goes: I think your mum is right. Her house, her rules. If you don't like conflict, practice elsewhere, move out or quit the violin alltogheter.

April 11, 2018, 8:48 AM · I’ve been using padding since about a month now. My only regret is that I practised for more than a year without the padding. The padding certainly won’t let the hickey grow. But it won’t make the existing mark disappear either.

I’ve been using Aloe Vera lately. I wonder if it works. I tried using the ointment one applies on a wound. My mom suggested it to me. It clearly doesn’t work.

I certainly cannot purchase a Strad Pad or a Chin Rest. My country does not have violin luthiers. The music stores do not sell violins / their accessories. They are dominated by guitars, keyboard and other local instruments.

April 11, 2018, 10:57 AM · No need to go to the stores -- if you can purchase online from companies that will ship to your country. I currently order my Strad Pads from SHAR -- a little over $20 USD; but SHAR at present doesn't ship outside USA, its territories, and Canada.

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