Playing with formal shirt
Well, this is silly... I always play with the shirt neck unbuttoned with the violin in contact with the skin, but today I had to play in formal suit and black tie (as in my avatar) and it happened that the shirt had starched collar. The collar separated the violin from my neck and jaw and I felt that I had less grip on the instrument. It is my first experience with this, but I suppose it's the bread and butter of professional orchestra players... So question:
Do you arrange the setup (chinrest/shoulder rest) for that?
or Do you have any "optimal" shirt and suit to play?
I'm guessing that the wing collar of a bow tie would be more comfortable, but I see players often with regular shirt and tie...
I only wear a starched collar when playing before royalty. Seriously, the uniform round here is ordinary white shirt with integral collar plus elasticated bow tie. No points get awarded for style.
I always use wing collar and for me this is optimal.
I wore a "penguin suit" for concerts starting in 1963 - black suit and bow tie. When our daughter married in 1981 I bought a used tux (from a tux rental store) and wore that, elasticated bow tie and the fancy cuff-links shirt that went with it for all performances until the "dress of the day" was changed to all black. So now just black trousers and long-sleeve shirt - AND NO TIE. Seems to me it works for many soloists these days.
Am I getting a horrible flashback of a nightmare, or did André Previn make his orchestra dress in mustard-coloured polo necks?
I always have to perform in a black suit and tie—with padded shoulders! Suddenly my chinrest, which is usually just the ideal height, is way too high and slipping out from under me. Not to mention the tie. Really have to be able to support the violin with your hand in such cases.
Since OP is wearing a business suit and not a full black-tie rig, it shouldn’t be a problem to use a white shirt whose collar is not starched. Better for the shirt, as well.
Get your jackets without padded shoulders. Have them tailored if necessary.
@Steve ... Prince Charles quote: "Such a shame one has to sit in the front row and hear all the scritchy-scratchy noises"
Not many people have already answered the concrete question: how do you deal with the shirt collar between your collar bone and your violin? I suppose it matters much less when using a shoulder rest. I don't use a shoulder rest and when I play with just a polo shirt (or even easier, a T-shirt), I can open the top two buttons of the polo shirt and put the violin straight on my collarbone more or less. When performing wearing a shirt with starched collar, however, I put a chamois cloth over the violin. Ironically this creates one more layer of distance between me and my violin. Nathan Milstein seemed to use his tie to prevent the violin slipping away to his right side! Like Lydia said, you have to practice regularly in your performance clothing so that you are used to it.
Drop the suit jacket and bow tie, wear open collar shirt and call on gender discrimination if anyone complains!
Thank you all. Yes, I think I will have to practice with those shirts and I will probably look for one that restricts me less. The shoulder of the suit is not any problem. My violin doesn't touch that area. The problem is in the collarbone area... And actually I think that winged collar shirts will work better about that.
In my brief career as a card-carrying orchestral musician I believe I had to wear a white tie and borrow a tail-coat from somewhere. I inquired with Moss Bros about hiring one and went so far as to try it on before discovering the hire charge was more than my fee! The full penguin suit now seems to have disappeared completely from the UK concert scene.
For orchestral concerts I have to wear black tie. I go for a standard collar dress shirt with stud buttons and clip on bow tie. In the summer the dress is usually all black as a tie and jacket would be unbearable in the heat.
Playing with full dress, shirt, jacket, etc between you and your violin may well be THE advantage of shoulder rests. Like an "angry young man" said on a video that was posted here on the forum a while ago, you really have to learn to play the violin without a shoulder rest. However, once you can do that at some reasonable level, a shoulder rest will help in a variety of situations, not in the least the one discussed here, playing fully clothed around your neck.
In these days in age, I don't understand why the orchestral world still insist on
I have to work with suit, and use different formal suits depending on the occasion (actually, that's why I found the problem with the collar, as I was in a reception...)
Carlos - you put me to shame. Not only do I wear an elasticated bow-tie but I don't dress for dinner. Although looking at the state of the tuxedo ("dinner jacket" over here) I wear for concerts it would appear as if I do.
"But no elastic tie, my God! I expect from a person that has the dexterity of playing violin, to be able to tie a bowtie!!"
I didn't say I couldn't tie a bowtie! Never tried actually. I'd just feel a bit silly as the only man in the orchestra to be dressed smartly.
I found one at Wal-Mart that has a non-stretchy neckband and an adjustable clip on the back. Works like a charm, going on 4 years of moderate use.
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