Violin digging into the collarbone
I have been learning violin for around three years now. From the past few months, my violin has started digging into my collarbone and leaves a visible bruise after playing. I even have a slight depression in my left collarbone at the place where it rests. I think it began after I started practicing vibrato, since now I need a firmer grip with my head and shoulder to free up the left hand. I know that the violin is supposed to rest on the collarbone, but how much pressure is considered normal?
I use a shoulder rest and a chin rest. I tried shifting the position of the violin and also the shoulder rest to find a hold that reduces pressure on the collarbone. But all other positions either made my neck hurt or tensed up my right arm/shoulder. I am now really confused where my violin and shoulder rest should be to make it comfortable.
Should the violin be pressing against the collarbone and is a bruise normal?
What parts of my body should be supporting the instrument? Should it be between my chin and collarbone, with a little support from the shoulder via shoulder rest? Or should it be only shoulder and chin? Should the shoulder rest go upto my ribcage so that my upper chest is also providing a little support? How should my neck be and how much tension in the neck is acceptable?
How do I find the most comfortable hold?
Try using leather or dropping the shoulder rest.
First of all, no matter what your setup is, the left hand must support the violin a bit. You should not press too hard with the chin. You only need enough pressure to keep the violin stable. Also, try putting a piece of cloth or some other protective material on your collarbone. There are a whole bunch of variables that determine the best violin hold for each individual, so it is very hard to give any solid advice online.
Has your body changed in any way in the past few months?
If the violin is bruising your collarbone perhaps the violin should be higher up on your neck? Just a thought. Also like Ella said, try a cloth or a piece of chamois leather between you and the chinrest metal clamps.
Thanks for all the replies. My neck is long, and I think maybe a higher chin rest will help.
Could you please provide some more clarification on the left hand's role in holding the violin? Should it provide a support even when I am doing vibrato? Exactly where from? From the pad of the pad of the thumb?
I meant just playing without a shoulder rest altogether. Most pecople can get used to it and like it better after a while.
A Strad pad does wonders! I had the same thing because my setup was weird. I got a new shoulder rest so I don't need it anymore, but they're pretty comfy. You can get them on Amazon for about $15.
All the advice in the world is of little value without more information. How are you holding the instrument, etc. since no two people are the same, and advice on shoulder rest (or lack of), chinrest, hold, etc. have no value. Do you have a teacher? Ask her/him.
I sympathise! Here are my 2 centimes d'Euro..
I have found this type of chinrest cover sufficient to protect one's neck and also shield your collarbone from the violin wood and chinrest hardware:
I agree with Kristen--I love my Strad Pad! So comfy. And don't let anyone convince you that you don't need a shoulder rest. Violins are simply not thick enough to be held comfortably without one. The fact that people did it for centuries is immaterial. We all also used to live in caves, wear skins, and freeze all winter. Progress has allowed us to move beyond that! But you may need a different one. We are all different and the same thing doesn't work for everyone. I really like the Bon Musica.
I smell tension.
Quite possible that the clamps of your chin rest (especially if it is center mounted) are causing the bruising. If true, you might also be allergic to that type of metal.
The bruise is not normal and the firm grip is no good. Tension will kill your playing. You need to practice everything with a feeling of ease in mind.
Do take time and find what works for you. There are a lot of good ideas in this thread, but they may not be what’s best for you.
When I was a boy my teacher did not allow me to use a shoulder rest. He was one of those "Heifetz didn't use one" teachers. I now have a bone spur on my collarbone from where my CR hardware was rubbing against my collarbone all the time. So I would not be able to play "restless" (without a shoulder rest) now even if I wanted to, unless I used at least a half inch of sturdy padding to cover that bone spur.
When I played as a kid (age 11-18), I used no shoulder rest. Now I do. I honestly can't believe I ever played without one now LOL. The difference is huge. Back then, a lot of people didn't use them--now they seem much more accepted (except for here LOL). :-)
I have the opposite experience from Elizabeth. To the other extreme, actually.
The right chinrest is vital too.