another shoulder rest post...
I am currently doing a lot of resting because I overplayed with tension (and have an old injury that flares up from time to time). Trying to use this (frustrating) situation to notice where I have tension/pain and figure out how to fix it!
I am addressing my tension issues partly by changing my setup. I just purchased a chin rest, and I can already see that this is helping, especially with neck tension.
As I have been practicing holding the violin without tension, I notice that my shoulder rest rests not only on my clavicle, but also on my acromion or acromioclavicular joint, I believe.
Should this be the case? It feels a bit like this prevents some movement in the left arm (though it is hard for me to tell at the moment, because I have so much inflammation going on in my back, neck, arm, and fingers (I am really barely playing until this is resolved, don't worry!)) Or should the shoulder rest rest entirely on the clavicle area?
I appreciate the help with this! Googling "acromion or acromioclavicular joint + violin" wasn't very informative, and I wasn't sure where else to look. Thanks. :)
I am no expert but I can't think of a player with the rest that far out and I would guess it is at best rare. (But perhaps I just don't know the special problems of for example very small-framed people?) I found quite a number of hits with keywords violin & acromion. One of the possibly more useful ones that used to be around was not responding today, but you can still see it at https://web.archive.org/web/20160401190351/http://www.violinistinbalance.nl:80/conclusions.htm There may be more complete versions of the site elsewhere at the archive.
hmm...maybe it's my location (in Europe), but I can't seem to access that site.
This problem can be solved by carefully adjusting the shoulder rest so it sits in the trash can.
Cotton, I have read enough other threads re. shoulders to have waited with baited breath for your suggestion. :)
Anita my link was shortened. Hopefully this works. Go here:
It still did not work...but I found the site at http://violinistinbalance.org! Thanks for the tip - very helpful stuff
My two centimes d'Euro:
I have never, ever mounted a shoulder rest straight across the violin. I have never used a shoulder rest on my collar bone. I use a chinrest that mounts the violin comfortably on my collarbone (it did take a "while" to find the right design) and I use a shoulder rest to avoid a tendency to raise my left shoulder when playing and to give the instrument the "longitudinal" tilt that works best for me.
Anita, in your search for a new and more comfortable setup I'd recommend giving foam rubber a try. Isaac Stern in this video gave a simple tutorial on how he held the instrument and how he used foam rubber. I sometimes use a bit of it for highwire pieces. It is much softer and flexible than some of these very rigid shoulder rests. It does a good job in my opinion filling the gap between collarbone and jaw.
I shorten my rest so the chin-rest is nearly under th rest & the bow-arm side is also fairly near the bottom of the bout (tho nowhere nearly as close).
Some good advice above. The violinist in balance site is definitely worth a read. Here's my 2 cents:
It would be interesting if you can post a picture of the back of your violin bearing the shoulder rest so that we can see how it's mounted there. My experience is very much like Andy Victor's. I can feel the violin on my collarbone but it's not pressed there. The shoulder rest mainly keeps my violin from flopping around and helps me keep the scroll up. Nate makes a good point because even the lowest of the low shoulder rests still adds quite a bit of shim width. If you like the security of the SR but the "give" of the foam, there are shaped pieces of foam that you can buy, which you can secure in place with a couple of rubber bands, such as the "PolyPad." I tried one of those for a while at the suggestion of a camp teacher but in the end it just didn't give me the security I wanted so now I use an "Everest" SR.
I think Mr. Deck has a valid point. Being a rank beginner I had no idea which rest would work best, but the violin shop employee who took care of me did have me try one too big, one too small, and one just right. Maybe the best you can do is take your instrument to a well stocked shop and try them all, especially if you have a non-typical build such as my extra wide shoulders. We are all different and need to do what is best for ourselves and others as individuals.
hmmm...how does one add pictures? (for the technologically deficient...) :)
I don't know how else to do this, so I will share a link to a google file drive here:
Yep! I knew it! That's why I asked for the pictures.
AH....ok, I can try this.
Shorter/shallower yes, probably, for the bass side leg, but maybe longer for the treble side leg.
One of my qualms about Kun rests that I may not have shared before is that the left side leg was hard to position farther to the right, so even at the rightmost position, I would feel the violin was too much over the shoulder (granted, tbis position is standard for thousands, but for me, it's too far to the left, just as with the OP).
Probably closer together since you're spanning a shorter overall distance from end to end. You should still realize pretty good attachment grip. Now, if you try to put the feet in the 5:00 and 7:00 positions, well, that's not going to work. Kun SR is adjustable, but of course not infinitely so.
Currently, I play without a shoulder rest. It wasn’t easy to get here, but it’s very comfortable now.Based on you photos and description, I see similarities. My last SR was a Menuhin SR.
Playing with or without a shoulder rest is a very fundamental thing. Of course you can do it either way. Violinists the world over play with SRs, pads, cloths, sponges, foam, or nothing. But whichever way you decide to go, you need a teacher who is experienced in that approach (especially if you are going to use nothing or nearly so) because there are intrinsic issues that you will not be able to solve on your own. Especially vital to have a really solid, comfortable, teacher-endorsed setup if you are aiming for conservatory auditions.
Well, I went to the oesteopath, which is hard to define here in Germany, but basically in my experience it means someone who is highly educated re. the body, skeletal and muscular systems, is able to see what is out of order, and then does a combination of massage and adjusting to help relieve tension.
After some digging, I realized that the site of the violinist in balance research is not too far from where I am, and it looks like they might have a center where people can go for consultations. They do an analysis and print personalized chin rests and collarbone rests.
Another option if you've got it: look into Alexander Technique. Ideally, a violin teacher with Alexander training. Mine helped me get a good setup and I play pain free now.
I found a pianist who said she had worked with a lot of violinists and at least used to teach at Alexander Technoque at a music conservatory here. I have an appointment with her on the 1st.
Hang in there Anita. I recently found a fantastic teacher who also studied physical therapy and she has transformed my left hand and we are in the process of rebuilding my bowing. It's a long process but I see progress and I keep myself inspired by listening to music I hope someday to be able to play.
Like Julie, I had a violin teacher with AT training which she put to good effect during lessons, although she rarely referred to it by name. I've never had any pain or discomfort when playing the violin.
Thanks Andres, I too am listening and dreaming a great deal. :) Mostly I stay hopeful - sometimes I feel discouraged. You don’t happen to be in Germany, do you?
I did lessons weekly for almost a year, then the occasional lesson/workshop since. I was recovering from a non musical related injury and wasn't having luck with traditional physical therapy.
Anita - much as I sometimes wish I was on that continent, I am in the US. :-)
Commercial shoulder rests never have worked for me, either.
Andres, I wondered because your name sounds richtig Deutsch to me! Or maybe Scandinavian. :)
Sorry to hear about your ongoing pain, Anita.
Anita - Spain on my father's side. :-) The accent in Andrés got dropped somewhere along the way.
Jeewon - thanks. I read a few articles on pain last night, and was struck that pain is heightened when the brain perceives that there is a threat. I wonder if my fear that I won't be able to figure out how to play without tension or the blindness I feel about how to get the proper set-up is keeping the pain active for longer than it needs to be there!
First, fill the space between your chin and collarbone with a chinrest of appropriate height. Long-necked players should seek a high chinrest. To fill the space between the shoulder rest and your chest, either raise the chest side of your shoulder rest by adjusting the chest leg or attach some foam for additional height.
Anita, have you tried repositioning your SR as others have suggested? It just strikes me that on the photo at the link you posted, you positioned your SR completely opposite as I do, and perhaps many others. Your setup seems to put the SR sitting right on your ball joint, no wonder it hurts. If you did, can you post more images?
Yes - though I had to wait quite a few days, as it seemed damaging to even lift my arm. I am playing with the suggestions made.
To my beginner eyes, that looks good. Perhaps I'd have the violin a tiny bit lower (so couple turns of the bottom/right shoulder rest leg) The solution used here is something I discovered for myself couple of weeks ago and thought about writing here but honestly I forgot!
J I, thanks for that! This video gives a really clear view of her setup, something I really struggled to see on other videos.
Sometimes it takes a lot of tweaking over time to settle on what's best for you. I see that you somewhat changed the angle of your SR, and you could go much further IMO, all the way to 11 o'clock -> 4 o'clock vs what you had which is 8 o'clock -> 1 o'clock. I also noticed that your SR feet height are more or less equal, whereas the high side (which is sitting on your shoulder) should perhaps be at the lowest possible position to level the instrument even further.
I’ll try putting the top-of-shoulder side down all the way and see how it feels.
Jeewon, so kind of you to remember! :)
Ah, that's helpful, thanks! hmm, yes, it seems to be about 12cm. Well, somewhere between 11 and 13, depending upon where I start from on the shoulder...
Sounds like you do have a relatively long neck. I remember you also had a question about determining the shape of your shoulders and the size of your hands and such. this is harder to determine, as there's lots of relativity in there, but what I can say is that sloping shoulders are the kind that slope a lot from the bottom of the neck to the top of the shoulder. Flatter shoulders almost have a 90° angle between the base of the neck and the top of the shoulder. Shoulder width is harder to measure, but as a general rule for fitting shoulder rests, they should not sit too close to the edge of the shoulder as mentioned above. The other important factor to consider when choosing a chinrest is the shape of your chin/jaw. I think there is some corralation between chin rest shapes and chin/jaw shapes, but players ultimately have to experiment to find the right fit. Once you have an rough idea of what shape you will like e.g do you need a relatively flat chinrest, or one with more of a scoop, or do you need a center mounted chinrest or a side mounted, you can narrow down your choices a little.
Ella and Craig, thanks for the suggestions! I will do some research in the next few days and try one or a few of them.
Has anyone ever tried out the Belvelin shouldrest (hard foam)? It was recommended on the WAVE chinrest site, and has my interest piqued.
I have never tried the Belvelin shoulder pad or any other contoured shoulder pad for that matter, but I think contoured shoulder pads (which are pieces of sponge or foam with a sort of curve to fit the shoulder) are worth a try because they can provide a little more freedom of movement and (if you're willing to put in the effort) customizable for individual needs by shaping and cutting (although this isn't the most advisable for store-bought shoulder pads) and can provide support exactly where you want it. Keep in mind that they tend to be lower than most regular shoulder rests. If you're willing to put in the effort, you could design one yourself using some sort of hard spongy material or a relatively hard foam. Besides the Belvelin, there are some other products worth trying, such as the PolyPad, the perfect shoulder rest product from Shar Music (keep in mind that this is NOT a regular shoulder rest but a sponge that is kind of shaped like a shoulder rest), Artino shoulder pads, and the Acoustifoam pads. Some other options include the Playonair (which is a blow-up shoulder cushion) and the Acoustagrip stick-on shoulder rests. Kreddle recently came out with a collarbone rest called the kreddle cushion. It is not too expensive but it is only available on their website. It does not quite function like a typical shoulder rest, as it hooks over the collarbone instead of the shoulder, but it is an interesting tool for supporting the violin/viola.
It has really helped to pull my shoulder blade back (or neutral, probably) and keep the armpit angle small. As a result, my arm is further under the violin, and the left hand feels more balanced, as well. Thanks again, Jeewon, for the advice. I tried to remain very aware of this while doing slow scale practice, and I think it stuck for the rest of my practice time...I didn't experience the same kind of pain in my back that I have been experiencing.
Hey glad to hear about your AT experience and the progress you're making!
Hey, I haven't had time to look through all of these (busy couple of days for me), but I did the first one and WOW. It felt SO GOOD. That seems to be exactly the "opposite" motion that I need. (Meaning my shoulder blade is definitely coming forward and up?)
Hi Anita, Ella and Jeewon - this thread is great.
Pamela, yes! I’d love to hear how it works for you! It’s exciting to hear from others who are successfully finding a better setup...gives me a bit of hope and patience. :)
Pamela, yes I think our bodies, or rather, our brains hold onto protective patterns which can become chronic, painful and an impediment after those patterns outlive their usefulness.
Claire Stefani Is great. I went to a seminar she gave last summer. Lots of great explanations and tips.
I have had a similar problem re: injuring then reinjuring the same site until the pattern was broken. It does indeed take time.
Well, something kind of crazy happened during my AT technique lesson today!
Great to hear. Why don’t you record yourself to get a better picture?
It took me years to get away from neck issues, but at this point MY recommendation based on my ergonomics and experience is: 1. fit the chin rest height so that the violin/viola rests securely on your collarbone. 2. A center-mount chinrest should prevent most rolling and slipping. (Anne Sophie Mutter is a good example of this) 3. Now, if needed, fit a shoulder rest that matches this position and stabilizes the instrument.
I started playing with a shoulder rest, then switched to another, and another, etc., and despite having a teacher who knew how to play very well, got a shoulder injury which progressed to the point that I had to stop playing altogether for some time.
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