Playing without a shoulder rest
Recently I’ve transitioned to playing without a shoulder rest on my violin, it’s comfortable and I’ve found a set up that results in no fatigue at all.
-Wittner chin rest centre mounted and an artino pad. I’m able to support my violin comfortably for long periods of time.
However, I tried this set up on the viola and I just cannot get comfortable, it results in twinging pain in my left hand ring finger of all places. I assumed this set up would be transferable but it seems not. Has anyone got any tips on how I can move to playing without a shoulder rest on the viola? I’m really keen to. What is your set up if you do?
i'm curious what is your reason to not use a shoulder rest.
I use a left hand rest instead
I personally use a shoulder rest on both violin and viola, but I think there are some general considerations you should keep in mind.
Bravo . The great viola virtuoso William Primrose strongly advocated playing without a shoulder rest or any kind of pad .He discusses this at length In the book Conversations with William Primrose .You have to work at this for some time but the benefits are great . Contrary to a previous comment this does not deaden or muffle the sound . I remember seeing Pearman in concert playing the violin of course . I noticed that he was the only player not using a shoulder rest . In the past none of the great virtuosi used them .
Please note that M Zilpah is specifically asking those violists who play without a shoulder rest to tell him their setup. Of course everybody is free to chime in, but still, we've had this discussion before, haven't we, so perhaps it would be nice to just stay on topic. And, in case it turns out that there are no actual responses to his request, well, that will also tell M Zilpah something...
It's certainly possible to do, but... without seeing you play, it's really hard to diagnose what might be going wrong. Twinging pain is definitely not to be ignored! As to my own setup, just a normal, fairly flat chinrest, made by the luthier, Hiroshi Iizuka. (Not in the center)
Ella has a lot of good advice.
I regularly play both without. That said, my main viola is a thin-bout 15.5” with an almost violinistic neck (read real slim) I could not imagine playing a 16.5” like that. My second viola is a heavy 15.5” student grade Ernst Heinrich Roth with a standard bout and neck. I play that more often with an SR just because of the mass.
I play the viola without a shoulder or chin rest, but only at an amateur's level. Although I do play violin with both shoulder and chin rest. The reason for the difference is that I have not found a shoulder and chin rest combination for the viola that feels comfortable to me.
I am in the same place as you. I can play a violin for long periods
I agree with Rupert. I had an early "restless" period on my viola, and successfully "fine-tuned" my chinrest with the contents my toolbox, but three-hour rehearsals with spine-twisting desk-sharing lead me to fine-tune my Kun too. Now, at 70 yo, I have no pain, no cramps, no hickey, and a nimble left hand with a vibrato folks seem to like on all four fingers and all four strings...
I see a certain amount of professional chamber music. In these groups, many of the violinists play restless, but the violists tend to have an SR. While I am sure there are professional violists who play restless (Zukerman, I think), I suspect that most use an SR, including the violist in the Shanghai Quartet, who I believe used to play the violin in the group without an SR. To me, what I have seen speaks volumes. Personally, I use and SR with both violin and viola. I can imagine playing restless on the violin but it would never occur to me to try that on the viola. Too cumbersome.
I think it really depends... You could say the same thing about violinists, that most use a shoulder rest. That said, there are way more violinists than violists, which leads to a greater number of violinists going restless than violists, but I'm not sure about the percentages... I also like to distinguish between those who use a standard shoulder rest (e.g kun, Wolf), those who use a sponge or foam pad, and those who use nothing or just a small cloth/shammy. In the end, it's what truly works for you.
The viola is not just heavier and thicker, it is longer.
What Adrian said sums it up.
What Adrian said! That’s why I wouldn’t play a longer viola without.
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