SR - no SR - almost no SR...

Edited: December 25, 2020, 7:21 AM · Dear friends, it's Christmas and I hope you're having a joyful and safe time. It's definitely not the time of the year to warm up a neverending and futile discussion about the use of shoulder rests per se. So please... "behave".

Be it on violin or viola, I know how to play restless. What I really like about it is the unlocked feeling, but I do lack a bit of support on the treble side. On the other hand, I'm able to adjust to almost any type or shoulder rest but prefer especially low models, like the VLM Diamond, and have successfully adjusted a Korfker to my Viola. But its never 100% right.
While watching videos of the sadly passed Ivry Gitlis, I noticed that obviously he used to put something (a piece of cloth?) under his jacket,as many of violinists seemed to do in the "old days". Maybe this could be my solution, but in my former attempts with fabric, foam or a roll made of stockings (still the best, haha) these objects tended not to stay in place.

So, to all of you playing like that "almost restless" but still with a tiny bit of support under your clothing, what do you use, and how do you prevent it from slipping? (No adhesive foams on my instruments backs, please!)

Cheers, and stay safe!

Replies (107)

Edited: December 25, 2020, 8:01 AM · Nuuska, Your situation may be much like mine.
I played the first 30 years without a shoulder rest, the next 30 with one (actually trying several different ones) and the last 11 years with and without - and trying many more. I have settled on the new PERFORMA (for the past year), but if it falls off I can just keep on playing, it certainly does not affect the sound of my instrument, nor my wrist or finger vibrato. I play the viola with no SR but I carry a GelRest Micro Shoulder Rest in my double case - just in case! SHAR promised a viola version of the PERFORMA in 2020 - but the pandemic struck and it did not happen - I was ready to try that.

The question is why do you use a SR at all and what part of your body does it contact? For me a SR allows part of the violin-SR combination rest on more than just my collar bone and adds a bit of extra tilt to ease fingering and bowing the G string (at age 86 every little bit helps)!

December 25, 2020, 8:03 AM · I go through so much trouble for something that won't improve the sound of your violin or your playing. Just keep using the VLM Diamond.
Edited: December 25, 2020, 10:20 AM · I agree with David - but with the opposite suggestion.

I started restless over 60 years ago, was forced to use an SR by a music teacher (who was a cellist). I picked up the instrument again many decades later and went through almost the whole gamut of SRs, trying to find one that worked for everything - and, since none of them did, I eventually bit the bullet and threw the thing away - which initially seemed to cripple my bow hand, not enough angle. Which I think is where you are! At that point I tried SRs again - hated them - and then tried all sorts of alternatives including elastic band-held pads on the instrument and pads on the shoulder. None of them worked, or at least none of them worked for me for everything and reliably - and I hated that feeling of violin-scaffolding (I think you will understand).

I gave up those attempts had just persisted kept playing restless. It seems to have fixed itself - the key was (I think, I'm not entirely sure) actually in the left hand, and that was developing more wrist rotation (think pinky across the fingerboard) to remove the need to rotate the instrument. Its bliss - I never think about violin angle anymore and the wrist rotation has greatly improved my finger alignment along the string and my fourth finger positioning with downward string changes.

So my alternative to David is to keep not using the SR and forget the pad. Look instead to how you can tweak your left hand.

December 25, 2020, 10:17 AM · One or two socks under the shirt works for me. Yes Gitlis (may he RIP) put some kind of cushion in there. To prevent slipping, it is possible to use nothing, simply the various contact points, but I like something there. A round silicone jar opener is very helpful.
December 25, 2020, 11:19 AM · I started playing violin 18 months ago as an adult. I struggled to find a good comfortable set-up. I now have a shelf full of various shoulder rests and chinrests. Currently I am using the "kreddle" CUSHION with a tall 3.5 cm side mount chin rest. The CUSHION fixes to the feet of any chinrest and is made of a grippy rubber material that sits comfortably on the collar bone without slipping. I am finding this set up free and comfortable and there is not anything to dampen the sound of the instrument. The challenge I am beginning to run into is getting my left hand above 9th position as that is about the limit of my hand reach without taking my thumb off the neck. To clarify I am not playing pieces that high, but I have started learning 3 octave scales.
December 25, 2020, 11:27 AM · Gabriel, I hadn't thought about silicone, but why not. Finally, I think it wouldn't slip.

Elise, with many of your words I can only agree. And I also believe that a big part of the key to playing all-off is in the left hand. For me, it was a huge step to put the thumb closer to the opposite of the 2nd finger, and not so much of the 1st. It's only a couple of millimeters, but it took away lots of tension and made it easier to align the fingers above the fingerboard. But especially when playing fast on the E string (and on the A string too, even if not so much), the violin starts wobbling and the only way to control it would be to clamp down with the chin, which cannot be the solution. But maybe I'm just not there yet, technically.

David, you're right, the VLM diamond is great. It can go lower than most other models, and I like the function that brings the support area closer to the body. I do think that if it would go even a bit lower, it would be the best a shoulder rest could ever do for me. But what I really like in playing restless is the freedom of swinging a bit to left and right with the violin during playing. There may be diverging opinions about that again, but for me it does a lot in freeing my bow arm and therefore does a lot for my tone. It just feels... much better... most of the time... But again, maybe I'm just not there yet.

Andrew, I'm glad you found the Performa and it works for you! But it's not yet available in Europe, and I'm not sure what it could do the Diamond doesn't. The reason I need a bit of additional support on the treble side is what I explained in my answer for Elise. The problem also got much better since I started to design my own chin rest models. Most probably I'll go further into an even more center mounted like a Flesch but slightly off the midline and with a tilt, and super low for the Viola model. It feels that when I put my haw over the tailpiece, it's much easier to control the Violin Wobble. But all centered models I've found yet (Flesch, Old Flesch, Berber) missed a tilt therefore didn't help my stabilisation issue.
It's just a theory yet, but maybe if I'll arrive with the perfect chin rest, I won't need more of a shoulder rest than a piece of chamois.
To adress your question: the instrument lies flat on my collar bone, and since I'm using Stradpet scallop hook type clamps on my chin rest, this doesn't hurt any more.

Edited: December 26, 2020, 3:11 PM · Nathan Cole uses a square of leather on his shoulder, not to fill the gap, but to provide mostly traction, to keep the violin from skidding around on whatever fabric he happens to be wearing. Probably it cushions a little bit too. My situation is opposite Elise's: My childhood teacher forbade the SR, but now I use the Everest, which suits me just fine. I could write more about that, but it would be a diversion. My suspicion with most restless players (Gitlis as an example) is that the amount of gap-filling that they need is pretty small, and people who find it hard to switch to restless playing usually overcompensate by choosing sponges, pads, or whatever, that are too thick, entirely defeating the whole concept of restless violin-playing and ending up basically with a less functional SR. In his book, "The Violin Lesson," Simon Fischer indicates that playing without the SR is probably best if your physicality allows it, but if not, then you really need to spend the time setting yourself up properly, and the width of the gap is only one of several parameters. How far back on your shoulder the violin sits is also important. The button should be touching your neck and aimed into the center of your neck according to Fischer. My impression from Fischer's writings is that he expects most players (including his own students) will be using a shoulder rest. Restless playing is not, from my reading, giving equal time even though many aspects of it, from my own childhood experience, definitely need to be considered very specifically, including but not limited to shifting and vibrato.
December 25, 2020, 12:02 PM · John, the Kreddle cushion might indeed be helpful for people that suffer from pain caused by the chin rest clamp, or who have slipping issues. In general, I think the Kreddle products are very helpful, especially if experimenting with posture and setup.
December 25, 2020, 12:08 PM · When my daughter was young, we wrapped her CR clamp in "Dr. Scholl's Molefoam." Yes, there was adhesive touching her violin.

A few years ago on this site there was someone who was talking about inventing and marketing a new shoulder rest -- can't remember who that was. Maybe he should focus instead on a collar-bone cushion for restless players that will connect to the CR hardware without need for adhesive to hold it in place.

Edited: December 25, 2020, 12:17 PM · Paul, indeed the gap I have to fill is hard to estimate.

Physically I am flexible enough to adjust to almost any angle the violin is tilted to, so the gap is not the problem, but rather stability. I guess this could eventually be solved with a different kind of chin rest.

On Viola, the game changes completely. I need to have it absolutely low on the shoulder, but more tilted than the violin to reach over the upper bout with my rather tiny hands. A low-as-possible centered chin rest with a tilt might help, but I'm still experimenting. Had to be a self made model again, since nothing like that is on the market. Going completely restless, using the grove the Hill style tailpiece produces with the top plate feels almost ideal, but I hate the idea of ruining the varnish over the years that way. It's very soft, and even if I use a piece of chamois to protect it, it makes a velcro type of sound when pulled off again after an hour of playing...

Edited: December 26, 2020, 2:55 PM · I find the VLM Diamond to give me a lot of freedom, because of how low it is.
December 25, 2020, 5:44 PM · This is probably a very stupid idea and not one that has been tested, but how about using some sort of foam or sponge thing that attaches to clothing via safety pins or similar? Idk, really wack idea, probably not super practical.....
December 25, 2020, 5:54 PM · I've seen several people (including an orchestra leader) simply use a small soft towel draped over the shoulder. I guess it's enough for them.

For stability problems I find that fine tuning posture helps a lot. My teaching method for finding a good rest-less position is to stand with very good posture (no slouching of the shoulders and flat tummy - like a violin soldier!), rotate the neck so as to look to the left a bit, then pick up the violin and insert it until a reasonable of contact is made with the chin or side of the face (without moving our torso or neck at all).

You can try even leaning backwards a bit (like dancing the limbo) and seeing if it feels better balanced.

For the record I use a slightly high chinrest currently, but nothing crazy. Chinrests are very important when not using shoulder rests.

December 26, 2020, 12:16 PM · Hey, hey, I'm here again to ruin the thread :DDD like grinch (looking down on myself)

Paul, it is spelled kidding, not skidding!!! :DDD

maybe you have a different tone, when .... I don't know. It's technique, but then that something else why... nobody knows....

December 26, 2020, 12:20 PM · I think I didn't ruin it......
Sooo.... about stabilizing the rest, I think you first have to always get a different part developed, like left arm, yes, instead, I mean left hand, instead of always worrying when got stuck. Like saving.... the bow.. otherwise, it's just that you have to practice in an intelligent way. It takes time....

How do I know that? I don't know anybody who knows what I cannot tell you......

Edited: December 26, 2020, 3:24 PM · "I don't know anybody who knows what I cannot tell you." -- Zen koan by Krisztian.
Edited: December 26, 2020, 5:35 PM · Unforeseen aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic include new opportunities to work on aspects of technique uninterrupted by frequent orchestral rehearsals, their necessary preparation, and ensuing concerts. For example, in normal circumstances I usually have three rehearsals a week, plus the occasional extra if asked to deputize in some other orchestra, whereas this year I have had just two rehearsals (under strict Covid rules) in my three regular orchestras in the last 10 months. We are not expecting a return to any semblance of normality until Spring of 2021, at the earliest.

A little bit of personal history is, I think, relevant. I didn't start learning the violin until I was 60 (I had been a cellist since the age of 11). Like most other learners I used a SR (they seemed to be an expected part of the instrument) but I couldn't get on with it, and I must have go through 4 or 5 SRs with diminishing satisfaction. I occurred to me that pre-1950 the SR was virtually unknown. I mentioned this to my teacher who agreed that I should try playing without a SR. This worked within a few days and I haven't used one since (this was about 18 years ago). I should mention that my teacher was very strong on relaxation in posture and hold, and I am sure this was the foundation of my success.

The aspect of technique I am now utilizing this Covid-induced interregnum is learning to play well without a chinrest. As with the SR, perhaps even more so, I have used quite a number of CRs over the years with varying success. I never found one that was really comfortable and that I would be unaware of in use – this is an important criterion. So on occasion over the last couple of years I have been working on playing CR-less, and have been getting there, gradually. As I mentioned in my first paragraph. the severe restrictions on music making imposed by the necessary rules under the pandemic are now providing an unexpected opportunity to concentrate properly on the CR-less problem and make the final push.

The first thing I did was to study videos of Baroque ensembles in action, and chose as my example the Freiburger Barockorchestra performing the 6 Bach Brandenburg concertos, on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uw2dlZ8V4-0 . Coupling this study with the teaching I had years ago on posture, hold, and relaxation, success is in sight. I hold the violin horizontal (v. important - you don't want gravity interfering with shifts!) with light support from my left hand at the neck end and resting the other end on my collar bone. My left jaw is positioned over that area of the bass side bout immediately adjacent the tailpiece. My jaw doesn't always contact the violin except when shifting down from a high position, in which case all that is needed during the descent is merely a slight frictional engagement between jaw and the violin, and sometimes not even that. Finger control and vibrato are improving without having to work on it. Shifts are instinctive. I am much more aware of what the violin is doing and feel its sound as much as hear it. Everything feels a lot freer and more relaxed than it used to.

Edited: December 26, 2020, 7:01 PM · Trevor,
I think it's great that you can do that (play without a CR). I had some trouble playing violin my first 30 years with a chinrest because I used arm vibrato that tended to move the violin (also as did down-shifts).

Then, essentially by accident, I found my perfect chinrest. Over the next 30 years I continued to use that chinrest style and acquired enough for all my violins, but then I unfortunately tried some other shape and donated most of the original perfect ones to a local youth orchestra. Those great CRs are no longer made to the same specs (except one offs by a UK shop for about $150 or more) so I had to improvise and did so by using the one remaining one I had to make impressions in a product called "THE IMPRESSIONIST" and mounting those on flat-top chinrests I was able to outfit 2 of my violins with effective replicas of the original great ones. It's been working great for me.

One can also use THE IMPRESSIONIST to make an impression of one's chin/jaw and have a perfectly tailored chinrest - if that is what one needs.

All current failures of my playing are due to the passage of years.

December 27, 2020, 1:57 AM · Augustin Hadelich uses the sponge rest developed by Peter Zaret. He puts it under his shirt and allows him to play virtually restless. I tried it as well and it has worked for me. It gives me more freedom than I ever felt with any shoulder rest and I've finally found a solution that is low enough for me. Pretty much all shoulder rests are too tall for me so I've had to resort to various sponge rests. Although perhaps I need to try the VLM Diamond. For those who have tried it or both, Is it lower than a kun bravo? It appears to be looking at pictures of it but I am not sure.

The Zaret rest is also quite cheap. It's $3.50 at Swstrings and Sharmusic, although for some reason Swstrings only has the extra small (1/8-1/16) size right now. Maybe they are about to stop carrying them because it does say that they are on clearance right now. You can always get them directly from the Peter Zaret shop though

December 27, 2020, 4:31 AM · Hi!

Well Paul... thanks for the high ball.... As of I have no idea about Koans at all. I mean, of ciurse I read some, but I still have no idea. I'm sorry to say, but the vedas, scriptures, Koans, and so called holy texts, that is, sutras of the western world are.... well I would not write it here.

The Mendelssohn (I think his name was Heydrich, not Augustine) was of course a founder of the renovational and constructional Ltd. So, he was a hobby violinist.

But, I think wisdom is just to recognize, that you do not have to mercilessly subjugate everything, and everyboda, not just because these acts terrorize people, so anything can happen afterwards, but also because you never know... What might recombine in people with a disadvantageous background.

The shoulder rest I think is irrelevant question, because nobody can tell you how you should play violin. There are different schools, pick one you like. You can play with, or without, that's agreed, no?

There was a concrete book that I read long ago, I wanted to purchase it on shar, but I couldn't. Because at that time if I would have purchased it, I would not have money for coffee at the airport, going home... That is pre-order.

I think it was the translation that included a few lines on how to countervene people building up negative images of the shar sop, which I like very much (of course)

December 27, 2020, 6:53 AM · In true v.com style we start a SR debate on Christmas :-)
Edited: December 27, 2020, 2:54 PM · Nuuska wrote: "The reason I need a bit of additional support on the treble side is what I explained in my answer for Elise. The problem also got much better since I started to design my own chin rest models. Most probably I'll go further into an even more center mounted like a Flesch but slightly off the midline and with a tilt, and super low for the Viola model."

Seems your course is mirroring mine still! I went through a stage where I had a chinrest adapted with a ~20o tilt and a lip that my chin could sit over. Played with it for a year or so until it broke when I was moving it from one violin to another. At that stage I put a side-mounted CR back on - and never noticed the difference! Turns out my body had adapted to positioning the violin - or more rather adapting my frame - without a need for extra angle. And I tried hanging over the tailpiece, playing without a CR etc etc - eventually none of that seemed to matter. Go figure.

Have you looked at the 'six lessons' of Yehudi Menuhim? In many ways it is a tutorial on playing without an SR (the device does not appear) - as well as being one of the most informative violin lessons on youtube. I think its #3 that has most of the non-SR related info.

Edited: December 27, 2020, 9:03 AM · Trevor wrote: "The reason I need a bit of additional support on the treble side is what I explained in my answer for Elise. The problem also got much better since I started to design my own chin rest models. Most probably I'll go further into an even more center mounted like a Flesch but slightly off the midline and with a tilt, and super low for the Viola model."

Seems your course is mirroring mine still! I went through a stage where I had a chinrest adapted with a ~20o tilt and a lip that my chin could sit over. Played with it for a year or so until it broke when I was moving it from one violin to another. At that stage I put a side-mounted CR back on - and never noticed the difference! Turns out my body had adapted to positioning the violin - or more rather adapting my frame - without a need for extra angle. And I tried hanging over the tailpiece, playing without a CR etc etc - eventually none of that seemed to matter. Go figure.

Have you looked at the 'six lessons' of Yehudi Menuhim? In many ways it is a tutorial on playing without an SR (the device does not appear) - as well as being one of the most informative violin lessons on youtube. I think its #3 that has most of the non-SR related info.

But we are all on our own journey on this issue and you must find your own way. I went back to an SR for a while before rejecting it for good. At one point I had all sorts of bits attached to the instrument for stability - each of which seemed the 'solution' at the time but which then were abandoned. I recall that one such collection was summarily trashed during a lesson with the Canadian pedagogue, Yehonatan Berick (who sadly passed away this year).

Edited: December 27, 2020, 7:15 PM · Geeez,
I thought you guys were going solve this one in my absence...
For what It’s worth, I think if you have a long neck then use a rest. If you are one of the lucky squatting people with no neck who can just stick a violin on your body and it stays there then no rest. The rest of us stuck in the middleites spend our whole life and most of our savings on shoulder rests and chin rests.
BTW One of the key mistakes with rests is to keep cranking it up if you don’t feel secure. Go the other way. Keep striving to keep it as low and unintrusive as possible irrespective of what Hilary Hahn does.
Cheers,
Buri
December 28, 2020, 12:56 AM · Hey Buri! Its so nice you are writing here again... I thought you are ...... hahaha

I actually watched the Menuhin masterclass videos before too... strange that at moment I felt like .... like I was stupid... Not mad, but stupid.

Hey, Buri, don`ts ya worry, I get this kind of advice from youngsters too, like have to stop cleaning ye kitchen IMIDIATELY, or else.....

:D

Elise, what do you think.about the dumbledore character????? hahahahaha

Next time you'll going to giggle about that at the grocery.... I mean, drug store........ gotcha?

December 28, 2020, 2:17 AM · Thanks for all your thoughts.

Buri, nice to know you're back, you always find the suitable dosage of humor to bring things back on earth. Please note that I begged not to reopen the with-or-without discussion but asked for only one single detail. For all the rest, I can only 100% agree with your words.

Jean, unfortunately the words "shoulder rest" seem to provoke a sudden uncontrollable reflex. But I think it's within controllable measures yet. Hope it will not take up speed.

Trevor, playing all-off isn't the worst what one can do, and it can teach us a lot about balance. What I noted from observation, and what I can only confirm from my own experience, is that one has to hold the instrument much higher on the collarbone than usual to achieve enough stability, so that the contact point will be mainly the tailpiece and eventually a small area next to the tailpiece on the bass side. This pushes me further into the direction of a centered chin rest.

John, I agree that finding the right chin rest for sure is one of the major keys for a relaxed and stable posture, and that the overrated SR-question can be only answered afterwards. Usually it's done the other way round - people stick with the CR their first instrument came with (usually a Guarneri type model which are the least suitable for many, if not most) and try to find a SR to compensate the error...

Elise, you give me hope... Thanks for the Menuhin lesson no.3 - it comes along quite stiff and brittle, but it opens a view that I wasn't offered yet about the role of the thumb. I was stuck to how I learned it, base knuckle if the index finger always in contact forming a two point suspension for the violin neck. Menuhins approach gets closer to what I had done instinctively when I first time touched a violin. Weird. Also the way how he teaches vibrato is completely the other way round: the movement isn't started by the arm, but by the finger, while the rest of the system - wrist, arm, shoulder - only support this movement by anticipation. I'll try to go into that, too.

Ella, I don't think that's a stupid idea - only too much fumbling (mostly with one hand) for my taste.

Christian, that's exactly the type of thing I might be looking for. And with a direct order from Mr. Zaret it's so cheap that it's open to modification experiments. It's not available where I live, but direct order from the US US possible (minimum order 10 pieces).
The Diamond is the lowest possible I was able to find.

December 28, 2020, 3:13 PM · Nuuska, to answer your original question, I use a piece of chamois leather over the front of the violin, just to prevent slippage.
Edited: December 29, 2020, 12:29 AM · Update. Having the CR off and the violin higher on the shoulder with jaw over tailpiece works definitely better. (The CR was designed to be used in combination with the SR.) Will ohly be able to try this on viola tomorrow when I'm home again. If it works, then a centered CR with modifications will be the way to go. And yes, a piece of chamois definitely helps,

Often the solution of a problem isn't where we are looking for...

December 29, 2020, 8:32 AM · "Often the solution of a problem isn't where we are looking for..."

Could be the violinist's mantra....

Edited: December 30, 2020, 2:44 PM · I spent a few years "restless" on viola and violin, but there were things I couldn't do well, and with 3-hour sessions I came back, first to those little Poehland pads, then to the "real thing".

I balance the viola, see-saw style, on the rest, with no gripping on a much re-sculpted chinrest. No hickey, no cramps or stiffness at 72yo, and I can make a decent attempt to catch those wonderful sounds going round in my head!

For children, the fractional SR's are often much too high and in the way, and there I prefer the Poehland pads.

I just may have said this before, but hands, shoulders, jawbones etc are as varied as noses...

December 29, 2020, 1:58 PM · Nuuska,

If you are looking for an adjustable centered chin rest you might take a look at the Wittner Augsburg model. It comes with 8mm spacers that allow you to raise and change angles as appropriate so that you achieve the best fit. I have used the Wittner Zuerich model which is a center mount side style for many years. They work great and are very durable and comfortable.

Edited: December 31, 2020, 12:55 PM · My reason, when asked, why I play violin sans SR and CR is that it's just a nod to the 18th century, my favourite source of music.
Edited: December 30, 2020, 4:59 AM · Trevor, that's a fine reason, and I really understand (and share) your motivation. I really do adore all those HIP performers who are mastering this. I'm not really there yet, although it feels good. But what I do fear about it is that it will lead to left side hearing loss much sooner, having the instrument sitting just those few centimetres higher and therefore closer to the ear makes it at least 50% "louder" (perceived) than usual.

Especially for viola, has someone experience with the Wittner Isny? I don't fancy the piece of plastic where the feet of the chin rest would go, but despite this it looks well thought and as if it wouldn't add much height...

December 30, 2020, 5:51 AM · I don't go for unnecessary challenges: I just want to make music!
Edited: December 30, 2020, 9:18 PM · So do we all Adrian. For some its a challenge to play without an SR, for others with..
December 30, 2020, 7:28 AM · If it's a challenge to play without a SR, then there is no reason for doing it.
Edited: December 30, 2020, 7:49 AM · I'm completely with you, Adrian. But whether something is necessary often lies in the eye of the beholder. And if an effort is worth the reward can often be evaluated only retrospectively. For someone who is predominantly involved in modern or romantic era music, discarding any kind of support wheels he's used to, relying on and feeling comfortable with usually will not make much sense - in most situations. On the other hand, if you're heavily into baroque music, the game may be completely different. It's like the use of a baroque bow, as has been frequently discussed in the past. Not as a historic costumation or as an effort to be as "authentic" as possible, but to understand how this kind of music was supposed to work at all.

In my case, it's none of each. For me, short neck small hands but with high ribs on my beloved viola, playing (at least almost) without SR is simply the only way to go, and abandoning the CR felt the most comfortable yet, although I don't prefer it out of certain reasons as described above. But given my anatomical predisposition and my deep love for Bach and Telemann, it's rather obvious into which direction I was drawn if I ever had ambitions to enter a stage on a regular basis.

I'm by far not an exceptional (or "good", at least) player and will never be, mostly playing for myself and currently hitting a wall with Schumanns Märchenbilder, but as anyone else I'm trying to find my way. Thanks for your input though, even if not especially helpful in this context. From your experience as a violist, your opinion would be highly appreciated.

Edited: December 30, 2020, 7:51 AM · Adrian, what would you mean with "see-saw style"? And which way did you resculpture your CR?
Edited: December 31, 2020, 7:34 AM · I'm completely with you too, Nuuska, despite that sneaky little "support wheels" bit ;) I think experiment and curiosity has made me a better teacher. And I confess to loving Romantic repertoire..

Unlike you I have a long neck, broad-ish but sloping shoulders, a discrete collarbone, and short fingers, which still have to arch over the fingerboard to play on the low strings, or even vibrate (yuck!)

See-saw?
The left end of the SR rests on the end of the collarbone, without interfering with shoulder movements. The right end leans on the chest just below the collarbone. The SR is a fulcrum, where the weight of the viola is balanced by the weight of my head. (If I drop off to sleep, the scroll rises!) See-saw!

Chinrest?
I use a Teka style rest. The spoon shape cuts into the side my so-delicate jawbone, so I carved a dip in the left-hand portion of the "lip" to allow the left corner of my jaw to "escape", while leaving enough lip to hook under my jawbone and chin without gripping.
I also lower the left side of the rest by slicing a wedge off the bottom: this tilts the fiddle on its axis so I can play for hours on the lower strings. A 45° tilt on viola, but 30° on violin.

Hearing loss?
Indeed my viola, measured under the ear, reaches 100dB, and for many hours at a time. I use specific domed silicone filters to reduce by 20dB.
Always. So far so good.

And violas too are as varied as noses!

Edit.
I use a left-mounted CR so that I don't have twist my left forearm so much.

Other edit.
I like to shift support a little while playing, despite the "training wheels"!

More other edit.
A string or scarf round one's neck and threaded behind the tailgut can avoid tightening the left hand in downward shifts (for the Restless).

December 31, 2020, 12:53 PM · re "Scarf round one's neck and threaded behind tailgut"

This is how it's done, by Enrico Onofri:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGX16w6Qax8

See the very end, when he takes the applause and removes the scarf.

January 1, 2021, 9:21 AM · I knew that video, but never really noticed the end... Funny. I have a player nearby who occasionally plays in church services and recitals, I think she also teaches, and who also uses a scarf. But it always looks a bit fumbly when she has to handle it. There has to be another way.

Adrian, thanks a lot for the detailed insights. Interestingly, despite the difference in our physiognomy, there are enough parallels. I also cannot deal with accentuated lips in the CR cups, it's simply painful. I also need to have the viola at 45° while the violin should be much flatter. This BTW is my main problem when switching it always takes me a couple of minutes to adjust my bow arm.

For the non native speaker - what exactly is meant by shift support?

Edited: January 2, 2021, 2:41 PM · Here is another scarf example by Enrico Onofri. On this occasion he is using a black scarf (not so obvious at first glance). He performs Corelli's Concerto Grosso in G min, Op 6 No 8, while directing the Imaginarium Ensemble:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WuNMLcmTHuY

January 1, 2021, 2:25 PM · Even with my apparently rigid, cumbersome setup I can *shift my support* of the fiddle to the left hand, freeing my head to smile at the conductor, or glare at my neighbor if I play a wrong note!
The "see-saw" balancing act is relatively free of tension, and allows great freedom for multiple demands on the left hand.

For the "almost no SR" of your title, the Poehland pad, wedge-shaped and fairly soft, can act as what Elise once called a "collarbone rest", affording The Tilt without interfering with restless freedom. It can also be placed more one the shoulder if required.

Violin vs viola? Adjusting the bowing style is just as tricky as re-spacing the left fingers. My bows have a 10g weight difference.
I feel I use a different set of reflexes on each instrument.

Edited: January 1, 2021, 5:33 PM · Okay, now I understand.

Guess you tried everything, right? I thought I knew all that hardware stuff, but this special kind of pad was new to me. I'd prefer not to attach such a thing but rather put a piece of foam under my shirt or jacket, Hadelich style.

Adjusting bowing style and respacing interestingly works almost instantly, although we have to keep in mind that I'm not anything like a high end player anyway. Bow weight difference 10 g here, but also using a 48 g baroque bow on viola which works great, so... What makes me nervous is the different angle. I even tried to bring the violin up to 45°, but it's not the optimum on the E string, considering other anatomical topic leading to inadequate belly clearance.
I can't switch I'm med, but 10 minutes of warm up makes the difference irrelevant.

Edited: January 1, 2021, 5:34 PM · Perhaps we need a clothing line with leather patches and/or foam pads already sewn in : black T shirts ?
January 2, 2021, 1:35 PM · The "Heifetz Tuxedo"?
January 2, 2021, 2:54 PM · I suppose someone has to say this - the best rests, SR and CR, for sound etc are the invisible ones ;)
Edited: January 2, 2021, 3:04 PM · Trevor, not really, sometimes playing with shoulder rest improves the sound because the violin is less choked by your neck/collarbone/shoulder.
January 2, 2021, 7:16 PM · David, I was making a little joke - obviously - but a joke can be a way of imparting elements of truth.

The results from playing completely restless depend on a number of factors, including the violinist's anatomy and clothing, the player's contact with instrument, the violin iself (inherent resonance or lack of), bowing (a book could be written about that one!), and even strings and their tensions.

Considering the violinist's physical contact with the instrument while playing:

(A) If the left hand hold on the neck is too tight (i.e. insufficiently relaxed) the grip will deaden the tone to some extent (as a classical guitarist in a former life I can attest to the same phenomenon on the guitar), likewise pressing the strings down too hard (there will be an opposing tightening reaction from the rest of the hand). A tight grip or hold will make shifts unnecessarily difficult, especially down shifts.

(B) Contact of the jaw/chin with the violin. If it too heavy and in the wrong place it will certainly deaden the tone to an observable extent. I have used this sometimes as an alternative to using a mute. On my violin a Tourte mute when resting between the bridge and tailpiece will rattle and growl if I play strongly on the G, and the wood alternative, which gives much better results anyway, can be awkward to put on and take off in a short time frame (composers don't always think of such details), but pressing down a little on the violin belly with my chin halfway to the bridge works well, and at the same time move the bowing sound point a little closer to the fingerboard. (Thinks - I wonder if this trick was used in the 18th century and before).

(C) Weight of the jaw/chin on the violin - none (except when using it as a mute - see above), much more like a light frictional engagement, just enough to oppose easy sliding of the left hand during shifts. It is important not to let gravity get in the way, so I hold - or rather support - the violin horizontally, the scroll being more or less on a level with the centre of my face, and torso upright - slouching will be visited with extra parade ground drill followed by a 10-mile run with full kit! My light jaw/chin contact is usually partly on the very end of the tailpiece and partly on the end portion of the violin immediately adjacent.

I believe, from personal experience in the past, that a violinist trying to play completely restless for the first time will have a strong subconscious fear of dropping an instrument which is no long mechanically supported for him, especially when shifting. The solution is what I have outlined above: relaxed upright posture, violin horizontal, relaxed support by the left hand, and relaxed minimum contact with the jaw/chin just enough to stop the instrument from sliding during shifts. The result, when attained, is a feeling of effortless relaxation in playing.

January 2, 2021, 9:04 PM · Watching the Vienna Philharmonic New Year's concert on TV, I was surprised to see violinists with no chin rest, violinists with no shoulder rest, and maybe there was even a violinist with neither. Amazing that neither of those things is standard! The only thing that was the same on all players was their neckties.
January 2, 2021, 9:46 PM · Erin, do you have any photos showing Vienna Phil members playing without chin rests? Genuinely curious. I can't watch any stream of the concert due to where I live.
Edited: January 2, 2021, 10:01 PM · Yeah I got the joke and the imparting elements of truth, that's why I said what I said.

I'm also curious to see those pictures from the Vienna Philharmonic New Year's concert. I've listened to the entire concert but I only looked at the TV for brief moments.

January 3, 2021, 5:53 AM · I also noticed at least one violinist who came briefly in close up during the new year concert, without a shoulder rest. I don't have time to scan through the whole thing again, but he had black straight hair, with a side division, so the close up should be easy to recognize if someone cares to scan the whole thing :-)
January 3, 2021, 10:05 AM · In 1958, when Neville Marriner founded a string chamber orchestra called "The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields" didn't he require shoulder rests to be removed? Shoulder rests hadn't been around all that long - only since about 1950 - and the new orchestra's repertoire at the time was mostly Baroque. I don't know what the S/R practice in the current ASMF is.
January 3, 2021, 11:22 AM · Trevor: since Joshua Bell is the current director of the Academy, any SR-less requirement has obviously been dropped!
Edited: January 3, 2021, 11:36 AM · If you want to play SR-less, Raphael Klayman (on v.com) wrote a superb guide to getting you started that I worked off. I'm sure he would not mind if you asked him for a copy. Basically, it involves an 'intermediate stage' that actually becomes a tool. I can detail a bit more but I would prefer if you went to him directly.

Come to think of it, I may still have it...

Edited: January 3, 2021, 11:45 AM · I've seen baroque groups playing restless and without chinrest, using tablets for sheet music. Historical accuracy - most important thing, am I right... x)
January 3, 2021, 2:29 PM · As someone who has been in the business for a very long time, I have never understood the passion and extended debates over using a shoulder rest or not.

People have differing anatomies and playing styles. Why not just let them choose what works best for them, rather than trying to push everyone into a singular solution?

January 3, 2021, 3:07 PM · What are you talking about... Playing restless will make you a true violinist. You will be in sync with the ancient gods of the violin. You'll become one with your Chi. You will float over the rivers of beautiful sound and music.
January 3, 2021, 4:18 PM · David - I'm with you.
I used to think maybe it was OK because the electrons wasted recycling these arguments are not really wasted - they recycle forever. But I realize now the energy used to move them every time they recycle is lost forever. Perhaps they will find better use the next time - and it will be better when all our energy sources are recyclable.
January 3, 2021, 5:40 PM · I sleep with my Kun in my nightstand. Loaded!
January 3, 2021, 6:05 PM · What David (Burgess) wrote. I'd kindly ask you to stick with the policy of this thread and avoid any right/wrong or with/without debate. Or at least apologise if you can't resist hijacking... I know the temptation is there. Maybe you could try with valerian and passion flower?

I'm definitely not looking for the holy grail, but for an individual solution.

January 3, 2021, 8:50 PM · To be fair, I think the issue whether one or other is 'correct' or 'better' wasn't raised until David did it with his rather inflamatory statement. Up till then everyone was very polite and accepting.

Perhaps you didn't read the earlier posts David?

Edited: January 3, 2021, 10:24 PM · Ditto, Paul! Double aught or slug?

Regarding using a rest, I used a Kun as a child, and did it totally wrong and had it cranked really high and little to no contact with my collar bone. Needless to say, I had a lot of tension problems.

When I started playing again five years ago after my decade hiatus, I used the Kun. But I quickly got set up better by reading V.com threads with many of you and learning about collar bone support.

At first as a tension reducing exercise, I started playing restless, because you can’t play if you are holding the neck in a death grip and can’t compensate by holding the chin rest in a death grip with your shoulder rest.

As Elise suggested above, I used the Klayman guide for restless playing. I can say that it works, I’ve been restless this whole time including with my teacher who supports it, as he played restless during his time at music school as a teenager in Hungary.

To support the violin, I used a folded up lamb skin chamois. If I’m wearing a sweater or something else thick, I don’t need anything else. I can play with a teeshirt and just chamois but it’s not as comfortable, so I slip a cosmetic sponge inside the chamois to provide a little more thickness.

I’m six feet tall and don’t have a short neck. I think the key is whether your collar bone is prominent enough to offer a nice table for the end of the violin. In my case it works great. I have a Guarneri chin rest, but my jaw just uses the little center mount part over the tail piece. I could probably improve comfort slightly by getting a center mount chin rest that was a little taller, but it hasn’t really been with the trouble to find a Luther who knows how to do they sort of thing well (not a lot of choices in
Denver). Most issues of comfort have been solved by simply improving my technique and letting the violin just float in my hand. At this point I can play for hours with zero neck or related discomfort. It just floats...

Even if you don’t choose to do so permanently, playing restless helps to figure out how to optimize placing the shoulder rest, as it should be minimalist and just offer that little extra something you need to hold the violin. Most of the work should still be done by your hand and collar bone.

And, if you have any left hand tension problems, playing restless will sort that out right quick as you can’t shift without a soft hand. Playing restless forces many of the variables in setup to achieve balance to even do the simplest technical tasks. And as we know, balance is the key to a good violin setup.

Glad V.com hasn’t changed too much. Once we finish this discussion let’s talk about rosins next:)

January 4, 2021, 7:44 AM · I think we doing OK! Nuuska's title has lead to detailed comparison, rather than polemic.

Two things brought me back to an elaborate, if evolving, setup: a) orchestral work with long sessions at a conductor's pace with desk partners who don't know how to share a desk.. and b) increasingly tricky music.
I know a cellist who plays with no spike - except in orchestra...

I find that no SR is a lot better than a bad SR (e.g. too high) but more trouble to music-making than a carefully adjusted CR/SR setup.

January 4, 2021, 8:27 AM · I agree Adrian - I just find the quality of music making w/wo is different. For me 'with', I am making music on the violin; 'without' the violin and I making music as one. I'm sure this is a personal psychological issue and that's why it works for some and not for others. Vive la difference!
January 4, 2021, 8:27 AM · I agree Adrian - I just find the quality of music making w/wo is different. For me 'with', I am making music on the violin; 'without' the violin and I making music as one. I'm sure this is a personal psychological issue and that's why it works for some and not for others. Vive la difference!
January 4, 2021, 9:47 AM · I just can't picture Paul sleeping in his nightstand...with or without his Kun.
January 4, 2021, 10:34 AM · @Erin, good one! I always appreciate a Groucho Marx-style retort!

I'm in a tough spot because I *really* like how the SR feels generally for violin playing, the secure feeling just really agrees with me, but I can NOT find one low enough for the viola. I could use a flatter chin rest but then the top of the instrument is just too high. Maybe that's normal for viola and I just need to get used to it? At present I've just got it set so that it's farther out on my shoulder, otherwise it jacks my head up on the left. I've been watching videos with Michael Tree, Lawrence Dutton, etc., and it's clear to me that I should just give up on having my viola setup be even close to what I have for the violin.

Edited: January 4, 2021, 4:03 PM · Paul, that's EXACTLY what I'm struggling with. Therefore I became a CR collector first, then developed into a CR tinkerer / modificator, and finally ended up as a CR maker. I finally designed a viola CR I'm 96% happy with - it's very low, stable, super cosy and no sharp edges (actually it rather feels like velvet rather than wood...), center mounted but with just the right amount of tilt to the bass side and towards the scroll. It couldn't be lower without touching the top arching. It could be designed lower above the tailpiece, but I experimented with such a model and lost most of the important tilt feature.

In combination with a Korfker SR the viola feels almost weightless and I'm about 90% satisfied with that combination. While 90% of comfort may sound already extreme to most (remember, it's still a 16" vi-o-la for a not-so-huge person), I'd prefer 98%. I wished it felt like a part of me, as the violin does. I made the Korfker sit very low on my shoulder. But holy me was it expensive! And alltogether it took me at least 3 hours until I found the tuning that works best for me at the moment. And it still should be those few millimeters lower... But even more bothering than these millimeters is that it feels a bit locked. Not cramped, it does feel relaxed, but I feel like Robo-violist and can move my upper body only as a "bloc", if this is understandable.
Therefore, next I'll design a tilted centered model just to check if I can dismiss the SR then for good and go even lower in total, but without loosing stability as I as m with the left side model. It will have to be designed very thin at one point to bring it down as low as I want it, so it obviously will be very lightweight and I'm very curious about the results.

January 4, 2021, 4:01 PM · Paul, I've just realized that in your post about a problem in getting a low enough CR for a viola you have pinpointed a problem I was not aware of in regard to my violin. My violin is mid to late 18th century, and is a little out of the ordinary in that its back length is 14.25” (as against the usual 14”) and all the other body measurements, including rib height, are pro rata that much bigger. Just a big enough difference to give it a feel perhaps closer to that of the viola, and usefully quite a good tone on the G.

A couple of years ago the leader of my chamber orchestra, a retired member of one of London's major orchestras, during a rehearsal break asked if she could try my old violin, which at that time had a centre-mounted CR, and no SR (which I haven't had on for many years). Her almost immediate reaction was that the violin was too big for her! I now think that this larger size of the instrument explains why I had difficulties in finding a satisfactory CR, and this has led me over time to explore playing CR-less. Anyway, thanks to COVID nation-wide lock-downs (the UK's third L/D starts in a couple of hours) the enhanced leisure time they have given me has enabled me to play CR-less with no problems.

January 6, 2021, 1:34 PM · @Jason, thanks for your detailed description.

"Even if you don’t choose to do so permanently, playing restless helps to figure out how to optimize placing the shoulder rest, as it should be minimalist and just offer that little extra something you need to hold the violin."
I like to holds my viola restless, and look in a mirror to see what's missing!

"Most of the work should still be done by your hand and collar bone."
But my collarbone is not prominent enough, and my left had has so much else to do!

Edited: January 6, 2021, 11:55 PM · Adrian, couldn't help laughing!

But seriously. Today I noodled around with my SRs again for maybe 15 minutes and ended up with a folded piece of cloth under my shirt (bass side) and a piece of chamois on the viola for some extra grip. It's the most relaxed setup I can find, but
1. it's too slippery with all those layers
2. besides that it might be okay for practicing at home, but too much construction work and just not reliable enough for rehearsals and ensemble playing, when finally allowed again.
Although I have to admit that when I'm tackling the technically harder rep, tension is still there, enough for three of my kind. Then there are situations when I'm longing for a rest. I see if it's lack of restless practice or if I'm really depending on a rest.

I think I'll take the Hadelich-sponge road and look if eternal joy and happiness is lying out there for me.

EDIT: It's two violas I currently use. They're almost exactly the same specs regarding LOB and vibrant string length, but one has slightly higher ribs in the upper bouts, slightly broader shoulders and a larger scroll. In general this one feels significantly heavier. It's a difference I wouldn't have noticed without a side by side comparison, but for a restless setup this definitely makes a difference. Especially shifting down is a more complex undertaking. But also with SR, it also leads to more tension.

Edited: January 7, 2021, 3:10 PM · A brief excursion, mainly for gut string users. As I said in my previous post I've more or less finalised my technique for playing SR/CR-less, but then it occurred to me that a further step could be taken, that of determining which gives the better tone – loop or knot attachment to the tailpiece for the two lower strings.

The G and D of my covered gut Eudoxas have the choice of being used either as loop or knot (the loop would be used as the knot), and hitherto I've always used the loop. Yesterday I reconfigured the G and D attachments as knots. The opening out of the tone and a little extra resonance from those two strings was noticeable and acceptable.

I'm not sure why this works, but my provisional guess is that removing the loop, through which the after-length passes, gives an effectively longer after-length enabling it to vibrate more freely and pass more vibrations to the tail-piece and bridge.

Nuuska, my new setup sans SR and CR surprisingly reveals the playing weight of my old violin as 385g, 16% lighter than the standard size Jay Haide I used to play (my daughter in Belgium now owns it), even though my old violin has a LOB of 362mm (14.25"), as against the standard violin LOB of 356mm (14"), and other measurements correspondingly larger.

Edited: January 7, 2021, 9:16 PM · Trevor, the biggest reason knots sound different from loops is likely the lesser downforce on the bridge caused be a less sharp string angle over the bridge. Using looped gut strings pulls down the end of the string and creates a sharper break angle over the bridge, which adds downforce to the violin (just as higher tension strings would). Higher tension setups dampen higher vibrations.

If it's confusing, try to imagine a completely straight string (180 degree angle over the bridge). The bridge would have no downforce from the string at all. Then pull both ends of the string down. The lower you go the more force is imparted on the bridge.

String angle over the bridge is a basic setup parameter, and helps determine the bridge and fingerboard/neck/saddle height but seems to be less thought about by players. Most luthiers are quiet precise about this parameter. I've wondered myself if looped gut strings were once used as a user adjustable way of adding tension to low tension gut strings for violins that demand it.

January 8, 2021, 5:58 AM · John, the net string angle over the bridge will remain essentially the same, whether the strings come out the top of the tailpiece, out the bottom, or somewhere in between.
Edited: January 8, 2021, 6:04 AM · Fiddlershop sell self-adhesive gel pads. They are fat - in the UK you can only get thin ones. I'd be tempted to try a fat one.

https://fiddlershop.com/products/gelrest-micro?_pos=13&_sid=30c14e0fc&_ss=r

Edited: January 8, 2021, 8:09 AM · Thanks David - I of course defer to your opinion - I've wondered about this for a while. I was thinking that since most wound gut sets don't have looped A and Es the looped D and G might do something.
Edited: January 8, 2021, 8:50 AM · If you were right John strings with a Hill-type fine tuner would be significantly quieter since these raise the end of the string much more than the difference between ball and loop (which is tiny).

I am not sure your logic is correct in any case. One can calculate the string pressure independently from the string tension/angle on the fingerboard side or the tail-piece side - and, at a given string tension, both these have to be the same. Thus, in agreement with David, one can predict that it should not matter what the angle is between the string and the bridge. Note, however, that the tension along the string on the two sides may not be the same - I'm guessing that on shallow angle, fingerboard side it would would have to be higher to generate the same downward pressure on the bridge.

Edited: January 8, 2021, 9:07 AM · David can explain best and correct any mistakes I'll make, but I'll take a shot. String angle over the bridge is a very important parameter for setup- plenty of discussions on Maestronet about it. It helps determine bridge height and thus fingerboard height. You are right in that the tension of the string itself depends on the vibrating length, nothing else, but the total force exerted on the violin depends on both the type of string and the string angle. This downforce is what the bridge exerts on the violin top and through the soundpost and also affects playing qualities.

My mistake is assuming that changing strings from loop to ball strings would affect the string angle. What I've realized after David's post is that the tailpiece is not fixed, and if you changed from a ball to loop stringing the tailpiece would just rise and twist to compensate, creating an identical string angle over the bridge. Same thing happens with Hill tuners.
January 8, 2021, 9:11 AM · John, that's correct. If the tailpiece was fixed and immobile, the situation would be different.
January 8, 2021, 9:26 AM · Then I have something to learn John (and David). Are you saying that at a fixed vibration frequency, the string tension on that side is dependent on the angle on the tailpiece side? Thats the only way I can see to get a greater pressure on the bridge. But if the tension is higher surely the frequency can not be the same?

January 8, 2021, 10:44 AM · Elise, I hope somebody with better theoretical knowledge than I can explain, as I'm not entirely sure how this works either :)

Sorry to the OP for derailing the thread.
I'll contribute one further trick that I use in teaching children posture.
Try "making a double chin" by pulling the neck back while angling the head down. Look to the left a bit and then pick up the violin into playing position while maintaining the same feeling. This helps flatten and expose the collarbone area giving greater stability. Hope this makes sense!

Edited: January 8, 2021, 4:06 PM · Something else I've just noticed after changing from loop to knot on the Eudoxa G and D is that the last vestiges of what had long been an irritating wolf on the G string, the A just over halfway up, have now disappeared.
January 8, 2021, 2:38 PM · Trevor when you play without CR does your jaw bear down on your tailpiece? I've always wondered whether that influences your pitch.
Edited: January 8, 2021, 4:27 PM · Paul, my jaw doesn't "bear down" on the tailpiece. It is in very light contact partly with the tailpiece and partly with the top table immediately next to it, so pitch isn't affected. This degree of contact - which I find doesn't always need to be present - I would describe as providing just enough frictional contact to oppose a downward shift of the left hand. If the left hand is as relaxed as it should be then that frictional contact should be minimal, and applied only for as long as is necessary.

The other important part of the no-CR technique is that the violin should be held horizontal as far as is necessary to prevent gravity from doing its evil work, particularly when it comes to downward shifts.

Personally, I like to have the violin resting directly on my collar bone, but obviously there are occasions when a shirt perhaps with jacket must be worn. As others have pointed out, other support measures may have to be taken, such as a pad, a layer of cloth, or chamois leather between violin and collar bone. This is very much an individual thing, depending on the violinist's anatomy.

There you have it, two of the three support and stabilizing factors when playing the violin, left hand and collar bone. The third is the pressure of the bow on the strings.

January 8, 2021, 5:20 PM · Trevor, and it's exactly that third factor driving me crazy...
January 9, 2021, 5:08 AM · Elise, imagine a violin where the string passes straight over the bridge, without bending. There would be no downforce on the bridge, and the bridge would slide back and forth across the top as you bowed back and forth (until it falls down).

The greater the string angle over the bridge (normal range for a violin is around 158 degrees), the greater the downforce.

Edited: January 11, 2021, 3:10 PM · The last two or three weeks, I spent playing violin (not viola) without SR, maybe 20 hours in total. I never did this for such a "long" period exclusively, but rather switched between SR and restless. I admit I used a small triangle shaped piece of foam under my shirt most of the time.

One thing I realized what I never thought of is that I developed a much looser "left hand grip". I guess it's impossible to freely balance a violin that way when pressing down with your fingers. As you'd expect, playing fast passages and "all those black notes" and also downshifting is definitely easier that way, and as you'd also expect, this is automatically transferable to a +SR setup.

Again, not to judge what's "the right way" to play. Only a hint why learning how to play restless as a pedagogic tool could make sense to one or the other, no matter his preferences.

Note that I'm writing this from the perspective of an eternal learner, so please be kind... ;-)

January 11, 2021, 4:00 PM · Isn't it hard to shift downwards form lets say 6th position to 2nd position, for example?
Edited: January 11, 2021, 4:22 PM · David, I belive shifting down to 2nd is ALWAYS a pain for someone like me... ;-)

But seriously, it's a matter of practice and relaxation. When shifting down from 7th to first on D-A-E, you could easily pull out a sheet of paper between my jaw and the CR. Not so on the G, yet - but I'm confident it will come.

January 11, 2021, 4:21 PM · I hope this will also do something good for my vibrato.
Edited: January 11, 2021, 4:43 PM · For me after almost a year it never really did, or only after lots of practice and warmup every day, still it's never as secure as with SR, it's just physically unnatural. I felt like I was handicapping myself for no reason.
I agree with you and I've said it here in the past, playing restless is a good pedagogic tool, helps developing left hand grip, head/neck relaxation among other things, but after you accomplish that it's time to get back to sweet VLM, which are low SRs, best of both worlds.
Edited: January 14, 2021, 3:04 AM · "I hope this will also do something good for my vibrato."

I hope so too.. if the restless hold can induce a more relaxed left hand..and more freedom of movement?

Edited: January 18, 2021, 6:43 PM · There is a lot I could say. And if anyone is interested the whys and wherefores from my point of you, please visit my website, rkviolin.com and look for "basics" in my "writings" section. I will try here to mostly confine myself to answering the OP's question:

"So, to all of you playing like that "almost restless" but still with a tiny bit of support under your clothing, what do you use, and how do you prevent it from slipping? (No adhesive foams on my instruments backs, please!)"

I use a piece of suede leather about the size of a hankie. It has 3 segments. The middle segment has a pocket inside of which is a thin piece of foam about 1/4 of an inch thick. One outer segment goes over the chinrest, one outer segment goes under the violin and the middle segment with the very slight cushioning goes on the collar bone which, in my approach is where the violin contacts the body. I've been doing this for years and it is so comfortable! With this I can hold the violin with no hands - not that this is very important except to show what a slip-resistant effect it has. More importantly, when I play, I down-shift with almost zero pressure from my chin or jaw. The outer segments are interchangeable, so you can exchange the part that was over the tailpiece with the part that was under the violin and you can flip the whole thing over. This allows 4 interchangeable surfaces over the chinrest and under the violin if you perspire while playing. The middle segment will always fall on the collar bone. I like to call my little invention my "concert schamatta"!

The only problems with this is that the leather is hard to come by, not cheap and very hard to cut and sew. Years ago I got hold of a skin whose irregular shape was approximately a square yard and had 5 of these made for me by a seamstress. A much cheaper and easier alternative is to buy a roll of thin shelf-liner material which is very easy to cut and fold. You can thicken it as you like. It's not quite as comfortable but it works pretty well and I recommend this for my students.

I will just add that experimenting with the chinrest is just as important. I use and am happy with the Kauffman model.

January 19, 2021, 1:44 AM · really a fine invention that Klayman schamatta!
January 19, 2021, 7:13 AM · Thanks!
January 19, 2021, 8:33 AM · Raphael, sounds good. I used something similar for many years. I used velcro to fasten them to the chinrest. Then I found a cloth product that I have been using for the past 3 years. I think they serve a similar purpose to your design but they do not cover the back of the instrument - just chinrest and collar bone with neck shielding from chinrest hardware. They were sold at SHAR and also at Amazon but vanished from the US market a year or so ago - but checking just now I find they are again available at Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/String-Chinrest-Violin-Viola-Preventing-Contact/dp/B01ED3QJZ4/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=M.E+String+Chinrest+Cover&qid=1611066341&sr=8-1

I have these on all 6 of my chinrests (4 violins and 2 violas) so I really don't need to buy any more at this time. If one goes bad I can switch out from a less-played instrument.

January 20, 2021, 1:06 PM · 99. One more, and it's 100. Come on... A SR thread on V.com necessarily has to finish in the three digits... Always!
January 21, 2021, 1:49 AM · Glad Rafael weighed in, his advice was invaluable for me five years ago. There, triple digits:)
January 21, 2021, 11:35 AM · I cut up an old leather jacket.
January 23, 2021, 9:50 AM · Glad I could be of help!

And just for fun I'll share this: My "official" name for my little invention is a 'chinrest cover' or 'padded chinrest cover'. Once at a gig, a colleague teased me, saying" I see you're still using that old schmatta (Yiddish for "rag"). With feigned indignation I replied: "That's CONCERT Schmatta to you! A little respect please!" And the rest was history! :-)

January 23, 2021, 9:52 AM · Raphael, that's a great one! :-D
January 23, 2021, 6:12 PM · Thanks! Oh, also, in certian situations where I've liked to lay my violin and bow across my knees, the slip-resistant aspect has been very helpful. I've even used it on a few ocassions on a gig to adjust a stand light that was shining into someone's eyes. So it can also double as a pot holder!
January 24, 2021, 11:49 AM · I know it's a big topic for us violinists. I changed one year ago from SR to no SR.
It changed the way of my violin playing completely. Left and right hand!!
It took a while but it was worth it. No back pain anymore and a huge different when it comes to sound production!
Here is a video that describes pretty much how I learned it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsKju_W1K0U

January 24, 2021, 11:57 AM · Pajwan, welcome to the club!
January 24, 2021, 5:04 PM · Yes indeed. There are sacrifices without doubt, but the gains outweigh them for me.

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