What is the proper placement (healthiest) of the jaw on the chinrest?
I am 22 years old and I have been playing the violin for about 11 years. This summer I had been practicing a lot (up to six hours on certain days) because I have my senior recital in the fall. About a month ago, I began hearing a sound in my left ear. It doesn't sound like a pitch so it feels strange to call it a ringing. The closest I can compare the sound to is quiet electricity. The sound is not so bad and I can generally go about my days with it. It only bothers me when I am alone in a quiet room or when I am about to sleep. Worried that it could be hearing loss, I scheduled an appointment with my general doctor three weeks ago so he could give me a hearing test and make sure that I did not have excess ear wax. Fortunately, my ears turned out to be clean and I had perfect hearing on my hearing test. However, that did not help in eliminating the sound in my left ear. :(
If my ears are fine, then I suspect that the issue has to do with my jaw since I read up online that jaw problems can also relate to ear problems. Perhaps I am not placing my jaw properly on the chinrest. Therefore, where do you guys mostly place violin? Is there supposed to be a gap between the violin and the neck? I realize that I might be placing the violin to far into my neck and jaw and maybe I have affected my left ear that way. Even if I somehow caused permanent damage, I want to prevent further trouble.
Does anyone share a similar story to mine? I would really, really appreciate any help because I feel like I am going crazy haha...
Are you still using the chinrest that came with your violin?
Consider consulting an audiologist. It sounds like tinnitus, and might need a specialist to diagnose.
Do you wear an earplug during practice? Does your jaw hurt from playing, or do you feel that your chinrest is digging into your jaw in any way? I'd say that generally most of the left side can go in but again, it's hard to diagnose online.
Hello Ella! I do not wear an earplug during practice. Should I start doing that to prevent further damage? Sometimes my jaw feels sore after playing for a while but it's not too painful
It sounds like tinnitus which is almost always caused by high frequency hearing loss. However, given the possibility of a jaw problem, tinnitus can be caused by temporomandibular joint dysfunction. First, see an audiologist and tell him you play the violin. Then after he has checked your hearing mention the jaw problem.
Thanks for the replies. I'll consider going to an audiologist. In the meantime, should I be wearing an earplug in my left ear while practicing to prevent further damage?
Angelica, I started getting a similar problem at some point and temporarily protected myself by wearing a "musician's earplug" in my left ear.
I had the same thought as Erik. The position of the instrument can have a huge effect because the intensity of sound drops off with the square of distance.
Since your left ear is closer to a violin f-hole than the right ear it will probably be bombarded with between 12 and 18 db greater sound pressure. Years ago I found that using a inexpensive wax ear plug (really cheap in any drug store) loosely fitted in my left ear, eliminated some undesirable sounds and improved my intonation.
I measured the sound level of my viola, played loudly, with my daughter holding the device just next to my left ear: 100dB, all concentrated in one frequency at a time, and for many hours! Damage to th cochlea's hair-cells is assured, even if we enjoy it.. The violin is less powerful.
Hi, I agree, this sounds like tinnitus. While luckily never having had such issues, myself, I know plenty of musicians who have to deal with this.
You should at least do the long practice sessions with earplugs. There are "musician" earplugs (for example I use the brand Alpine) which still give you a good idea of the sound you produce, it is simply less loud. It actually has advantages to practice like that, because you are much more aware of any sloppy noises or bumps that you produce, and you work better on your sound as well. Then during lessons with your teacher, during performances, during orchestra rehearsals, you don't really have to wear them. That's how I do it and I seem to manage. it's mostly those long practice sessions where you absolutely must wear them!
Thanks for the replies everyone! I am surprised to know that so many of you use earplugs! I have some musicians earplugs on hand so I'll try to practice with them from now on to avoid further damage. Erik, I'll try to send you a video but how can I send you a video directly?
This really does sound like tinnitus - I've had tinnitus in both ears for 24/7 since the winter of 1997 (un-related to the violin). This ranges from a steady hissing to, more commonly, multiple sounds at different pitches that rotate). Interestingly enough, that in itself didn't effect my hearing once I adjusted and I still have quite a good ear. The nerve damage has increased since them and I've moderate hearing loss but I can still play by ear quite well. While I'm, at the very least, on hiatus from the violin due to health issues, it's not related to my hearing.
I started violin when I was 5. I quit when I was 17 and returned when I was 42. Throughout my adulthood I have had constant ringing in my left ear. The volume in my right ear is so much less that I can only hear it if I really try to.
I had tinnitus since childhood due to a beach incident where waves crashed my head on the sand. After only some days of decreasing hearing, I have had tinnitus since. However, my right ear is the one with less hearing, not my violin (left) ear. Still can hear up to 15khz. Hearing is surely not 100% at my age, but I honestly believe that it's not the violins frequencies/loudness problem, as my left ear has never stopped being a better ear than the right. They have never balanced out either (perhaps scientifically that cannot happen anyway?)
Adalberto, your comment means so much to me. Thank you!
While tinnitus is something that one can train oneself to accept, and it becomes not even really noticeable, I would avoid it if at all possible, because in my case, at least, the onset (and there have been a few new onsets) is very psychologically disturbing. I practice with musicians earplugs, and spent a few hundred dollars last year getting some molded to my ears.
But is the answer to practise with an earplug or a mute or both?
Any headphones can be damaging to hearing, it depends entirely on the volume. Tinnitus can be so severe as to cause people to commit suicide because of the resulting insomnia. Some people become completely deaf except for a loud tinnitus. I have a perceived tinnitus of about 45 dB. That's about the loudness of a quiet conversation. Tuning it out becomes more difficult as it becomes louder of course.
Gordon, I wouldn't practice with the mute unless I was playing stuff that required a mute (performance mute) or in a place where a practice mute would make the difference in bothering the neighbors. A practice mute is bound to change the response of the instrument itself, while using earplugs changes your relationship with your perception of the instrument in a way that I think people can get used to and come to work with in a sensible way. In some ways, you can hear yourself more clearly, but I wouldn't totally kid myself that there are no drawbacks.
Dont know if its tinnitus or not, but I will say that you can have tinnitus without having any hearing loss, amd it doesnt mean that you will get hearing loss.
hi Gordon, practicing with a mute is a very different thing from practicing with earplugs. with a mute, your bridge is effectively immobilized (or very much so), and also the bow is muted so to speak: it doesn't bounce as much, and it gives a false feeling of safety. if you would only play, say for a month, with a heavy practice mute, and then suddenly play without one, your bow would jump all over the place.
Angelica, you can email me directly at SacramentoStrings@gmail.com
Perhaps, Ron, but depending on the tested frequency range, the hearing loss may not show up. I had a hearing test that didn't test above a certain frequency range, and no hearing loss showed up, and I walked away ignorant and happy. Later, after a new onset of tinnitus, when I mentioned being a musician, they said they would test in a higher frequency range, which ended up showing a steep decline in hearing at a certain frequency, which makes sense with the tinnitus.
As mentioned above, there are drugs that are ototoxic, Zoloft is famously so. The aminoglycoside antibiotics can cause hearing loss and tinnitus. Cipro is also ototoxic in some people. A musician who needs to take an antibiotic should discuss this with their doctor.
My question about mutes vs plugs was partly whimsy, based on my Yehudi Menuhin reference in this recent (indeed concurrent) thread.
That is called tinnitus and when I noticed it after practising in the tenth grade, I started using an earplug. To this day I still do when I play violin. Luckily it went away after a while because I'd not yet managed to do permanent damage.
christian , I dont dispute what you say, I am going off the specialist who looked into my hearing problems. I am one of the unfortunates whos ears were damaged at loud concerts as you mention, lol entirely my own fault as I laughed at what others said would happen, I have tinnitus and have had it for so long that most of the time I dont even notice it. But anyway, my specialist actually said I was unfortunate as you can have the tinnitus with or without hearing loss and in my case, I dipped out.
Take a look
Sure Ron, and I wasn't intending to be argumentative.
Hope they get a cure christian, it would be incredible, didnt think you were being argumentative.;)
I've had this 24/7 for 25 years now, both ears make several sounds that differ at the same time...I adjusted long ago. It's just the background noise of my life. It's irritating if I get a cold or put noise canceling headphones on as it's more noticeable. I would love to see it gone but it certainly hasn't stopped me from doing anything. For me it's from nerve damage, I don't think I'll opt for the tongue treatment. Hopefully it turns out to be effective.
I'm a little older then Angelica (36M) and I played violin for a whole lot less time (2 years), but while reading your post it really felt like I was writing it. It's like, I'm having the exact same problem and went to the same kind of doctors and the same kind of exams you went through.
you don't set the chinrest up in a vacuum...the violin has to be in a position relative to the body so both arms are in best position to do their job, then the violin has to be properly in between the collarbone and the chin, which depends on their positions and how long neck is, etc. When it's in the middle of chin and collarbone, and all the rest is ok, then the shoulder rest takes up the bottom space between violin and collarbone, and the chin rest takes up the top space between violin and chin. Then you get the chin rest you need that fills that space properly.
Hello, Matheus! I actually had a dental cleaning the day before I starting noticing the hiss. I took a week off when I noticed the hiss and I had the worst week ever because the hissing was at its loudest. I am assuming it was because I didn't have the violin to distract myself with.
Tom Bop, thanks for the reply. What can I do to check if I have this infection? How did you get diagnosed? As in, where should I look into
"I actually had a dental cleaning the day before I starting noticing the hiss."
Gordon, If you mean toothbrushes such as Sonicare, they are safe in the sense under discussion here. They can potentially cause a flare up of trigeminal neuralgia.
Matheus, I don't know how you can get diagnosed early. Eventually mine showed up in an x-ray, but that took a few years. It caused me trouble the whole time, and I had gone to the dentist about 5x with pain in that area before they caught it. My dentist said 90% of root canals work well, so he thinks is worth trying. Next step for the bad 10% removing the tooth, and get an implant.
I wouldn't jump straight to ear plugs. I did this for a while and found it hard to hear some nuances... What I do now is put a tiny bit of tissue/toilet paper in my left ear only, it's a cheap and easy way to protect your left ear while only slightly reducing volume.
@Ann Morrill, I think Gordon was referring to the Cavitron cleaner used to remove tartar buildup and clean stains. I had a Sonicare for a while. I didn't have any real problem with it, though I had to be careful just after a professional clean.
Marc, The Cavitron is safe in this sense too. Thank you for reminding me of this, I had forgotten about it.
To actually answer the
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