teeth and chinrest

September 11, 2023, 5:08 AM · Below is from 2020. I agree with James (l think). If your jaw is relaxed, leaning your head into the chin rest should force your teeth together surely?

James Dong
October 21, 2020, 1:46 PM ยท Yes I do believe I'm gripping the violin with my jaw. It is probably a response to my not wanted to grip the violin by raising my left shoulder too much. It rests on my collarbone like it should, but I don't see a solution for having a relaxed jaw which makes contact with the chinrest, that also includes not having the top and bottom teeth touch... As I bring the violin to my neck, my jaw is relaxed and teeth apart, but as soon as my jaw lies on the chinrest, the very minimal amount of pressure which my head exerts onto the chinrest is enough to makes my teeth touch. So I grip the violin with my jaw, but actually very lightly and only as much as necessary! Nevertheless, the contact is more than enough to put my teeth together without some activity from the jaw to keep it apart.

Replies (11)

Edited: September 11, 2023, 7:31 AM · I think you need:
- a chin rest with enough "lip" to hook more under the jawbone,
- more support for the violin from the left hand, or, yes,
- a shoulder rest, to act a a fulcrum so that the weight of the head is sufficient to balance that of the violin.

From time to time, if my viola is resting on my thumb, and against the base of my index, I can lift my head from the chinrest and even waggle my jaw...

Edited: September 11, 2023, 8:30 AM · Quite. I prefer playing without touching the chinrest but when you do the word rest is there. If you put your teeth together then relax your jaw you can tap the chin back up with your hand with little resistance.
September 11, 2023, 9:20 AM · Its your L hand. The (SR-less) violin should rest on the collarbone and the L hand, the chin only really comes into play when you down-shift and a bit to keep the balance on the collarbone. For that you don't need any significant pressure (some baroque players don't even touch the violin with the chin). Your left hand should do everything else - and needs to be more 'educated'.

I don't think my teeth ever meet.

September 11, 2023, 9:57 AM ·

I wonder if the "angle of play" influences what you describe? Possibly my own terminology, I'll clarify. Imagine a vertical plane that extends from the front of the body and divides said into left and right halves. I think of the angle of play as the horizontal angle that the violin makes with that plane.

I've been experimenting with that angle. Decades ago, I erroneously played at about 30 degrees, with the violin held much to the front of me. My only explanation is that, I wanted to hear the violin more equally with both my left and right ears. Retired, I began to play again a few years ago, and during the interim, I decided if ever I were to play again, I would hold the violin more the left, increasing the angle of play. I play at about 60 or 65 degrees now, and as I suspected, it makes it easier for my fingers to reach the fingerboard.

Anyway, you might consider experimenting with this angle, to see if it improves your chinrest comfort.

Edited: September 11, 2023, 1:51 PM · You should not use any muscles to hold the violin in place, gravity should do all the work. Your head should cantilever the violin leaving the left arm to do what it needs to to play and not hold up the fiddle. It should feel like you could fall asleep with the violin in place.

Make sure the lip of the chinrest is parallel to your jawbone so it "hooks" in place, you shouldn't have to turn your head toward the violin.

Important: make sure the chinrest is the right type for your face/jaw and is the right *height.* It should just slip in between your jaw and your collarbone without have to tip your head down to it. When you remove the violin, you head and spine should be in a neutral position, like when you are not playing.

And yes, your teeth will come together but *not* grit or grind.

September 11, 2023, 4:43 PM · Paul - are you describing playing without an SR? If you don't use your hand to hold up the violin I can assure you gravity will overpower your chin!
September 11, 2023, 4:47 PM · Elise, I'm sure his shoulders must be far squarer than mine.
September 11, 2023, 5:12 PM · No muscles to hold up your violin -- I'm calling that out as rubbish.
September 11, 2023, 8:43 PM · Elise et al., apologies, I actually may have mis-read the thread, I'm describing how to hold it *with* a shoulder rest. No shoulder rest and the left hand of course needs to support the fiddle. Without one, no.
September 12, 2023, 2:32 AM · Those above who hardly ever have their chin on the chinrest, do you vibrato without contact?
Edited: September 12, 2023, 4:27 AM · No. Even though my vibrato has only just enough finger pressure not to "slobber"!

Just to add that as a shoulder-rest-as-fulcrum violist, I once momentarily dozed off in an extended, hot rehearsal, and apparently the scroll rose as the weight of my head descended on the chin rest; normally we can not release basic muscle-tone in this way.

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