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not using a shoulder rest


bryan
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This thread was inspired by recent conversations from another thread. I just felt that this topic may need its own. For those not using a shoulder rest, what have you found to be the best way to hold the violin or viola successfully? Sponges, leather, rubber padding? What chinrest do you find works best for this?

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As I understand it that the people who do not use shoulder rest are trying to get more of the tone out of the violin.

It is a choice question. Using a shoulder rest a player can get better control of the violin, a trade off. There are soloist (or performers) of both kinds. /yuen/

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Like a moth to a flame, I go for another shoulder pad thread. Internet advice on holding a violin is worth what you pay for it - minus the cost of the computer, its software, and connection fees. Anybody who thinks this forum supercedes teacher advice has a lousy relationship with his or her teacher, and should probably transfer to a different studio.

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Hi All,

Some time ago I was in a master class. The teacher of the class was a Tchaikovsky competition winner,he advacated not to use shoulder rest. His reason was as what I said in the previous post, that is ,to get more out the violin. If he was not in such a calibre player, I would forget of what he said as soon as the class was dismissed.

Personally, I don't know how to advice others. Fortunately no one has asked me. (please laugh). I find the shoulder rest gives me a lot of security. I can hold my violin without the help of my left hand. (of courese, no hope to win a Tchaikosky competition, what a sacrifice). /yuen/

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Repeat after me: "Using a shoulder rest does not make me an inferior violinist." This issue is solely a matter of personal comfort. It does not affect how good you are or how you sound (tell Hahn or Shaham or Bell that they are inferior because they use shoulder rests). Case closed.

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I like the SAS medium high chinrest (32 mm high, I believe) with a piece of suede between fiddle and shoulder to help keep the violin from slipping.

By the way, if the violin is slipping a lot when you don't have anything between fiddle back and shoulder to reduce slipping, I think you've got the wrong chinrest. In other words, you should be able to hold the violin pretty securely without any slip reducing pad between fiddle back and shoulder. Adding the pad (suede, in my case) just adds a little bit more security, but if it weren't there, you should be able to play ok, anyway.

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I believe the use of a shoulder rest is more about body anatomy than tonal qualities or inferiority.I don't use a rest,I have a short neck and can easily hold my violin tucked between my chin and shoulder,however my daughter has a rather long neck and could'nt possibily hold her violin without one.

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A shoulder rest,like Kun,attached to the violin will increase the total weight of the violin,that in turn,it makes the vibration a little harder. For that reason, the tone is compromised. It has nothing to do with the skill of the player. Using a shoulder rest or advacating not using it, should not offend anyone. My teacher, the Tchaikovsky competition winner explained that in the master class. /yuen/

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Well - tell me please, if the weight of a shoulder rest attached to a violin changes its vibrating characteristics, what does the weight of a human's head or whole body attached to it do?

I was forceed to play without shoulder rests as a child by short-necked Italian and central European derived teachers in New York. I continued to play without shoulder rests until I was 35. Finally, I discovered my ideal chinrest and that was a big help. Within a year I also discovered the added benefits of the right shoulder rest (that was about 35 years ago). I never noticed any difference in sound.

Chinrests - on the other hand do make a difference in sound. Even location of the chinrest; over-the-tailpiece vs. on the left side can make a noticeable difference.

I think the difference is that the chinrest is not at a nodee of the main body vibration modes of the instrument, while the shoulder rest is usually close to one - so it does not have to be moved much by the vibrational energy, while the chinrest does.

Andy

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Hi Andy,

See if I am making sense.

A Kun like shoulder rest works like 4 little hands holding your violin. The weight of the shoulder rest is added to your violin. It vibrates (or it absorbs some vibrations of ) with your violin when bowed. It becomes a burden to violin. No matter how you look at it . It is not helping (for the tone,but security of holding the instrument).

Any part of the violin if restricted will affect the sound.(for example, hang something on the scroll, and see if the sound affected). A benefit vs drawback issue.

Without shoulder rest and without chinrest, I am sure my violin will sound better, Unfortunately, in this case I cannot play at all.

My daughter and my son in law, both do not use shoulder rest. They started out that way like you. Andy.

I discovered the benefit of shoulder rest really eary. A blessing in the sky. /yuen/

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While I'm sure a sholder rest abosorbs SOME of the vibrations, it's so little and negligable that you probably wont notice anyways. I've played with a shoulder rest and without, and I've noticed to tonal difference in my insturment (and a very minimal violin-holding-security-benefit gain). It's really personal prefrenece, and to say players who use sholder rests are ameteur is absurd. Like thom said, go tell Hahn or Bell that they're not good violinists becuase they use a shoulder rest.

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++++++++++++++

It's really personal prefrenece, and to say players who use sholder rests are ameteur is absurd. Like thom said, go tell Hahn or Bell that they're not good violinists becuase they use a shoulder rest.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

All posts were making the same statements as yours. No one said that anyone who uses shoulder rest is an amatuer. I was joking that I had no hope to win a competition (for other reasons of course, the least is the shoulder rest).

Many great virtuosos use shoulder rests, and some do not use. I know there are both kinds. I only quoted my master class teacher who is a Tchaikosky competition winner who advactes none usage. (he showed the class his pinky works like a jelly fish, it makes me ALMOST give up violin, Almost for a few hour) /yuen/

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I think I have said this sort of thing before, but here goes again...

Many years ago, when the world was young, no one used a shoulder rest becuase they did not yet exist. That would be about 1950...

Today those who do not use them are seen by some as 'radical', 'reactionary' - perhaps dangerous and insane too - who knows...

Anyway, there is an entire group of violinists/violists out here - without a heavy representation on this forum I know - who play 'Baroque' or 'Classical' violin in the original way and forsake the shoulder rest for the sake of 'authenticity' and (believe it or not) 'comfort' rather than 'tonal muting'. From that point of view it is relevant to learn how best to hold your instrument without various artificial supports. To this end I recommend the following books:

The Art of Playing 'Chin Off' for the Brave and Curious, by Elizabeth Wallfisch, sold through King's Music UK (e-mail: clifford.bartlett@btopenworld.com) and see the original Strad article on this subject (and the 'tyranny of the shoulder rest') in the September 2004 issue.

and

Violin Technique and Performance Practice in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries by Robin Stowell, Cambridge University Press.

Regards (and putting on my flack jacket now),

Tradfiddle

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Yuen, I'm not sure your reasoning holds up. Scientific studies have been done -- and cited here in one of the too many threads on shoulder rest usage -- and they show that use of a bridge-type shoulder rest does NOT inhibit the violin; quite the opposite, in fact. The tiny little hands you refer to amount to much less restrictiveness than would result from placing the violin on the shoulder, or a cushion or whatever. Take it or leave it, as you see fit, but the conventional wisdom that says a rest inhibits tone production is just that -- conventional wisdom.

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"use of a bridge-type shoulder rest does NOT inhibit the violin; quite the opposite, in fact."

My own experience with the truth of this statement occurred with a teacher of mine who had a wonderful Guarneri filius Andrea violin. It sounded great.

This teacher used a tightly packed pad of cloth attached to the back of the fiddle. This hard pillow of cloth was the main contact between shoulder and back of fiddle, and the fiddle sounded wonderful.

Then, he decided to try a bridge-like shoulder rest that didn't touch the back of the instrument. As good as that fiddle sounded with the hard pillow against it, it sounded even more open and vibrant with the bridge-like rest.

In spite of that experience, I don't use a shoulder rest because it's more comfortable for me without one, and I'm willing to trade away a little bit of the sound of the instrument (if that's what's happening) to get that comfort.

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A Kun shoulder rest reminds me of a sausage dog (those short legs dogs). Sometime, your neighbor walk them on a street. You do not know why their legs are so short.

You put one this Kun thing on your violin. Now you tell me

it does not hurt the sound? The four legs together squeeze

the back of your violin. How hard do you think your bow on the string to draw a sound? Which force, the shoulder rest's force or your bow's force , is stronger? The back of the violin has to yield the Kun's force. Well, you may argue that the back does not play that important of the roll as tone production. Then, it may be ture but I cannot dismiss it so easily. Just my thought. /yuen/

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I don't use a shoulder rest. The 1st vln in our qtet is a short guy with a short neck. He uses a shoulder rest. Our violist is a woman with a long neck. She doesn't use a shoulder rest. All of us made our decisions with comfort and ease of playing in mind. If you need one, use one.

Our cellist could use a rest, too.

Another shoulder rest thread? Has it been six months already?

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I use a shouler rest, I have occasionally tried playing without. I feel there is no question the sound is better without a shoulder rest. Attach a piece of rubber to a bell, or any other resonant object, and there will be an impact to the sound. The Kun style is pretty much a lump of rubbery material. Sort of like a mute on the whole violin.

That said, my left hand is much more free with a shoulder rest. I am a fairly thin, bony guy, and I just never feel as secure without the rest. You have to compromise sound for security, if your build requires that you use a rest.

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OK, Yuen, I'll tell you. It does not hurt the sound. Actual experiments (like one whose results were published in The Strad some years back)have shown that. They confirmed what should be obvious from commmon sense: having nothing touching the back (Kun) gives more overtones than having something (your shoulder)touching the back.

I'm willing to believe there are real playing advantages (greater postural freedom) to playing without a rest if you can do it comfortably (I can't). But for brdige-type rests, acoustics are a non-issue. (Pads are another matter.)

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I recently rented "From Mao to Mozart" (fabulous documentary if you've not seen it). It chronicles Isaac Stern's visit to China (after the end of the Cultural Revolution) in 1979. He spends a great deal of time with talented young string players in what could be called Master classes. At one point in the film, he comments that he's noticed the violins bouncing up and down and that one student in particular was having trouble getting decent vibrato. He pointed out that she (and the others) didn't use any type shoulder rest/device. There has been much hoo-ha about not using a "shoulder rest" but as Stern was describing the problem to the student through an interpreter, he says "but this is how *I* deal with the problem" and he whips a sponge out from underneath his shirt collar. It took a second for the interpreter to translate all this, but the audience cracked up. Stern then went on to demonstrate with this student how by having that little something to anchor the instrument securely on her shoulder that her left hand was much more free to do the work it needed and the instrument would remain steady. After he demonstrated this to her, she clearly was convinced.

It reminded me of all the "shoulder rest/no shoulder rest" wars that go on here. These students were more concerned with what could improve their playing than "to use or not to use."

By the way, the DVD edition of the film has an extra 40 minute clip of Stern returning to China 20 years later. I won't give anything away in the event someone wants to rent it.

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