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Women and men and shoulder rests (oh my)


pandora
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Zukerman talked in the Roth book about using a cloth-covered doorstop. That, my friend is a rest- a rigid object . And the distinction you draw is largely delusional anyway; the real difference is that a bridge-type rest doesn't mute the sound- which is why Galamian recommended them over pads, when something was needed. There's long been an awful lot of hypocrisy on this subject, especially from those who try to make it a quasi-moral issue. Many Maestronet threads ago it was already past time to give this topic a rest.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
SteveLaBonne

That, my friend is a rest- a rigid object . And the distinction you draw is largely delusional anyway; the real difference is that a bridge-type rest doesn't mute the sound...There's long been an awful lot of hypocrisy on this subject...

Delusional? Hypocrisy?

I find it fascinating when a violinist who is currently INCAPABLE of playing without a shoulder rest makes wholly negative remarks over said method.

The difference in a shoulder rest vs. a pad is the manner in which the violin is held and supported.

1. no shoulder rest/small pad

The violin rests solely on the collarbone. Some violinists use a pad as a *small* buffer. However, the violin will still rest on the now padded collarbone. The point of contact on the violin is the rib/endbutton area...where the chin rest (depending on the type) is already clamped onto the instrument. I mention this as a counter to the "sound-dampening" claim. And sound-dampened or not, we would all love to have the "muted" sound of Oistrakh or Heifetz or Francescatti or...

2. shoulder rest

The sole contact point is NOT the collarbone.

_______________________________________________

And THAT is the tangible difference. I won't go into discussing the effects of this difference. That has already been widely debated...and is best left for inperson demonstrations...

As we all know, there are top players on both sides...

There are also violinists from both sides that are abusing their chosen system and implementing it incorrectly.

Since the current trend is for students to have shoulder rests...those students who are using them INCORRECTLY are locked into a position where their bow-drawn angles/weight distribution are compromised.

I will mention that you now have a legion of students with shoulder pads that are being taught by a generation that plays a violin without. And therein lies another problem.

Regards.

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Of course incorrect use of shoulder rests is incorrect. Tautologies are always so enlightening, don't you think?

Oistrakh used a Poehland pad. Have you ever seen or tried one? That is NOT a device which allows the "sole" point of contact to be the collarbone. Get your facts straight before ranting.

By the way, I'm a violist, and you have no idea what I'm capable or incapable of doing.

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As for Oistrakh there are countless videos and pictures showing his violin OFF the shoulder and ON the collarbone.

quote:


Originally posted by:
SteveLaBonne

By the way, I'm a violist, and you have no idea what I'm capable or incapable of doing.

Wrong again.

I know you are a violist who typically practices on average one hour a day and cannot play without a shoulder rest. The "one hour a day" reference is an insight towards one's playing ability and is not meant as a putdown. I apologize for the earlier sweeping "violinist" reference.

quote:


Originally posted by:
SteveLaBonne

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)
.

quote:


Originally posted by:
SteveLaBonne

I'm not an anti-shoulder-rest zealot- I use one- but if I could get rid of it and still play comfortably, which
I've tried unsusccessfully to do
, I would.

So again it's quite fascinating that you now choose a more negative standpoint vs. the "no shoulder rest" method using choice words/phrases as "delusional", "hypocrisy", "hobgoblin of small minds", etc.etc.etc.

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Apparently you don't know what a Poehland pad is- and it is well-documented that Oistrakh used one. (It would be hard to see in a video, it's small.) It is fairly thick and rather hard, a bit like a cloth-covered, crescent-shaped hockey puck. Such a pad is providing support, not just padding of the collar bone. The same could be said, for example, of Kreisler's turned-back jacket lapel. And of the extra padding sewn into the shoulder of Heifetz's jackets. It's amusing to see the anti-rest campaigners twisting themselves into "it's not a rest if I say it isn't one" positions when faced with such examples.

I have tried playing without a rest, and- as I have mentioned on this board some time back, since you claim to have inspected my earlier posts- I can definitely do it (like many dedicated "restless" players I would need a little cushioning over the collarbone to do it for any length of time.) I choose not to, preferring the greater comfort and security of a properly adjusted rest carefully set up (at a pretty low height) to, yes, place the instrument against my collar bone in much the same position and angle where it would be restless, but also provide some support elsewhere. That is the proper way to use a rest. The fact that some people use them improperly in a way that may be detrimental to their playing is irrelevant to the pros and cons of correct use.

Dogmatism is never a wise or productive state of mind.

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If you would ever like to learn how to play without a shoulder rest, I'd be happy to show you...and that is a genuine offer.

And to reiterate my initial post, "I'm not promoting one way over the other."...

A field such as performance is a funny thing, one can be the most brilliant academician and yet achieve so little in art.

Regards.

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Oh dear, I swore I would never join in a shoulder rest discussion, but I feel the need to jump in on Steve's side.

FWIW, I'm a physicist by profession. I've played violin & viola for over 40 years - not at a professional level obviously, but well enough that I get a fair number of paid gigs.

I play with a Kun. I don't clamp, and the balance points can be any combination of shoulder, chin and hand depending on what I'm doing/how I'm feeling etc. I CAN play perfectly well without a rest by changing my technique, but I don't choose to. I CAN hear a very slight difference in sound with or without, but I can't say one is "better" than the other. If someone else plays my viola while I'm in the next room, I can tell if they use a different bow but not if they take the shoulder rest off. OK, maybe my hearing's not up to it. SO.....

Many years ago I studied in a small town far far away, at a University equipped with an acoustic anechoic chamber. I decided to do a small research project to see if I could put any scientific measure on what I could hear "under my chin". As I was an impoverished student at the time, I only had access to 2 violas, both German good quality factory instruments of about the same value, but very different in size, shape and age. Only 1 bow, but 2 very different types of strings - one was Eudoxa, the other I can't remember but Dominant-like. The test was to record each note of a 3 octave chromatic scale, measuring loudness and doing a frequency analysis. Oh, and with and without a shoulder rest.

Guess what? The 2 violas produced somewhat different frequency spectra, as you'd expect, but the overwhelming factor was the string type. The effect of the shoulder rest was so negligible I don't think I even put it in my report.

One day, maybe when I retire, I might have time to repeat this experiment. I was very young & inexperienced then - I'm not even sure I knew what I was looking for in terms of sound quality in those days. Very different now, when I own good quality instruments and bows, I play 30 years' worth better... If I ever get around to it I'll be sure to try to put ths argument to bed forever!

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a question for those who play restless, do you use your hand to support up the violin? If yes which part?

I've tried to play with 1.5 inches of padding instead of my machone, and I feel less pain on my arm and shoulder and more freedom. However I find that shifting and vibrao are harder because sometimes the hand get stuck on the neck. Moreover it's difficult to point the scroll up while playing restless.

thanks

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nickia,

one should be able to support the violin without any hands. resist the temptation to hold the violin by clamping down on the chinrest. rather, with the violin resting on your collarbone...you lightly set your chin on the rest and pull back with your head...almost like you were trying to gulp and swallow your violin. that will not only support your violin without you clamping down...but it will also raise the level of the scroll. the action is down with the chin and back with the head.

furthermore, if you lean back while bending at the waist (you can practice by leaning back against a doorway, wall, countertop, etc.etc.) you will also raise the level of the scroll, your collarbone will support more of the violin's weight, the violin will fall back towards you (vs. away)...and more importantly you will adjust the center of gravity of the violin in respect to your posture + solidify the bow's position on the string.

now then, you can also use your hand not so much to solely support the violin's weight...but to act as a small buffer when needed...and to raise the scroll even higher...like when you're playing on the g-string (good isaac stern trick to get that rich, powerful tone out of the g-string) the more you use your hand as a buffer, the more you will build up your left arm muscles to the point where it all becomes negligible.

which part of the hand that is used depends on your left-hand's form and which style of thumb placement you use (thumb alongside the neck, underneath the neck, and all points inbetween.)

i am a thumb alongside the neck guy (so that the thumb is pointing vertically up, one of the russian pedagogues made all their students do this..)...it is a very natural and ergonomic position for the hand and it completely frees your hand up for the vibrato motion...plus it helps prevent your fingers from having something to pound against=even more relaxed hand....

when necessary, you can use your chin to add support to the violin when shifting down, etc.

with the correct execution and the requisite amount of time...this all becomes second nature...everything is balanced, and you can be free, loose, and utterly relaxed.

regards.

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