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Just ditched my chinrest....

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I "accidentally" picked up a violin a while ao, without a chinrest, and realized that I absolutely love it. So I took of the chinrest on my <good> violin off - and it feels great. I feel so much more connected to what I play. However, it comes with a bit of a bittersweet feeling. Will I wear off the varnish? Would my chin, in an accidental sudden (hard) move crack the top? 

 

Does anyone else like to play without a chinrest? Just wanted to hear what you guys think about the subject.

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The chinrest does protect the top of your instrument from wear and reduces the vibrational absorption of your skin against the sound producing top and offers better control and a stronger hold.  While I can see how someone would like the feel of the vibrations into their jaw bone from the instrument, that does have a damping effect on the instrument.  Perhaps your old chinrest was not the proper fit for you?   The chinrest was not always part of an instrument set-up, but it is certainly become a standard part of the instrument for a reason. 

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I gave up my chinrest 18 months ago and find it much more comfortable.  The varnish is wearing but it doesn't bother me, the violin is a tool for making music.  I tried the chinrest again a few weeks back and it reminded me of why I took it off.  If you want to protect the varnish a chamois leather is what you need, a handerkchief doesn't give the slight grip you need when you downshift. I don't use a shoulder rest either and there is no strong hold, with practice everything just stays in place with slight or no pressure from the chin.  I'm not a baroque or HIP player, I just find it more comfortable and free.

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Thank you guys for all feedback. I forgot to mention that I doo use a shoulder rest. When I took off the chinrest I adjusted the height up a bit, so my posture is still correct, I feel at least.
I might expriment with some smaller chinrests, because I am a bit worried to get my violin varnish messed up.

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Playing without chinrest or shoulder support may result in neck problems further down the line.

While I assume you are right, I'm not so sure that neck problems don't also come when we are using the usual devices.  It would make an interesting and really worthwhile study to see if and how neck and shoulder problems are caused.

 

I suspect (I do a lot of this, since I'm very short on real facts  :) ) that it is not the devices or lack of them which causes the problems; rather, it is how the player allows himself to lapse into bad or dangerous habits of weird posture.

 

I'm thinking specifically of one friend who over the years felt he had to twist his lower spine in two different directions to play.  It was painful to watch because you just knew he'd have problems later.  He did.

 

Also, I have had violins that cause me to tense and twist in strange ways.  Something, I suppose, to do with the response of the instrument.  I have also had violins that actually cause my position and posture to straighten right up and all tension to disappear.  Those are few and far between in my experience.

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I think you are right Will L.  I stopped using the shoulder rest because I was getting shoulder pain and I realised that the shoulder rest  was encouraging me to support the violin with the shoulder.  IMO you can't play without shoulder and chinrest unless you are very aware of posture, body action and the balance of the violin. Basically, the three forces on the violin are the left hand, the collar bone and the bow, the chin only comes into play to resist the drag of the left hand when you move the thumb on a downshift, and if the violin is horizontal, or even lifted slightly, hardly any grip is needed. Twenty years of weekly Alexander classes helps :)

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 Basically, the three forces on the violin are the left hand, the collar bone and the bow, the chin only comes into play to resist the drag of the left hand when you move the thumb on a downshift, and if the violin is horizontal, or even lifted slightly, hardly any grip is needed.

IMO, absolutely, and that was how the violin was—and indeed HAD to be—played for 400 years.

 

I believe the new devices SHOULD keep us from clamping or "hanging on for dear life" as I like to put it.  But they don't. We have to fight the tendency.  

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Will is right - plenty of violinists using all the modern gear still suffer spinal difficulties. The other side to this is that it is possible to play healthfully without the rests as well. It's all about understanding your body, how it moves, what it needs, and lots of hard work learning to accommodate it

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In orchestras there needs to be a certain uniformity. Even in a string quartet, if one player goes chinrest-less, they would all need to follow that prescription.

 

Maybe there are orchestras and quartets where this is true, but I feel like string hardware is usually player's choice.  For example, one of my teachers at SFCM, Don Ehrlich, played his Pellegrina up front in the San Francisco Symphony.  Then again, I've never tried showing up to orchestra rehearsal with pink bow hair or something like that.  

 

I think that in an orchestra, it's bad manners to do anything to stand out.  But chin rests don't seem a part of that to me.  A missing chin rest is more like "Where's Waldo?" than "What the hell is that?!"

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Maybe there are orchestras and quartets where this is true, but I feel like string hardware is usually player's choice.  For example, one of my teachers at SFCM, Don Ehrlich, played his Pellegrina up front in the San Francisco Symphony.  Then again, I've never tried showing up to orchestra rehearsal with pink bow hair or something like that.  

 

I think that in an orchestra, it's bad manners to do anything to stand out.  But chin rests don't seem a part of that to me.  A missing chin rest is more like "Where's Waldo?" than "What the hell is that?!"

 

Some people drape a cloth over the chin rest and that is much more noticeable; others have such big jowls that you can hardly see the chin rest anyway.

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