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Thread: No More Shoulder Rest!

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    Senior Member Quaverion's Avatar
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    I am reading a book by Leopold Auer (Heifetz' teacher) where he says that shoulder rests steal about 1/3 of the violin's tone and projection because it absorbs vibrations and acts as a mute. I am now trying (very hard) to play without my shoulder rest. I was just wondering what you think of this, and if anyone has ever heard of this before and does it.
    It is our imperfections that make us who we are.

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    Shoulder rests are relatively new. When I started violin lessons as a child no one used them. Now everyone pretty much starts off with one. A shoulder rest makes it MUCH easier to learn to shift and do vibrato.

    I tried a shoulder rest - both with the violin and viola. It puts me in a totally different position and I fatigue easier (normally I can practice 1-2 hours...with the shoulder rest I can barely make 10 min. without needing a break because my muscles in my hands, shoulders and lower back start to cramp).

    In addition, the Kun violin rest does not fit securely on my current violin, so I was always tensed when I used it waiting for it to pop off.

    I figured it wasn't worth the pain/stress and I haven't used it again - with the understanding that it will maybe take me longer to become proficient at vibrato and shifting than if I were using one.

    All told, my take is that a shoulder rest is a beneficial device - I don't think it mutes the sound anymore than your actual shoulder will. Having said that, you do NOT have to use a shoulder rest ! I've also come across numerous comments from professionals and teachers who also say you don't HAVE to use one.

    Just be aware of the pros and cons before you make your decision.
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    You&#39;re not talking about the chin rest, right, just the shoulder rest?? I don&#39;t use a shoulder rest, and I don&#39;t need one. But I&#39;m glad to know about this, because I had been considering trying one. :P

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    Junior Member max's Avatar
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    I&#39;ve found it really depends on the player. I personally use one, cuz, shifting is much more difficult without it.
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    Talking

    Personally, I need one to play&#33; My neck is the type that is great for dangly earrings, really long. It actually hurts to try to play without one. If I tried for long I&#39;m sure I&#39;d get a neck cramp&#33; I never tried shifting without a shoulder rest because I&#39;d probably drop my instrument.
    <span style='color:red'>Carpe Jugulum</span>

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    The shoulder rest situation (if u can really call it one) is starting to become quite controversal. Personally, I find it hard to play without one, but that&#39;s just due to the fact that I started learning violin with it. I do have a few friends who do not play with a shoulder rest, and a renowned teacher, Mr. Zafer, dissapproves of them. I have a wolf shoulder rest- and i&#39;ve tried playing without it (resulting in bad neck cramps and my constant complaining) but i don&#39;t hear too much difference in sounds quality.

    Nulli Secundus

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    Senior Member Daniel's Avatar
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    I had a Wolf firstly too, but i got neck problems (I have a tall neck ), so I changed to a KUN. Much better now.

    About the question: shoulder rest yes or no. Hm i never tried it without, I should actually.

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    I did, on Monday, order a padded rest that sits over your shoulder...to try specifically with the viola...so I can stop using the dishcloth (which shifts and falls off all the time)...I didn&#39;t get around to rubber-banding a sponge onto it as suggested...that would work too...

    ...I&#39;ll let you know how the padded rest works when I get it...it&#39;s here if anyone wants to look...

    http://www.shoulderpet.com/ordering.htm
    <span style='color:green'><span style='font-family:Optima'>Music is what feelings sound like...Anon</span>.</span>

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    Senior Member Quaverion's Avatar
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    This is the new shoulder rest I am ordering soon.

    http://www.sharmusic.com/itemdy00.asp?T1=1346+L&Cat=
    It is our imperfections that make us who we are.

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    Senior Member Daniel's Avatar
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    Looks very practical...actually I should search for a new one as well...I have spin and neck problems.

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    My shoulder rest/pad arrived yesterday&#33; Looks like it&#39;s the answer to my viola problems...tried it with the violin too...don&#39;t know if I need or like it...but I&#39;ll experiement a little more...

    ...I wouldn&#39;t hesitate to recommend it...
    <span style='color:green'><span style='font-family:Optima'>Music is what feelings sound like...Anon</span>.</span>

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    Senior Member Quaverion's Avatar
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    My shoulder rest should arrive soon. I really can&#39;t wait. I&#39;ll tell you about how it is in about a week.
    It is our imperfections that make us who we are.

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    Originally posted by Quaverion@Aug 20 2004, 03:40 PM
    I am reading a book by Leopold Auer (Heifetz&#39; teacher) where he says that shoulder rests steal about 1/3 of the violin&#39;s tone and projection because it absorbs vibrations and acts as a mute. I am now trying (very hard) to play without my shoulder rest. I was just wondering what you think of this, and if anyone has ever heard of this before and does it.
    [snapback]1584[/snapback]
    [FONT=Arial][FONT=Arial][COLOR=purple][SIZE=7]

    I have been hearing this discussion for many, many years. Violists of my aquaintance have gone through changes every few months, working on the idea of no shoulder rest. The logic of it seems to come down to this: although a shoulder rest DOES affect the sound, so does the shoulder in contact with the instrument, and destroying one&#39;s back and causing permanent tendonitis is not worth the cost of some of the sound of the instrument. I think I&#39;d rather play for years to come, than to spend the rest of my life not playing my viola, and in agony.
    I HAVE experimented with different shoulder rests, and the contact point of the shoulder rest itself, with the imstrument, seems to be the important factor. The Kun seems to be the least constricting to the sound quality, over the PlayOnAir, and simple sponges.
    Anne

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    Senior Member Daniel's Avatar
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    Welcome to the board, Anne.

    Yes, I agree. I have a tall neck...so without shoulder rest I could get real problems.

    How much does a shoulder rest affect the sound?

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    Hi Daniel&#33;
    Thank you&#33;&#33;
    Personally, I find that the shoulder rest, especially the Kun, which attaches only at the edges, affects the sound only minutely. If I were a soloist, with a REALLY valuable instrument, I would worry...I&#39;m not, so I don&#39;t. I find that the PlayOnAir affects the sound more.
    After using the Kun very comfortably and happily for more than 25 years, I suddenly started having back problems. I accidentally forgot it, for a quartet rehearsal, borrowed what was available, a PlayOnAir, and hey presto&#33;....immediately, no sore back. I tried going back and forth between the two...no go....it was the Kun. Now...we all do change. I never once had a problem before, with it. I have students who, when first getting the Kun, have trouble with it, as they are not using it properly....the ones who DO use it properly, immeditaely find it a massive relief.
    I have found that I dislike the others, as they are less flexible, and less adjustable to my shape, than the other solid style shoulder rests.

    Anne

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