Hi everyone,

The fourth week of my experiment on playing without a shoulder rest and / or chin rest is almost finished. Here are some updates and some feedback.

Thank you for sending me your videos, it’s really important for my research. Please keep doing it. We are at different stages, many people are having the half term holidays and got a little delay in the project because of that, going away with the kids etc. So, most people ares in lesson 2 or 3 by now, that is completely fine. My newsletters will be a bit more general because of that, as not all people are doing lesson 5 at this moment.

Last week, some more new participants joined as well, welcome! Many people now filled out the entrance survey. Thanks. If you didn’t do it yet, please do so before you start the lessons.

If you know more people who like to join, this is still possible through my website. If you missed the newsletter last week, you can still read it here. There is a collection of past newsletters at my website available too.

Please be welcome to join the Zoom session next Wednesday 11.00 AM (Dutch time) if you want… Just to meet or to ask some questions. Would be nice to meet up. You can watch Zoom sessions back on the login page where the video lessons are, as well.


Recording your videos

It would be lovely if you all could record yourself a bit more as a whole (including the legs) in stead of only the upper body and the violin. In that case I can see your balance on the feet and the use of your spine a bit better.

Some people asked me ‘How did you record yourself in your videos?’… so that is why I put this picture here. I put a music stand on top of a chair and the upper part of the music stand is almost square (steep). Then I put my phone on the stand and I use it in selfie mode.

Please could you all try to record your videos in the that or a similar way? Thank you so much!


Fourth Zoom session

Last Wednesday, we had a fourth Zoom session with some participants of this experiment. It was lovely. If you want to watch it: I recorded the session and there is a link to it in the login page under the video lessons. 

Here is a summary:

We had 4 people speaking together in English (for you, to be able to watch it back) but in fact we all could speak Dutch :-). The first to join was Cindy Albracht, concertmaster of one of our orchestras here in The Netherlands and founding member of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. She told us that she already feels a lot of benefit from the first few lessons in her work in the orchestra, that was great to hear! She then played a G major scale in our ‘new’ way balancing the violin and it went very fine. We worked a bit more on the balance of the head on the body, we talked about breathing and about Turing the head while playing. Very interesting and nice to work together!

Then Nicolette Moonen joined from London, after she finished her Feldenkrais online session for musicians. We talked together about how to teach playing without shoulder rest, use the left wrist, what do we mean with ‘straight’, double jointed joints, about how some old masters support the violin, about vibrato… a lot of interesting subjects.

In the mean time also Ingrid van Dingstee joined the conversation. She is a modern violinist from The Netherlands, playing in Amsterdam Sinfonietta, and she started experimenting with the baroque violin some years ago. We spoke about her lessons with Victor Lieberman and Alexander Kerr, and their differences in playing without using a shoulder rest. I (Esther) also had some lessons from Alexander Kerr when I was at the Aspen Music Festival, so we could share our experiences. Nice detail is also that Ingrid started her violin lessons studying with my (Esthers) father when she was very young.

We worked on finding a nice spot on the collarbone, the support of the thumb, how to not make it be ‘slippery’. Cindy shared with us that she practiced this lesson all the time above her bed, because she was afraid the violin was falling.


Some encouraging remarks for lesson 5

In this lesson the two groups of participants are splitting up… some are using their chin rest from now on and others are continuing without using a chin rest. There are some people who want to do both programs. That is OK, please do send me two videos per week in that case.

We will work on playing glissandi, especially focussing on gliding back without dropping the violin, and keeping the nice balance we gained in the last lessons. Important to keep the balance on your feet!

I am really looking forward to receive the videos of that lesson.


Please take your time

Nicolette and I very much agreed that it is important that everyone in this experiment enjoys the curiosity we have, and take part in a joyful and playful way. In that way, we learn the best. Don’t try too much to ‘do it right’…and don’t hurry. If you need more time, just let me know, keep me informed, and we take a bit longer. No problem!

Best regards, please let me know if you have questions,

Esther Visser