Based on my historical research on this subject during the past years as well as based on my work as an Alexander Technique teacher specialized in musicians, and as a violinist specialized in performance practices, I formed certain ideas how to develop such a balance in a healthy and simple way, without the need for a shoulder or chin rest.
My hypothesis is that in the last hundred years we lost certain skills that violinists had before the shoulder rest was invented and the goal is to find back the subtile balance these musicians had while supporting the instrument, in order to prevent the (nowadays) many injuries amongst violinists and in order to fid a freer and healthier way of playing the violin. To test these ideas, I am setting up an experiment in which I will offer a 3 month training (12 weekly lessons, online) to 2 groups of professional musicians.
Group A will consist of modern violin or viola players who want to learn to play without shoulder rest and group B will consist of hip performers who want to be able to play late Classical and early Romantic repertoire without using a chin rest.
For modern performers
In this group you will need to be so called ‘modern’ violin or viola player, which means that you usually play with use of a shoulder rest and that you want to keep playing with a chin rest on your instrument. So you don’t need to change your way of shifting positions for example, as you will still have the chin rest, but you will probably need to develop a more active left hand to support the violin in stead of the shoulder rest doing that for you. Often, this results in a nicer sound, more subtile vibrato and a more free left shoulder joint. But of course you will need to invest some time and effort in learning new skills and practicing them. This experiment is meant for professional musicians and music students. If you want to join, please leave your name and email in the footer hereunder. Welcome!
For hip performers
In this group you will need to be a so called ‘hip’ violin or viola player and already be used to play without using a shoulder rest. I will focus on performing late Classical and early Romantic repertoire without the use of a chin rest, as many violinists didn’t have a chin rest yet in that time (such as Paganini) and in my opinion it is very well possible to perform such repertoire without one. Of course you will need to adjust your way of shifting positions and change a bit the balancing of the instrument, as you will not have the support of the chin rest anymore. This requires to invest some time and effort in learning new skills and practicing them. This experiment is meant for professional musicians and music students. If you want to join, please leave your name and email in the footer hereunder. Welcome!