January 12, 2011 – On Violin Set Up

As I have been coming out of a terribly painful period where I had neck and shoulder pain, I have noticed that my setup is no longer correct for my body.I have been standing taller now that the pain in my neck and shoulder are gone. (This pain was caused by food allergies causing an arthritic condition.) I hope to continue to get better as I eliminate foods that cause this reaction.

I found an interesting video from Hilary Hahn discussing her ideas about shoulder rests and chin rest. I think she is wise not to recommend any one item. Each individual needs something completely different. And as your body changes and grows and ages, you need to take a look at what equipment you are using to make sure you stay comfortable and set up in a way that benefits you. Click here for Hahn’s video.

Recently, I have added extra height to my shoulder rest by attaching a hard sponge to the bottom of it. The chin rest I have also has longer legs available from the maker. I will try to order some of those to extend the rest without having to add padding.

Although I have tried many different chin rests, I find that the middle mount chin rest seems to work the best for me. I still get a mark on my neck. Hahn mentions a way of carving down the chin rest in the offensive spot on the rest, but I do not yet feel comfortable doing this. I plan on investigating this more if it continues to bother me. There are some things that you add to the top of your chin rest like the the Impressionist. Click here for a video showing what he product does. I am afraid that I would have to get a new case if I used this item. I might recommend it for a student who is experience pain from the chin rest, but I guess, for now, I will just put up with the mark.

With my viola, I have found that using no chin rest at all and adding height to the shoulder rest by adding a hard sponge has worked very nicely. Try several options with your setup to find the most comfortable position that allows you to shift and move on the instrument easily.

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