Knowing how to put shoulder rest on violin is one of the most important skills you'll need to master for a comfortable playing experience. Although there are arguments for and against using a shoulder rest, the decision ultimately lies with you.
In this in-depth piece, we'll look at how to put a shoulder rest on a violin with ease. After all, you don't want to mess up your expensive violin doing something as basic as putting on the shoulder rest.
Let's dive in.
How Do You Attach A Shoulder Rest On Violin?
Unfortunately, there's no one size fits all approach for attaching your shoulder rest. Why? Because the best shoulder rests come in various forms and sizes. This means that you can't use one method to set them up.
However, all shoulder rests have some things in common. One of these things is the rest piece that comes with 2 feet for easy attachment. Once you have your shoulder rest in hand, you'll notice that one shoulder rest foot is longer than the other.
You will place the longer shoulder rest foot on the thinner side of the shoulder rest piece. Once you've done that and the shoulder rest feet are in place; you can screw them to the rest piece of the violin to ensure they are stable.
You can do this will the help of the 2 placeholders that come with the violin rest piece. You can also adjust the screws to fit your violin. Sometimes, the manufacturers of this part screw them to the max to save on space.
Therefore, you'll need to adjust the placeholders accordingly to suit your specific case. After this, you'll now need to attach your violin shoulder rest to the violin. So, how do you do this?
Here are the steps.
How to Attach the Violin Shoulder Rest
Sit at the very edge of your seat with your knees directly in front of you.
Place the violin on your knee and hold it vertically.
Turn your violin around so that the backside is facing you.
Ensure that the violin face isn't pressed against any object.
Turn the violin around so that the neck faces down and the lower part is resting upwards. You'll place the violin shoulder rest on the lower part.
Carefully hold your violin between your knees and apply some pressure on the violin neck. This will give you better control and freedom to use your hands.
Hold the rest as if it's smiling at you.
Slide the feet of the shoulder rest on the sides of the violin until you're sure it's secured.
How Do You Ensure the Violin Shoulder Rest Fits?
Once you're done installing the shoulder rest, you need to practice a little with it to ensure that it fits well.
This is a critical step as it enables you to adapt the rest to your body shape and playing position. Therefore, ensure that you don't skip this important step no matter what.
In addition to customizing the rest to suit your preferences while playing violin, doing this also ensures you don't end up with an awkward playing position.
Not doing this as you use a shoulder rest can also cause injury and other shoulder problems over the long term because of the discomfort. This is because you need to keep your head straight and in a natural position when playing the violin.
You can stand in front of a mirror to see if your chin rest position is too high or too low. Then, adjust the rest as much as you need to ensure that your violin is at a slight angle. Also, make sure that the rest is not too close to the side of your violin or directly in front of you.
If you don't have a mirror in front of you, you can always as someone like your teacher to check that the shoulder rest fits well. Once you are extra sure that everything is in order, you can then leave some marks on your violin for future reference.
However, don't make permanent marks. Just use marks that will act as a reference for the following few times till you get the hang of it. This will allow you to play your violin with ease even as you use your violin books.
Make certain that you remove the shoulder rest when you place the violin back in the violin case.
Why Is A Violin Shoulder Rest Important?
There's debate whether shoulder rests are essential because some people prefer to play without them. The determining factor is often the distance between a player's jawline and collar bone.
Therefore, if the space between your collar bone and jawline is small, you'll most likely see the need for a FOM shoulder rest, Bon Musica shoulder rest, or any other shoulder rest.
When playing the violin, your head needs to be straight, and your back should also be straight and relaxed. This will give your left arm as much freedom as possible. In addition to freeing your left hand, this position will allow your playing posture to remain perfect throughout the performance.
Ensure that you don't use your left shoulder to raise the violin. If this has happened to your before, don't worry because most beginners make this mistake. However, if you are not using a shoulder rest and have noticed that you keep going back to this same position, it's time to get a shoulder rest.
The trust is that some players may not need a big shoulder rest, a low shoulder rest, or a high shoulder rest. This is because they can comfortably play without the violin slipping while still remaining relaxed.
The key here is comfort and relaxation while playing. If you feel like you can maintain these without needing to put a shoulder rest on the violin, that's good. On the other hand, if you feel like you're straining in any way, it's time to get a shoulder rest.
How Do You Choose A Good Shoulder Rest?
Getting a good rest is just as important as using one. A good rest should provide you with adequate support to hold the violin under your chin while keeping you comfortable. These are the factors you should keep in mind when choosing a rest.
You can also look at the size and comfort of the shoulder pad as you consider the rest you want. Most shoulder rests are created to give you a good experience. Therefore, what you should focus on more should be the size and form of the rest.
Your left hand should be able to move freely as you play for the best experience. The height of the shoulder rest is another thing to consider. If you have a long neck, you'll need a longer rest. If you don't have a long neck you can work with a rest that has a thin pad.
The advantage of clip-on rests is that you can easily adjust the height. Another perk to using these types is that attaching them to your violin will be a breeze.
Another factor to consider in addition to height is the shape and placement of the rest. Unfortunately, clip-on rests don't perform very well in this sector. This is because they aren't as adjustable as the stick-on rests.
With the stick-on rests, you can easily adjust the shape to feel comfortable. Another factor to consider as a violin player is the change of sound. How much does your rest change the sound of your instrument?
You can do a practice session to answer this question. For example, some violin players claim that the more surface the rest comes into contact with the violin, the more the sound will change.
You can test various rests before you purchase the one that gives you the sound you want. For example, you can ask your classmates or other violin players to lend you their shoulder rests for you to test out.
Remember to choose a rest that feels comfortable and offers the support you need.
Frequently Asked Questions About Shoulder Rests
Why are violin shoulder rests important?
Shoulder rests are crucial in ensuring you have a comfortable and relaxed experience when playing the violin.
In addition to more freedom and comfort, shoulder rests ensure that the instruments sound good.
If you've played the violin while it's resting on your body, you probably noticed that it produced a slightly muffled sound. Therefore, having the shoulder rest will prevent the violin from coming into contact with several surfaces such as your clothes and body.
The shoulder rests will raise your instruments to allow you to produce a very clear sound. However, this playing style is also very personal. Some players prefer to have a clear violin sound while others like the muffled tone.
Therefore, you just have to decide what you like and work with that.
Are chin rests important when playing the violin?
Yes. They allow you to have a more comfortable performance no matter how long it goes on.
How do you know whether you need to use a shoulder rest or chin rest when playing the violin? If you feel like you tend to tilt your neck to secure the instrument, you need to get a higher chin rest.
A Kreddle chin rest or any other rest allows you to keep your shoulders and neck natural and straight. A good shoulder rest raises the instrument so that you don't have to strain to secure it while playing.