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Master Hand Violin Shop

  • 546 S Main W Street
  • Broadway, VA 22815
  • 630/ 292-2641

    Store Hours

  • By Appointment Only
  • Owner

    Elizabeth Ecklund

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    Bad Posture Be Gone: How (and Why) to Select an Appropriate Shoulder Rest

    By Diane Bruce

    Children notoriously don't want to "sit-up straight" or "stand-up straight", and parents often tire of nagging them. This is not news. Bad posture is particularly rampant among young string players, and yet it makes string playing almost impossible. Unless the child's neck is less than one inch long, slouching is the default position to keep the instrument feeling secure. Parents often don't know when or how to nag for good string-playing posture. Fortunately for all involved, there is a solution for bad posture -- the shoulder rest!

    Bad posture and slouching occur if the violin or viola is not held parallel to the ground. The chin tilts downwards and/or the shoulder pushes up to grasp the instrument inspite of a neck that is longer than the instrument is thick. Slouching leads to decreased sound quality and output, inability to move fingers and hands freely about on the fingerboard, and unnecessary neck and shoulder tension. None of these are good for a career in music.

    A shoulder rest is a removable device that attaches to the bottom of the violin or viola. The shoulder rest effectively makes the instrument thicker so that the chin no longer needs to tilt downwards to accommodate a long neck. With a thicker piece to hold between their necks and shoulders, players don't need to use their hands to support the violin and can move their hands freely. They can sit up and project as they play. A well fitted shoulder rest allows the instrument to comfortably rest parallel to the ground.

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    Many people hear that one particular brand of shoulder rest is the best because someone they know really likes the brand; we recommend against choosing a brand of shoulder rest this way.*img While any rest is better than no rest, shoulder rests have many different designs that work with varying degrees of success for different people. Petite frames may benefit from curved rests for narrow shoulders while broader people may prefer wider shoulder rest designs. Some people find it more comfortable to have a rest that sits closer to the neck, and others like it further away. People have varying opinions about the firmness of the pad. To choose a shoulder rest that is right for you or your child, you should sample many and opt for the one that allows you to most comfortably hold your instrument properly.

    *Disclaimer: If your teacher sends you to get a specific shoulder rest, you should probably get that specific shoulder rest. This will make your teacher happy.

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