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How to play the violin without a shoulder rest

If you are learning to play the violin, you may have spent several hours (and more than a few dollars) gathering all the necessary equipment. It can be difficult to understand the difference between necessities and accessories when building your shopping list. Take the shoulder rest for example. For some violinists, a shoulder rest is an absolute necessity. For others, it’s an unnecessary accessory that breaks from traditional and aesthetic values. How do you decide which one is right for you?

The short answer is that there is no correct choice; whether to use a shoulder rest with your violin depends on your personal preference. Playing without a shoulder rest is simply an option that few violinists have considered. Let’s review how to hold the violin without using a shoulder rest, and you can determine which option is more suitable.

Is it for you?

a violin shoulder rest

The reasons to use a shoulder rest are probably obvious to most; it provides added comfort and fills the gap between your shoulder and the instrument. As a result, you are less likely to strain your neck or shoulder by trying to close that distance. The reasons to not use a shoulder rest, however, may be less apparent.

For most violinists, the decision not to use a shoulder rest has a lot to do with the sound of the violin. Using a shoulder rest can dampen the instrument’s natural resonance and change the sound quality. Other violinists find playing without a shoulder rest allows for more freedom of movement and expression, while some players simply have a personal preference that comes down to their individual comfort and mobility. Still others argue that since violins did not have a shoulder rest until the 20th century, it can’t really be a necessary addition. Whatever the reason, playing violin without a shoulder rest is an option worth exploring.

A pain in the neck?

If you’re prone to neck and back pain, you may feel that using a shoulder rest when playing violin is best for you. Your comfort should be a priority, since a tense body will only hurt your ability to play. If you are looking for a quality violin shoulder rest, we can make a recommendation: the Pirastro Korfker Violin Shoulder Rest is one of the best in its class, making a fantastic option for beginners and masters alike. Plus, the Pirastro Model 2 was designed with the timeless beauty of the violin in mind.

Our selection of shoulder rests covers all shapes, sizes, and levels. Our collections include premium quality, excellent comfort and durability, plus options such as lightweight and height, width, and curve adjustable. Whether it's handcrafted or pink for a girl, Johnson String Instrument is the most complete violin shop.

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