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Hi - I'm new here, and I was wondering if anyone can help me. I played Irish Fiddle for about 20 years without ever having any real lessons (except maybe once in a while in Ireland at Summer Schools) and got fairly good (I was in a ceilidh band for several years playing at weddings and such) but I had to give up a couple of years ago due to persistent shoulder pain (left shoulder). Since then I have been playing guitar and flute and have achieved a fairly high standard without any pain at all (and the flute is notorious for causing discomfort if you're not careful).
But nothing quite pushes my buttons like the wonderful sound of a well played fiddle, so I would like to play again if possible. Now that I've had a couple of years away from playing and the pain has gone I'm hoping that I can get back to it, but without any of the bad habits that (presumably) created the pain in the first place.
As you can probably imagine, I'm a bit nervous about starting up again. Do you have any advice about how to proceed with this so that I don't develop pain again?
I should also say that I live in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland and there are very few violin/fiddle teachers here so getting a teacher wouldn't be easy. Also I'm in my 50's, so well past the 'first flush of youth!'
Maybe hit a music store and try some different chin rests and maybe shoulder rests to get the fiddle sitting so you don't need to raise or tense the left shoulder to support it? That's just a newbie guess, but it is what I thought of since I also play guitar and flute as well, and the shoulder and neck gave me trouble with the violin at first until I cobbled together a sort of shoulder rest. Once I got the instrument elevated a little so I wasn't bringing the shoulder up at all or trying to clamp down on it with my jaw, there hasn't been any more strain on the left shoulder than there is when I play other instruments.
"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman
Hello gododdin, and welcome from Southampton, England. I used to live in Glasgow 🙂
Have a look at this video I made, about the shoulder rest function. it's got some tips for posture and comfort.
...and this one here, in case things start to get a bit too serious :
Thanks for all the great responses everyone! I think the trick for me will be to try to avoid diving straight into jigs and reels and just take it easy for a while - making sure I relax as much as possible and paying attention to how I'm holding the violin and reaching for notes. Those videos are good Jim! The second one would certainly stop you clamping down on the violin - ouch! Thanks also for the welcome NoirVelours - as for my user name - an old Brythonic tribe - google it and all will be revealed in Wikipedia!
I thought I had tried every chin and shoulder rest going, including using none at all, but I agree I should probably experiment again.
I'll post again in a week or two to let you know how it's going.
Thanks again, G
Welcome Rhod! I recently saw and talked to someone who had once had sholder problems. His solution was to move the fiddle to his chest. This is common among blue grass fiddlers for some reason. I would consider it a last ditch solution but better than not playing at all. Good luck with restarting and remember there are a lot of diff. kinds of medical reasons for shouder pain. Experence speaking.
Welcone to the forum, GodOddin! =)
Absolutely agreed with advices above. It took me almost a year to figure out what stuff (like chin-rest and shoulder-rest) i need to get rid of neck/back/shoulder pains =). Now i know approximately what i need and still experimenting with this. I guess it's a long process. Also You could make a video of how You haold the violin, so the others could tell You what possibly could be wrong.. Just a suggestion =)
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