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After never being able to get used to playing with a chin rest ...my jaw bone always lines up with any hump on them and makes the fiddle feel unstable... I took it off. I usually play my little old German fiddle without a chin rest, and decided to finally do the same with my Ming.
It sounds even more pleasant under my ear without the chin rest, I don't know that it changed how it sounds to other people, but under my ear it sounds a little richer, but most importantly it's just so much more comfortable to hold. I hiked up my shoulder rest to make up for the difference, and I think I'm good. My teacher said she plays her viola without chin rests, and prefers the feel, that extra connection to the instrument, as well.
I definitely feel more relaxed holding it this way. With how my jaw rested awkwardly on the chin rests I have I was trying harder to hang on. I still might keep looking to see if I find a rest that will work better for me, but this so far is working better 🙂
I've never been able to find a chin rest that would work for me. My neck is so short that I can't do the "lay your head over to the side" motion, even with no chin rest on there at all - it digs into my jaw. Turning my head more to the side and bringing the violin around somewhat more to the front lets me use my chin, but I've never found a chinrest that was actually designed for a chin, ironically enough.
I currently use a Gelrest Micro to the left of of the tailpiece, which, if I use three pieces of foam tubing on my shoulder rest, gives me a fairly stable platform, with my chin resting on the Gelrest. I dropped back to two pieces of tubing, because three had the violin nearly horizontal (from left to right), which was hard on my right shoulder. (Old injury which makes lifting my right arm much a problem. I can't use the standard bowing motion position right now.)
Unfortunately, without being able to grip with my chin much now, shifting (which I'm just starting on) is a bit of a problem. My teacher is teaching the old-fashioned style of shifting (pre chinrest - mostly half-tones), rather than the modern "Hail Mary" style of shifting that shoulder rests and chin rests make possible for most people.
Mandy, let me know your experiences with shifting down from higher positions to lower ones without a chinrest to help keep the violin from moving away along with your hand. If you learn (or have already learned) a trick to make that happen, I'd definitely appreciate hearing it. Shifting up is no problem, but any time I try to move my hand from a higher position (3rd, say) to a lower one, the violin wants to stay with my left hand and move away from me, too. I've changed my grip to where I'm not really gripping it at all, I only have it resting on the pad of my thumb, but that's still enough friction to cause it to want to move along.
The smaller shifts my teacher has been having me do are some help when they're possible, but sometimes the music requires you to go from 3rd to 1st in just 2 or 3 notes, and I'm definitely struggling with that. (Well, with doing that and still holding on to the violin. 🙂 )
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