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Deedee-
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September 17, 2018 - 1:19 pm
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I always wanted to try violin but never got around to it.  I used to play guitar, clarinet and piano, among others and last week I added a CEVN off amazon to the mix.  Within a couple of hours I was doing some scales and about a half dozen songs (very badly) and felt encouraged and thought it was a lot of fun!

But it hurts too, and before I get any bad habits ingrained, I guess I better slow down and really fix some things if I want to actually move forward.  For starters, I didn't get a shoulder rest, and although I have a really short neck, I think I probably need one because there's absolutely no way I can hold the violin in a remotely proper position now, so perhaps with it, I have better chances?

I'm basically holding my violin with my left hand and trying to play scales or songs at the same time as holding it up and toward my neck - which is ridiculous and causes pain, so all practice sessions have been pretty short (well to build calluses too, but never mind that now) - the issue is this - I just do not know how much pressure I can put because I have an ICD (implanted cardio defibrillator) under my skin pretty much right where I think the shoulder rest is going to want to sit.  I put a little padding there now, which doesn't help holding - actually makes it slip more.

Every few years I would pine for a violin and then talk myself out of it probably when I got to thinking about this problem - but for whatever reason, last week I somehow "forgot" to consider it at all and ordered it without even remembering to worry about if I could do it or not.

Now I just need to figure out how to make it work.  I'm thinking (hoping?) that with a shoulder rest, that is padded (somehow without being thick due to my short neck) I won't have to have such a death grip on the neck of the violin while trying to play.  For this reason I was thinking of maybe trying a custom cut sponge so I could get it right where I want.  Plus that's affordable of course.

But I may need a design that hooks around my shoulder because my violin falls forward and I am not sure, but I think a solid wood electric is kind of heavy too?  But I can't spend $120 on a shoulder rest for a $200 violin, I mean really - but if I just get a basic one of some sort, maybe I can modify it somehow so it holds the violin up nicely without hurting me.  Right now I actually have a length of yarn tied to my violin that goes to a carabiner on my back belt loop to hold it up, which I adjust with various knitted pot holders, LOL!

The other problem is the chin rest, which is way too high and hard for me, and causes a lot of pain so I wrap that with padding as best as I can and just try to get on with things for the moment as I don't really know how to remedy that situation either.  So the bottom and top of the violin are impossible for me to grip or hold in any functional way - it's amazing I can do anything at all with it, now that I think about it.

Now, my finger tips are a little sore, but nothing like what happened when I took up guitar years ago.  But my arm and forearm and elbow are what worries me.  I'm not comfortable going to the local (very expensive) shop and trying things when I know my budget will force me to turn around and buy on amazon, and there's not much to pick from around here anyway - but if the shoulder rest or lack thereof or chin rest hurt me, I will have come this far for nothing, so I don't know what to do.

In a way I feel like I didn't think it through very well (mostly because I didn't!) but on the other hand, even tho it sounds like a cat dying, I really want to do it more and want to try to continue, if I can.  I asked about it in my heart device forum and nobody had any advice at all, but then again their focus is their hearts and not what musical instruments I want to play, so I guess I shouldn't have expected much.  I would love some advice tho.  I know I can play about any instrument (badly to middling) but the physical requirements for this one are going to be a tough match for me, I'm afraid.  Naturally that makes me want to succeed all the more!

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bocaholly
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September 17, 2018 - 3:12 pm
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Hi @Deedee- and welcome to this Forum.

I'm a newbie to the violin myself and 5 months in am still fidgeting around with how to make my violin most comfortable (and that's without and additional complications.)

It's still trial and error for me. I use a bendable Bonmusica.

There's a thing called the "Playonair" pad which attaches to shoulder rests which might do the trick for you (in combination with the lowest possible chin rest. If you're not crazy about your local shop's selection, my next best idea would be to call Fiddlershop and see what experience they can share with you. They're very low pressure on the sales end... much more oriented to developing long term relationships and multiplying the number of us happy violinsts out there 🙂

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Mark
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September 17, 2018 - 8:39 pm
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Deedee, welcome to the forum and your new violin, it takes time to get comfortable on the violin go in small sessions to start with, 

bocaholly is correct about Fiddlershop being extremely help full give them a call to discuss your issues, i'm sure they will try there best to help you.

Mark

Master the Frog and you have mastered the bow.

Albert Sammons

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damfino
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September 17, 2018 - 8:59 pm
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Welcome to the forum 😀 

For myself, I much prefer playing without a chin rest. Because of nerve issues unrelated to playing the fiddle I've gone back to one, I am not sure what model it is (came on my little old German fiddle, I think), but it is shorter than the Guarneri that came with my fiddle, along with a Stradpad, to try and make it comfortable (because I still really hate chin rests, I just need to try every little thing to help this nerve issue). 

For shoulder rests, like chin rests, they are like trying on shoes to find the one that fits right for you. I have the Playonair Holly mentioned, but it does slide off my fiddle really easy. I also have a wooden rest that hooks on my shoulder, but that feels too tall on me (I can't remember the name at the moment). I stick with my Wolf shoulder rest set at one of its lowest settings, and on my outdoor fiddle I use my Everest. Both of those are comfortable (for me) and are pretty adjustable so can be set quite low, or very high (I've had to set them both ways depending on what, if any, chin rest I am using). 

For both, I would suggest finding a shop that will let you try on as many as you please until you find the combo that works for you, just like going shoe shopping. My teacher suggested this to me a while back, but there are no shops close by where I could do this, so I just buy them online here and there and add them to the reject pile, not something that I'd recommend, haha.

☆•*¨*•¸¸¸.•*¨*•☆•*¨*•¸¸¸.•*¨*•☆•*¨*•.¸¸¸.•*¨*•☆
On a journey to learn the fiddle since July 24, 2015
☆•*¨*•.¸¸¸.•*¨* •☆•*¨*¨*•¸¸¸.•*¨*•☆

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Deedee-
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September 20, 2018 - 11:23 pm
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bocaholly said
Hi @Deedee- and welcome to this Forum.

I'm a newbie to the violin myself and 5 months in am still fidgeting around with how to make my violin most comfortable (and that's without and additional complications.)

It's still trial and error for me. I use a bendable Bonmusica.

There's a thing called the "Playonair" pad which attaches to shoulder rests which might do the trick for you (in combination with the lowest possible chin rest. If you're not crazy about your local shop's selection, my next best idea would be to call Fiddlershop and see what experience they can share with you. They're very low pressure on the sales end... much more oriented to developing long term relationships and multiplying the number of us happy violinsts out there 🙂  

Thank you Holly!  I have a sister named Holly and my brother lives in Florida... smallish world, eh?

The bonmusica shoulder rest looks really nice to me... but it's $120 in Canada!  Too bad for my budget that is... is the foam on that thick enough to really feel comfortable?  It looks a tad thin in the pic I've seen but possibly it's the angle.  

Great suggestions, thanks so much for your input and for mentioning you're a newbie as well - something happened to me around my 60th birthday, akin to WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR??? as far as some of my dreams and wishes were concerned so I got a violin finally... and a flute... and a ukulele also, LOL!  I am switching from one to another because I tend to obsess with things and switching will break up the repetitive use and hopefully save me from any early injury... or so that's the plan 🙂

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Deedee-
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September 20, 2018 - 11:25 pm
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Mark said
Deedee, welcome to the forum and your new violin, it takes time to get comfortable on the violin go in small sessions to start with, 

bocaholly is correct about Fiddlershop being extremely help full give them a call to discuss your issues, i'm sure they will try there best to help you.

Mark  

Thank you so much Mark!  My husband's name is Mark... smallish world, eh?  (LOL!)  Just said this to Holly above...

Thanks for your kind suggestions and the warm welcome, much appreciated!

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Deedee-
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September 20, 2018 - 11:39 pm
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damfino said
Welcome to the forum 😀 
For myself, I much prefer playing without a chin rest. Because of nerve issues unrelated to playing the fiddle I've gone back to one, I am not sure what model it is (came on my little old German fiddle, I think), but it is shorter than the Guarneri that came with my fiddle, along with a Stradpad, to try and make it comfortable (because I still really hate chin rests, I just need to try every little thing to help this nerve issue). 
For shoulder rests, like chin rests, they are like trying on shoes to find the one that fits right for you. I have the Playonair Holly mentioned, but it does slide off my fiddle really easy. I also have a wooden rest that hooks on my shoulder, but that feels too tall on me (I can't remember the name at the moment). I stick with my Wolf shoulder rest set at one of its lowest settings, and on my outdoor fiddle I use my Everest. Both of those are comfortable (for me) and are pretty adjustable so can be set quite low, or very high (I've had to set them both ways depending on what, if any, chin rest I am using). 
For both, I would suggest finding a shop that will let you try on as many as you please until you find the combo that works for you, just like going shoe shopping. My teacher suggested this to me a while back, but there are no shops close by where I could do this, so I just buy them online here and there and add them to the reject pile, not something that I'd recommend, haha.  

I know how you feel about trying to work with nerve issues... my last ICD before the one I have now seemed to have been sitting on one, and I probably would not be where I am today (vis-à-vis violin) if I hadn't got a new ICD that sits slightly differently.  I wonder if that means massage to maybe move the nerves around would work in much the same way?  Probably a silly suggestion, but just putting it out there.  I know for me, that old ICD just had to go.  The new one actually seems larger, so I'm not sure why it's sitting more comfortably - just glad that it is!

Thank you so much for the great suggestions, I will look into every one of them.  You have sure worked hard to find a solution, that shows your dedication right there!  

I know it's a hassle to buy online and return what doesn't work (if you can figure out it doesn't work in time to do that even) but a large reject pile sounds depressing.  It would be necessary for me as I just feel REALLY BAD about going into a store and checking stuff out only to turn around and buy it online and my local store (on an island so no competition) is extremely expensive - so the alternative is either getting used to returning things or winning the lottery and letting purchases just pile up - which I can't afford to do.  I do appreciate your helpful thoughts and ideas and hope when you settle in with something that works a treat for you - that you can do a write up about it as you never suffer alone in these pursuits, someone is always there, looking for help about it too.

I haven't run into another violist with an ICD but I'm sure I will if I keep looking... meanwhile I am trying out a large sponge and it's comfortable... needs adjusting tho - so when I am feeling brave, I am planning to cut it into an angle that sits on my shoulder "just right" as goldilocks says.  Hopefully it works great because wow - what a nice cheap and easy solution to a complicated problem.  Even the chin rest seems more comfortable now that it's apparently lifted up into proper position?  Does that make sense?  So far so good in any case... back to practicing now!!!

 

ps I may try that wolf rest - it's only $50 here... the everest looks like it doesn't go as low as the wolf... is that correct?

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AndrewH
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September 21, 2018 - 6:41 am
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I play viola and have a very short neck, so I've tried a bunch of solutions.

I'd like to note that the chin rest is more important than the shoulder rest when you have a short neck. You want to be able to rest the edge of the instrument on your collarbone, whether using a shoulder rest or not. For me, the biggest problem was that none of the chin rests on the market were low enough; I eventually got a custom-made chin rest this summer and it solved most of my problems within a couple weeks.

I also use an extra-low shoulder rest. I didn't want to have a sponge pressed up against the bottom of my viola all the time, so my shoulder rest solution has been to mix and match shoulder rests and feet. Most of the major brands use the same diameter screw for their feet, and every brand sells replacement feet for $5 or less. I use a Mach One wooden shoulder rest, but replaced its long feet with Everest feet. Since the Mach One only has a thin leather pad that I find slips too easily on clothing, I attached thin cosmetic sponges to it with rubber bands just to provide more friction. The result is a shoulder rest that puts my shoulder barely over half an inch from the viola body.

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bocaholly
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September 21, 2018 - 7:40 am
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@Deedee-

Nice to get your extensive feedback to everyone's attempted suggestions on shoulder rests (not to mention a report on the coincidence of matching names 🙂

I'm happy to hear that you're working on that sponge solution and that it's an improvement. I read that @AndrewH reported that he avoids a sponge pressing up against his viola but I've noticed that Pierre (Fiddlerman) uses one so it can't be all bad. 

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mookje
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September 21, 2018 - 10:40 am
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Hello and welcome to this forum 😃 I’m a beginner and I use a Wolf shoulder rest, I don’t have experience with others. Hopefully you find out what’s comfortable for you. Lots of fun with the violin 🎻 

 Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about dancing in the rain!!

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Bob
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@Deedee welcome to the Fiddlerman forums. Great place for us beginners.

I've been through several shoulder rests and have found that a foam held on with rubber band works best for me. I have one shown here

https://www.sharmusic.com/Accessories/Shoulder-Rests/Perfect-Shoulder-Rest-Saddle-for-Violin-or-Viola.axd

Fiddlershop has something similar.

Some say the foam muffles the sound of the violin. I haven't found this to be true for my violins and anyway, I'm not performing in front of anyone except my dogs, cat and wife 🙂

Keep practicing.

Bob in Lone Oak, Texas

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AndrewH
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I went ahead and measured it this morning: my Mach One with Everest feet raises my viola only 14 mm from my shoulder.

For me it was a $70 solution: $60 for the wooden Mach One viola shoulder rest, $4 each for two Everest feet, and $2 for a bag of cosmetic sponges. Plastic Mach One shoulder rests seem to sell around $20, so the same kind of ultra-low shoulder rest could cost only about $30.

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Bella86
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September 21, 2018 - 5:51 pm
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Welcome to the forum and playing the violin!

Like Andrew said, ,the chinrest is more important than the shoulderrest. I wish my teacher had told me this when I started a year ago but she didn't seem too concerned or educated on the subject so I had to google my way to it. I've been playing a year and have still not found the right combo. I am too restricted by budget and availability. I am a bit envious though of short necks, it just seem easier to lodge the violin between shoulder /collarbone and jaw.
I have a very long neck and not even the highest SAS chinrest is enough for me. Especially not as I need to keep the shoulderrest as low as possible to avoid shoulderpain. I ended up buying this little pad you can mold to your chin called "the impressionist". It made the SAS a bit better as it's a very shallow chinrest. But still not that great. And I have just swapped over to a Deka I think it is, although I can't remember, bought it ages ago, and put the impressionist on that one. Will be interesting trying it out tomorrow. I am currently using the fiddlerman shoulderrest that came with the outfit I bought from them, it's got pretty good grip I find.

Anyway, rambling lol. A lot of people use sponges or cloths strapped to the violin with rubberbands instead of a shoulderrest. If your current chinrest is too high for you, putting a shoulderrest on it is going to raise the violin a bit more, which sets the chinrest higher under your chin too. Or JAW actually, you're supposed to be keeping your jaw in it, not chin. Don't know if you already know this. Correct placement of the instrument does change the way the chinrest feels a lot. 
I know that there is this little sponge that attaches to your instrument, that you can just take off and slap back on however you like. I can't remember what it was called. I know Fiddlershop demonstrated it in a video once. 
As the others already said, contacting Fiddlershop would be a good idea. They would definately try to come up with possible solutions for you. 🙂

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AndrewH
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September 22, 2018 - 6:40 am
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It really depends, though! My neck is so short that I couldn't fit my viola between collarbone and jaw with any of the standard chin rest models on the market, so I had no ability to lodge it under my jaw at all. I had no choice but to have one custom-made. Before I got that custom-made chin rest, I had to use a shoulder rest because my shoulder was the only possible point of support below the viola. It's not really accurate to say that a shoulder rest adds height, unless it's placed very close to the neck. (I suppose sponge or foam rests tend to be placed closer to the neck and do raise the instrument under the jaw.) Normally, edge-clamping shoulder rests should be placed some distance away from the neck, where they tilt the instrument upward a little rather than increase the height under the jaw. For me, this meant  the chin rest was under my jaw, and the bottom edge was pressed horizontally into my chest instead of resting on my collarbone. That worked "well enough" for me for 17 years, but wasn't healthy, and eventually I had to change my chin rest because playing in two orchestras and starting to practice post-Romantic solo repertoire inevitably put too much strain on my shoulder.

In any case, what this means is: I would recommend placing your shoulder rest farther away from your neck if you have a short neck, though not so far that it impinges on your shoulder joint. Deedee, how far out to is your ICD?

A custom chin rest may be an useful option for people with longer necks as well. Frisch & Denig, the company that made my ultra-low chin rest, actually sells mostly to people who need extra-tall chin rests. Over 90% of F&D customers need raised chin rests, it turns out. I learned this when I tried to schedule a fitting and found that, of more than 20 people who do fittings in California, all but two have only the fitting kit for long necks.

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Deedee-
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When I put this huge sponge under my violin my chin rest somehow became comfortable... it was attacking my jaw at a very strange angle before and now it's not... this is not anything I was expecting, that's for sure.  I may just think I have a short neck because I'm not built like a ballerina - but I think, if I had to guess now, I'd say the violin was coming up at a strange angle toward my jaw and that was actually causing it to dig in weirdly.  Hope fully that makes sense, as surprised as I was, I can understand it now that I've thought about it at least.

The sponge is doing a fantastic job of keeping my implanted heart device comfortable too, plus it doesn't slip around.  It's not very aesthetically pleasing to me though!  So I will be trying some combinations myself and see what I can find that works for me.  I have read that the rest is but a fulcrum point and not to be placed too far toward the neck - all makes sense.

AndrewH said
I use a Mach One wooden shoulder rest, but replaced its long feet with Everest feet. Since the Mach One only has a thin leather pad that I find slips too easily on clothing, I attached thin cosmetic sponges to it with rubber bands just to provide more friction. The result is a shoulder rest that puts my shoulder barely over half an inch from the viola body.  

Very nice customization Andrew!  Good for me to keep in mind that I can find my own solutions and not imagine that some product is going to magically fix all problems with a single product solution.

@mookje Thanks for the warm welcome, I am sure I will work on it until it's pretty comfortable, I can't really afford to get hurt - I mean nobody can, but I have a lot of health challenges already so I'm very careful not to add to that!

Bob said
@Deedee welcome to the Fiddlerman forums. Great place for us beginners.

I've been through several shoulder rests...

Thanks for the welcome Bob and special thanks for the pic of a foam rest, I had not considered that shape for cutting, it's one I will try for sure as I'll get a few sponges so I can experiment!  I also play for my cat (and my neighbor's cat when I'm cat sitting) and oddly enough they both seem to love it.  Perhaps they like the sound of other cats suffering?  LOL!  But I am pretending they still prefer a nice clean note 🙂

@Bella  Do ramble!  The more everyone says the more confident I feel "putting it all together" and trying to sew a quilt of success!  Everyone's suggestions and thoughts are the little fabric squares I need right now as I'm only a WEEK into my violin adventure 🙂  I am still checking out so many info sources and videos - I'll get there!  Did you form your impressionist chin rest?  How did that go?

@andrew I am not perfectly sure what you mean by how far out is my ICD but it's just a bulge, the real issue with it is that it's a chunk a very hard medal that is somewhat sensitive to touch and pressure.  I tolerate a seatbelt alright, but honestly, if I was a violinist when I got it implanted they likely would have but it under a muscle more out of the way or on the other side.  I think on my next replacement I will request it be moved to the other side - I'm still waiting for a violinist with an ICD to maybe share a story about that at my ICD support group, but it might be a really long wait...

I am picking up my violin several times a day and doing my scales and scratching out a half dozen or so songs... some days are better than others - oddly the first couple of days I was playing cleaner than I am now, somehow my bow is hitting other strings more this week - but whatever - I am enjoying it immensely and will continue on, I'm sure of it.  I think it's going pretty well!  Thanks again to all for such wonderful support and all around beginner camaraderie, product mentions to go google and learn all about, etc. - it's so very much appreciated! 

<3 <3 <3 Deedee <3 <3 <3 

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Bella86
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@Deedee- Glad to hear you managed to play comfortably!
I have moled the impressionist, and I probably will again. It is just like a cushion/pad that you stick on your chinrest. It is remoldable, jsut stick it in hot water for a few minutes. Im still not fully comfortable with where it all sits, I've got a very slanted jaw (if that make sense= so I have to tilt my head for it to be in the chinrest. So I hold it more with my chin really. It would have to be an extremely high chinrest to meet my jaw without tilting my head, which I think would cause other issues, unless it was a custom built one. Which I don't have any chance of getting. Equipment and instruments aren't really available where I live. Had to look very hard online to even find a shop that sell chinrests. Unless it's about piano or guitar, it is hard to get a hold of in my country. (especially lessons, adult musical education does not exist :/ And I might loose my teacher as she got offered more hours at a school that only teaches children. Haven't heard from her after summerbreak yet.) 

Anyway, I'm just happy my violin sits better than it did a year ago. Than the rented crap I used at the time did a year ago. 🙂 Shoulderpain is gone anyways.

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bocaholly
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Deedee_ wrote:
I also play for my cat (and my neighbor's cat when I'm cat sitting) and oddly enough they both seem to love it.  Perhaps they like the sound of other cats suffering?  LOL!  But I am pretending they still prefer a nice clean note 

You're way ahead of the game from my perspective. My cats still head for another room when I start tuning! 🙂

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Fiddlerman
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September 27, 2018 - 11:49 am
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Welcome to the forum Deedee,

I'm glad your gettting good guidance here.

Since you mentioned that it hurts as well as how encouraged you are about your quick progress, I want to caution you to take time on regular intervals to relax.

Especially since you are not used to playing the violin and need time to settle into all the strange positions that your body must get into.

Start by stretching just a little bit, every 10 minutes anylize your body to see if there are strange tensions and why..... I think it's great that you are concerning yourself with not forming bad habbits from the start. Also great that you are looking for comfortable solutions.

Looking forward to hearing more. 🙂

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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BillyG
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September 27, 2018 - 1:40 pm
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A somewhat belated welcome @Deedee - I can just tell from your words - you are going to enjoy the journey !   🙂    So many different aspects to consider, be it comfort, bowing, intonation etc etc etc... so yeah, I know, there's the occasional time it all goes to hell in a handcart as they say..  Trust me on this - it is worth the effort and you will be repaid MANY times over for overcoming the day-to-day issues !

All the best on your violin journey ! 

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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Deedee-
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@Fiddlerman Thanks so much.  I am learning a ton from your videos and I love your no nonsense approach to everything!  So much help, wow!  I really hope you do a Christmas song this year as I 'd be so thrilled to be included!

@BillyG Thanks for the warm welcome and see you on Jelly!

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