Please feel free to share. “The Little Drummer Boy Project”
I'm not really sure of the category in which this belongs; it is half playing the instrument and half equipment. I will try to keep this as concise as possible, but I do have a penchant for being long-winded.
Last year, I decided it was finally time to learn how to play my violin; I poured myself into it for about two months. In the second month, I ended up going to the ER with chest pains, and ultimately determined that the violin was irritating my collar bone/sternum so much that the irritation was causing a systemic response that mimicked heart attack symptoms.
I have a shoulder rest, but the edge of the violin near the end button still contacts and irritates the area of the collar bone/sternum joint. Also, this is a cheap violin (I got it for a hundred bucks online almost 15 years ago) with its original chin rest.
My problem is this: I don't know where I can go to have this violin set up correctly for me so that I can actually play it. I have a very well-educated idiot in town who owns a music shop but thinks that chin and shoulder rests are universally covered by two or three part numbers (he's a woodwind guy). When I Google "violin shop" in my area (Derry, NH), the nearest one that seems serious is way too far away to justify the trip. I still want to play this instrument, but I've been feeling defeated. Does anyone have any suggestions? Am I in a violin void?
It's possible that you have an allergic reaction to the metal chinrest clamp. That's the most common cause of severe irritation in that area. (An ill-fitting setup tends to manifest itself in the form of muscle strains in the shoulder and neck.) The easiest thing to try is putting a cloth between your violin and your body. Also consider getting a Strad Pad or similar chinrest cover that goes over the clamps -- they cost some money, but will stay in place better.
Sorry to hear about your violin emergency that lead you to the ER but better safe than sorry.
No, you are not in a violin void... Derry is +/- one hour away from reputable Boston violin shops. If, like many of us, you're spending multiple hours/week trying to learn this most complicated of instruments, I suggest you consider investing some time in a trip down there. I'd make a few calls first to see what they actually have in stock and to find out if they're willing to work with you to try different options.
Since you've been on this forum longer than I have, you've likely noticed that a lot of us have tried to get happy with multiple chinrest / shoulder rest combos. Some of us have ordered online, which is an option if Boston is not in the cards. The "hunt" is fun and also usually results in some kind of improvement... but it gets pricy stockpiling these accessories. Just sayin'.
Also, do you have someone who can take a look at how you're holding the violin? I know there are tons of resources online covering just that but nothing beats qualified feedback. Short of an in person "posture" session, I'd add that I've gotten really useful advice to videos I posted right here on this forum concerning counterproductive tension that had become a bad habit of mine.
A photo or two of the problem area of your violin would be helpful. Overly long buttons are relatively common and can be easily fixed with a reamer. Metal fasteners can be overlaid with plastic (electrical shrink tubing) for pennies. It might be a simple fix.
Man has no special rights because he belongs to a particular race. The soul emanates equal and eternal from bodies different in shape and color. It is sufficient to say ‘Man’ to comprehend therein all rights. — Jose Marti
Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible. —Frank Zappa
The only violin shop I've been to in NH is Vermont Violins in the Powerhouse Mall in Lebanon. They're an excellent shop but a bit of a haul for you.
If your violin is a cheap clunker and not just an inexpensive deal, it wouldn't hurt to upgrade and start with a fresh new setup altogether.
There are solutions to going chinrest-less if you're open to going a bit unconventional. Devices like the viostrap and counterbalances like the violin valet would preclude you from having to use a chinrest at all.