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I attended a masterclass given by Pinchas Zukerman a few years back, and it was INTENSE. It actually verged on psychotherapy during the question/answer phase, with Mr. Zukerman calling into question one person’s motivations for being a musician!
But the thing that made the biggest impression on me was one particular violinist who played part of the Tchaikovsky violin concerto. After she was done, Zukerman immediately started focusing on her shoulder rest, telling her she didn’t need it. He made it funny and teased her a little, but then he challenged her to get rid of the shoulder rest, that it hindered her playing….then he threw her shoulder rest out into the audience. I played in a pit orchestra with this violinist, and watched her struggling to adapt to playing without the shoulder rest.
I have since lost touch with this violinist…but I have a prediction: She has either quit playing professionally, or she has gone back to her shoulder rest. If I am wrong, Baggs, I will pay you $50!
I believe in shoulder rests. I think they are necessary. I think there are VERY FEW people with the exactly right anatomical build to naturally be able to play the violin without the support of a shoulder rest. I have watched carefully the people who play professionally without shoulder rests, and they tend to be men with broad, square shoulders, and long arms, or heavy-set with enough flesh and padding for the violin to nestle comfortably without the shoulder rest. I like the Kun Original. You can check it out and order one for yourself by clicking the image below:
What do you think? To rest or not to rest?