The Poly-Pads by Michael Kimber are one of my favorite shoulder pads because they have an additional curve in the design that other foam pads do not include and are very economical. Michael runs a great business, they always arrive quickly and he was kind enough to donate an entire set to Music for Young Violinists for our October GIVEAWAY CONTEST!!! When I first moved to Oregon 9 years ago I bought a Poly-Pad in every size and it has been so helpful in individually fitting each student so I know these will be a benefit to 1 lucky violin teacher.
To WIN simply write in the blog comments below what your favorite shoulder pad(s) are and why. Winner will be chosen at random November 20. Thanks!
To Visit the Poly-Pad website click HERE.
When we play the violin both shoulders have a tendency to tighten up and cause negative issues in our playing. Here are 3 tips to help your students gain awareness in their shoulders and keep their violin playing healthy.
1- PRACTICE LAYING DOWN:
This is silly and awkward BUT highly effective. The laws of gravity will help a violinist feel a naturally aligned state in their body when they play laying down. This is an incredible tool for teaching the neck to release, support the shoulders finding the base of their sockets and even getting the knees to soften up. Young children especially love this because it feels like a novelty however this practice technique is appropriate for players of all ages and levels. It will create a very unnatural feeling in the bow arm and compromise the sound but the long term results of alignment and awareness are more than worth the short term compromises.
2- TIGHTEN UP:
Go to the extreme to build awareness. Tighten up the shoulders as much as possible for 5 seconds and release. I tell my students to "put their shoulders in their ears." After this intense use of muscles the shoulders will respond with fatigue and rest by staying down in the bottom of their sockets. They may not always stay down for the rest of the lesson or practice but this exercise helps develop the necessary awareness to address tight shoulders. In addition to creating a muscle fatigue and natural inclination to release, this also helps the student realize the extreme of an action so they have more control in choosing where their shoulders go when playing.
3- EVALUATE THE CHIN REST AND SHOULDER PAD SET-UP:
When was the last time you changed their *chin rest and/or shoulder pad? Not only do young students with growing bodies have different proportions in their neck-shoulder-arms approximately every 6 months but their playing needs are also growing. Chin rests and shoulder pads need to be re-evaluated for younger players on a regular basis because of this continual physical and musical growth. Most of us do not live in a major metropolitan area with a large string supply store to experiment with a variety of gear for our violins. In lieu of this, stay up to date and informed of the great variety of chin rests and shoulder pads by subscribing to string catalogs (some links below).
Also, look into the Poly-Pad which I have featured on the “Things I Love” page. This economical shoulder sponge has extra curves than competitors pads and is one of my favorites. When I moved to Oregon 9 years ago I purchased a Poly-Pad in each size and it really helped me individually fit all of my students.
* Click HERE to read why “chinrest” is a misnomer.
WANT TO WIN A COLLECTION OF POLY-PADS?
It’s easy - Click HERE to enter.
Join the conversation-
How do you help your student keep their shoulders relaxed when they play the violin?
Dr. Victor Lin, is physiatrist with the Rehabilitation Medicine Associates of Eugene, gifted educator and parent of a talented young violinist. He created this concise presentation The Violinist Athlete and Injury Prevention specifically for teenage violinists to inform them about the potential injuries violinists are prone to getting and to offer solutions for preventing these injuries. I suggest making these videos a required viewing assignment for any of your teenage students who are practicing more than 1 hour a day to help them have healthy and long violin careers. This 2 part presentation can be viewed by clicking on the video links below along with a summary of the contents.
The Violinist Athlete and Injury Prevention, Part 1:
The Violinist Athlete and Injury Prevention, Part 2:
Hi! It's me, Heather. I absolutely love working on the Music for Young Violinists project and all the many facets: blogging, website, music, teaching materials, freebies, videos, newsletter and giveaway contests. The best part is connecting with you so feel free to drop me a line. You can learn more about me on the "ABOUT" page. Thanks!