How To Put On A Shoulder Rest 

The first and most important step is to have the correct shoulder rest to do the job. There are lots of different kinds and styles, but through experience, I have concluded that there are only two brands that I find successful at helping students hold and play the violin correctly. These are the Viva brand and the Kun brand (show pictures) There are off-brands that look similar to these two but are poor quality, falling apart much easier. A good shoulder rest should last you the majority of your playing career, so it’s well worth the investment. 

Many violin students don't take very seriously the step of placing the shoulder rest on properly.  Notes can be difficult to play if the shoulder rest isn’t appropriately placed. There is also the misunderstanding that one can actually hold the violin with the left hand, and this just isn't the case. The violin should be held with the chin so the left hand is free to play the instrument, shift and move around as necessary.

Place the higher side of the rest on shoulder and the dipping side on your chest.  Notice it has a curve that should fit to your shoulder.  Adjust the feet height and where the shoulder rest belongs on the violin so that it fits perfectly with your body.  Next, attach one side of the shoulder rest and then gently slide the feet of the other side onto the violin.  After you attach the shoulder rest to the violin, adjust the rest so it fits in the same spot. 

We are looking for the following things: 

  • You should be able to look straight ahead
  • Your chin should be level as if you were standing still, so you want the shoulder rest to not be too high or too low. 
  • Adjust the shoulder rest so that your violin is at a slight angle. 

I would spend some time looking in the mirror and adjusting until it gets to the right spot. Having your shoulder rest just right is so important to playing well. Once you get it in the right spot, take some stickers and mark both the feet positions and one side of the shoulder rest. When you put your shoulder rest away make sure you don't adjust the height at all. Every time you get your violin out, put your feet in the right spot and away you go.