How To Put On A Shoulder Rest 

Why is a shoulder rest so important?

A shoulder rest is a device that attaches to the violin and lifts the violin up to make it easy to hold under the chin without straining the neck and shoulders.  When we play the violin we don’t hold the violin with our left hand even though it looks like we do. The violin is held in place by the chin and shoulder, leaving the left hand to move around the violin and play notes. Holding the violin under the chin without support can be difficult and cause a lot of strain on the neck and shoulders.

Investing in a Quality Shoulder Rest

When you play the violin it is a long-term sport with a lot of hard work put on the body. Use the proper shoulder rest to achieve the right amount of support. A quality shoulder rest will last the lifetime of the player. Choose one that feels the most comfortable and easy to play on.

Attaching The Shoulder Rest

The shoulder rest has to be carefully custom-fitted to the player and the instrument. It may take time to find the perfect fit.
To begin, place the higher side of the rest on the shoulder and the dipping side on your chest.  Notice it has a curve that should fit to the 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.

Fitting the Shoulder Rest

It’s important to take the time to make sure the shoulder rest fits in place perfectly. With out it playing will be very uncomfortable and can cause a long term injury.

The head is the most important part. We want to keep it in its most natural state. Looking forward with out tilting to side to side or turned side to side.

Work on keeping the chin level by adjusting the shoulder rest height. Too high or too low will tilt the chin up or down.

Adjust the shoulder rest so that your violin is at a slight angle. Be careful not to pull it too far to the right or left.  Be careful to not have it be straight out in front of you or too far off to the side.
Spend some time looking in the mirror and adjusting until everything feels comfortable and looks correct. It will go a long way for the sound of the instrument.
Once you get it in the right spot, take some stickers (nothing permanent) and place them next to the feet of the shoulder rest on either side of the violin. Then each time the shoulder rest gets attached it will always be in the correct spot. Be careful to not adjust the feet up or down after it is set.
•Always remove the shoulder rest before placing the violin back in its case.

Common Mistakes

Make sure that the shoulder rest is adjusted properly so it fits under the chin. Take time to adjust the feet of the instrument to make sure that they violin is not angled too far away or angled so its right in front of the player. It should be at a slight angle. Avoid trying to hold the violin too high up. The pictures below show some of the common problems associated with poor shoulder rest placement.