Using a shoulder rest for your violin or viola is not mandatory and is mainly about personal preference. Even though you do not necessarily need one to play violin or viola, we can absolutely help you choose the right shoulder rest for you!
Using a shoulder rest is typically recommended for beginners as it helps develop the correct posture. This tool is designed to prevent you from hunching your shoulder or stretching your neck, therefore, eliminating potentially bad and painful habits right from the start. There are some who would pass up on a shoulder rest as they prefer to feel the vibration coming from the body of the violin as part of listening to the sound. Don’t be afraid to experiment to find what is the best option for you!
The first thing you need to do is identify what type of shoulder rest meets your requirements. Perhaps you are looking for a softer-touch shoulder rest that offers you more comfort for your shoulder. Or maybe you are looking for a shoulder rest that holds the instrument firmly in place. You would also need to take your body shape into consideration. Aspects such as your shoulder breadth, and neck height are crucial in choosing a shoulder rest that provides comfort and matches your body. Most shoulder rests, however, will be adjustable and also provide a curve where your shoulder is supposed to fit for extra comfort. You can also slide the shoulder rest further down your violin or adjust its position to find what works for you.
If you don’t feel ready to invest money into a good quality shoulder rest and want to experiment with what feels comfortable, there are a couple of other options to choose from. You can use a folded piece of cloth that is secured by elastic band on to your violin. You can also use a sponge for another cost-effective, adjustable alternative for a shoulder rest. There are plenty of options available and we are here to help you find the best fit for you and your instrument!