'The word "sightreading" engenders a roll of the eyes, a slump of the shoulders': Letters to the Editor June 2021


A selection of letters The Strad receives each month from its readers around the world: June 2021 issue


The late Aaron Rosand was of the opinion that one should not use a shoulder rest (‘Ditch the shoulder rest to improve your playing?’, bit.ly/3t0Qnmi). I am of the opinion that it is absolutely all right to use one. The very same argument used to be made about using a chin rest as well. If one has a vintage instrument of any significant age, it can often be seen that under the area now covered by the chin rest, the varnish is a lighter colour because chin rests were not in use until after the 1880s or so. Yet you don’t hear teachers or violinists calling for a return to not using chin rests.

I had the wonderful opportunity of being able to study with Ivan Galamian and Dorothy DeLay – two world-class violin pedagogues, neither of whom had any reservations about students using or not using a shoulder rest. Let’s be real about something too. The violin is made of wood and not padded. When it’s sitting on a child’s clavicle on clothes, it slides – all the time. If it’s on their skin, it hurts, so they’re not going to want to do it. Even an adult has a hard time keeping a violin from slipping on their clothes.

When your equipment functions properly it should make playing effortless. Countless orchestra musicians use shoulder rests on a daily basis and have done so for many years.


Clearfield, UT, US

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