5. Advice & conclusions
My advice is to stay calm. Take it easy, very easy. It's a big change, and you need time to develop your technique in this way. It's not possible to change everything under pressure, so don't pick the moment when you have to play an incredible concert in the next week!
I feel confident about the future because now I am sure I can adapt easily to any equipment I might choose. I am sure I can play with almost anything. If I don't want to press with my chin, I don't! I know what I am doing with my head and with my chin when I move the viola. Now I think I know how to work without hurting myself.
You buy a chinrest or shoulder rest and if it doesn't work, you think that the problem is you! I had tried out quite a few shoulder rests and chin rests in the past and was unable to find one set-up that was comfortable. Previous viola teachers had told me to try another chin rest or shoulder rest but gave no explanation why, except that it would be good for me. I changed it, but I couldn't tell if it helped or not. The problems just kept shifting around.
The support of your viola teacher is very important. If she/he doesn't understand what you are doing, she/he cannot give you the freedom and the time that is necessary for the change. It doesn't help you if your teacher wants results no matter how you achieve them, even if you are hurting yourself!
Probably the most interesting idea that I got from all this is that I was not the problem . I only needed to find the way to solve the problem . I think I would like to teach my students: If something doesn't work, it doesn't mean that you have something wrong with you; you just need to find a way that does work!
The reason that we practice is to find our own solutions to these problems.