5. Advice & conclusions
I think that in order to make these changes you need a combination of Alexander Technique and changing the equipment. If you are changing the equipment, someone has to help you to find your balance anew. And if you are trying to find your balance but the equipment is not okay, you can't do this on the Alexander Technique alone. One without the other is zero.
I learned a thousand things this year. Before, I didn't know about the balance of my body or that you have to use equipment specially designed and chosen for yourself. The violin has to be on the collarbone because that is the focus point of the balance between you and the violin. I need a chinrest in the middle otherwise I cannot reach to tip of my bow. For me the violin has to be towards the center or I can't bow or finger. I am very comfortable with my equipment now, especially with my custom made chin rest. I still wish for the "ideal" shoulder rest which I haven't yet been able to find.
In my Alexander Technique lessons I learned what position is normal for my body, and how to find my balance. This helped me to get used to changes in equipment. I found out that being aware of where your head is improves the sound. I have also learned how to be calmer, although I am still working on this. I am now aware of extra tension while playing, and I have a way to oppose it: I now know how I want to be, because I have felt it often. I also notice how the right and left hand communicate with each other: if the left side is tensed, the right side is too.
When I teach violin in the future, I will be much more careful about the position of the pupil's body and equipment. I will never put a large shoulder rest on a small child because I know that it would make it hard for them to bow. If there is someone who knows better than I do about these things, I will send my pupils there. I think Alexander Technique lessons should be for all the children. I think that I might know enough now to fit the chin rest to the child, although I would rather have help from someone who really knows. It is a big responsibility and if you are not right, you could "kill" someone's career or pleasure in playing.
My advice to others making similar changes is: be calm. Don't be in a panic. Think further than today, because when you make a change there are days that you feel you cannot play. You must think: I am going to play, it is coming. Otherwise you will go crazy when you cannot play. We are doing a job that is not normal and good equipment helps a lot. The best idea would be to start playing with the right equipment when you are young, but it is also good to find it later.
Now I have a more open mind about the violin. I see that all I do and think affects it. Everything can influence violin playing. Everything!