At the Utrecht Conservatory we notice that playing technique among violinists and violists is often hindered by equipment that doesn't suit their body sizes and shapes.
Is there a link between recurrent problems in playing technique and years of playing with ill-fitting equipment? We decided to try matching the equipment to the musician, accompanied by re-training of playing habits that lead to cramped neck, shoulder and arm muscles. Our goal was to improve playing and comfort.
This research project provided violin and viola students with resources necessary to address their playing problems. We developed a unique Chin Rest Testing Kit which allowed us to adjust the chin rest in all directions and angles. We collected store-bought chin and shoulder rests, and assembled materials the musicians could use to make their own shoulder rests.
During one school year we combined frequent re-fittings of equipment with weekly private lessons in the Alexander Technique to help students unlearn cramped habits of playing. Group meetings provided peer support and facilitated exchange of ideas.
We recorded the process and results of the research on playing videos, photo and taped interviews as well as written documentation.
Eleven students signed on to begin the research in September 2003. Two years later we concluded our research. This is what we did.