shoulder rest suggestion for violinist

Lynsey Anderson said: Jun 8, 2013
1 posts


I have a 9 year old student with a very thin build. A sponge shoulder rest has proven to not be enough support to keep the violin at the proper angle/height and location. However, a kun type shoulder rest is very awkward for her thin, bony shoulder. I’ve tried giving additional support to the shoulder rest with extra padding and so forth… but it’s not comfortable yet. Does anybody have some suggestions regarding this matter—either of a certain brand of shoulder rest or ideas to make the current shoulder rest more comfortable?

Thank you!

Jennifer Visick said: Jun 8, 2013
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
1076 posts

I have found both Bon Musica and Wolf Forte Secondo shoulder rests to be highly customizable (with some application of force) since both have a metal base and are is therefore bendable.

The BonMusica has parts which are designed to be highly customizable, while the wolf forte secondo is not so designed and thus requires more force to bend, but it is also cheaper.

Bon Musicas can go pretty tall if needed.

In the realm of not expensive, I believe Resonans shoulder rests also have metal bases and can be customized (i.e. bent to the shape you want) as well. I don’t like them because they tilt too easily, but they can be bent to shape the student’s shoulder.

What kind of sponge are you using? There are some pretty substantial ones out there,—michael kimber’s poly pad comes in multiple sizes which might be what you need.

Don’t forget to check out different styles and heights of chinrests to see if that can help!

Robin Lohse said: Jun 9, 2013
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Cello, Viola
31 posts

Have been researching shoulder rests for many years while observing children’s anatomy. I give each student choices for what gives support as well as comfort. I have watched how certain shoulder rests have evolved so sot speak. If a sponge shoulder rest does not give the needed support to keep the posture. I give them several options until we find one that keeps the violin up with a heavy head. The best buy according to my students is the Viva shoulder rest made in “Slovenia” . The shoulder rest wins every time over the Kun. Also the Artino loses out the Viva every time. Its a winner because the rest follow the contour of the shoulder blade. I have never been a fan of the sponge because it absorbs the sound and also it slides around to some degree. There a third option that I am researching is something form the company that I purchase violins from for my students the HOX from China of course. I also find the have to fit the chin rest as well because most student violins are set up with the standard Guarneri style model. Often the center placed rest works better for a beginner. I could same much more on this topic but I covered the primary points.

Robin Lohse

Sue Hunt said: Jun 10, 2013
Sue HuntViola, Violin
403 posts

I’d try a poly-pad. They are shallower at the neck side, which helps to stop the violin from drooping. They also have 2 curves which follow the line of the collar bone and fill in the gaps between the body and instrument. The tiny lilypads are perfect for the little ones and the second size is plenty big enough for my viola.

The automatic reaction to feeling insecure, is to squeeze the violin, with the chin and shoulder. This actually has what I call the pea pod effect, as it ejects the violin, rather than cradling it safely. Chronic squeezing can even cause long term physical damage and can negate the benefits of the most erganomic shoulder rest.

Squeezing can be cured by practicing balancing the violin on the shoulder and holding it so loosely that it ALMOST drops. Make a safety net with your hands under the violin, to start with, just in case. Do this several times a day to protect delicate shoulders and necks. With this in mind, there are many violin hold games to play while perfecting this skill.

Anne said: Jun 11, 2013
 2 posts

I had the same problem with my daughter and her very thin, small shoulder. The sponge is very uncomfortable when wearing a tshirt (the rubber bands pinch skin) and it moves around too much. We are now using the bonmusica shoulder rest and love it…her posture is excellent now and she likes the way it feels. It keeps the violin secure on her shoulder and she doesn’t get neck cramps anymore trying to hold so tight. I have also noticed that her violin hand is much more relaxed and she has a beautiful straight hand. The only down side is standing in rest position because it is a bit cumbersome—but if she positions the neck of the violin more toward the ceiling (but not straight up) she can hold onto it without too much discomfort.

Laura said: Jun 11, 2013
Laura Mozena
Suzuki Association Member
Mancos, CO
107 posts

The two shoulder rests I might recommend are the Bon Musica (which has been mentioned already) or the Everest (which is pretty high and can be adjusted with the screws) Also, it might be necessary to even add a sponge to a shoulder rest to increase the height. With enough patience and some creative thinking a custom shoulder rest can be created. That is what is so nice about the Bon Musica. It is the closest to a custom shoulder rest that there is. You wont know for sure what works the best until you try it out. Unfortunately “trying out the BonMusica involves buying one since some of the adjustments that are available include bending and flexing the soft metal pieces of the rest. Good Luck!


Sue Hunt said: Jun 12, 2013
Sue HuntViola, Violin
403 posts

Elastic won’t pinch if a child doesn’t squeeze.

You can stop a sponge from sliding, by wrapping it in thin nonstick shelf liner.

Laura McDermott said: Aug 18, 2013
Laura McDermott
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Aurora, CO
15 posts

Second the poly-pads. They can give enough support even for full-size violas. The comford shoulder rest has worked well for some of my students with that build. The way it curves seems to be more comfortable and provide more support.

Laura McDermott

Gretchen said: Aug 19, 2013
Gretchen Lee
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Austin, TX
28 posts

Most of my students like Everests. I also like this one, which I saw at an institute:

It’s called a shoulder cradle. The downside is that you can’t adjust it much, but it works for some of my students.

Phankao said: Nov 2, 2013
 128 posts

I like Everest. Very stable. But my little one can’t put it on/off himself (too tight at the feet for him to move it). So I switched back to the Viva rest for him.

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