5-year-old with sensitive neck

Lisa June said: Mar 10, 2010
 Violin
23 posts

I’m a new Suzuki teacher and I have a snag with a student. She seems to have an ultra-sensitive neck/jaw. We’ve done what we can to soften up the point of contact with this spot (you know the one, it’s where violinists get their hickey that means, “I practice too much!). Last week we put a cushion on her chinrest, gave her a sponge shoulder rest instead of a little Kun, and fixed a soft cloth over the whole works. She likes it better, so we’ll see today if it’s working.

Is this typical? I’m advising her mom to do no more than have her hold the violin in place without hands for 10 seconds once she reaches a point where it is comfortable and not do any more with violin position, and see if she gradually gets used to it. We have lots and lots to do with bow hold so I’m not unhappy that we’re not progressing faster on violin hold, but I’d just like to know if this is something you see a lot.

Thanks!

Lisa

p.s. when she gets her violin into position with her left hand, and drops that hand, she then pushes it into place with her right hand. I’m trying to get her to stop doing this—just fly the violin into the right place. Seems awkward to me. It could be that when the above problem gets solved, the right hand will stop helping. Thoughts?

Ruth Brons said: Mar 10, 2010
Ruth Brons
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Livingston, NJ
148 posts

Some children really do have sensitive neck areas, and who can blame them for feeling uneasy about having wood and metal thrust upon a vulnerable part of their bodies when they are not used to it?
The only way to deal with this issue —which can be a deal-breaker for the budding violinist—is to address it quickly and with respect.
Often, even if a perfect solution is not immediately achieved, the student will respond positively to the respect he has been accorded.

Also, an appropriate shoulder rest is key to chin/neck comfort—but that is a whole other post entirely!

Common complaints [and some possible remedies], among the small subset who do complain, are:

“It’s cold”: warm the metal chin rest clamp hardware with your hands; apply an adhesive sheet of Moleskin [a Dr. Scholl’s product]; or rubber band on a tissue

the chin rest hardware is jabbing in: apply an adhesive sheet of Moleskin [a Dr. Scholl’s product]; adjust/evaluate should rest; or rubber band some tissues on

the lower edge is jabbing into collarbone area: apply an adhesive sheet of Moleskin [a Dr. Scholl’s product]; adjust/evaluate shoulder rest; or rubber band some tissues on

the curved edges of the chin cup are digging in: soften cup with chin pad or apply an adhesive sheet of Moleskin [a Dr. Scholl’s product]; switch out chin rest to alternate style; check to see if chin rest needs re-positioning; or rubber band some tissues on

And yes, tissues, rubber bands and Moleskin [and, of couse, stickers!] are part of my teaching kit wherever I go!

Ruth Brons
Inventor of Bow Hold Buddies[tm] accessory for violin/viola
http://www.things4strings.com

Lisa June said: Mar 11, 2010
 Violin
23 posts

Yesterday went much better. She had a soft cloth over the chinrest bracket. She was able to hold her violin in place for 10 seconds, twice, which is great progress. I’m hoping that she will do this every day, and at the next lesson we can advance to the next step!

Jennifer Visick said: Mar 12, 2010
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

Have you considered using a cardboard or foam violin—which are considerably lighter—to get her “used” to feeling a completely foreign object cradled near her jaw/neck/shoulderblade ?

OR, have you considered having her trade to the next smaller size violin (if she’s not on a 1/32nd already)—which would also be lighter, (though not as light as the foam or cardboard)?

Lisa June said: Mar 12, 2010
 Violin
23 posts

We had a box violin for awhile, and have progressed to a 1/10 size. I’m hoping we have the problem licked. With the foamie shoulder rest, chinrest cushion and cloth, she’s able to hold it for 10 seconds at a time. She’s a very strong-willed little girl, and I’m afraid would not look kindly on regressing back to the box!

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