Answers to a few of your questions, plus the Moise Robin tune Grosse Maman…Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!
Hi, I’m Mitch Reed! Welcome to my vlog. My vlog today is on the importance of using a shoulder rest or something that can help you keep the fiddle on your shoulders. I’ve had some people ask questions about this, if I use the shoulder rest. When I first started studying violin, I studied the Suzuki program when I was a kid and my teacher made me get a shoulder rest. Then I started hanging out with a lot of old Cajun fiddlers who didn’t use them. So I quit using them and I was basically trying to just copy what they were doing. And a lot of those guys were holding the fiddle, you know, down here, learned from Mr. Artigo. He held the fiddle kind of low sometimes like this. [0:53]
I went a little while without using a shoulder rest and then I started hanging out with some fiddle players that were really good and had really good technique. You know, just learning from them and what they had to say about the importance of holding the fiddle as much as you can like this. If you can, hold the fiddle without using your left hand. I mean you’re gonna use your left hand at some point. You’re going to have the fiddle in your left hand. But if you can try to maintain that as best you can. What it does for you is it just takes pressure off your left hand to hold the fiddle up and just focus on playing the notes. And I found that when I went back to using a shoulder rest, my intonation got a lot better, My pitch got way better and I started also doing slides in the third position and that made it a lot easier too, having that shoulder rest.
Now it’s hard to play without it because I’m so used to playing with it. Also traveling with Michael Doucet and seeing and talking with him about the importance of having one… I think it really does help. So if you’re frustrated with your pitch or you’re still just uncomfortable holding the fiddle, try a shoulder rest. If you don’t have one, you can also make them out of a sponge. You can cut a sponge and use a rubber band around the horns and put it around the button there. But the one that I recommend that I really like is the KUN, which is this one here, K-U-N KUN. And they’re really nice. The feet collapsed like this, so you can put it in the case. And yeah, like I said, I can play without it, but it’s really awkward now if I don’t have my shoulder rest. So it really helps a lot.
You’re going to go through a lot of different phases of playing the fiddle. I was always- I still am- I’m always one of those people where if I find or start playing with another fiddler that I really admire, whatever, I’ll copy them a little bit, you know, try to do the things that they’re doing just because I find it interesting and because it is fun to kinda change things up a little bit. So you’ll go through phases where you’ll try different things. I played with Jonno Frishberg for years and Jonno was just like an amazing fiddle player. His pitch is so good and perfect. He’s almost like a violinist and he held the fiddle way down here.
[03:36] Which is really interesting cause you can hear the fiddle actually better when you hold it low. When it’s under your ear, it’s kind of so loud and it’s almost distorted and you miss some of the tone. You miss some of the nice tone that actually comes out of your fiddle, if you have a good fiddle. So that was one of the reasons Jonno said he played it low. He also played on stage with monitors and he could hear the monitor better in his ear. So I tried playing like that and I couldn’t do it. My pitch wasn’t that great. I didn’t feel like I had the control that I needed and then kinda started hurting my wrist too a little bit. So that’s the other thing too, if you have any pain or anything here that could also be because your wrist is bent when you’re holding the fiddle.
So definitely try a shoulder rest. if you’re not used to it, you know, at first put it on and then just do this for a bit. Do like what we call a placement exercise where you’re holding it for about 30 seconds and then take a break and then try it again. I really think it helps people’s playing and pitch, things like that. So. Alright. So I hope I answered some of those questions about shoulder rest. And I’m going to finish with a tune. I’ll play Moise Robin. He’s is one of my heroes. This is one he called Grosse Maman and it went like this. [05:04]
Thank you so much for joining me today. Stay inspired and keep on fiddlin’. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Thanks so much. Bye-bye.