Shoulder rest: the unappreciated third when making music

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Shoulder rest: the unappreciated third when making music

The shoulder rest of violinists does not emit any sound. However, violist Fabian Aschwanden has experienced for himself that it has a great influence not only on posture, but also on sound. With his start-up ErgoRest, he therefore adapts it precisely to the player’s shoulder.

Making music professionally puts a strain on the body. Fabian Aschwanden experienced this himself during his training as a violist at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts: The pain in his left shoulder made it clear to him that it couldn’t go on like this. Physiotherapy cannot be a permanent solution - but fortunately he came across the right physiotherapist. He made it clear to him that he had to get to the root of the problem.

And the root, it turned out, was not the viola, not the player’s posture, but an otherwise little-noticed piece of the puzzle: the shoulder rest. "It’s amazing," says Fabian Aschwanden in retrospect, "you pay hundreds of thousands or even millions of francs for a violin or a viola, and then everyone plays with a cheap, mass-produced shoulder rest, which is usually not optimal for either posture or sound."

He could not find any alternatives on the market. So he began to tinker a support himself that was tailored exactly to his shoulder. He no longer wants to show the first attempts. They did the job, "but they weren’t pretty. But optics or not - the self-made shoulder support had an effect; an expected and an unexpected one. He expected the shoulder pain to subside, and it did. Unexpected was the realization that his viola playing now sounded different, freer. "This was because compensation postures were no longer necessary and the body had more capacity for playing," Fabian Aschwanden emphasizes.

Fellow students and eventually also lecturers became aware of this and asked whether he could not also build a shoulder support - now optically optimized - for them. The requests piled up so much that he founded the company ErgoRest to cope with the demand. In the meantime, building shoulder supports has become Fabian Aschwanden’s second mainstay. And through his work on the personalized shoulder rests, in turn, his interest in the physical conditions of making music grew, with the result that he is now building up a third mainstay by studying physiotherapy.

Author: Senta van de Weetering