My student Ethan learns to hold the violin.
The violin should rest on the collarbone and be supported by the left hand and by the shoulder. Gentle weight from the head, with a relaxed neck, stabilizes the violin on the collarbone. The chin rest protects the top of the violin and adjusts for the length of the player’s neck. As the violin strings are held parallel to the floor a shoulder pad is fitted to fill the slight space between the back of the violin and the player’s shoulder. The shoulder pad should not prevent the violin from resting on the collarbone and should not be used to compensate for the length of the player’s neck. A frequently overlooked function of the shoulder pad is to provide friction so that the violin neither pivots too easily nor slips off the shoulder. The violin may be held briefly by increased weight of the head on the chinrest in order to free the left hand but ongoing support of the violin shifts constantly between the left shoulder, jaw, and left hand, with contact with the collarbone remaining constant. Low density foam pads in minimal contact with the back of the violin will not adversely affect the sound of the instrument.
The violin can be held easily and comfortably for long periods of time if it is held correctly and if the chin rest and shoulder rest or pad are carefully fitted.
The violin should rest on the collarbone. The purpose of the chin rest is to protect the varnish, provide a secure and comfortable place for the jaw , and to adjust the distance from the jaw to the collarbone. Generally, flatter simpler chin rests are more comfortable than more contoured ones. A chamois skin or other non-slippery cloth may be used to cover the collarbone for comfort.
It is beneficial to have the student spend some time simply holding the violin lightly with these contact points. I instruct my students to walk around slowly, paying attention to balance and posture, and noting how easy it is to hold the violin in this manner. The instrument is supported by the collarbone and the base of the first finger. The jaw on the chin rest and the left thumb provide stability and may be intermittently more active in supporting the violin. Gravity pulls the violin downward. That force is countered by the collarbone and the base of the first finger assisted by the thumb. Any extra pressure by the thumb or jaw (weight of the head or twisting of the neck) slightly increases stability but greatly increases tension and should only be employed lightly and temporarily. Thus the violin should be supported and held as gently as possible.