All Things Strings

My question is - has anyone found (or needed) anything to help brace or support the left arm to help it hold up a heavy viola? (I have heard the jokes - from helium balloons to a rope and scaffolding - a cartoon in an earlier Viola journal. Ha, ha.)
I have been playing the viola since I was 12 (mostly non--professionally though) - more than 50 years! I was having enough trouble before - tendonitis in the left elbow and a problem with my left middle finger. But then last April I fell and broke my shoulder -left one, of course.) I am still struggling with frozen shoulder that resulted from being in a sling so long. Arm hurts, shoulder exercise are horrible. Although I am told that it will eventually be better (a year or more!) I am also told that I may never get the arm back altogether. Everyone says - Oh. At least it wasn't your right hand. They don't play an instrument!
Anyway ... long story. Sorry. But the sad fact is that I may have more problems from now on just trying to hold up this heavy old lovely viola I have long enough to play anything.
I can’t afford to buy a smaller viola and I do have a couple of different shoulder pads that help somewhat. But I need more help than that.
I refuse to give up. Even though I am not technically a professional level, I have found a great solace in life playing in community orchestras and stage orchestras are especially fun. Even when my arm gets better, I am probably going to still need something to help. I may have to invent something on my own, and if I do, I will certainly show it here. :-] However, I thought surely someone has already run into this problem and invented something to help.

Thanks

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Replies to This Discussion

Have you checked this out:
HappyNex

I've never tried one or used one, but they advertise in Strings every month and looks like something that may help.
Hi,

There are a couple of violin/viola support products currently on the market. I have never tried them,
but one is to be found at http://www.happynex.com/
About 12 years ago the violist in my quartet was suffering from frozen shoulder.
I remember playing a concert where he had rigged some sort of cane to his elbow for support.
He got through the concert, and his shoulder did eventually recover.
I can't quite remember how he did it, but I think perhaps it was a tripod-like,
or pronged cane perhaps belted to his elbow.......

Best Wishes for your recovery,

Ruth Brons
Inventor of Bow Hold Buddies[tm] Instant Bow Hold bow accessory for violin/viola, and
CelloPhant[tm] Instant Bow Hold bow accessory for cello
www.things4strings.com
Certainly worth taking a look at. Thanks for the info and for the encouragement. :-)

Ruth Brons said:
Hi,

There are a couple of violin/viola support products currently on the market. I have never tried them,
but one is to be found at http://www.happynex.com/
About 12 years ago the violist in my quartet was suffering from frozen shoulder.
I remember playing a concert where he had rigged some sort of cane to his elbow for support.
He got through the concert, and his shoulder did eventually recover.
I can't quite remember how he did it, but I think perhaps it was a tripod-like,
or pronged cane perhaps belted to his elbow.......

Best Wishes for your recovery,

Ruth Brons
Inventor of Bow Hold Buddies[tm] Instant Bow Hold bow accessory for violin/viola, and
CelloPhant[tm] Instant Bow Hold bow accessory for cello
www.things4strings.com
You need to balance the viola and it happens somewhere 'between' the shoulder, collar bone and under your neck. If you lay the viola on your shoulder, for example without putting your head down on it, you will find out, very quickly whether your positioning can deal with gravity or be a victim of it.

Best, R
Hi I have a few medical issues at the moment (a long story which I wont go into now) but last year I was so sick and weak that I could not even pick up the viola from the case and put it on my shoulder. Although I am bit better now. I got a group called Technical Aid for the Disabled (TAD) in South Australia to make me a brace that holds up the viola for me. Its not a particularly heavy one but not overly light either. I cant play without it. If you want more information cause as far as I know its the only one exactly like it in the world email me at erinmck@bigpond.com and I will send you a photo. Theres probably a way of putting photos on all things strings but I dont know how. I will also give you more info about the stand and how it works. Good luck
I didn't want to give up either I understand that completely.
Erin
I know of a person who used to roll a thick soft towel up and place it under his left armpit. He swears it really helped.

---Ann Marie
I had though about rigging a wedge dhaped pillow or something similar. Haven't really tried it yet though. Thanks.

Ann Marie Cordial said:
I know of a person who used to roll a thick soft towel up and place it under his left armpit. He swears it really helped.

---Ann Marie

Update:  This spring and summer I did have the opportunity to try the HappyNex a bit with a few of my students who were dealing with various issues -- and it absolutely works and is both comfortable and secure!! 

Best,

Ruth Brons

www.Things4Strings.com

Hi Carolyn -

 

Here's an idea....Instead of trying to 'hold up' your viola, why not give some support to your injured arm? 

 

Try this:  Take a towel, and roll it up.  Put it under your armpit.  You will be amazed at how easy it makes playing a viola.  You can experiment with different sized towels to find the "perfect fit".  Viola!  No strain on your shoulder, and it takes the pressure off your elbow.

 

---Ann Marie

I have tried the towel method.  Even strapped on round pillows, pillow in lap, etc. They do help some. But not enough.  haven't tried the strap method mentioned earlier. Can't afford a new  (smaller ) viola and especially not the new ergonomic Pellegrina, either :-\  Arm was broken badly and healed up in the wrong places and so on.... Plus I am just getting plain old.  Phooey. Probably going to just have to give it up. Thanks for all your suggestions. They are appreciated.

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