Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


School of Music

First Advisor

Daniel Sweaney


Knowing how to hold the viola is always the first step for not only beginners but also for those that progress to become teachers, professional soloists, orchestral musicians, and chamber musicians. Although there are pedagogy books and articles, these resources only devote a small amount to how to hold the instrument. There are also a number of videos online in which violinists or violists share their thoughts on this topic. As a violist, holding the viola is a lifetime issue because of the weight, and the variety of shapes and sizes of the instrument. These factors can cause more difficulty than holding the violin which is lighter and has less variety in size and shape. I had been searching for a way to hold the viola comfortably and without tension for many years. I found a comfortable and balanced way to play the viola without a shoulder rest and have been doing so since 2015. The main purpose of this dissertation is to share my experience on the thoughts of the chinrest and shoulder rest and how I learned to play without a shoulder rest. I hope these ideas will help other violists at all levels if they are interested in finding comfort and balance without a shoulder rest.