“Does my shoulder rest impede or enhance the sound of my instrument?”
Most players buy a shoulder rest for comfort and ease of play. Most players don’t worry too much about whether or not the device they’ve just attached to their instrument negatively affects the sound of their instrument. A shoulder rest is considered to be a necessary evil by most and an unnecessary evil by some pedagogues.
But does a shoulder rest have to impede the sound that’s transferred from your instrument?
Do you know of ANY shoulder rest company that promotes this subject?
THE ANSWER IS “NO” ON BOTH COUNTS!!!!!!!
In the development of The Slipper TM, we, thinking that this subject was just common sense, paid close attention to the impact that our design had on sound transference. Being relatively new at the violin when I designed The Slipper TM, and having an engineering background, I assumed that the design of a viable shoulder rest HAD to fit comfortably providing an ergonomic fit, AND had to avoid deteriorating the sound of the instrument. In my mind, both features were important.
Once we were confident in the fit, we began refining the sound transference using sound analysis software. We ran over 100 analyses comparing the dozens of components available to incorporate into the final design.
We tested various woods, and not to our surprise, the wood most commonly used in the instrument itself, maple, had the best results; various metals, plastics, and foams never came close.
We tested various foams and adhesives for the pad and discovered that not only did a thicker foam seem to dampen the sound, but it also made the rest a bit less stable on the shoulder.
We tested various feet and mechanisms used to attach the feet, and nothing produced the same quality as a surgical-grade rubber, uncolored, with the posts screwed directly into the maple. All of the various articulating metal and plastic attachments degraded the sound quality.
And finally, even the finish on the maple seemed to affect the quality of sound transference. A hard poly varnish on top of a water-based stain, tested better than a wax hand-rubbed finish.
And finally, it turns out that the shape of The Slipper TM itself has the greatest impact on sound quality. Because of the shape, it doesn’t have to be “clamped” down on by the neck or chin, allowing the instrument to resonate more freely. This, in addition to the position in which The Slipper TM holds the instrument provides an optimal angle for the bow to move to the “sweet spot” of the strings.
All of this was a part of our final design. We knew the results and really took them for granted. Until a professional violist, who recognized the sound qualities immediately upon playing with The Slipper TM for Viola ‘Original’ & ‘Artist’, decided to run her own independent comparisons.
This violist is a fan of The Slipper TM because she recognized, not only the improved fit and comfort, but because she could HEAR the clear difference from anything she’s used in the past.
We are ECSTATIC to learn that this violist, under her own terms and completely independent of us, has made several video comparisons presenting her own findings. We have not compensated her for her project; in fact she bore every cost associated with the production of this video. Her motivation was her belief in our product and her desire to make the viola and violin community aware of this new improvement in a very old industry and market.
She has presented these videos to us for our use, as well as hers, and we are incredibly happy to be presenting these video comparisons over the next several weeks so you can see them and hear them for yourself.
Congratulations to Gregory Childress!!!
Greg is the winner of The Slipper TM for Viola ‘Artist’. Greg, we will contact you directly and you will have 14 days to claim your free ‘Artist’ and tell us where you’d like it mailed.
Thank you everyone who entered this month’s “Give Away”; we’ve had such an incredible response to “The Artist” and hope that all of you violists will give our rest a try; we are confident that you will be very pleasantly surprised.
If you didn’t win this month’s drawing, please don’t be discouraged; have fun with our Facebook page; we welcome your contributions to the page; and remember, we are intent on offering some great stuff each month and we encourage you to continue to enter our Give Aways; some one will win each month and it certainly could be YOU!
Congratulations to Greg!
We have received such an incredible response to the launch of our newest shoulder rest, The Slipper TM for Viola ‘Artist’, and in fact, people are asking if the new ‘Artist’ might fit certain violins.
Here is the easy answer, “Sure!” But, in our case, in not such small print…. “The ‘Artist’ will fit lower bouts, violin or viola, that measure between 8.625″ – 11.0”, which is equivalent to a range of 22cm – 28cm.
Hope that helps all of you “inquisitive minds”!
New product development is often times a long arduous, nerve wracking experience. The development of our newest product was anything but that! This is a story that is long in coming…..
We launched The Slipper TM for Violin about 16 months ago, and honestly, we never intended to develop a shoulder rest for viola; the time and energy and expense that went into our violin rest caused me to cringe at the thought of having to do that all over again. I was so exhausted at the process; developing and testing dozens of different designs and fits; testing the sound quality of each design and in fact each component that was added to the rest; testing over a hundred different materials, various woods, foams, mechanical feet, feet grippers, threaded posts, threaded inserts, stains, and varnishes; and finally cost engineering the product so that our customers got the best design possible for the money. As rewarding as the final product was, it was grueling!
So I was as excited to go through that process all over again as I am to have a baby (btw, I’m a dude). Over the subsequent months, we had received a few dozen requests to develop The Slipper TM for Viola,,, but we weren’t budging. That is, until about 6 months ago.
I received this very interesting email from a gentleman in Paris FR. He had explained that he was a retired solo violist from The London Philharmonic; he had seen and tried The Slipper TM for Violin and loved the design. This gentleman also happened to be a studio musician for the very first rock group that I ever saw in concert,,, Jethro Tull,,, and because of my teen obsession with Tull, I happened to know clearly the work that this gentleman had performed.
Okay, I’d like to say that the factor that changed my pig-headed resistance to developing a viola rest was entirely altruistic, for the greater good of man,,, but let’s face it, if another viola rest was never developed,,, absolutely nobody would care! This man offered me a ridiculous amount of money if I’d make him a viola shoulder rest. And actually, the offer of money wasn’t important to me because I could spend it on something,,, it was the fact that this man had faith in our design and our ability to develop just the right solution for him and he was grandly committed to the venture.
And it turns out that he and I both, were very generous in our commitment to this project; he made the monetary gesture and, knowing that when this project was done I would have a new product to offer, I averaged approximately $1.20 per hour for each hour spent in development. I created 62 different designs, finally culling it down to 4, and finally to a point where neither he nor I, nor 4 different violists could decide between the two… so that’s how we now have two distinctly different viola rests; The Slipper TM for Viola (Original), which is really The Slipper TM for Violin with dimensions and angles changed to fit a viola. Afterall, The Slipper TM is popular and successful for a reason,,, the original design works really well. At Mondomusica, back in March 2013, “The Original” was enormously well-received.
And until 4 weeks ago, only 4 people on the planet had the second design, “The Artist”. Now tomorrow, “The Artist” will be available to everyone! The very odd appearance is the most minor reason “The Artist” is so unique. The sound quality of an instrument while using “The Artist” is noticeably improved, and we are in the process of developing video tests of “The Artist” versus 4 of the other most frequently purchased viola rests, so you can see and hear the difference for yourself. We expect to have this video published within 8 weeks.
We happen to know, through prior testing that every rest in The Slipper TM line produces superior sound quality, because we’ve run numerous sound quality tests throughout the development process. However, the improved sound quality of “The Artist” is easily distinguishable. In fact, the most recent proof is mentioned in our most recent “Testimonial”.
The reason this new design is called “The Artist” is sort of interesting. The specific shape and angles of this rest enable a player to more easily reach the highest positions demanded of a soloist. And we didn’t want to call it “The Soloist” because the design enables all players this same flexibility. “The Artist” also happens to angle the scroll more upwardly which causes the player to bow more easily in the “sweet spot” without having to bear the increased weight of this larger instrument with just the arm.
This is a very exciting new product for us and we hope that you will enjoy it as much as we do. And the developmental process for “The Artist” was creative, challenging, exciting, and rewarding,,,, with absolutely none of the pain that accompanies child birth.
We have been so remiss in managing our Fb page; if it were a plant, it would be dead!
So we’re making time now, to update The Slipper TM Facebook page, and we’ll use it to keep our fans/followers/interested parties updated on a much more frequent basis. We will also provide, what we think is, valuable content that we believe will be interesting and useful.
AND, it will be a forum for us to see people’s comments, thoughts, feedback. We’re anxious to be “out there”; so please, “Like” us and follow us on Facebook; we’ll see you there! https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Slipper-TM/166832960114374
We are ecstatic and very honored to have Victoria Voronyansky and Avery Merritt endorse The Slipper TM, for Viola and for Violin!!!
Victoria Voronyansky, a violist, and Avery Merritt, a violinist/fiddler, are very different in their musicality, and both are incredibly talented musicians,,,, we’re very happy to say, they both now use The Slipper TM as their shoulder rest of choice.
Victoria is a classically-trained solo violist who I had the unique pleasure of meeting at Mondomusica this past March in NYC. She is such an incredible talent, with an impeccable musical background. With her Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School, and her solo debut with the Manhattan Chamber Symphony at the age of 17, Victoria has distinguished herself as a recitalist, chamber musician, educator and published author. She teaches at The Juilliard School as well as privately. Her performances are engaging and truly enthralling; you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of her CD “Red Viola” on her website www.redviola.com. Victoria has such an incredible story to tell; a story of loss and pain, and a story of hope and enrichment.
I met Avery Merritt last month; he was my primary teacher at The Julian Family Fiddle Camp in Julian, Ca, in San Diego County. This was his first year teaching fiddle at JFFC. Avery is the most unassuming 19 year old young man you could imagine,,, who just happens to be a demon on the violin/fiddle. Avery started violin at the age of 5, is also classically-trained, who has branched off into very different avenues; bluegrass and jazz. Avery has been driven to master his art and learn as much as he can from as many talented teachers as he can find. He is an astounding teacher and he takes you by surprise, because he is so unassuming; turns out, his real demeanor is “quiet but confident”. He is well-spoken and his real teaching talent is his ability to present a concept from several different perspectives, one or several of which will click with the student. I believe Avery is talented enough to jam with just about anybody on the planet.
Since I’m old enough, in theory, to be his grandfather, I feel comfortable saying, Avery is everything you’d hope your son grows up to be. You’ve got to check out Avery’s music video clips on Youtube; SCVTV’s House Blend, Jerusalem Ridge, and more, he is such a treat to watch and hear.
Needless to say, we are so happy these two incredible artists found and love The Slipper TM.
Okay, this post is a little late in coming, but for very good reason; we were so overwhelmed by the post-show order activity that this, 3 weeks after the show, is the first opportunity I’ve had to write this commentary.
So, Mondomusica, the world-renowned stringed instrument convention, which was held in the US, NYC specifically, for the very first time ever, may not have been the “hugest” show in terms of square footage of space, or number of exhibitors, or even number of visitors,,, but it was HUGE for The Slipper TM,,, a huge, and unexpected, success! Our rest was overwhelmingly well received, by both consumers and dealers alike, as well as instrument makers and artists. Here’s what the 3-day event looked like for us –
The event coordinators did a wonderful job; it can be compared to a quote I once read about the Alpha Romeo [in general], “it’s like a powerful flock of birds all flying together, no one part of the flock is perfect, but it moves together in a beautifully coordinated way”. The preparation may have had its shortcomings, but the coordinators were all so conscientious and accommodating that it worked beautifully.
Once we had our exhibit installed at 10am Friday (March 14), our first interested visitor approached. He was an Italian gentleman in his 30’s. He picked up one of the rests, gave it a profound 3 second examination, and declared, in English, “this is an abomination!” Not sure I actually understood what he had said and sure that nobody would have made a comment as rude and singularly dismissive as what I thought I heard him say, I asked, with a hand to one ear “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that…”. He once again declared, “This is an abomination! A violin should never be played with a shoulder rest attached to it!” Very surprised at this person’s omnipotent declaration, the only response that seemed able to come forth from my mouth was, “Well I’m sure that’s a perfect perspective for you.” He looked as puzzled at me as I was at him, then realized he may have just been insulted, and quickly departed. Fortunately I am very thick-skinned, professionally anyway, because this guy just called my baby ugly! I had just traveled across the country and spent a crap-load of money to exhibit at this show, only to find out that this just might be a very tough audience.
As you may know, I am too new/poor a player to have yet nurtured any level of pride in my playing ability; I play for my own personal pleasure and I LOVE the instrument. But I quickly realized that many people at this show just might take the instrument a little more seriously than I. I take my career very seriously, and that’s the perspective that I needed to incorporate into my understanding; some people are VERY serious about every aspect of this instrument and its playing and it is their career and possibly not just their pleasure. So I immediately adopted a more light-hearted, slightly combative, not martially combative but conversationally combative, attitude and prepared myself for three days of “playing to a tough crowd”, just as any stand-up comedian might. I was now mentally prepared.
Then, shortly thereafter, there appeared to be a steady stream of people interested in examining and trying The Slipper TM. I had brought to the show, my third favorite violin of my modest collection; it is a beautiful-sounding violin from the early 1900’s made by a Polish violin-maker by the name of Jarek Wojcek; I had received two offers on the violin during the show, but I declined to sell just yet. Pretty continually throughout the day, people approached our exhibit, and with entirely different responses than the first gentleman.
Over 90% of everyone who tried The Slipper TM was very complimentary, of the design, the appearance, the quality, the fit, and the comfort. Over 60% of those, loved it well enough to make at least one their own. There were several shop owners who bought several rests for their shops and have since become Dealers for The Slipper TM. We understand that the fit of The Slipper TM does not compliment everyone’s playing style, so it was no surprise to us that a number of investigators didn’t care for the fit. But we were also very pleasantly surprised at the percentage of people who “had to have one”. Those who didn’t bring enough cash to the show followed up with purchases on our site. As a result of this show, we’ve sold over 80 Slippers in two weeks!
I’d say I was most surprised by the several quality violin makers who came up and tried The Slipper TM. Each one examined our rest, played with it for extended periods of time, really listening hard; and one after another they each seemed to be listening for a faint cry from the woods, and then, there was this noticeable change to the look on their face that seemed to be a recognition of something they had been longing to hear…. the comment that came forth each time was [cumulatively paraphrasing], “this is a wonderful product,,, unlike every other rest on the market, there is a wonderful transference of sound from the instrument which other rests seem to inhibit”. And each time one of these craftsmen came up and introduced themselves and their shop, I waited with anticipation to hear their verdict, and each time it was the same. Several renowned experts were among these craftsmen; and it felt like we were receiving the Good Housekeeping Seal. This was a very rewarding experience; it validated that my baby wasn’t ugly after all.
Since this was the very first time The Slipper TM ever exhibited at a trade show, we had no idea what was appropriate and what wasn’t, so, being an ex-Boy Scout, I brought a suitcase full of Slippers, 40 in fact. While packing the suitcase full of product, I clearly remember thinking, “What the hell, am I really Willie Loman?” But after this joyous experience, and having sold all but 8 rests in 3 days, I felt pretty validated,,, that our product is great, not that I am Willie Loman!
And the last, one of the most incredible experiences of the three days came on the last day. I saw a lady, holding a handful of CDs, who was waiting to speak with someone else at the show, so I initiated a conversation with her. I discovered that her name was Victoria Voronyansky, who is this incredible violist in several well-known symphonies, holds a Masters from The Julliard School, and who is a well-known teacher and artist, and those were her CDs she was holding. We spoke for quite a while about her background, what she does, and some of her experiences, so I asked her if she’d like to try our rest. We found a nearby viola, attached The Slipper TM for Viola, and she slowly began to play. Almost immediately, her face opened up and she was smiling; she LOVED it! Victoria has a really amazing story and I felt compelled to give her one of our brand new, as of March 1st, viola rests to take with her. She was generous enough to give me a few of her CDs. Over the past few weeks, Victoria has played extensively with The Slipper TM and was kind enough to write a testimonial for us to use, which I’d urge you to read on the “Testimonials” page. And I have now listened to her CD several dozen times; it is incredible!
As a wrap up – I had a ball at Mondumusica, met some wonderful, kind, generous, and talented people, with whom I’m now developing relationships. And, getting back to the Italian pedagog; I understand that perspective but I personally reject it as antiquated and existing solely for the sake of pride. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and to pursue an interest anyway they choose, but there is a very good analogy for this particular mindset. Violinists who take pride in their “pure” approach to playing and who are prideful of, for an example, their “violin hickey”, as a sign of their suffering and expertise and dedication, is in my mind, very much like the mixed martial artist today who very proudly sports his cauliflower ears because he wants to show to the world that he’s “paid his dues” and because he doesn’t want to wear head gear while sparring. But there is head gear out there that is of high quality and impeccable design that doesn’t interfere with ones fight performance. There are also accessories available that will protect you as a violinist (both epidermally and orthopedically) that are quality products with impeccable design that allow incredible sound transference and actually enhances your performance. Stop being an elitist for the sake of being an elitist and wear your head gear man!!!
The Slipper TM is now almost 1 year old, and although we don’t expect the foam pad to wear out too soon, with normal useage, we thought it might be valuable to our customers to offer Replacement Pads for both The Slipper TM for Violin and The Slipper TM for Viola; they are both available now on our “Store” page.
To make the replacement of a pad easier and more fool-proof, we decided to provide an instructional video that demonstrates the process from start to finish. You can view that video on YouTube at the link below. This video will most likely not win an Emmy, but it is a very clear and detailed instruction; hope it helps!
This was the first year we attended the NAMM convention; we were there January 24th and 25th. Not as many “unique” characters as we had expected but much louder than we had expected,,, overall, VERY informative and enlightening.
It was a BLAST!!! We covered every square inch over the two days, and many isles a dozen times each. Even though our interest was primarily in the orchestral string vendors, we were amazed by some of the electronics that were exhibited.
We took advantage of the opportunity to try a LOT of different violins, violas, cellos, bows, and cases and we were very impressed by several.
One of biggest treats for me personally was being able to try-out the Mark Woods, fretted violin. Several months earlier I had decided to buy the NS NXT and have been ecstatic with it from the moment I got it; but I had always wanted to try the fretted violin. The young ladies that helped me at the Woods booth were so accommodating and just very pleasant to speak with,,, then when they got me all hooked up and I started to play the fretted Viper, it freaked me out! To feel frets on the fingerboard of a violin was just too weird for me, it was very difficult for me to “slide”. But regardless of my personal preference, after a whopping 10 minute trial,,, I was so happy to have had the opportunity to try it.
Every single vendor I stopped in to see was extremely helpful and accommodating; it was an incredible environment to see and test products; very fun & very informative!
Well, it came and went and was a pretty reasonable success! Yesterday, started out wet but not too cold. The house was ready for guests; food prepared in advance, drinks in the cooler, plenty of ice in the freezer, sheet music printed, rosin cakes on the tables, and stands ready to be used.
Priscilla Barnes, my cello teacher was the first to show up, with her cello, in hopes of having her first bluegrass string jam experience. Unfortunately she could only stay until 2:30pm, but before she departed, Priscilla did grace us with a few beautiful Celtic songs on her incredible cello; she’s really a spectacular cellist. My In-Laws arrived shortly thereafter and settled in with high hopes of a very enjoyable afternoon.
Diane (KindaScratchy – which she’s not at all, btw) & Ted Petit were the first to arrive after Priscilla. We spent a few minutes looking through my instrument collection, at which point Richard Conviser, my violin teacher arrived. Then came Avery Ellisman, who runs the Julian Family Fiddle Camp, and his daughter Shira; followed shortly by Maril Parker, a local fiddler who lives in Julian and helps support the Julian Family Fiddle Camp; and finally Pierre Holstein (the world-renowned Fiddlerman) and his son Mike (the man who makes Fiddlershop.com tick). This, surprisingly, felt like a large group! At this point there were 8 musicians and 11 attendees in total.
Everyone decided it best to energize first and once everyone was full with food and refreshments,,, it was time to get down to business. Pierre asked to see my violins so he could select the one he would use for the day; it was much easier for him to leave his violin at home. He selected the Jarek Wojcek, a contemporary violin-maker in Poland; a very full and sweet-sounding instrument. We setup music stands, sheet music, ipads, and various other electronic tools, and we all just kind of launched into the pre-selected music; Avery on the mandolin; Maril, Shira, Richard, Diane, myself, and Pierre on fiddles; while Ted was the videographer.
Pierre was a FIDDLE DEMON!!! He and Richard played lead with improvisations that were mind-blowing, and the rest of us just tried to keep up! A very accurate commentary from my Father-in-Law, was, “this is so incredible to watch and listen to, it’s like Kobe Bryant & Lebron James just showed up for a pick-up-game of b-ball”. For those of us who were slower/newer, namely myself, we jumped in when we could and dropped off when we twisted an ankle or got caught up in our shoe strings and stumbled,,, but then looked for the next opportunity, a few bars down the road (hey, that’s what we needed, a few “bars” along the road) just jumped back in again until the next pothole. It was such an incredible experience to play with others of this caliber. In fact, one of the coolest parts of playing for me was when Avery stood immediately behind me playing his mandolin; it was incredible to hear the song so clearly from another instrument,,, it actually made keeping time much easier than following the tempo of other violinists.
We played through all of the songs on the list in about 90 minutes; everyone was satisfied with the sound and enjoyed the experience tremendously. We then took a breather. Some folks investigated my violin/viola/cello collection further and picked up and played what they wanted. Meanwhile, Pierre corrected the setup on Diane’s violin which immediately produced a noticeable improvement in sound.
Everyone visited for the next hour while Pierre gave Diane a private lesson in my office. All of the locals made great connections with each other and departed shortly after. It was such a treat to have my local group of musicians join us for the afternoon.
Very soon after Diane’s lesson, the remaining characters began to have a few drinks; a few beers, several shots of Jaeger, a couple of rum drinks. This was the lubrication everyone needed to begin again,,,, but at a slower pace. I broke out my cello and I, Pierre, and Diane played “Pachelbel’s Canon in D”; it was VERY cool; my part was easy, I think I’m ready to play weddings, lmao!
Then we practiced each of the tunes until we ALL felt comfortable with them and played a recordable version; recorded by Ted of course. This was the best time of all; being able to play each of the songs, confidently alongside the other players. THIS was a treat.
At 8:30pm, Kim (Pky) and her husband and young daughter arrived. It was a long drive for them to come down from Central CA with which they got a very late start. But Kim and her daughter quickly integrated into the play and were able to stay about an hour before heading off to Anaheim to visit NAMM the following day.
This was a spectacular experience; finally meeting the friends that we’ve communicated with for a year through the Fiddlerman Forum, and being able to play mutually-known music together. I was so happy to host this event and thank everyone who made the journey to attend. And a special thanks to Pierre for all of his efforts in making this such a memorable event. Here’s hoping for more opportunities to experience this in the future!
Congratulations to Jesus A. Garza!!!
Jesus is the winner of The Slipper TM “Free Give Away” for the month of December. Jesus, we will contact you directly and you will have 14 days to claim your free Slipper TM and tell us where you’d like it mailed.
Thank you everyone who entered the “Give Away” in December; we’ve had an incredible First Year thanks to everyone’s interest and support.
Happy New Year to All, and best wishes for a happy, safe, and prosperous new year!
Congratulations to Jesus!
Congratulations to Stephanie Wilds!!!
Stephanie is the winner of The Slipper TM “Free Give Away” for the month of November. Stephanie, we will contact you directly and you will have 14 days to claim your free Slipper TM and tell us where you’d like it mailed.
Thank you to everyone who entered the “Give Away” in November; we continue to experience an incredible response to our drawing and sales!
Please continue to enter each month and obviously, if you didn’t win a Slipper this month, we hope you’ll consider buying one for yourself.
Congratulations again to Stephanie!
We’re very happy to add the Julian Family Fiddle Camp to our list of great resources on our “Links” page. We hope you’ll take a few minutes to check out their site.
I attended this camp last Spring and had the most incredible experience! It’s a great group of attendees and an incredible group of instructors! Check it out!!!
The Strad Magazine just named The Slipper TM, “Product of the Month”. Please pick up the November 2012 issue and turn to page 19 to read their review. To be recognized in this incredible publication was such a wonderful surprise!
Thank you Strad for the recognition, we dearly appreciate it!
Congratulations to Tom Carey!!!
Tom is the winner of The Slipper “Free Give Away” for the month of October.
Thank you to everyone who entered the “Give Away” in October; we continue to experience a HUGE response to our drawing and sales; October was our biggest month yet!
Please continue to enter each month and obviously, if you didn’t win a Slipper this month, we hope you’ll consider buying one for yourself.
Congratulations again to Tom!
I had the most incredible experience while in NYC yesterday that I had to share it.
I was in NYC for 3 days and leaving to come back home to sunny SoCal yesterday. While on my way to JFK I was able to stop into an exquisite store that sells The Slipper TM, but whose name and location I’m going to leave unidentified for purposes of discretion and safety; unfortunately, some of the more exciting and memorable details of this experience have to be omitted for security reasons. This quality store is managed by a young gentleman who is refreshingly genuine, personable, and just a quality human being and I have been wanting to meet him for months, since he started selling The Slipper TM in his store. “S” always seemed very helpful, fair, and easy to work with and I was looking forward to the opportunity to actually meet him.
So while chatting about how this store came about and their success worldwide, he happened to mention the name of one of the original partners, who, not by coincidence, was one of the preeminent luthiers in modern history. Now, being very new to the violin myself, I didn’t recognize this man’s name; it was like not knowing who Thomas Jefferson was. Keep in mind, throughout this blog, I never am intent on promoting the concept that I’m a bright guy!
In any case, I’d like to say, “after my embarassment”, but I’m too old to be embarassed about much in life,,, this was information I just didn’t know, “S” took my ignorance in stride without any hint that I had just revealed a major deficiency in my mental or cultural capacity, and he went on to explain exactly who this world-renowned luthier was and the quality of artists and instruments that came into this shop regularly. I, again, like an adolescent boy who’s never ventured off his daddy’s farm, naively asked, “so certainly you must’ve seen your share of Strads right”. “S'” very polite response was, “certainly,,, we happen to have three of our own here in the shop.”
Now there’s no way you, the reader, could possibly have any insight into who I am or characteristics of my personality, so at this point let me share a couple of the more pertinent to this particular blog; I am not an opportunist in the strictest sense, but I am constantly seeking opportunities to help others around me and promote important interests in my life; so over the past 30 years I’ve developed an insensitivity to rejection and embarassment (as I’d mentioned before). So immediately upon hearing this comment by “S” I blurted out, “is there any chance I could see even one of them while I’m here?” Oh, another personal characteristic; I often times blurt out, not thoughtlessly but reactionarily, whatever I intrinsically know I need and want to say.
“S”, with very little hesitation, after all, I was dressed in a nice business suit, said, “sure, follow me”. Now the ultimate location of this particular Strad made me wish I had left a trail of bread crumbs, just in case “S” expired during our journey, I could find my way back to the street. Once we entered the vault, you could just smell “old and consequential” in the air; it was truly “heady”. “S” reached up to one of the higher slots in this wall filled with, well, vault-quality instruments, and gently extracted one of their Strads.
Now again, being the bumpkin that I am, I was entirely expecting golden light and a barely audible angelic tone to be eminating from this venerable instrument’s body,,, see what Hollywood has done to our expectations,,, how could real life possibly hold up. Instead, it was just a normal-looking violin,,, it looked bright and shiny and new, with an inexplicable visual depth to the surface. “S” held the Strad out to me, holding it by the neck, and when I went to grasp it by its neck and waist, he very politely but instantaneously instructed me to hold it by just the neck. The way this nearly 300 year old instrument, later to find out, valued at about $2.1MM looked so bright and shiny and new is because the body didn’t have a bunch of knuckleheads’ fingerprints and oils deposited to it over the years.
Let me state at this point,,, throughout my adult life, I have had, many people would consider, the pleasure of mingling with quite a few film, television, and musical celebrities. I have managed financial assets for a number of “A-list” celebs; I’ve had cocktails and dinners with one President and numerous, more than I care to admit, Congressmen. And in every case, with no exception, I have never felt nervous, uncertain, timid, self-conscious, inadequate, or had butterflies. I think the only celeb that would actually make me nervous and give me butterflies to meet would be Alessandra Ambrosio, and clearly not because of her celebrity.
This Strad instantly made me feel nervous, inadequate, overwhelmed, and with butterlies. In reflection, I know I had those feelings because of its historical significance, it’s dollar value, and the fact that, in my hands was an instrument that so far-exceeded my capabilities and talent that it overwhelmed me.
When “S” was so generous as to ask me if I wanted to play it, my head started to swim. I was embarassed to accept the opportunity, but there was no way in hell that I could pass up this offer. Never, in 22 years of marriage have I ever cheated on my wife, it’s just not in me,,, but if this violin were a woman, I’m sorry to say that I couldn’t pass at the experience of having my way with her; (sorry honey, even though I know you would completely understand and accept that outcome, and probably, on the right day, even encourage me to go for it; btw, that’s the understanding we have regarding Alessandra [you’re reading this aren’t you Alessandra], lmao)
“S” handed me a bow, I put the Strad to my shoulder and chin, and, without taking a second to savor the moment, I launched into “The Tennessee Waltz”. I didn’t bow the open strings, I didn’t correct the string pitch (the “D” and “E” were slightly out of tune), I just launched into a tune; part of which was off pitch because I hadn’t taken the time to tune it. I think I was so frantic to have the experience and so concerned about not over-staying my welcome with the instrument, that I just “went for it” as crudely as any teen on his third date. However, after working my way through the waltz, and feeling delirious at the sound that this incredible instrument was producing, DESPITE my interaction with it, my head was truly experiencing something it had never, in 57 years, experienced. Without sounding too ethereal about it, the experience of hearing that sound directly under my ear was surreal and it will be with me forever. I know I’m incapable of finding the words that adequately describe the sound, but I’ll give it my best; it was loud, and full, somewhere between mellow and bright, and it was more vibrant than anything I’ve ever heard.
I can actually say I’m fortunate to have had two VERY similar, very “consuming” experiences. They are so similar in fact that I will share the first such experience; and as you read, please keep in mind how similar these experiences were.
About 25 years ago, I engaged myself in a contemporary art exhibit developed by James Turrell, who had long been one of my very favorite contemporary artists. The exhibit required the viewer to be raised, while lying on one’s back on an operating table, by an attendant, about 8 feet into the air, and into the middle of a dome that was approximately 14 feet in diameter and 4 feet in depth; there was no peripheral recognition of any other edge or horizon, even though colored florescent tubes lined the periphery and projected up into the dome. At first, all you saw was the white plastered dome ceiling. Then gradually, your brain, not your eyes, perceived a faint pink hue, which gradually became a more substantial pink which gradually transitioned into a pale blue and finally into a bright sky blue; with no perception of time, it turns out this whole experience lasted 5 minutes . Fortunately for the viewer, you were strapped onto the table, because a human brain is not accustomed to their head being filled with a color. You had absolutely no perception of up or down or gravity or time or anything but that color,,, it permeated your brain and that color was all that existed in your world, you actually became that color. It was at first unnerving, then overwhelming, and finally tranquil. This experience became a part of who I am and it will be with me forever.
While with the Strad, I had the “unnerved” and “overwhelmed” part of the experience but not the “tranquil” part of the experience. At this stage in my violin venture, I can’t imagine being able to hear that sound every day of my life. I wonder if a person who has the skill and opportunity to play an instrument of this quaility actually becomes de-sensitized to the pure quality of that sound, just so they can survive it.
Greg Cahill, the editor of Strings Magazine, wrote a great half page description of The Slipper TM in the November issue of Strings Magazine. We’ve been getting a tremendous interest from Retailers/Dealers lately and I think we have to attribute the increased international interest to this review!
Thank You Strings!!!
Congratulations to Gwen Bradshaw!!!
Gwen is the the winner of The Slipper “Free Give Away” for the month of September.
Thank you to everyone who entered the “Give Away” in September; we had such an incredible response to our drawing and a lot of you decided to just buy The Slipper, for which we are very grateful.
So if you didn’t win September’s drawing, we hope you’ll consider buying a Slipper of your own. And please enter again for October’s drawing!
Congratulations to Gwen!
We’re very pleased to announce that The Slipper TM is now an official member of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM)! We were anxious to support the Music Industry and believed this to be a good first step.
We won’t have a booth at the January 2013 Convention in Anaheim, Ca, but we will be attending for the first time, to develop some alliances, see some old friends, and try the new gear. Hopefully we’ll see you there!
I just saw this great video by Hilary Hahn that does such a great job of describing what violinists should consider in choosing the right chin rest and shoulder rest for themselves and thought it useful to share.
The reason I found her comments so interesting is, what she describes in regard to the shoulder rest is so closely what The Slipper achieves by its design. Enjoy
Here’s a terrific link to a site that has dozens of MP3 files of some great fiddle tunes for those who “learn by ear”. It’s great because many of the songs on the site have multiple versions, from slow to medium to fast. It’s a great aide to help you see how other players have stylized these various tunes. ENJOY! (click here)
Review of The Slipper Shoulder Rest by Eric J. Kiszenia, July 2, 2012
For the past several months, I have been searching for a shoulder rest that would not only help secure my violin and make playing more comfortable, but to help me with another challenge I have in playing. Since 2008, I have been rehabilitating from a severe spine and shoulder injury suffered during an accident at work. My right shoulder was dislocated with major damage to the surrounding muscles and tendons while my back was broken in 2 different locations with 4 ruptured disks. After 6 surgeries, I thought learning violin was out of the question. However, after discussing the matter with both my doctor and physical therapist, we all agreed that playing violin might help improve my condition so long as I keep good posture while playing. I immediately purchased a violin and began trying out different shoulder rests and setups.
The most immediate problem I ran into was the length of my neck and the condition of Kyphosis. Kyphosis was brought on by my injuries and causes me to roll my shoulders and back forward to alleviate pain. Most shoulder rests that I’ve tried causes that condition to worsen as I had to slightly angle my head and neck to put pressure on the chinrest. After some trial and error, I raised my chinrest and it helped slightly, but I’d still get some pain after prolonged playing. At that point, I was only able to play 15 to 20 minutes at a time before having to lie down. I knew I needed to try different shoulder rests that would help secure my violin on my shoulder and provide the best position for my neck and head.
At this point, The Slipper was recommended to me as it was designed much different from many of the many shoulder rests I own or have tried.
The first thing that caught my attention after I removed the Slipper from the packaging was how elegant it looked. It did not have the generic appearance of the many plastic shoulder rests on the market. The beautifully stained wood was perfect for the elegant shape.
I picked it up and was pleasantly surprised how light the Slipper was. While being of wood construction, the Slipper was actually lighter then my current plastic shoulder rest. Though, not the lightest shoulder rest I have ever tried, but among the top.
The next thing I noticed was the padding lining the inside of the shoulder rest. I was a little concerned with how little padding there was compared to my previous shoulder rests. I was worried that prolonged playing would cause pain to my left shoulder as I had to put more pressure to keep my violin stable.
The first thing I did with The Slipper was place it on my shoulder without having the violin attached. I immediately notice how the shape “hugged” my shoulder and how there was very little friction needed to keep from moving. I was able to stand up with The Slipper on my shoulder and walk around without worrying about it falling off.
After finding the optimal position on my shoulder, I fitted it on to the back of my violin. I was familiar with the rubberized feet on The Slipper as many of my other shoulder rests use a similar design. The rubberized feet screwed into the body of The Slipper and had multiple screw positions to adjust to for comfort and violin size. It took me less than 5 minutes to set it up into a comfortable position.
Once The Slipper was initially set up, I realized that I did not nearly need as much pressure to keep my violin in place as I did before. All I had to do was slightly lift my chin, move my violin into place and lower my chin down to a normal position. The ability to let my chin actually rest and not press down lessened my prior concern about the thickness of padding.
I also noticed that I did not need to adjust my neck or back into any awkward positions to keep my violin still. This helped me to keep good posture without worrying about the violin slipping out of place or using my left arm to stabilize it. I had no muscle tightness in my neck or back while I held my violin up without using my left arm. I was actually able to stretch and straighten my back with very little movement from my violin.
As I began playing, the thing that stood out the most to me about The Slipper, was how it kept my violin in place despite how much I moved. In the past, I would have to constantly adjust my violin’s position in the middle of playing for both comfort reasons and pain. With the slipper, I was able to focus on my posture, bowing and note placement instead of adjusting myself and my violin.
At an early point in my warm up, I nearly forgot that The Slipper was there. It felt comfortable and it truly felt like it was part of my violin. It felt natural and not like on odd, add-on. Between the comfortable position the shape of The Slipper puts my violin in and how light The Slipper is, I was able to focus on other nuances of playing.
As my violin was kept in a comfortable position, I began noticing how playing on the G string became much easier. I was able to swing my left elbow forward without having to readjust my violin. While continuing to work on scales, vibrato became much easier. I no longer gripped the neck tightly to hold my violin in place, freeing up my hand.
From that point, I continued on to practice songs and The Slipper became an afterthought as it felt so natural and comfortable. The padding was no longer a concern due to how the shape of The Slipper hugged my shoulder without added pressure from my neck. The only time I noticed The Slipper at that point was when I changed music and set my violin on my lap.
After working on several different songs, I made an astonishing discovery. I had been playing for 50 minutes. Previously, 20 minutes was the maximum amount of time before pain would set in causing me to lie down. Granted, I had a little bit of pain from sitting and having my vertebrae compress, but I did not have the sharp pain in my neck and back that came from bad posture.
In order to make sure that the lack of pain was not from excitement and adrenalin from having a new product, I set my violin down and didn’t play again until my evening practice time. Again, I was able to play for 40 minutes straight without a problem. By that point, my lower back was compressed again and my left hand and fingers were sore from playing. That pain being most welcomed.
For the rest of the week, I continued to play with the same results. I have not been able to go past on hour of playing time, but this is much better than being able to play only 15 minutes at a time.
I would most definitely recommend The Slipper. Its ergonomic shape and design helps maintain proper position and hold. Its elegant appearance matches that of the violin and is a perfect fit for both beginners and professionals. The Slipper helps you focus on the nuances of playing rather than worrying about comfort and position.
The price may be higher than your average shoulder rest, but at $99, it is well worth it for both luxury and functionality of a hand-crafted shoulder rest. In the past, I have purchased 4 of the “cheaper” shoulder rests, a combined total of more than $100, and none of them come close to The Slipper’s comfort, functionality and appearance.
The only negative I could find was the placement of the “Made in The USA” sticker. While I’m proud to own such a product, removing the sticker presented a challenge as I did not want to ruin the finish. I spent 30 minutes trying to carefully remove the sticker and adhesive. Although, that’s a small price to pay for such a great product.
~Eric J. Kiszenia
Here’s an instructional video illustrating a couple very handy ways to carry The Slipper shoulder rest with your violin or viola case
Daniel B recently interviewed me for Fiddlerman.com
and posted it [ http://fiddlerman.com/2012/06/unique-shoulder-rest-now-on-the-market/ ]
The interview discusses the development of The Slipper, the impetus, the process, the challenges, and the successes.
June 16, 2012
I finally broke down and took some photos inside The Slipper workshop including a few pics of Nick and me.
June 13, 2012
Richard Conviser just sent me a wonderful description of an experience he recently had with The Slipper TM that I wanted to post –
“Several of my beginning violin students have found it difficult to hold their instruments comfortably under their chins, and that has impeded their progress in becoming comfortable with the violin. One of them even quit the instrument because she never could get comfortable with it.
One such student was 10 years old when she started studying with me ten months ago. She and her mother tried a variety of other shoulder rests, including a sponge held against the bottom of the violin by rubber bands. They finally arrived at a temporary expedient by wrapping a washcloth around the pad of a shoulder rest they got at a local music store and holding it in place with rubber bands.
When I brought one of The Slipper shoulder rests with me to the student’s lesson, everything changed immediately. The student took to the rest instantly and says that it fits her shoulder perfectly. The violin now always winds up being in the same location, which makes it easier for the student to play in tune. And her mother says that unlike the “cob-job” that it replaced, the new shoulder rest is attractive and suitable to be seen in public.
In addition, the shoulder rest can be adjusted to fit violins of various widths. There are several choices of holes into which the feet can be screwed which hold the rest onto the violin. Consequently, the same rest that now fits the student’s 3/4 size instrument will also work on a full-sized violin when she moves up to it in several years.” Richard Conviser, violin teacher
June 11, 2012
This is a very useful tip that my violin teacher just shared with me. A lot of violinists and fiddlers don’t like attaching fine-tuners to their ‘G’, ‘D’, and ‘A’ strings,,,, for many reasons; some are aesthetic and some are just tradition.
I personally happen to be a fan of fine-tuners, but don’t have them on my current violin solely because I like keeping the look of my violin as “authentic” as possible. So that means I tune my violin before each lesson, practice, performance using just the tuning pegs. Occasionally I am microscopically close to the correct pitch and don’t want to start the tuning process for that string from scratch, backing the string off and trying to hit it again. So my teacher told me, when you are so close to the pitch being correct, and if you are just slightly flat, use your fingertip to press on the string between the nut and the peg (in the peg box basically) and often times that will move the tension on the string just slightly enough that between the nut and the bridge, it is in the correct pitch.
Try it sometime,,, it really works….. or just use fine-tuners!!!
June 10, 2012
Having been traveling for the past couple of weeks, I haven’t touched my violin/fiddle in as long and I haven’t had a music lesson in that same time. So when I went to my lesson this morning I was mortified at how much my skills and ear had deteriorated in just those two weeks.
Fortunately, by the end of the lesson, I was feeling back “into it” again; then I came home and practiced for another 90 minutes. It feels good again! And most importantly, instead of participating in my discouragement, my teacher, Richard Conviser was his ever-instructive and positive self.
Probably the greatest talent Richard has as a teacher is his ability to immediately recognize a problem and, as importantly, tell me exactly what to do to correct it. Richard has an incredible ear and can tell me immediately whether I’m high or low and help me plan my finger placement strategies.
I’m looking forward to getting back on track!
June 9, 2012
I really want to thank several people who have helped me launch this new violin/viola shoulder rest called The Slipper TM.
As cliche as it sounds, “Necessity is the mother of invention”, or in this day, “the mother of design”. After struggling with & being disappointed in half a dozen different popular violin shoulder rests, I decided to design a shoulder rest that fit ME perfectly. So I designed The Slipper TM. I played with the prototype on my violin for a couple of weeks when a couple of professional violinist friends saw the rest and wanted to try it. Each pro who tried it raved about it. In some cases this design didn’t fit their style of play (the way they personally held their instrument) but they knew it would be a great fit for a lot of their students. Each of them gave me their recommended design alterations, most of which I incorporated into the final version.
Pierre Holstein of Fiddlerman.com and FiddlerShop.com and my teacher Richard Conviser were the first who tried The Slipper TM. It was actually Pierre who was the impetus for me marketing The Slipper TM.
It was Pierre, or let me refer to him as all of his fans do, Fiddlerman, or FM, who encouraged me to take it to market. And he was the first retailer to want to list it on his site. Not only was he encouraging, but he also coached me in how to sell it and how to develop this site. I am very thankful for his help and support with this project.
Richard actually made the very first sales of The Slipper TM. And very recently, Robert Fear agreed to rep the shoulder rest on his store site Folkmusician.com
Thank you so much to each of you who have been supportive in this new venture!
June 8, 2012
Just launched The Slipper TM site!!!
Please note that our “Store” page is currently under construction, due to significant changes to our Web Host.
We are so sorry for the inconvenience, however, don’t let this stop you from ordering your Slipper by emailing us directly at email@example.com. Just email us which model you’d like and to where you’d like it mailed and we’ll take care of the rest; we’ll email you a Paypal invoice to pay using either Paypal or a credit card.
Again, we apologize for any inconvenience, and we will be working on this throughout the evening in hopes of having the Store open again as soon as possible.