Sweaty Betty

By Maxine Kwok Adams  -  27 January 2015

This musing leads on from the last blog posting in which I admitted to being a CSFS sufferer - aka Chronic shiny face syndrome. Unlike the last blog which dealt primarily with make-up, this one is designed for sweaty violinists from both genders! I find that when it's hot on stage there's a tendency to lose your grip on the chin-rest. 

Maxine keeps cool as she greets Queen Elizabeth after a concert...

A particular memory was leading Mahler 3 in my last National Youth Orchestra Prom concert and bawling my eyes out to the point that my chin-rest was so wet I could barely get a grip above 1st position! These days I'm more likely to be crying at my ineptitude during difficult passage work but I now find skin contact on the chin-rest a very clammy and uncomfortable feeling. I therefore started to search high and low for a suitable cloth to use. 

Many people favour chamois leather (you have probably seen your dad using one to buff up the shine on his car) which is grippy and easily replaceable. This has the downside of, like dusters, being a rather uncompromising yellow colour. One colleague said they found some black chamois leather once which must surely be very marketable to musicians. I started using off-cuts of material I found, velvet worked quite well, but then I hit the jackpot, Japanese handkerchiefs! On entering any department store in Japan, you will be assaulted by the sight of thousands of hankies in every possible pattern. All Japanese ladies keep these in their handbags to daintily wipe their brow. I buy these by the bagful now as they are the perfect size and price (£3-8 usually) for using as a chin cloth. Many of them are a light towelling material which is even better for grip. There are ones designed for the discerning gentlemen too in muted colours, so no need to feel left out chaps!

I use the black ones for concerts so it blends into concert attire, and fun printed ones for rehearsals. So if you are going to Japan or know someone who is going and you need a bit of grip for your chin-rest, I'd advise you to get a few. Not only are you resting comfortably on the chin-rest, you can also give your strings a bit of a wipe if you were overzealous with the rosin, discreetly mop your sweaty hands before a particularly stressful moment, and as I have done in the past, sneeze into it! Just don't forget to throw them in the wash weekly.. 

You might be interested in attending Maxine's webinar on Looking Good - The best outfits for concerts and stage make up on February 4th at 8:30pm. More information and sign up here.

About Maxine Kwok Adams

Fashion correspondent and violinist of the London Symphony Orchestra

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