Bill age 22, had just joined the LSO and was still playing with a normal chin rest .

Bill age 29, co-leader of the Northern Symphonic Orchestra, playing with a high chin rest .




In Baroque times chin rests were not used, as far as it's known, and players in Northern Europe played with 'chin-off'. Spohr was the first player and teacher who published a picture of a chin rest, as illustrated below .









Spohr's contemporary, Paganini did not use one, instead the Italians specialised in playing with their jaws making contact with the top of violin . This resulted in improved technical finesse and they were usually able to command much higher fees than their northern contemporaries, before the advent of the chin rest .








Bill began to play at the age of 9 and had lessons for 8 years from John Sealey at Winchester . At 17 he studied with  Jean Pougnet, who was over six feet tall. Jean, a prodigy at the age of 12, played the Paganini concerto in the Albert Hall and in his own words he had 'not found it difficult'... 

At the age of 34, Jean said he 'struggled for every note', when performing the same concerto . A few years later gave up playing altogether when two of his fingers collapsed while performing .



bill benham
bill benham
bill benham, ergonomic chin rest

Bill age 19 looking good but with a raised left shoulder .

Bill in 2012 playing at last with his Ergonomic Chin Rest .

Illustration from Spohr's 'Art of Violin Playing' 1821 .

The first recorded illustration of a chin rest .

The latest evolution: the easily and infinitely adjustable and extendable Ergonomic Chin Rest .

bill benham

This disabling suffering continued, so Bill took lessons in the Alexander Technique, he then qualified as a teacher in 1979 . Through the technique he had learnt to play with much less tension, garnering him enough awareness to be able to experiment further with rests leading on to developing a detachable one .

bill benham
bill benham, ergonomic chin rest
bill benham, ergonomic chin rest

Bill plus string! 1973 .

Bill in 1990 with the high molded chin rest, early development .

bill benham

Bill auditioned for the LSO using a standard chin and shoulder rest, but after a few months in the orchestra suffered extreme pains in his shoulders and back, and had a stiff neck and right wrist .







Bill received help from Jean Gibson (who had trained with a student of F.M. Alexander) and she suggested a higher chin rest . Playing with string around the shoulder rest and neck at an audition in 1973, gave him enough relief from pain to get the job of co leader of the Northern Symphonic Orchestra .