- How young is too young to start? How old is too old?
Through a creative, intuitive, and highly personalized mix of techniques found both in the Suzuki method and various Traditional methods, I have taught children as young as two years old the basics of playing the violin. The essentials of music can be introduced to children even younger than that by immersing them in a nurturing environment of music and by making it a regular, fun part of their lives. Likewise, you are never too old to start learning to play the violin; you can talk to your private teacher about the demands in your life and see if he/she can arrange lessons with those obligations in mind. Playing music is a physical activity that, with proper training, our bodies will still be able to do long into the future, and it is something that one can only get better at as they grow older. Additionally, delving deeper and deeper into musical knowledge improves thinking skills and brain function, and not just for the left- or right-hemisphere, but all throughout! Yes, there is an amount of commitment that comes with violin playing, but as adults we have all experienced the excitement of working whole-heartedly at something and then reaping the rewards of improvement in that area of our lives.
- Where can I find a violin outfit to rent or purchase?
Violinist.com offers an excellent Directory of Luthiers — violin makers/dealers. Check out this page from Music Education Online for helpful tips, too. Also, online, Shar, Woodwind Brasswind, and Southwest Strings are good places to start. And, check out your local listings; most decent music shops have a reasonable selection of violins to try out, and I’ve known some (including myself!) who were successful in locating decent violins through pawn shops and Pennysaver ads. You may find it helpful to read this article about buying violins. Update: I recently purchased a brand new violin on eBay from violinist Mary Anne Wilson of the Belri Music Store, and I adore it! I have played on it for several concerts now, and I am always complimented on this violin’s sound. It is everything I have been looking for in my violin’s sound! And Mary Anne’s prices simply cannot be beat for the tremendous quality she offers!
- What size instrument does my child need?
Owning a violin is a very personal experience, and, for your child to have the best experience possible, it is important that he/she is comfortable on the instrument. Size is not only about the length of the arm, but may also involve the size and stretch of the fingers, and any luthier or decent music store should have someone there to help fit your child with the perfect size instrument. To offer a reasonable estimate, however, according to a sizing stick by Knilling, measuring from the child’s neck, across the fully extended left arm, to the middle of the palm, sizes can be determined (approximately) as follows:
- 14 to 15-and-1/4 inches = 1/16 size
- 15-and-1/4 to 16-and-3/4 inches = 1/10 size
- 16-and-3/4 to 18-and-1/2 inches = 1/8 size
- 18-and-1/2 to 20-and-3/8 inches = 1/4 size
- 20-and-3/8 to 22-and-1/4 inches = 1/2 size
- 22-and-1/4 to 23-and-5/8 inches = 3/4 size
- 23-and-5/8 inches and greater = 4/4 or Full size
- Will I need to keep purchasing violin outfits as my child grows?
Most dealers have some kind of a trade-in option, where you may trade in the smaller size to get a discount off of the larger size. Check with your local dealer to make sure!
- Okay. I’ve got the instrument. What else do I need?
You’ll have to inquire of your teacher to be sure you’re getting what he/she requires. You may take a look at my article, Important Purchases for Students, to give you an idea of what additional items may be beneficial for musical development, and links to where you may purchase said items online at very decent prices.
- What are the basic parts of the instrument called?
The online version of the 1980 book The Violin Close Up is a charming, beautiful introduction to the violin and its parts. You can also check out these Wikipedia articles, for brief descriptions of the parts of both the violin and the bow.
- What are the 8 steps to playing position? (Click here to see detailed instructions!)