"To learn Music is to learn a whole new language"


Know the Basics

First you should know the Basic String Instrument Family. Instruments are available in different sizes and should be fit specifically to you. We can help to fit you with the correct size instrument.

  Violin    Viola   Cello       Bass

Violin    Viola   Cello       Bass

Next you should know the parts of your instrument. Here are some details for each of the different Instruments. You'll notice that many of the parts are the same with just a few differences.

(click on each picture to enlarge it)

Storage & Maintenance

It is important to take good care of your string instrument in order to keep it sounding as beautiful as possible. There are "Do's and Dont's" to storing and maintaining your instrument.

 

cleaning

 

Use a soft, non-abrasive (microfiber works great) cleaning cloth to wipe down the strings and the body of your instrument after every playing session before you store it. Rosin dust should never be left on the surface of your instrument as it can damage the varnish. Periodic polishing will help maintain the luster. Make sure that you use a polish specifically designed to be used with your instrument.  DO NOT USE Pledge, Old English, Murphy's oil, Baby oil, or ALCOHOL. A solvent can damage the varnish.

If you have questions about whether its safe to use on your instrument, CALL US, we are happy to answer any questions you may have!

 

Protection

Always keep your instrument and bow stored in its case/bag or on a stand designed to hold your instrument when you are not playing it. Make sure the bow hair has been loosened on the bow before putting it away and that it is properly stored in your case/bag or stand.

 

temperature

To maintain the adjustments and integrity of Stringed instruments they need at least 50% relative humidity.

  • NEVER leave an instrument in a car in extremely hot or cold weather!
  • Never leave the instrument exposed to direct sunlight or sudden changes in temperature or humidity. When not in use, store it in a place with moderate humidity, away from radiators or hot air vents.
  • Dampits ensure that sudden changes in humidity don’t crack your instrument or cause it to go out of adjustment. The Dampit should be re-moistened daily whenever the heat is on in your house and especially during the winter months. We have them available through our shop.
  • Case-mounted humidifiers are not a substitute for a Dampit. Additionally, we recommend the use of steam vaporizers in the music room for added protection during the dry season.

 

the bow

A fresh hank of bow hair can be expected to last for just 120 playing hours.This means your bow should be re-haired once every six months if you play 1/2 an hour a day, five days a week. Loosen the bow when not in use. Keep polish and fingers away from the bow hair.

 

The Bridge

The feet of the bridge should always be aligned with the inner notches cut in the F holes. It must be kept in a perpendicular position. Tuning the strings tends to pull it forward. Check its position frequently. If neglected, the bridge may warp, even break. If it requires adjusting, grasp the bridge at both upper corners with the thumb and first fingers of each hand while holding the instrument firmly braced. Then gently move the top of the bridge to a perpendicular position. If you are not comfortable in doing this ask your instructor to do it for you. Or, bring it in to our shop and we will be happy to help and teach you how.

 

Strings

Even the finest instrument cannot sound its best with old or poor quality strings. Strings will usually go bad (6 months) long before they ever break. Look for changes in the appearance of the surface of the string. By regularly examining the windings for changes in texture and color you soon learn the signs that your old strings are becoming lifeless, false and dull. Be sure you replace your strings with the same type that is currently on your instrument so that you don’t jeopardize the soundpost adjustment. If you are unsure of what type of strings you have on your instrument, bring it into our shop and we will help you. Put new strings on one at a time. Guard against the bridge being pulled forward while tuning new strings up to pitch. Avoid using Super Sensitive or other bottom-priced steel strings if you have a better quality instrument.

 

string tuners

If your tuner has a lever under the tailpiece, guard against the lever touching the top of the instrument. This can seriously bruise the wood. To reduce the depression of the lever, merely turn the tuner screw to the LEFT (counter clockwise). Then raise the pitch with the peg. A tailpiece with the built-in tuners creates ease of tuning and changing strings.

Chin rests

If the chin rest is loose or touching the tailpiece, it may produce a buzzing sound. Insert a chin rest key into the small hole in each chin rest bracket barrel and turn clockwise to tighten just enough so that the chin rest is firmly secured. Take care not to push the key out the opposite side of the barrel or it may scratch your instrument as you are adjusting it.

Pegs

Even normal tuning will cause both the peg and the peg hole to wear smooth. This causes slipping. When pegs become seriously worn, see your repairman.

 


Professional Maintenance

The following are things that should be done ONLY BY YOUR REPAIRMAN

Fingerboard

Don’t let grooves develop under the strings. Grooves prohibit free vibration of the strings. Be sure the board has a sufficient concave dip. See your repairman. He will also check the grooves in the nut for excessive wear.

Summer/Winter Bridge

In warm weather, the top of the instrument swells upward. This raises the bridge and lifts the strings too high above the fingerboard for comfortable playing. A lower bridge is required. In cold weather the top is at its lowest level. Then a higher bridge is required. Otherwise the strings will be too close to the fingerboard to permit free vibration. See your repairman.

Soundpost

If the post was fitted during cold weather, it may be too short for summer use when the top rises. Conversely, if it was fitted in warm weather, it may be too long for winter use when the top subsides. Unless the post fits properly, the tone will be disturbed. If it falls, or moves, loosen the string tension slightly and ask your teacher or repairman to re-position it.

Open Edges

Check your instrument regularly to note whether the top or back has become unglued from the ribs at any point. If so, do not neglect this; see your repairman as soon as possible.

Cracks

Check periodically for cracks that may develop, especially during cold, dry weather. Keep all polishes away from open cracks. Do Not try to glue this yourself. There is more to it than just pouring some glue into the crack. As well as knowing what type of adhesive can be used on your instrument. Have your string repairman glue the cracks as soon as possible.


Benefits

Benefits of playing the violin

Knowing how to play a musical instrument with confidence is a fulfilling and enjoyable ability. But, if someone were to ask you, “If you could pick from any instrument and instantly know how to play it, what would you pick?” odds are that a violin would be among the top choice. But although violins are surrounded by a romantic aura of mystique, many people think that it’s too hard, too expensive, or just plain too difficult to learn how to play this well-known and much beloved musical instrument.    

However, you may be surprised to discover that there are many excellent, lifelong benefits of playing the violin; and learning to play it, like any undertaking, simply requires having the right tools and the right instruction.

Looking for a more visual representation of the benefits of playing the violin? Take a look at our infographic.

Benefits of Playing the Violin for Children

Young children often become fascinated with learning to play the violin, and if so, they should be encouraged. The physical, mental, and social benefits of playing a musical instrument are well-known, but the violin offers some rather surprising additions.

Improved Memory and Attention Span

Many studies have been conducted on the benefits of playing the violin or some other musical instrument. A recent study by the McMaster University’s Institute for Music and the Mind found that musical training, even one year’s worth, positively impacts the memory and attention span.

Better Overall Mental Function and Health

Experts agree that musical training improves: reading skills, language processing, speech, and a variety of brain functions. In December 2014, the Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry released Dr. James Hudziak’s findings on enhanced brain development, and how playing a violin can help children battle psychological disorders.

Sensory Development

Long-term high level musical training has a broader impact than previously thought. Researchers found that musicians have an enhanced ability to integrate sensory information from hearing, touch, and sight (Julie Roy, abstract 550.13, see attached summary).[1]

Social Skills

The benefits of playing the violin are also social. Not only does it provide a conversational point, but young children gain self-discipline from repeated practice. There is also amazing benefits from having something in their lives that they can control. Learning to play violin can build self-reliance, self-esteem, and self-awareness - qualities which make them well-liked and well-adjusted.

Benefits of Playing the Violin for Teens

Even if you don’t start early, anyone can learn to play the violin, no matter his or her age. In fact, many teens look to broaden their skills and enhance their college applications with a variety of extra-curricular activities.

A Sense of Belonging

Many adolescents benefit from learning the violin because of the social belonging it provides. Playing in an orchestra requires group coordination, attention, and uniform dress, which can be a vast relief from the constant pressures and angst of being a teenager.

An Emotional Outlet

Playing the violin offers the opportunity to release your feelings, something that teens can sometimes find very difficult to do in a constructive manner.

Physical Benefits

Concerts and contests provide opportunities for achievement and the physical benefits of playing the violin are the same as for younger children. Better posture, stronger upper body strength, and improved motor skills are engendered through practice. The physical exertion is lessened through proper body placement.

More College Choice

Proficiency in music education and appreciation, like violin, can often provide that extra something that college Admissions boards look for. 

Learn about more ways playing the violin can be beneficial for children here

For Adults

In addition to all of the mental and physical benefits of playing the violin, adults who decide to learn the violin gain added advantages.

Reduced Stress

Lower levels of depression, anxiety, and other stress related health problems. Playing the violin is an excellent stress reliever and a great way to enlarge your social circle.

Improved Posture

Today's sedentary lifestyle leaves many adults with unhealthy spines and terrible, pain-inducing posture. Playing the violin calls for exemplary posture. Learning how to stand properly while playing can translate to improved posture all the time.

The mental, emotional, and physical benefits of playing the violin are definitely worth the time and effort it takes to learn this instrument. And with the right equipment, you can start experiencing those benefits even faster.

 

[1] Society for Neuroscience. "Musical training shapes brain anatomy, affects function." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131112163216.htm>.

Topics: Playing Violin