When starting the violin, many parents usually ask me the following questions:
Where do I buy a violin?
How much does a violin cost?
What size violin does my child need?
Do I need to buy a shoulder rest?
So this week, I plan on answering these questions to help you pick the right violin for your child.
Where do I buy a violin?
This is a really important question. In the 15 years that I've taught the violin, I've seen many violin buying disasters. With modern technology and the ability to buy anything at the tip of your fingers, makes buying online a popular option. However, unless you know about violins and have bought violins before, you're more than likely to end up with a poorly made instrument, which will turn your child off violin playing forever!
I have seen parents make the mistake of buying online only to have bought the wrong size instrument, an instrument that needed to be set up from scratch by a luthier, an instrument where the fingerboard made it impossible to play more than 1 or 2 fingers on the instrument, and instruments where the bridge was virtually flat!
For this reason, we recommend the following the places to go and buy your child's violin. It is important to take your child with you so they can be correctly measured, as string instruments sizing is based on the physical size of your child not their age or school grade (like buying a pair of shoes)! The places we recommend are:
Sydney String Centre. Located at 314 High Street Chatswood, the Sydney String Centre specialise in everything Strings, including instruments, accessories, and music books. The also offer an instrumental rental program, which is ideal for parents who want their child to have a good quality instrument but are concerned that their child will out-grow their instrument in 6-12 months, or for parents who are not sure that their child will take to liking the violin. Rentals start from $35/month, with all instruments of outstanding quality, set up professionally by their in-house luthier. You can also purchase second-hand instruments from the store as well.
A R Irwin Violins. Located at 222 New South Head Road, Edgecliff (opposite Edgecliff station), A R Irwin Violins sell quality instruments in the Eastern Suburbs, supplying instruments, accessories and music books. A R Irwin Violins specialise in good quality bows for the advanced and professional player.
The Violinery. Located at Suite 101, Level 1, 302-304 Pacific Highway (above KFC), Lindfield, the violinery provide good quality instruments for all abilities. They also offer an instrumental rental program. Rentals start from $35/month, with all instruments of outstanding quality, set up professionally by their in-house luthier.
Vivaldis. Located at 34 Beecroft Road, Epping (opposite Epping Station). Vivaldis sell new, quality instruments.
Dural Music Centre. They are the only music shop in the Hills Area that sell decent sounding and decent quality string instruments for the beginner student. We recommend their Raggetti range in particular for the beginner student. For more advanced students, we recommend visiting one of the other specialist string instrument stores as the Dural Music Centre do not have a professional luthier on site.
How much does a violin cost?
A good quality beginner student violin will cost between $350-$650 regardless of size. Whilst it is highly tempting to save money and buy a violin online for $100, cheap instruments are exactly what you pay for. The cheaper the instrument, the worse it sounds, the less likely it is to stay in tune between lessons, and in most cases are not correctly set up which will cause grief to the student once the start to learn to play pieces because they may not be able to properly press the string down or the bow plays several strings at once. If you want your child to develop a love for their instrument and practice their violin every day without complaint, it is definitely worthwhile in investing in a good quality violin from one of the mentioned shops above.
What size does my child need?
It is advisable to take your child to get fitted for their first violin. All the stores previously mentioned will measure your child to ensure that the instrument is the correct size. It is important that the instrument fits your child correctly, as the wrong size can cause physical injury with long-term effects. Once your child has been fitted, the violin teacher will advise you when it is time to change sizes. As a general rule, it best for your child to play on a smaller instrument than to move onto a larger instrument before they are physically ready to.
What other things do I need to buy?
When buying a violin, you will also need to purchase a shoulder rest. This will raise the violin to the height of the student's jaw, preventing shoulder strains and injury. It best that the student tries out different shoulder rests as the come in different shapes, heights, and colours.
You will also need to buy rosin. We recommend purchasing Pirastro's Goldflex Rosin. Rosin will last many years and should only be used once week or every 10 hours of playing.
Finally, you will also need to buy a music stand. This is important as you do not want your child to slouch when playing their instrument trying to read music of a table or standing the book on a chair that is too low for them. A collapsable music stand is ideal for practice and be taken anywhere.
Stay tuned for more useful articles next Monday!