Surviving the Violin (The Beginning Years) A Guide For Parents, Students, And Other Innocent Victims

by Steven Digman

Advice For Parents
To Rent or Not to Rent?
Do Rent...

Children begin learning on a smaller than standard size violin. As they grow so does the need to replace the size of the instrument. Thus, it is normally ill advised to purchase any of the smaller sized instruments (1/16, 1/10, 1/18, 1U4, etc.)
Your investment would be continually expanding with the growth rate of your child. Consequently, the resale value of the smaller size instrument is limited and usually will return little more than half of the original price.

When renting, it is important to rent only from a reputable dealer and always inspect the instrument carefully.

How to make the right selection...

What to look for:

1.Any worn or frayed strings should be replaced immediately.
2.All strings should be equipped with fine tuners.
3.The bridge should be set firmly in place centered between the notches at the f-holes.
4.The bridge should not be warped or leaning forward (toward the fingerboard.)
5.Soundpost should be set in place slightly behind the treble foot of bridge (this can be viewed through the f-hole.)
6.All pegs should turn smoothly but firmly and should hold pitch when pushed in.
7.Violin should be equipped with chin rest and shoulder rest (some dealers consider a shoulder rest optional.)
8.Violin should be free from any obvious defects (open seams, cracks, etc.) If unsure, always ask questions. IMPORTANT NOTE: The aesthetic appearance of a violin is purely visual. This appearance will rarely, if ever, affect the quality or projection of sound.
9.Most importantly, LABEL the violin case with your name, address, and telephone number.


The bow is usually included in the rental price of the violin. I suggest that the beginning student use a fiberglass bow that has been re-haired with quality horse hair (a fiberglass bow being more resistant to abuse than a wood bow.)

However, some teaching methods require the student to use a wood bow and this does have its advantages, but with warning... Because of its delicate nature, a wood bow can be extremely sensitive to any abuse. This abuse will often result in irreparable damage.


Ask the teacher to re-inspect the violin for proper setup (bridge curvature, string height, soundpost positioning, etc.) This is an important step as an improper setup can only result in increased hardship and frustration in the student’s playing ability. Also, it is a good way of obtaining a second opinion on the condition of an instrument.


Occasionally, the soundpost will slip or fall from its position. DO NOT attempt to reset this yourself. You should take the instrument back to the dealer for service. The resetting is generally a simple procedure and usually there is no charge for this service.

When tuning the violin, do not force pegs. If peg slippage occurs, use peg soap - sparingly.


Advice For Students


1.Do practice often.
2.Do return your violin and bow to your case after each use.
3.Do always secure case - use latches.
4.Do loosen bow hair after each use.
5.Do clean violin with a recommended violin cleaner/polish.

1.Do not lose your violin.
2.Do not leave your violin or bow on a chair - A VERY BAD PLACE.
3.Do not leave your violin or bow in a car for long periods of time - especially in the trunk.
4.Do not engage in SWORD FIGHTS with your violin bow.
5.Do not conduct an imaginary orchestra with your violin bow.
6.Do not over tighten bow (ask your teacher.)
7.Do not give up - it takes time, practice, and patience to be brilliant.

And for the Innocent Victim

It could be worse…