Where can I find a violin teacher for lessons?
Please email us and we can reccomend a teacher for your level.
What’s the best violin case?
There’s no simple answer—shopping for a violin or viola case can be a daunting task. There is a wide variety of options, from basic cases that list for under $300 to truly beautiful pieces of art costing thousands of dollars. In deciding which instrument case is right for you, consider your lifestyle, your environment, and your budget.
Can you afford a case with all the amenities? The benefits include a humidifier and a hygrometer. Are you a gigging musician looking for the ultimate survive-the-commute case? Be sure to look for handy end straps, often called “subway straps.” Do you live in an area that subjects your instrument to extreme weather changes? Ask your dealer about water-resistant covers. Or do you need something that will stand up to heavy air travel? Manufacturers’ approaches to that problem range from cases that squeeze under strict carry-on guidelines to the virtually indestructible.
Whatever your needs, the Internet provides a unique opportunity to do some preliminary research and window shopping before purchasing a case. It also helps to make a list of what you are looking for, what you can afford, and preferred companies before you venture out to your local music store.
One of the first questions to consider is what type of case will best suit your needs. Because of their durability, hard-shell cases tend to be more popular with musicians looking for assurance that their instruments will be protected. Their traditional disadvantage has been a tendency to be very heavy. But these days there are more and more lightweight cases on the market (such as the Bam Trekking case included in this review), designed to hold your instrument tightly in place and provide a good deal of protection. On the other hand, if you’re content with your current case and only wish it were easier to carry around, you might want to look at case bags, which provide additional padding and make heavy cases more manageable via comfortable handles and backpack straps.
Cases come with a plethora of options; designs and features span from minimalistic to unapologetically excessive. We looked at cases equivalent to five-star hotels that would pamper and spoil any instrument, but not everyone is looking for a luxury case. Some of the more practical amenities to consider address basic care and maintenance of your violin or viola. Changes in temperature and humidity can wreak havoc on your instrument, so if you live in an area with an extreme climate, consider adding a hygrometer and a humidifier to your case wish list. Hygrometers measure humidity levels, letting you know if your instrument is too damp or too dry; humidifiers correct dryness (a common problem, especially in winter), usually in the form of a small tube filled with water-saturated material that releases moisture at a controlled rate.
If a hygrometer and humidifier are the case features you are most concerned about—and if you are looking for the most accurate equipment—you might be best off buying a stripped-down case and installing a hygrometer and humidifier yourself (you may also want to look into having a music shop do this for you). You can purchase specific hygrometers and humidifiers to fit your needs through most music shops and distributors.
You should also think about how many interior and exterior compartments you need. Will you be traveling with a portfolio case? Sheet music? Cases generally have between one and four inner compartments and one outer sheet-music compartment running the length of the case. Some include gusseted outer pockets for extra storage and others feature a detachable exterior pocket for carrying portfolios. Do you use a number of different bows?
Some cases have only one or two bow holders, some four. And even if you have only one, be sure to bring it to the store to make sure that it fits in the holders provided.
Be sure to investigate your potential case thoroughly. Look at everything—from the instrument padding or suspension system to the hardware. Suspension cases have become the norm with most companies. They are well padded and prevent your instrument from resting flat against the bottom of the case, which can be dangerous if the case receives a blow or is dropped. The instrument neck is held in place with a Velcro flap or string tie, and padding hugs the instrument tightly in place. Suspension systems—like hardcover cases—are almost always preferable. Keeping an instrument safe while traveling is an overwhelming concern for most instrumentalists. While most of the cases we looked at will fit in overhead compartments on airplanes, airlines’ ever-tightening carry-on limitations increase the possibility of being forced to check your instrument—so the harder the outer case and the softer the suspension system, the better.Most cases also include a zipper-and-lock system.
For security, look for two zippers that start in the back and meet at the center front. Some of the better cases have weather flaps that shelter the zippers and Velcro or snaps encasing the vulnerable spot where the zippers meet. Zippered cases may or may not lock, but those without zippers generally do—sometimes one lock at the center of the case below the handle is the only way to secure the case. In other instances, two or even three locks are mounted along the sides of the case, with an additional snap-down weather flap to cover the hardware.
If you are a violist, you may have difficulties properly fitting your instrument. More and more companies are offering cases in various sizes, but another option is an adjustable case. Adjustable cases are a good investment for growing students who may need to switch to larger instruments throughout the course of their careers. Watch out for exposed adjusting hardware that could scratch the back of your instrument. Also be sure that the hardware holds the adjustable shoulder block securely in place so that there is no danger of your instrument slipping.
How Good A Violin Should I Buy?
This is a question asked of us every day of the year and one which is difficult, yet most important to answer. We all know the axiom “a workman is no better than the tools he works with,” yet many conscientious people feel that a fine violin, viola, cello, bass, or bow is needed and deserved only by the professional and concert artist. This, in our
opinion, is not true and responsible for great proportion of the difficulty encountered with violin study.
Fine tone quality may be an ambiguous word to the untrained ear, yet it is all important and readily measured by the trained musician and expert appraiser. The beginner and amateur to properly develop his tonal production and taste should make every effort to provide himself with the finest quality instrument and bow in his means to obtain. The violin cannot make the musician, but an inferior one can definitely hinder his progress and spoil his results and incentive.
How much has to be spent for a good violin? It is impossible to give a definite answer to a question such as this, as the word “good: is a comparative and consequently could have a different meaning in each individual circumstance. Nevertheless, we have been asked this question time and again and wish to give our frank personal opinion in the
matter. We feel that a beginner should spend a minimum of $600. This will provide a well balanced bow, and a case of substantial construction to provide adequate protection.
We feel that after a student has progressed through the first three or four years he should have an instrument of greater potential. Such a violin should cost about $1,200 and upward with the bow and case extra. Such an outfit should prove adequate until the student reaches the stage of advanced proficiency and is ready for solo work, college orchestra, or advanced study.
Now, how much must be spent for a good violin? Actually, the sky is the limit and this decision must be made in relation to the funds available. Good old violins can be bought at $2,000 and upward, the great masterpieces at $12,000 and upward. Naturally the more that is spent, the finer violin, viola, cello, or bass, which can be provided, and the greater will be the musical pleasure and progress. Stephen R. Davy violins are priced with three decades of experience and record of integrity. How good a violin should you have? How much should you spend? That, in the end, will be answered by you; but we wish to assure you that every dollar spent will provide you with the most in dollar value and musical enjoyment.