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Five Reminders For Beginning Students

Beginning bowed instrument players have a lot to remember. After a pause in playing or a vacation, the basics of safely handling a violin or a bow may have been forgotten. That’s why we collected the five important reminders for beginning students to help keep their instruments looking and sounding great.


1. Make sure the violin is properly tuned before practice sessions.

If you don’t know how to tune your instrument, get a teacher or other professional to tune it. Make learning to tune your violin your goal right from the beginning. First practice tuning the violin using a tuner or a phone application. Even many websites these days have tuning applications to get you started. When you have become more confident with your instrument and tuning skills, move as soon as possible to using only atuning fork or a tuning pitch.


Part of playing the violin involves muscle memory and adjusting the pitch. If the instrument is out of tune, the student can form bad habits with finger placement on the fingerboard. It takes a long time to unlearn these habits so be careful with your tuning.


2. Don’t touch the bow hair.

The oil from your fingers impacts how the hair will grip the strings as the bow is pulled across them. Slick bow hair will not work as well as dry bow hair. It is a good idea to get in the habit of washing your hands every time you get ready to play your violin.


3. Manage the tightness of the bow hair.

Never over-tighten the hair on the bow. The wood may crack or even break. When finished practicing or playing, it is a good idea to loosen the hair, so that several hairs hang loose. This will ensure that the tension of the bow hair doesn’t warp the wood or damage the arch.


4. Maintain good posture.

Standing or sitting up straight is vital to playing well. Playing the violin is a very physical activity, and proper posture while playing will affect both the way that you hold your instrument and your bow. A good posture also helps to prevent repetitive strain injuries that usually show up after intensive playing over months and years. In short, the better your posture, the better you will play.


5. Keep your instrument in its case.

Never put your violin down on a chair or other surface, unless the violin is inside its case. The case protects the violin and the bow from accidents like spilled liquids, and falling objects. You can prevent a lot of damage to your instrument by keeping it safely nestled in its case. Always keep the case zipped closed so that the accessories don’t fall out when the case is picked up and moved.


With these basic tips, your instrument will be safe and well taken care of. An instrument that is kept in good shape will be easier to maintain, less-costly to maintain, and will enjoy a longer life.


photo credit: swambo via photopin cc

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