Resources
Recommended Reading
  • The Earlier Kids Start Learning Music, the Better for the Brain
  • Teaching from the Balance Point, by Edward Krietman. "For less than the cost of a single lesson, Mr. Krietman has given us twenty years worth of teaching experience between the covers of his book. What parent can afford not to purchase this guide." - Elizabeth Moore, parent, on back cover.
  • Helping Parents Practice: Ideas for Making it Easier, by Edmund Sprunger. An instant classic, and a must read for all parents. It's also very helpful with "troubleshooting."
  • Ability Development from Age Zero, by Shinichi Suzuki.

Materials Needed for Getting Started with Lessons
  • Violin, Bow, and Case. All students need an appropriately sized instrument in good condition with new strings and new bow hair. If you rent or purchase a violin, you shouldn't have to worry about the condition, strings, or bow hair. If you already have an instrument, please understand that it may need some fixing up or repairs, or that it may not be the right size. We can determine what's needed when we meet.
  • For younger students the parent will need an instrument as well. The quality isn't as important for the parent's violin and one can be purchased on Ebay for as little as $50. 
  • Rosin. This should come with the violin. It is "food" for the bow. The sticky substance adheres to the bow hairs and provides the resistance needed to pull the sound from the strings. Rosin can get old, crack, or break, and should be handled gently and replaced immediately if lost or broken. The bow can't function without it.
  • Cleaning Cloth. To keep your instrument in good condition, wipe it down after each use with a soft cloth. You can purchase a special cloth or use a washcloth or scarf, rag, etc.
  • Method books will be recommended based on the student's individual needs. 
  • Electronic Tuner. Required! It's great to have a way to make sure the violin is in tune before practice each day, and this device makes it easy for anyone to tune the instrument. Good, reliable brands include Korg and Seiko, and they sell for $10-$20.

Obtaining a Violin or Viola: Renting vs. Buying
There are pros and cons to each, but most parents choose to rent a violin for the first several years, or until the child is in at least a 1/2 size violin. The advantage to renting is that you have the maximum flexibility with swapping out one size for another, and children often outgrow their violins every 1-2 years in the beginning. That said, any reputable shop will allow you to sell back a small violin and put the money towards the purchase of the next size up at their shop. You should buy or rent from a shop that specializes in string instruments. They employ good repair people and salespeople and will make sure that you get a good instrument at a fair price. Here are some policies/questions to ask the shop when renting or purchasing an instrument:
  • What are the monthly fees, and will I need to sign a contract or put down a deposit?
  • Do you offer an insurance policy, and if so, what does it cover? It is always a good idea to have the insurance. You never know what will happen, and most of the policies are very reasonable.
  • If I purchase, how much of the price will you put towards a bigger instrument later?
  • If I rent, does my monthly payment go towards a purchase plan?
  • If I rent, do you include string changes, rosin, etc., or is that our responsibility?

An important note about sizing violins...
Many students are allowed to begin with instruments that are too big for them. This is disastrous for their posture, their physical comfort, and their mastery of skills. Please do not let anyone tell you that your child will grow into a violin. By that time, the damage will already be done. To size the violin, hold the child's left arm straight out from the body to the left side, and tuck the violin in under the chin. The scroll of the violin must not extend onto the hand or into the palm. The entire length of the violin must fit from chin (against neck) to wrist (at or inside the watchband). If this is not the case, the violin is too big, and you must measure for the next size down.

A note about buying instruments on the Internet...
We love the Internet, and love to shop on the Internet for our supplies and instruments. That being said, please avoid using auction sites and non-string shop sites to purchase your violin, bow, or case. More often than not, the instrument you get will need more work than it is worth. Do not buy an instrument that does not come with a trial period or guarantee of satisfaction.