I the books I use to start with depend on your previous exposure to music. For students with some exposure to music I start with “Suzuki Book 1” which can be purchased at Vermont Violins. For students with no previous musical experience I use the book “A Tune a Day” which provides a more detailed understanding of the most rudimentary elements of music. Please discuss this choice with me before your first lesson so we agree on the appropriate method.
(Both books are appropriately progressive and give great explanations along with the actual written music.)
Besides a book, you’ll need the following:
- Violin should be good repair. The violin shop has experts to assess this and they should be consulted on any significant purchases. New strings should be used for a fresh start. Bridge placement and angle should be verified.
- Likewise the bow should be inspected by a qualified luthier. The horsehair should be new or recently replaces. (I can assess this with you as there are no significant markers of wear other than the volume of the hair on the bow and the ability for the hair to hold rosin.)
- If you are purchasing a case, I highly recommend one that is built to hold your books and contains enough storage to hold the equipment listed below
- Rosin & Cloth
- The rosin can be obtained from any violin shop. I have been using Pirastro “Oliv” and have been very happy with it. The violin shop can describe differences between rosins. The cost of rosin is not significant, so there is no reason to purchase less expensive rosin.
- The cloth will be used primarily to remove the rosin and fingerprints from your violin. The cloth must be fine- either a cotton dinner napkin or an old t-shirt are go-tos. Its very important that whatever you use is clean and free of dirt or sand that could scratch the finish of the instrument.
- Everyone else in the house will appreciate the mute, especially at first! Mutes are placed on the bridge and allow the player be soft even when they are playing loud. This significantly reduces fear of breaking eardrums or threatening sanity. There are two types of mutes, performance mutes and practice mutes. The latter reduces volume and resonance more than the former. All things being equal, having both is best. If you have to choose one, ask me and I’ll let you try mine.
Reccomended but not required:
- I cannot emphasize the metronome enough as a tool to assist in practicing. Whether playing scales or a concerto, you can gauge your mastery of a piece by playing it in time without pauses or rushing. Smartphone apps abound for this purpose though you can also purchase a metromone online or at any music store.
- Music stand
- I recently purchased a concert grade music stand and I am very pleased with it. Wire stands may be preferable if you need to be mobile.
- Extra strings
- If you play with others with any regularity, you ought to have an extra set of strings so you are never in need. Breaking a string is rare, but it happens and you can’t play an instrument with 3 strings.
- Varnish cleaner
- From time to time, you’ll want to give the instrument a bath. Do not use water! The violin shop has a specialized varnish cleaner.
A note about space-
- It is important for everyone in the house to accept a new player without embarrassing them for sounding like a beginner. There is a very steep learning curve so everyone will probably be amazed at how awful the violin can sound before it sounds like music. By the same token everyone will notice real progress within the first 10 hours of practicing. It is essential to acknowledge this progress.