When asked about what makes him happy, Albert Einstein once said, 'a table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin; what else does a man need to be happy...?'
Unbeknown to most public knowledge, the most respected academic of the 20th Century had a passion for classical music and often relied on musical composition when reflecting upon complex academic theories.
Playing music, whether that be a trumpet, trombone, oboe or violin, can have multiple benefits on the player. These include:
- Scientific research has shown that regular practicing of a musical instrument can in-fact change brain structure, as well as strengthening long term memory which can lead to a more healthy development within the brain.
- Further studies have shown that musicians have more of an ability to concentrate on multiple things at the same time.
- Playing with others can help to develop team working skills which can be transferred into all aspects of life.
In all, learning an instrument is a healthy habit and has a range of psychological benefits. So, before starting lessons, it is important to establish exactly what you will need to begin learning the violin.
In this article, we have highlighted the various equipment every beginner must look into purchasing (this excludes advice on lessons for beginners), whilst identifying the significance of each.
From finding an ideal violin teacher to searching for the most cost-effective lessons, learning the instrument certainly isn't cheap, and that's without mentioning the overall cost of the equipment. Also, depending on where you decide to purchase the instrument, a bow won't necessarily come with the violin itself.
Experienced violinists often purchase the bow and violin separately and the bow alone can cost hundreds of dollars.
Talking to a music specialist is very important in finding the right bow for your experience level and arm spam. The appropriate length of a bow is determined by the size of the player. The longer the arm spam is, the longer the bow must be.
Also, the grip of the bow must be comfortable for the player and again this is something that a specialist can assist with. Although purchasing products online can seem like a time and often cost-effective method, certain issues may arise especially if it is the first time you are buying such equipment.
This is simply because purchasing products online can mean that a beginner may miss out on the necessary advice that you would usually receive when purchasing such products within a musical store. It is therefore advised to head over to a local music store before making any purchases to ensure the musical equipment you are buying is tailored to your needs.
There is a large market when it comes to violin bow's and there is a multitude of points to consider before parting with your hard-earned cash.
Beginner's who are yet to hone the technical skills of an advanced player may not require the more expensive and fine quality bows. Many platforms online suggest only a few imperatives when it comes to purchasing your first bow:
- A reasonably strong stick to prevent wear and tare
- A notable camber (curvature)
- Averagely weighted - not too heavy, not too light.
It is said that once a players' skills improve, the demands for the equipment change. The better you get as a player, the more noticeable the weighting and difference between bows will be felt.
A common analogy of a violinist is that a bow should feel as if it is an extension of the arm as if it is a part of the body. Much of the technique associated with playing the violin comes from how the player holds and controls the bow.
Materials of the Bow
Generally, three different types of materials are used to create violin bows.
The generic name for wood-based bows is Brazilwood. This is the use of tropical hardwoods which are a relatively inexpensive choice. The majority of beginners and novice players go for this option.
The prices mainly range between $50 - $200 but there are of course more expensive options. This has been a popular option for many years before the arrival of the carbon fiber alternative.
Introduced over twenty years ago, many violinists have since turned to the use of carbon fiber. The popularity grew because of the scarce resources of Pernambuco which is a wood exported from South America.
The benefits of using carbon fiber are that there are many similarities between it and Pernambuco. Both are considered to be durable materials with the right level of elasticity, strength, and responsiveness.
It is also a more environmentally sound material, as the Pernambuco tree is now considered to be under threat in areas of South America and Brazil has since restricted its exportation to help these trees prosper once again.
Due to Pernambuco's scarcity across Europe and North America, the prices have increased due to the lack of such bows being on the market. It is, therefore, safe to say that the most cost-effective bows would be made of a blend of Brazilwood or carbon fiber.
There are various accessories that violinists must purchase to keep their violins in tune and to preserve the quality of sound. Below is a breakdown of these items as well as a brief explanation as to their importance:
One of the most infuriating things playing a stringed instrument is when you find it going out of tune!
This can be a common headache for new players and there are several reasons why this may happen.
From a change in room temperature to a slight knock on the stem of the instrument, it may take a subtle change for one or all of the strings to go out of tune.
Experienced players can tune their instrument by ear which comes in handy especially if required during a performance.
Before getting to this point, it is advised that new (and experienced) players carry a violin tuner. They can be purchased online for as little as 20 dollars!
Sheet Music Stand
As discussed in the essentials of learning the violin, it is tremendously important for a new violinist to learn the ins and outs of musical theory in conjunction with physically practicing.
Resting your sheet music on the side will simply not work. A music stand is specially designed for players, as the core can be adjusted to the correct level and it makes it easier for the player to turn a page whilst playing a piece of music.
These can also be ordered on most online platforms and can be purchased in specialist violin stores.
Used to apply directly onto the bow for a smoother form of movement upon the strings, rosin is considered a violinist's best friend and should always be carried with the instrument.
Without the use of rosin, a bow will produce little to no sound due to the lack of friction being applied onto the strings reduces the volume.
There is a range of rosins to choose from and the most effective one will depend on the type of bow purchased. Discussing this with an experienced violinist will allow you to gain a stronger understanding of which rosin to use.
Durable Violin Case
There is certainly a range of cases on the market so it is important to analyze each option to ensure the price doesn't jeopardize the quality.
From ADM, Bam France, Aileen to Tonareli, each of the popular companies use various materials and each come within different price ranges.
The most important aspect to consider is durability. Will it protect the instrument from heavy knocks or rainfall?
The violin is almost always the most expensive piece of equipment and the case will also protect the bow so do not compromise on the quality of the case if you haven't done so with the instrument itself.