I am amazed that parents will spend a fortune on private lessons, or sports, or electronics for their kids…but seem to think that a $300 – $800 Chinese violin is all they need to graduate High School in Orchestra. However, before buying a new violin, take your violin to a local expert and have them check the set up.
- A poorly set up violin is hard to play. Common problems are a bridge that is too high (too thick or poor curvature) which makes the strings hard to press down. Other common setup problems include cheap strings with poor sound, badly fitted fingerboard and a poorly fitted sound post which makes the violin weak. Even an inexpensive violin can be improved significantly with professional help and a modest investment.
- An inexpensive instrument will still sound like an inexpensive instrument. If you want your child to practice, let them try out a professional sounding violin and see how much more they enjoy practicing.
- When your child competes for a chair in the orchestra, it is usually via a blind playing trial. It is almost impossible to separate your child’s playing skill from the sound of the instrument. If two kids play equally well, the one with the better violin will automatically get the higher seating. The same is true when they play their jury – a better violin will earn a higher score.
For example, my daughter’s friend Kristen bought a very nice violin from us along with an excellent French bow. During that school year she practiced at home 180 days in a row. Prior to this, she hated to practice. During this year she moved from the last row to the front row and even played as Concert Master for the final performance at a top rated arts high school. She made it happen, but better equipment was the motivator to practice.
If you need more proof, have your child try out a better violin and bow and watch their face light up. You will be amazed at how much better they sound from the very first playing.