So, your child has decided to take violin lessons and you couldn’t be more excited- until you start thinking about the laundry list of accessories you’ll need to purchase in addition to purchasing the instrument itself. Which accessories are essential and which can they do without? Many of the accessories available on the market are there to keep your child’s violin in tip-top shape, and others are just really cool to own. From protective cases and a spare strings to shoulder rests and a metronome, here are some essential violin accessories every new violinist should have access to.
A spare set of strings is a necessity for all violin players- not just those who are barely starting out. To avoid the hassle of emergency trips to your local music store every time your child breaks a string, always make sure there’s a spare set of violin strings tucked away in their case. Inevitably, strings will break at the most inconvenient times- before a performance or in the middle of a lesson- so having a spare set of strings can also help prevent embarrassment. Similar to guitar strings, there are two types of violin strings: steel and nylon. If your child doesn’t already have a preference, speak with their music educator about which string choice is best for your child and their violin.
Besides the violin itself, the bow is one of the most important violin accessories- your child won’t be able to play the violin without one. Since the violinist strokes the bow’s hair on the strings of the violin to create sound, the only way your child will be able to make sound without a bow is by plucking the strings like a guitar. Although violin bows are manufactured from either fiberglass or wood, most student/beginner bows are fiberglass, making them less likely to warp with changes in the weather. While keeping a second bow isn’t a necessity, most violinists carry a spare with them just in case. Occasionally, the eyelet of the bow becomes worn and, if the hair won’t tighten, your child will thank you purchasing them a spare violin bow.
Shoulder & Chin Rest
Although a shoulder rest and a chin rest are two separate accessories, they’re often purchased at the same time. A shoulder rest props up the violin so that it rests at a comfortable location on the shoulder, while a chin rest is a piece of wood or plastic that attaches to the body of their violin to position the jaw or chin comfortably on the instrument. When shopping for shoulder rests, make sure it’s fully adjustable for height. While some violins may already come with a shoulder or chin rest, it never hurts to upgrade to a higher-quality model. Neither accessory is expensive, and it shouldn’t cost more than $40-$50 for both.
Regardless of what your child’s plans are for their violin, every violin needs a durable case that’ll prevent dents and damage. Whether it’s a soft case for home use or a hard case for extra protection during travel, there are a variety of violin cases available on the market. When shopping for cases, keep an eye out for one that will keep the humidity level of your child’s violin constant. If that feature isn’t built into the case itself, you can purchase standalone humidifiers for an additional fee. Some cases have extra pockets for one or two bows, while others will have space for metronomes, sheet music, and other accessories. If the case you’re interested in doesn’t have space for bows, don’t worry- there are special cases just for bows.
Before your child can play the violin, they’ll need to know whether their strings are in tune or not. Instead of tuning their violin by ear, which can be especially difficult for those who are new to the world of music, you can purchase an electric tuner for your child. Most electronic tuners have lights that turn green when each note is in tune and, likewise, will turn red when the note is out of tune. Tuners come in many shapes and sizes, and some even have a metronome built in. As far as pricing goes, the prices range from expensive to downright cheap. A quality, yet affordable, tuner will run you about $30.
Although a metronome might not be used right away, it’s important that your child gets used to playing with a metronome as soon as they can. The longer they wait, the more difficult it’ll be for them to pick up the habit later on. Metronomes are considered essential accessories by virtually every musician for one core reason: the entire point of playing an instrument is to play in tune and in time. Metronomes, like tuners and mutes, come in many different shapes and sizes. Some are smaller than a cell phone, while some are in an app on that phone. Regardless of the metronome your child chooses, make sure it’ll fit in their case so they can carry it from home to practice and back again.
Similar to the bow, your child won’t be able to produce sound without rosin. Sold as a solid cake or block of tree sap, rosin coats the hairs of the bow, allowing the bow to grip the strings and produce sound. When shopping for rosin, you’ll probably notice there are a variety of different brands, colors, and hardnesses available on the market. Although there isn’t a significant difference between light and dark rosins, lighter-colored rosins tend to be harder and less sticky. There is no “best” rosin, and it’s ultimately a choice of preference. If your child’s music instructor can’t provide a recommendation, rosin is affordable enough for you to purchase a few different kinds for them to try out.