Unless you already have a size-appropriate* instrument, it is best to rent a bowed instrument ( i.e.,violin, viola, cello) when students are just beginning. Here are some pointers for parents to help their child get started:
Call around or internet research local music instrument stores to check the following 5 items:
1. What sizes do they carry? (Bowed instruments can be reduced to unimaginable sizes for children smaller and younger than we usually recommend they begin.) As an example, a normal sized typical 6-year-old beginner would usually use a 1/4 size instrument or smaller.
2. Verify that the bow is made from horsehair and not synthetic fiber. Synthetic fibers (like fiberglass) take much more effort to produce a good sound, even after rosin is applied. (ROSIN: sticky stuff made from pine tree sap that needs to be purchased to apply to the bow, usually costing less than $2.00 per cube.)
3. How much is the monthly rent? (This should vary based on the value of the instrument.)
4. What is the minimum rental term?
5. Can you change sizes within the term as your child grows?
6. How much of the rent may be applied to the purchase of this or another ( perhaps better) instrument?
7. OPTIONAL: Where do they get their instruments? Some sellers make their own, some import from China or Japan. ALERT: Some of these Asian-made instrument have smaller width fingerboards, and may not work well for students who have wider hands or fingers.)
Once you have selected your source (local list below), take your student with you to be sized
*For violins: With the violin on the left shoulder against the neck, the student's left hand should easily reach the curly end of the violin (scroll) with just a slight bend at the elbow. If the arm is taut, then the violin is too big. If it bends more than slightly, then it may be too small. Your customer service salesman should be able to help you do this sizing check.
Additional Accessories Needed
Beside the books that the teacher recommends, the following accessories are usually necessary and not included with your rental:
Rosin (for the bow, see above)
Shoulder pad (violin & viola) may be purchased or a large 3 x 4 inch sponge with big rubber bands works wonderfully for beginning students.
Soft cloth or handkerchief for regular cleaning after use (Rosin expels a powder that wears down the finish of the violin and should be removed after each practice session..)
San Jose Area Bowed Instrument Vendors
Listed in order of positive experience, but all recommended:
Kamamoto String Instruments: 609 N. 4th Street San Jose 95112 (408) 298-8168
Music Village: 2971 Union Ave (@ Foxworthy), San Jose, CA 408 377-2504 http://www.musvil.com
Music Village: 5370 Snell Avenue San Jose CA 95123 (408) 629-1812 http://www.musvil.com
Scott Cao Violins: 1860 Winchester Blvd. Campbell 95008 http://www.scottcaoviolins.com/
Welcome to The Music Place family and Happy Violin learning!