A. Go to a specialist violin shop and ask them to help you with sizing before you buy.
As a general rule, if you have the violin on your shoulder you should be able to extend your arm underneath the violin and reach your hand around the scroll at the end without stretching. When playing in first position, your arm should be bent at a right angle or smaller. Smaller is always better than bigger. Do not buy a violin to grow into, as this can cause harm to the muscles and the technique. Try a rental service if you aren’t ready to commit to buying just yet.
This is a helpful video on sizing your violin:
Try these Edinburgh shops:
Tim Wright Fine Violins – Marchmont
Stringers – City Centre
Gordon Stevenson – Bruntsfield (It is worth calling ahead, as opening hours are irregular)
A. As well as the violin, bow, and case, you will need:
- A shoulder rest – I recommend Bon Musica
- Spare strings
- Music stand
- Music books – I will advise you on which ones
A. This depends on the child, both in size and motor skills. My youngest pupil started at 4 years old. There is no upper age limit for learning the violin.
A. Exams can be great motivators, but I do not push for pupils to take them regularly. I will not enter a pupil for an exam unless I feel they are ready and willing. I can teach you how to pass the exam, but you will need to work hard to achieve this. Luckily, all my pupils have done very well in their exams and work very hard in their practice to get there.
Lessons are booked at the start of each term. You can spread the cost of this with a monthly payment or you can pay up front. We both sign a contract at the start of lessons, which I can send in advance.
Download Zoom onto your computer by signing up to the FREE plan. It also works on tablets and phones, but you will not have as much control over the sound.
It is also a good idea to use headphones to avoid feedback and echo. Have your right ear covered and your left ear free to hear the violin.
Once you have installed Zoom, go to settings BEFORE joining a meeting. Choose audio and click on ‘Advanced’ in the bottom corner. Tick the box to enable ‘Original Sound’. You can find full instructions from Zoom here. This video talks you through the process, but may be a little out of date. You will also need to disable the background noise suppression.
This action then gives you an option to ‘Use Original Sound’ when you are in a meeting. This is much better for playing, as it does not cut the sustained notes. You’ll see the option in the top left of your screen during meetings.
- Be prepared. Have your music and violin ready to go before the lesson time (see advice on tuning below).
- Set up your computer/device so that the camera shows your upper body. Make sure you have enough space to play freely.
- Have a pencil and rubber to hand
- Have a metronome handy. There are lots of free apps if you don’t have one at home. I use ‘Simple Metronome’ on my phone.
- Maximise your internet connection by closing all other apps using that connection. For maximum bandwidth, you may want to use an ethernet cable to connect to your router, rather than using the wifi.
Only use the pegs if you are confident. The fine tuners (aka ‘adjusters’) near the bridge are much easier to use and are less likely to result in broken strings. Please read this article and watch the video for more guidance.
Get yourself a digital tuner. There are lots of free apps for this. Try ‘Simply Tuner’. ‘Clear Tune’ is brilliant, but isn’t free.