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Answers to Frequent Violin Questions

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The following are answers to frequent questions that are sent to TheViolinSite...

What fingerings should I use for scales?
Recommended scale fingerings can be found on our Violin Fingering Charts page.

What type of shoulder rest should I use?
If a shoulder rest is needed, the Comford Shoulder Rest works well and also increases the sound of the violin.  The Gold model is the best, and costs about $60.  Another option, used by many violinists (including Itzhak Pearlman and Elman Oliveira), is to take a small facial sponge that has been treated with rubber cement and stick it right to the violin. Also, check out our shoulder rest page.

What is the best type of metronome to get?
Seiko Digital Quartz metronomes are the best.  The Seiko 100-88 can be purchased for about $100.  If you are looking for a cheaper metronome, the Qwik Time Quartz metronome works well and can be purchased for about $15. Also, check out our free online metronome.

What type of rosin should be used?
Bernadel violin rosin is recommended for violinists.  Bernadel can be purchased for about $5.

What type of strings should be on my violin?
The type of strings vary depending on the type of sound you are trying to achieve. However, generally speaking Eva Pirazzi or Vision strings are recommended. For more information, see our violin strings page.

What is the best chin rest?
The Ohrenform chin rest is a great chin rest that goes over the tailpiece.  Many violinists also use the Guarneri chin rest.

What edition of music should I use?
If at all possible, order Galamian edited music, usually in the international edition.

How do I know how much my violin is worth?
That is a great question. Most of the time the prices are determined by dealers and appraisers based on what similar instruments are selling for. Most violin makers are also dealers. If you have a violin that you are not sure about, you should take it to several dealers as they will probably tell you different things. I have seen dealers say an instrument is worth very little and then offer to buy it and others say it is worth a lot and offer to sell it for me. Like any dealers I have had great experiences with some and not-so-great experiences with others. Remember, they are usually in the business to make money (like any other salesmen). I hope this helps answer your question.
- Professor Belknap

What recordings are good to listen to?
It is a good idea to listen to and study violin recordings by the older concert artists, such as Jascha Heifetz, Fritz Kreisler, Michael Rabin, and Arthur Grumiaux.  It is also good to keep up on modern recordings of Delay violin students, such as Itzhak Perlman, Gil Shaham, Sarah Chang and Pinchas Zuckerman.

I want to learn how to play violin, but I am left handed. Do you have to be right handed to play violin?
Nope, violinists all play with the violin in the left hand and the bow in the right. There are many left handed violinists. They usually start out faster than right handers because they are more coordinated with their left hands.

How important is it that a student use a shoulder rest?
I believe the disadvantages of using a shoulder rest out-weigh the advantages. The purpose of a shoulder rest is to aid one in holding up the violin. The problem is that we shouldn't be holding the violin up with the shoulder at all. We should hold up the violin by pushing the violin down with our chin, always keeping our back bone straight and then holding up the end of the violin with the left hand. This is the way the violin was held for centuries before the invention of the shoulder rest (in the 1920's-30's I believe). If you took a poll of all of the greatest
violinists of all time you would only find a hand full of them that ever used a shoulder rest, even today. The secret is not raising the shoulder. Don't even touch the violin with the shoulder and see how much more easier
it becomes to shift and how much faster the fingers can move. It is not easy to learn how to do this. It took me years to learn...I'm still learning! -Prof. Belknap

How often should violin strings be changed?
You may get different opinions on this, but I think changing your violin strings depends on how much you use them and wear them out. So if you  practice for about 3-4 hours a day, you should probably change them every 6-12 months. If you practice less than an hour or so per day, you could  change them every 12-24 months. Hope this helps! - Shaundra

My violin keeps going out of tune because the pegs keep slipping, what can I do?
This is a very common problem, especially on new instruments. Fortunately, it is very easy to fix by using a little bit of peg dope.

What is the best way to hold my violin?
One of the best ways to hold a violin is to not use a shoulder rest. For more information, check out our page on holding the violin.

When I play softly on the G-string the only sound I receive is a slight rasping. How can I fix that?
If you are getting a "raspy" sound on the G string when you play softly, you probably either need to move the bow faster, move the bow closer to the fingerboard, or put a little more rosin on your bow. A combination of all of these things should help clean up the sound quite a bit. You also shouldn't need to tighten or loosen the strings, and they should last you for at least a year (unless you are playing on them for more than about three hours a day).


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