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violin CARE
Taking care of your violin will insure its long life and may prevent costly repairs. Though some adjustments and repairs should be left to a pro here are a few tips to help keep it in top condition!
  1. Store in it's case with the lid closed: This will insulate your violin and protect it from accidental damage. 
  2. Keep it clean: Using a soft cotton rag (such as an old T-shirt, handkerchief, or flannel cloth) wipe the rosin dust off the belly (get under the fingerboard and tailpiece), fingerboard, strings, and bow. Occasionally, polish the wood with violin polish to restore the varnish’s luster. Your violin will stay cleaner if you wash your hands before each practice and only handle the neck. 
  3. Bow: Don’t over-tighten your bow! Loosen it when you’re finished. Don’t touch the hair. Re-hair approximately 6 to 12 month, especially if many hairs are broken. Wipe the rosin off the stick with a clean cloth.
  4. Humidity and temperature: Avoid quick changes and NEVER put your violin near a heater, air conditioner, open window, in direct sunlight, or leave in a boiling hot or freezing cold car. Dehumidify in the summer and humidify in the winter. (40% - 60% range is ideal.)
  5. Strings: Replace strings at least every 6 months. Salts, acids, and dirt from your fingers and rosin from the bow collect in the winding, which will deteriorate the tone and response. Replace if the winding unwraps or becomes frayed.
  6. Bridge: The friction of the strings moving over the bridge may cause it to lean forward or backward. The back of the bridge (the side facing the tailpiece) should be positioned at a 90° angle to the belly or there is danger of it warping. Graphite (or pencil lead) applied to the notches (under the strings) with keep the strings moving smoothly.
  7. Pegs: Violin pegs slip in the winter and stick in the summer. Peg compound or “dope” will make them turn easily, while chalk makes them hold.
  8. Polish: Use polish sparingly, approximately every 6 months. Use a high-quality violin polish to keep the wood from drying out and the varnish shiny.
  9. Check-up: Have a luthier (violin repair professional) inspect the instrument for open-seams, warped bridge, sticky pegs, etc. to keep the instrument in perfect condition.
  10. Extended storage: If you go on vacation or plan to take time off from playing your violin, simply release the tension off the bridge by loosening the strings a quarter to a half-step.
all about ROSIN
Rosin causes friction between the strings and the bow. No rosin – no sound! Rosin is made from heated purified pine sap, though some manufactures add beeswax, or even precious metals in their recipes. The color and consistency of rosin are determined by the time of year in which the sap is collected. Dark rosin is softer, stickier, has a stronger grip, and a grittier sound (better for cellos with thicker strings), but produces more dust. Harder (lighter) rosins are not quite as sticky and do not grip the string as strongly, which are better for lighter gauge strings (violin and viola).

Things to consider:
  1. Dark rosin is more suitable for dry, cool climates, while light rosin is a better match for hot, humid climates.
  2. A new cake of rosin needs to be “started” before rosin can cling to the bow hair. This can be done by scoring or scratching the surface with a pocketknife, key, or sandpaper.
  3. To apply rosin, use long slow strokes along the bow's entire length, moving in both up- and down-bow strokes until the hair grips the string when used on the instrument.
  4. Avoid wearing a "channel" into the rosin. Deeply grooved rosin can damage the sides of the bow.
  5. After each practice session clean excess rosin residue off your bow, violin, and strings. Excess rosin on the string can affect the playability and response.
  6. Depending on how much you play, rosining is rarely needed more than twice a week.
  7. If you think the rosin isn’t working and the hair no longer gripping, consider re-hairing your bow.
how to choose a bow
A bow must connect the player to the violin. An unsuitable bow can hamper your ability to maximize the potential of developing a solid technique or exploiting sound production. If you want to sound your best, equipment is a big part of the picture.

Consider the following shopping advice:

  1. Prepare several musical fragments or phrases: Make it easy! Don’t blame your technical inadequacies as an violinist on the bow.

  2. Start with a legato, sustained, forte melody: Use the bow on every string, trying to feel for a weak spot. Is the bow strong at the tip?
  3. Pay attention to weight: Is the bow comfortable maneuvering through string crossings? Do you have to work too hard to play a sustained ff? Or does it seem to play by remote control?
  4. Feel for balance: If the balance point is toward the head, the bow will feel heavy; closer to the frog it will seem lighter. Weight at the tip may give you wrist problems; at the frog the bow will feel like it is coming out of the string rather than sinking into it. Look for a balance point that makes you feel in control.
  5. Test for strength and flexibility: Dig in! The bow shouldn’t bottom out or wobble. Listen for a lush tone. If the stick is too stiff it may produce a harsh tone. 
  6. Compare one bow to another: Limit your trial to 3-4 bows. Trying too many can become confusing. Play one then the next – pick the better bow. 
  7. Work through all the bow strokes: Try string crossings, chords, ricochet arpeggios, martelé and detaché. If the bow feels uncomfortable, move on to another one!
Note on composite/carbon fiber vs. wood/Pernambuco. Because manmade materials are a less complex structure than wood, many musicians find that composite or carbon fiber bows favor the upper partials of the sound spectrum and have a real “zing” to their tone. Wood tends to have a more complex tone. Pernambuco is the traditional material that has been used for over 100 years and is very precious now because of its scarcity. Carbon fiber is also great if breakage might be an issue.
buying advice for the advancing player
A great sounding new instrument can motivate and inspire a young player as well as help at competitions. Pegs that don’t work, buzzes, rattles and bad set-ups can be causes of frustration and eventually lead to defeat or failure. Playing a string instrument is a challenge enough without the headaches of bad equipment.

Choices in string instruments abound: new/old, European/American/Asian, factory/one maker. So do places to shop: violin dealers, teachers, players, auction houses, private individuals, makers, or string congresses. Look with an open mind, learn as much as possible, educate yourself as to the costs, and don’t rush into buying something.
Consider this shopping advice:
  1. Have a method for auditioning instruments: Before charging off to a shop, call ahead for an appointment so the dealer can arrange for all the instruments in your price range to be available. Take along your own bow so one variable is eliminated, though your present bow may not be the ideal partner for your future instrument. Prepare pieces or excerpts that will utilize the instrument’s full pitch range. Take along your music!
  2. Listen for balance and even tonal color between strings: Test for projection and power. Is the sound big, full, and gutsy, with more potential to give, or does it become gritty, raspy, and forced? In a legato melody, is the sound warm, creamy, and focused, or tubby, nasal and glassy. Does the violin respond quickly and cleanly in fast passages and have a large dynamic range? Compare one instrument to another by playing a passage and repeating it on the next instrument noting the strengths, weakness, and your preferences. If possible, bring someone else along to play so you can listen and vice versa. Try to adapt to each instrument and experiment with different approaches to pull the best sound out of each one. Keep an open mind when concerning sound and feel.
  3. Set out the instruments with complete anonymity: This can curtail any subconscious prejudice, at least in regards to price or country of origin; perhaps the more affordable one will be the one you like more. 
  4. If you find an instrument you love but there is something you don’t like, ask if it can be fixed: Sound posts, bridges, strings and chin rests are relatively easy to change. Wolf tones can sometimes be subdued, buzzes eradicated, and pegs lubed. Take care of any such problems before you buy.
  5. An instrument that is a serious consideration can usually be taken out on “approval” for 7 to 10 days: You will probably have to sign an agreement with the date of return for insurance purposes. This is your chance to really get acquainted. Play in familiar acoustic surroundings and in a hall if at all possible. Practice with your quartet, your pianist, in the orchestra, at your lesson.
  6. Negotiating the price is a possibility on occasion: Whether you pay by cash, check, or credit card depends on from whom you are buying. Some dealers may allow up to six months for payment of very large purchases, though most sellers are not in the lending business.
Enjoy the experience and open your ears and heart!
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