Finding the Right Violin For Your Beginner
Just like the rest of the world, my daughter Sara and I spent a lot of time inside the house over the last year. Before COVID-19 hit the United States, her life was filled with friend sleepovers and school projects. Cue the quarantine – where all the routines we had in place quickly collapsed around us. She turned 12 last year, three months into the quarantine, and for her birthday, we shared homemade cupcakes and watched the Billie Eilish documentary together instead of hosting a pre-teen slumber party.
Within a year of life lessons that none of us can truly fathom, I made the decision that this might be the time to introduce Sara to playing violin. I reached this conclusion the day she had a complete meltdown when the Wifi went down...for a whole... 10 ...minutes.
I spent years in violin and piano lessons, and although I was certainly never a symphony orchestra talent by any means, some of my greatest memories come from the methodical process of learning an instrument. So I know firsthand there are a ton of benefits to learning the violin. It helps reduce stress and stimulates the whole brain, it teaches perseverance and patience, and for a kid like Sara, who has been literally glued to her Nintendo Switch and iPad. It helps her learn how to focus on something that requires hard work and practice.
So what are the choices out there for a beginner’s violin? Even with my knowledge of violins, I found it difficult to shop for one. I know what I know from my childhood years, but Sara is a totally different kid than I was and the choices out there have grown exponentially. Due to quarantine, I had all of the time in the world to do extensive online research.
There are a handful of ways you can choose the right instrument for your needs, but ultimately, it all comes down to price, size, and quality.
What's your budget for a beginner violin?
If you’re already pretty familiar with violins, you know that violins can cost anywhere from $50 to $10,000. Do you need a $10,000 violin if you’re a beginner or immediate level player? Maybe if you’re a prodigy, or if you aspire to be Itzhak Perlman, perhaps. More importantly, does the price of the instrument affect the quality? Sure, you get what you pay for, but many beginner violins can be adjusted as you improve in your skills and last for years of play and practice.
Where do I find a good beginner violin?
For beginner and intermediate-level play, there are excellent affordable, well-made violins on Amazon that range from $99-$349 that will do the trick just fine. It’s Amazon, so read the reviews carefully. We also offer a range of beginner violins for every budget. You want to know that what you’re getting comes with all the bells and whistles you’ll need to get started.
Choose the right violin size
There are eight main sizes of violins, so be sure you find the size that’s right for you, or in my case, your budding young musician.
There are plenty of sizing charts online you can consult to determine what your right size is. One quick tip is to hold your arm up, just as if you’re holding a violin, and measure the length between your neck and the middle of your left-hand palm or wrist, holding your hand fully extended and raised perpendicular to your body. That way, you’ll have an idea of comfort level with the instrument.
A violin that’s too long or too heavy can be uncomfortable. Do you want solid violin technique without a lifetime of chronic back pain? If so, make sure you know what size violin to choose because if you play on the wrong size instrument, you may pay for it with injuries down the road.
When in doubt, always choose an instrument that’s smaller versus larger.
Make sure your violin kit has everything a beginner needs
So you found a violin that looks like it’s the right price and size. You’re just about to make a purchase, but wait – are you buying a kit that comes with everything you need? A quality beginner’s violin kit includes extra violin strings, a couple of violin bridges, a comfortably padded shoulder rest, a clip-on tuner and a sturdy case. Many beginner violins also include an instruction guide on basic playing techniques and lessons on reading music, so I recommend keeping an eye out for a complete set for your first-time fiddler. Getting an all-in-one violin kit will get you started on your playing journey a lot faster than ordering a la carte.
Cool, Get playing.
Things are still not totally normal around the world. We’re still figuring out what our family’s new “normal” is. But Sara? She spends a lot less time scrolling Tiktok on her iPad and playing Mario Kart on her Switch. Though we’ll be heading to GameStop later today for a new Pokemon game, we definitely carve out a little practice and learning time every day for the violin, and if you’re wondering how Sara feels about it, well, she’s a tween, but she’s loving learning something completely new. She’s even excited about meeting her virtual private teacher for weekly lessons. We’re both enjoying the one-on-time, and it’s a lifetime investment into moments and memories we can never replace.
A few final tips
- Do your homework. Price can affect quality, but unless you’re planning on joining the symphony orchestra, an affordable, quality violin will do just fine.
- Affordable and cheap violins are not the same thing. Read the reviews closely.
- Make sure you size your violin correctly. A poorly sized instrument can create a lifetime of physical ailments.
- Get a kit that has everything you need.