Violin/Violin & Cello

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Question
Hi,

What size violin & cello would you recommend for beginner students ages 8, 11, and 13? I am curious about appropriate sizes of each instrument for each age.

Also, what beginning music materials, like method books, would you recommend for those students?

Any other information or resources that would be good to know about for beginners?

Thank you!

Answer
Hi Marty

Sizing a child is much more complicated than knowing the child's age. As you know, not all 11 year olds are the same size. What is important is the arm length and hand size, these are what are used to determine the correct size for the violin. The violin is put on place on the child's shoulder and the arm is extended around the scroll of the violin. If the hand wraps around the scroll comfortably to the peg box, that is the correct size. Using his method, typically the average 13 year old will play a 4/4, the 11 year old will probably be in either a 3/4 or 4/4 and the 8 year old will most likely be in a 1/4 or 1/2.

The cello is actually even harder because the child should really be seated in a chair so that their feet can set flat on the floor, then the instrument is placed at the appropriate position and the arm is extended with the bow in place. The player should be able to maintain the bow perpendicular to the strings from frog to tip and centered between the fingerboard and the bridge. Because of this, it really is necessary to have all of the cello sizes at your disposal in order to fit the child.

As far as music goes, I am not really a teacher anymore, however if the students are taking from a private teacher or school (which I strongly advise), they will be given or told which music to get. If they are taking classes at school, you want them using what others are so they will be at the same place. One of the most used books today for beginners is Essential Elements 2000 which also comes with a CD and DVD.

Typically the instrument will come with rosin. In addition to that you will want a music stand and some sort of electronic chromatic tuner to assist you in tuning the instruments.

I also have lots of additional information on my information only web site at http://violininformation.webs.com/

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David Lashof

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I can answer questions on violin, viola, cello and bass making, repair and maintenance as well as supply general violin value ranges and information on instrument makers’ assuming the instrument's as labeled. I don't give values for modern makers as many of these modern makers are yet unknown to me. I can only give you feedback based on what information you give me, and no authority on the instrument can know every maker's work that ever lived. I have access to many books on makers and auction prices on over 25,000 makers, as well as having 36 years of experience with selling and appraising violins. Without having the instrument in hand, any estimate over the internet is just a guess as the label inside an instrument is more often wrong than right, so just having that information is not very useful. Pictures can sometimes be helpful but only so much, as the "feel" of the instrument along with small clues in workmanship and varnish cannot be seen in pictures. Any pictures should be high quality close-ups of the top and back. Additional photos of the front and treble side of the neck are also useful. It is always best to have an instrument seen in person at a violin shop that does appraisals. I can also provide advice on bows, rosin, strings and other string instrument accessories. As I am now retired, I have no bias towards selling anything; I only wish to share my knowledge and experience by providing information for those that may be getting confused by misinformation, misdirection or conflicting statements. (While I have seen many thousands of instruments and have performed numerous appraisals; if I have not evaluated an instrument in person, any information I set forth in an opinion is just that, an opinion based solely on what you have provided. Thusly, no financial decision should be based on that opinion, but rather, further investigation should be performed by having the instrument examined in person.)

Experience

I am a retired violin maker and repairman with 35 years experience having worked in Chicago and Maryland at 5 different violin shops and music stores including the first violin repairman at William Harris Lee in Chicago, the head repairman at Weavers Violins in Maryland, and in my own shop of 25 years. I have made 160 instruments and have restored countless professional level and student grade instruments. I am an accomplished violinist having performed with semi-professional as well as amateur groups although I haven't played for years and mostly stay away from questions about playing. I have taught violin making and restoration to about 20 students; three of which have gone on professionally and now have their own shops. I know violins from playing, selling, repairing, making and teaching.

Organizations
Violin Society of America (VSA). American String Teachers Association (ASTA)

Education/Credentials
I graduated from the prestigious 4 year Chicago School of Violin Making in 1981 under Master Violin Maker Tschu Ho Lee. I also studied with violin maker Willis M. Gault in Washington DC from 1973-75, who was the former owner of the oldest known example of an instrument from the modern violin family, an Andreas Amati Viola.

Awards and Honors
2008 Chester Petranek Award for service to the music community. ASTA award for service. Top All Expert in Violin for 2014 and 2015.

Past/Present Clients
I have worked with many professional musicians from DC area Symphonies as well as players from all over the US. Here are just a few, Leonard Slatkin - Former conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra. Doris Gazda - Nationally renowned string specialist and composer. Bernard Greenhouse, Tanya Anisimova - Internationally renowned Solo Cellists. Jody Gatwood, Mark Pfannschmidt, Lori Barnet, Doug Dubé, Judy Silverman - National Philharmonic Orchestra. Robert Blatt, David Hardy, Glen Garlick - National Symphony Orchestra. Eddie Stubbs, Brendan Mulvahill, Nate Leath - Professional Fiddle Players. David Basche, Pat Braunlich, John Knudson, Romano Solano, Ed Ferris, Fred Lieder - freelance musicians.

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