For the beginning students it is always hard to know what is needed when first renting or purchasing their violin whether playing in a school or starting off on your own Below is a list of Accessories and playing aids to help you start and make your journey as easy and enjoyable as possible…
Starting orchestra players, will need to purchase the following…
Beginning students in middle school will need the following, for violin and viola you will need to purchase a shoulder rest according to the size of the instrument, usually Kun or Everest brand are required (depending on the school) the shoulder rest will fit multiple sizes and are adjustable via screws in the feet, usually sized as follow’s 1/10 to 1/4 size followed by 1/2 to 3/4 or 12″ and 13″ viola, then 3/4 to 4/4 or 13″ and 14″ viola followed by viola sized shoulder rest which will fit all viola’s from 15″ and up. The shoulder rest will help to give you correct posture while playing and also make it easier and more comfortable to play, it sit’s on the back on the instrument (as in the picture above) and the foam bad will rest on you shoulder and raise the violin up so you don’t have to bend your neck down or bring your shoulder up while playing, you should not clamp down with your chin while you play nor should you raise your shoulder up, doing either of these will cause problems by making you grow tired quickly, and also interfere with shifting and bravado, it will make it very hard to learn and as i said before these are required by the middle schools for all students who play violin or viola, and should be purchased for any beginning player it will be a much more pleasant experience if play with a shoulder rest then if you try and play without one.
For cello and bass students you will not need a shoulder rest, you will however need a “rock stop” or a “endpin anchor” this will sit under the instruments enpin and keep the cello or bass from sliding and will also protect your hard wood floors or tile from black scuff marks and or scratches and will also safe you carpet from developing holes from the endpin. It is a small disk some will attach to a chair or stool for a better hold but for students starting out all you will need is a simple rock stop a small metal disk with rubber on the bottom and a hollowed out space for the endpin, there are many colors to choose from red,black,silver,pink,yellow,blue,green,orange so take your time and choose your favorite or choose a color to match your school’s color’s.
For all orchestra players and students you will need a good quality rosin, student rosin will come in a wooden oblong box to make it easier for new players to rosin the bow, for advanced students or professionals rosin comes in a round “Cake” and come’s in “dark rosin” (a dark amber color or even black) preferred by cello and viola players, or “light rosin” (a light amber color) preferred by violinists and violists,the color is either dark or light depending when the sap is harvested from the tree, usually darker rosin tends to be a little stickier then the light rosin and is why cello players prefer it, rosin is made from tree sap and is very sticky so when rubbed onto the horse hair or bow hair, it will give it the friction it needs to grab the strings and make them vibrate to produce the sound, without rosin your bow will slide around and make virtually no sound or a small whistle, every bow needs rosin without it you cannot play, bass rosin is a softer and even more sticky rosin and it usually unsuitable for the other instruments, so make sure to get the right rosin for your instrument.
You will also need a beginners music book again depending on the school, most school will have different books and we do our best to keep a list of what schools ask’s for what book but we are not perfect so it is best to bring your sheet of paper the school gave you, most common books include the following…Essential elements 2000, Orchestra expressions, String explorer, New directions for strings, Suzuki and many others, so as i said it is best to bring your paper or Supply list with you from the school, but if you forget or did not receive a list from the school we can usually find out for you. You will also need a music stand to hold your book, for the school they ask you to buy a folding music stand to keep at home for practice and occasionally bring to concert’s or performances at the school when they do not have enough music stands.
It is also a good idea to purchase a tuner and a metronome, most schools will require this in the 2nd semester so best to just purchase everything at one time, look on your list some middle schools will ask for a certain brand but usually you can use any brand, you can buy tuner and metronome separate or together in a combo (metro tune) the tuner, as its name suggest’s will help you to keep the instrument in tune and is also a valuable practice tool to check your intonation. The metronome will help you to keep the right tempo while playing it is a essential tool for every player. you can also buy a “pickup” for the tuner it will plug into the tuner and clip onto your instrument so as to only “pickup” or hear your instrument, if you will be tuning in class or a room full of other people doing the same it is also a very valuable tool and in some schools a required one.
You will also need a cleaning cloth, you can purchase a special cleaning cloth or use any soft cloth such as micro fiber cloth’s or an old tee shirt or sock it is best just to buy a special cleaning cloth they are very inexpensive (Usually around 2 buck) and will fit nicely into you instrument case. These are what most every school list will require you to purchase, they are a one time purchase and these items are not for rent, with proper care they can be used for many years, the tuners and metronomes can be used will any instrument, even outside of orchestra. When the students get a little more advanced the school will ask for different books, and a Mute,(Small piece of rubber used to help you play softly or to “mute” you instrument). if you child enjoy’s playing it is best to encourage him or her by getting private lessons along with the school lessons, it will help the student to progress much more quickly and build confident as he moves up into more advanced orchestra classes.