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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Jess A absolute beginner violin (22) RE: absolute beginner violin 04 Feb 09

Hi Maria,

welcome to the wonderful world of fiddle playing! I thoroughly endorse everythig everybody else has said on this thread, especially with regards to hiring for a little while and buying a second hand instrument not new (fiddles tend to sound better as they age, and new 'budget' violins tend to be factory made and set up badly...)

Given that you're in the UK, once you have a little bit of an idea what you're looking for, check out Glen Titmus Violins Glen is a lovely guy and I've bought instruments and accessories off him before. I'm sure if you mailed him he'd have lots of useful advice.

Also worth a look once you have your hands on a fiddle is Tri-Folk which is a cd & booklet package aimed at learning folk tunes with or without the ability to read dots. I've not tried it myself but I've chatted to the guy who developed it and it seemed like a great idea.

Other thoughts....

You asked about size & weight. Fiddles tend to be fairly standard sizes, with some weight variation but not much. A full size violin is not a stretch for your average adult, smaller sizes tend to be aimed at children. That said I have met one or two adults who choose to play 3/4 size instruments. My advice - try a full sized one first but if it doesn't suit, there are smaller ones around. Probably less choice as far as age & quality of 3/4 sized instruments though.

Shoulder rests. Some people love them, some hate them. I get a stiff neck & shoulder if I don't use one, but then I have a very long neck. There are lots of different styles around, some more adjustable than others. Your average second hand fiddle probably won't come with one. I suggest experimenting with different ones (a large music shop should hopefully have more than one style in stock) til you find something you like.

I'd seriously recommend having at least a couple of lessons when you start off, particularly to help with posture & how to hold the bow & instrument. It's often tricky to interpret books & videos and to know whether you are doing it right, and if you've got some mobility issues you may need to experiment a bit to find a way that works for you. Posture and hold not only affect how easy it is to make a nice sound, but if you get into bad habits they can cause physical discomfort and problems. (Standard classical hold is usually a good place to start, but it's not the only way of doing it!)

Best bet on finding a teacher who suits you (not all teachers are good!) is to get out and about (dunno what the session scene is like in Glasgow?), find some local player(s) whose style you like, and ask them to recommend somebody.

Another suggestion - check out, a helpful and friendly place...

All the best

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