Rosin is made from the dried sap of pine trees. It's processed into small black or golden blocks, which is often referred to as a 'cake of rosin'. Don't try and eat it though!

Rosin works by making the bow hair rough and sticky when rubbed against it. This allows the hair to grip the string, causing it to vibrate. It's made of dried pine tree sap, which is processed into a small, black or golden 'cake'... usually round or rectangular.

Make sure the bow hairs are TIGHTENED BEFORE using the rosin, otherwise you might damage the wood of the bow.

It's generally easier if you move the hand that's holding the rosin, as well as the bow.

Here's an important tip: Put the thumb over the ferrule, overhanging the beginning of the hair. Then you won’t damage the rosin by allowing to hit the ferrule and become cracked!

We often get asked whether an electric violin is a good option for practicing quietly at home (for instance, if you have neighbours or other people in your home who you don't want to disturb!). Our answer is generally no; it's much better to invest in a practice mute (see the practice mute and mute module for more information on this!).

The feel of an electric violin is substantially different to an acoustic one, because the lack of a hollow body means that it doesn't resonate in the same way an acoustic instrument wood. This does have an impact on the 'feel' or 'playability' of the instrument, which means that if you practice only on an electric instrument, you won't have such good control of sound production and resonance when you transfer back to an acoustic instrument, because you won't be so familiar to the subtleties of bow control.

Electric violins are a great choice if you are actually thinking of playing genres and styles of music where electric violin is important, such as rock, pop, or some forms of jazz. Electric violins are great for working with non-classical ensembles and genres.

They're also useful if you need more volume than a violin is able to deliver acoustically. For example, if you're going to play in a large performance arena with a band, it can be more helpful to have an electric violin than an acoustic one, although another option is to invest in a 'pick up' which is an amplifier that which is a microphone that is designed specifically for an acoustic violin.

Audio effects are also possible with electric violins - just as they are with electric guitars - in a way which is not so easy to achieve with acoustic instruments.

A negative aspects of electric violins include the expense; many cheap electric violins are simply not very good, and to get a high quality one you usually need to spend several hundred dollars. You also need a lot of gear and to know how to work it; amps, leads and other bits and pieces are all important parts of the electric violinist's toolkit.

Pickups for acoustic violins are a good option if you prefer to stay with an acoustic instrument. and then amplify it when necessary. This can be a really good compromise and it's a lot cheaper than buying an electric instrument. It does mean it's not so useful for practising quietly at home but it will save you hundreds of dollars on an electric instrument.

Check out our partner Christianhowes.com for further guidance about electric violins, or email us at support@violinschool.com.

Music stands are really really useful if you're going to be playing from sheet music. If you're trying to play from sheet music without a music stand, you'll most likely probably damage your posture, by trying to bend over to see the sheet. So it's important to make sure that the sheet music is displayed in front of you at exactly the right angle.

So-called 'wire' music stands are the most portable and inexpensive, and therefore usually the most common types you'll find. They're used by violinists around the world. There are other types of music stand; heavier stands will generally be used in venues where they won't need to be moved too much. Portability (especially weight) should definitely be taken into account when choosing a music stand!

If you anticipate having to travel regularly with your music stand, even if that's just to your weekly orchestra rehearsal, you might want to consider a music stand that's designed for travelling. Although they are actually full size, these music stands are extremely light weight and easy to carry.

Exercise: See if you can set up a wire music stand in under 30 seconds!

If you're using a wire stand, remember the mantra 'Big Ears Up, Little Ears Down'. It's a great way of remembering which parts of the metal structure should be pulled in which direction, when unfolding the top half of the stand.

There's a large variety of violin cases available on the market but generally the more expensive the violin, the better quality protection you'll be looking for.

A beginner violin outfit will usually come with a shaped case which is will give a reasonable amount of protection to an instrument. However these cases are usually not very tough, and it's unlikely you'd want to carry a very expensive violin around in one on a regular basis.

You also have to be careful with cases that come with beginner violin outfits, as sometimes the straps on the back can be quite weak. This isn't usually an issue whilst the instruments are still new, but if any of the hooks come undone or bent out of shape, then there's a small risk the violin could fall off your back whilst you're walking around.

Rectangular cases usually offer more storage space than shaped cases. Some of them will also be heavier and it's worth making sure that you try and find out how heavy each case is before buying one, otherwise you might end up with something that really hurts your back or your shoulders.

Rectangular cases are often made with harder materials, and offer better protection to violins. So you'll generally find that people who have expensive violins will carry them in a rectangular rather than a shaped case.

Travel cases are also available, and these are very similar to normal violin cases except that they're designed specifically for travel - so sometimes they are unusual shapes, extremely light, or made of unusual material. If you take a violin in an aeroplane you can have all sorts of problems if you don't prepare correctly for the journey. A shaped case can often help you to keep within airline regulations whilst still making sure that you have adequate protection for the instrument. Although - make sure that you NEVER put a violin in an aircraft's hold!

eLearning for the Violin.

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