Playing the Violin
Producing Sound With Your Violin
The violin is played by drawing the horsehair of the bow across the strings, causing the strings to vibrate. The hollow wood body of the violin amplifies the string vibrations, making the famous violin sound. The player changes notes by depressing strings with their left hand, in effect shortening the vibrating length of the string.
Violin Care and Maintenance
Before you play:
- Lift the bow out of the case by the frog. Avoid touching the hair. It will absorb oils from the skin that will keep it from playing well.
- Tighten the adjustment screw at the end of the bow until the hair is about the width of a pencil from the bow stick.
- Apply rosin to the bow hair if it needs it. The bow shouldn't need rosin every time it is used. In fact, too much rosin will leave a powdery mess on the strings, violin, and bow.
- Lay the bow across your lap or on the music stand.
- Carefully lift the violin from its case by the neck.
- Attach the shoulder rest to the end of the violin.
- Holding the violin by its neck in your left hand, raise it into playing position under your chin. With your right hand pick up the bow by its frog. You're ready to play.
- If you take a break, put your violin and bow back in the case so they won't get damaged.
After you play:
- Set the bow in its case or on the music stand temporarily.
- Use a soft cloth to wipe the rosin dust off your violin and each of its strings. Rosin will eat into the violin's finish, and excess rosin on the strings will dampen their sound.
- Remove the shoulder rest from your violin.
- Put the violin in its case. Most violin damage occurs when it's left out. If you'd like to leave it out, use a violin stand.
- Pick up the bow by the frog and loosen the adjustment screw until the hair just goes slack. Loosening the bow lets it rest and keeps it from warping.
- Use your soft cloth to wipe the rosin dust off the bow stick. Be careful not to touch the hair. Put the bow in its compartment in the case.
- Put your rosin, tuner, and any other small items in the compartments inside your case.
- Put your shoulder rest, lesson book and music in the pocket on the outside of the case or carry them separately. Putting anything extra on top of your violin inside its case could damage it.
- Fasten the case latches and/or zipper.
- Store your violin indoors where the temperature and humidity are stable. Never leave your violin in a car on a cold night or hot afternoon because temperature changes can damage your violin's finish and cause cracks in the wood.
- Clean the finish of your violin with a violin polish cloth. A violin polish cloth contains enough polish to remove fingerprints and impurities and is preferable to liquid polish which can harm the strings and bow hair.
- If you get a build-up of rosin on your violin, use liquid Fiddlebrite or a Miracle Cloth to remove it.
- Wash out your cleaning cloth or replace it with a new one.
- Bring your violin to the Amro repair shop at least once a year or whenever you feel it's not playing its best. We'll inspect and test it free of charge, usually while you wait.
- If you have Amro’s Maintenance & Replacement plan, any repair and adjustments it needs are free.
The strings of the violin are tuned to G-D-A-E, which are in intervals of perfect fifths. G is the lowest-pitched string.
The easiest way to check that a violin is in tune is with a digital tuner. Most models produce a drone pitch for tuning by ear. These tuners also have a display that indicates whether the string is sharp, flat, or in tune. If you don't have a digital tuner with you, you can use a pitch pipe, piano, or virtually any other instrument to produce the pitches you need. Some players prefer to use a tuning fork. An A-440 tuning fork produces the pitch for the A string. From that reference point, the player tunes each of the other strings by tuning the perfect fifth intervals.
Once you have the tuning device in place, the player can adjust the pitch of his or her instrument by turning the pegs the strings are wrapped around. Tightening the string raises the pitch; loosening the string lowers the pitch. Many violins also have fine tuners mounted on each string near the tailpiece. The player can use a fine tuner to adjust the string even more precisely by turning the small screw.