When starting violin lessons there are many accessories that are invisible to the complete beginner. The absolutely necessary accessories like rosin are usually included but sometimes, students are presented with a violin, a case, and not much else! As an experienced teacher I always recommend certain accessories when getting started. These accessories are easy to find and it’s inevitable (and delightful!) to acquire a little collection throughout the years. Many of the accessories I recommend are from brands that are reputable in the industry so I encourage students to buy branded over unbranded items and to never rely on accessories that are included in a set. These items are incredibly customizable and should be an individual signature to the student they serve!
In this article we’ll go over the most important things you need for starting the violin and a few extra accessories that are great to have as students progress through their studies.
A music stand is an absolute must have for musicians! It holds your music and helps you maintain good posture throughout playing. If you started music lessons without one you probably quickly had to figure out a makeshift way to hold up your music pages, propping it on a dresser, bookshelf, couch, or even taping it to the wall. While these solutions work in a pinch, the functionality of a sturdy music stand can’t be beat!
A shoulder rest is an accessory that attaches to the bottom back side of the violin and helps to hold the violin up between shoulder and chin. While some violinists don’t use one, most do because they provide greater stability and comfort. Almost all teachers start students with some type of shoulder rest because at minimum it provides a barrier between your skin and the hard wood of your instrument. Without a bit of padding or a cloth many students cannot get comfortable holding their violin.
They come in a few different variations and sizes but listed are a few i recommend students try. It is normal to try a few shoulder rests to find what is most comfortable. Your teacher will be able to help with small adjustments in the feet height and angle. If you’d like to try without one, I recommend always playing with a cloth around your instrument and adjusting your thumb position to below the neck.
My favorite brands are Kun, Wolf, Everrest, and Bon Musika!
My little electronic metronome/tuner is probably my most reached for device and I recommend them CONSTANTLY. In the age of apps, you can get easy get these things on your phone but having a single use device helps you to keep focused and not get distracted! For lovers of the old- school aesthetic, you can get a mechanical metronome that sits on your shelf like a stately abacus. I have some korg chromatic tuners that are decades old, have withstood multiple 6 ft droops, and are still working perfectly! For more practical people, you can get a small wallet sized device that does both. No matter what you choose your metronome and tuner will help you play in tune and on time!
I have a good friend who alway wonders how rosin manufacturers make money when they have had the same cake of rosin for 10+ years. The answer is that I and most students will clumsily drop their rosin and shatter it into a million little powdery pieces at LEAST once a year and will have to replace it regularly. Not to mention all the times where you’ll lose it in a random pocket or leave it behind in a practice room, rehearsal, or at your lesson! So having extras is the safest way to mitigate the loss and I myself keep at least 3 extras stashed away
Spare set of strings
Also on the list of things that can and will break is strings! But changing them is no big deal if you have an extra set at the ready.
Pro Tip: keep your old strings as emergency backup! These are much better to put on your violin when you need to perform or play ASAP because they will stay in tune, whereas new strings go out of tune for 2 or 3 days.
Cloth to clean your violin
If you dont wipe off your violin regularly it will get dusty and crusty with rosin. Use a glasses cloth or anything really to wipe off your instrument and wipe the strings after you practice.
A practice mute is a little thing made of metal, wood, or most often rubber that sits on the top of your violin bridge and mutes the sound of your instrument. It is a valuable tool if you have roommates or neighbors who do not like to hear the sound of violin practice.