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Violin and Viola Accessories: The Top Five List

Berndel Rosin

Are you or your child just starting to play the violin or viola? Here are a few necessary accessories that you will need as you start out on this exciting journey.

1. Rosin
Without rosin your bow won’t work. It helps to create friction between the horsehair and the strings which, in turn, causes vibrations. There are a plethora of options to choose from, so here are a few guidelines. 

  • “Light” rosin is amber colored and preferred by most violinists. “Dark” rosin is a deep jade color and tends to be preferred by violists and cellists. Dark rosin is stickier than light rosin, so it is usually a better choice in arid environments. It is also less likely to crack in the winter.
  • The Hill (1185/1190) and Bernadel (1197) rosins tend to be popular choices for the average player.
  • Both Pirastro and Thomastik make rosins which are designed to match their brands of strings – this can be a good place to start if, for example, you know that you love your Pirazzi strings but you are having a rough time matching a rosin to them.

2. Shoulder Rest 
The majority of violinists use shoulder rests to help keep the instrument in place while they play. Which shoulder rest to use is almost entirely a matter of personal preference and a teacher’s guidance, but I can offer a few suggestions.

  • If the little beginner is using a fractional sized violin smaller than ½, the Zaret shoulder sponge (1399) will probably work well. This is simply a piece of sponge which is cut to conform to the shoulder; it attaches to the instrument with an included elastic band.
  • The Kun rest (1313) is by far the most popular shoulder rest. Of all the rests that we carry, it is the most adjustable and it tends to work well with most shoulder shapes. It also comes in a collapsible version (1313C) whose feet fold down so that it can fit into a small case compartment.
  • If the Kun rest isn’t working for you or you happen to have a particularly long neck, check out the Wolf shoulder rest. It is taller than the Kun and comes in two models; the Forte Primo (1443) works best if you’re looking for height. 

3. Mute
If you play or plan to play in orchestra, then you will need an orchestral mute. The most popular model of the orchestral mute is the Tourte mute (1305); it can stay on your instrument when you aren’t using it and can be easily utilized when called upon.

If you are trying to practice quietly then you may need a practice mute. The most effective one is the heavy metal practice mute (1167). The dampening effect that this produces is quite dramatic.

4. Music Stand
Unless you have photographic memory or you don’t mind playing while doubled over, you will probably want to invest in a music stand. You can check out my article on music stands here or read on for a few suggestions:

  • If you are going to be using the stand predominantly at home,I recommend getting a heavy, solid music stand that can support the weight of a lot of music. Good options would be the standard Manhasset stand (AC 48) or the Hamilton orchestral stand (KB990BL).
  • If you plan to use the stand on the go and you want something lightweight, go for a folding metal stand like the Gig-n-Go (PC10) or the Compact Music Stand (LS5) – these are light and they collapse in order to fit into a small carrying bag.
  • If you need something in between the two options above, try the Peak music stand (PSM20). It offers the best of both worlds since it has a full (but collapsible!) desk and is incredibly sturdy and reasonably lightweight. 

5. Metronome/Tuner
You may not need a metronome right when you are starting out but it will become absolutely imperative as you progress. There really is no surer way to make sure that you are playing at tempo! Besides, if you get a metronome with a built-in tuner then you will have a device that helps you play at tempo and in tune! We have many different metronomes and tuners, but here are some thoughts: 

  • My personal favorite metronome/tuner combination is the Korg digital
    tuner and metronome (KTM50)
    . I have owned this for about eight years, I’ve used it continually, dropped it on the ground numerous
    times, and yet it still works. It is incredibly easy to use – the metronome is on one side and the tuner on the other. This may be my all time favorite SHAR product (ranking alongside the Peak music stand).
  • If you are looking for the traditional woodblock sound with the quartz dial, try either the Seiko Quartz metronome (M380) or the SHAR Perfekt Time metronome (SM380). These are also two of our louder metronomes.

Don't Panic: We Have Last-Last-Minute Gift Ideas

Mark O'Connor An Appalachian Christmas

We try to quell your rising holiday panic by sharing a few gift ideas.

I have a confession to make: after work today, I still have three Christmas gifts to buy. Tomorrow, I'm flying home to North Carolina. Every year, I do the same thing. I start thinking about possible gifts in October and then revel in the platonic perfection of these un-purchased gifts.

It's usually not until December 20th or so that I really begin to panic and worry about actually buying these oh-so-thoughtful presents. Sometimes, I'm still scrambling on Christmas Eve for the perfect gift, clinging to the idea that I will find a snazzy iPad case or hip cardigan for the Grinch on my list. (You know this person: your friends and family members all call each other every year, saying, "Um ... what are you getting So-and-so?)

Here are a few quick ideas if you're struggling to find the perfect present for the musician on your list. If you order the item with Express Delivery by 3 p.m. today, you'll get the gift in time. If you want to think about it more, you can still order by 3 p.m. tomorrow and add 2nd Day Air. Good luck!

$25 & Under:

Mark O'Connor's
An Appalachian Christmas.This will be an immediate hit. You can ditch Pandora for a little bit and throw this album on the stereo Christmas afternoon. It's only $8.99, which is a small price to pay for a terrific album. (The Wall Street Journal thinks so too; they put it in their list of the top six Christmas albums.)

Folks can get attached to their rosin brand, but it's worth trying Liebenzeller. It's a high-quality rosin that's a tiny bit indulgent: and aren't those the perfect gifts? The gifts someone will actually use and love but might not buy for himself? It's on sale for $20.

$50 or more:

String instrument players always need strings. Do a little quick research and find out what kind of strings the person on your list uses. Pair it with something a little more indulgent like a fine chocolate. Well, that's what I would want.

$200 or more:

Maybe it's time for your player to step up to a higher quality bow. Right now, you can have three bows shipped to you with 2nd Day Air at no charge. Then you can send one, two, or all three back, free of charge too. The only catch is that the bows need a price tag of $200 or more. But this is the perfect chance to let someone try out multiple bows with minimal pressure. Check out this link for more details, but you have to call before December 21st.

Liebenzeller Rosin: Yeah, It's Legendary

Liebenzeller rosin

All bowed string musicians use rosin. But even you’re a long-time bowed string musician, you might find yourself asking: what, exactly, is rosin? And why do I really need it?

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Liebenzeller Rosin, for Violin, Viola, Cello and Bass

Liebenzeller rosin

There's been lots of buzz online about Liebenzeller rosin, and now it's finally available again in the US from SHAR!

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