Resources


Instrument purchase, rental, repair

It is important to try out an instrument before committing to it, so for rental and repair I recommend you find a shop you trust in the vicinity. If they are renting the instrument to you, they will usually resolve any problems or do maintenance for minimal to no fee, especially if you are there in person. Purchasing a handmade instrument for an advanced, serious player may require some travel. But for the typical beginner-intermediate level player needing a factory instrument, you should be able to get what you need locally. In the Salt Lake area, check with these well known vendors.

Moroz Violins; John is my go-to for maintenance/repair.
Prier Violins
Charles Liu
Summerhays
Riverton Music


Accessories every case should have

Rosin. At a glance it seems like there is a lot to choose from, but the reality is that there are really only two considerations; light or dark. In theory dark is better for dry climates, light for humid areas. I suggest dark because we live in a dry climate, and it tends to not leave as much dust behind. Otherwise there is not a real noticeable difference between the two. With proper handling, a cake of rosin will last several years, even for the aggressive player. Hill and Pirastro are both reliable, quality brands.

Shoulder rest or pad. Kun is a popular shoulder rest brand, but they are constantly falling off. I recommend avoiding them. Most other brands are fine. The key is to find one that is comfortable for the player, so shop around.

Pencil/eraser. You cannot have too many! Have them in your case, on your music stand at home, in your ensemble folder. “The worst pencil is better than the best memory,” as one of my orchestra directors used to say. Often we make changes, especially in orchestra music, and a good eraser is indispensable.

Soft cloth. Wipe off rosin dust from instrument, strings and bow, as well as use it to clean and polish.

Metronome. Basic ones are adequate and inexpensive. An actual metronome is preferred to an app. BodyBeat makes a really effective one that transfers the pulse to a vibrating auxiliary which is held or clipped on the body. This tactile input creates a remarkable interactive experience with the pulse. Previously they have been impractically expensive, but recently they have come out with the BodyBeat Pulse Solo, which plugs into any headphone size auxiliary jack. So it can be used with the average metronome or an app, for $30...SCORE!

Mute. Essential for the ensemble player. There several common styles. Make sure you get one that holds in place either between the strings, or by a magnet, when not in use. Otherwise they buzz and rattle. I like the spector model, which now is also available in black. Practice mutes are not needed for most players until they head off to college.

Accessories at home

Stand: At home you must have a quality music stand. It should have a sturdy base, large platform lip, and wide enough to hold a three-page spread of music. It should also adjust in hight and tilt with ease, and then hold the positions. For all these factors, a classic Manhasset style is hard to beat. (When a portable stand is needed for on-site venues, I suggest you acquire a 2nd one for this purpose. The best combination of compact/portability and sturdiness I have found is the K&M Heavy Duty model).

Listening equipment. Mostly this refers to speakers or headphones. You do not need to break the bank, but do not settle. Now days loading music onto a mp3 device is convenient and acceptable. But the speakers on those devices are generally inadequate, as are the headphones they come with. Invest in something that produces clean, clear, high quality sound (and does not distort it, e.g. enhanced base).

Cleaner/polish. If used regularly, polish is typically enough to clean and shine by itself. But occasionally a deep clean may be necessary. Shar has excellent products for both.

Music encyclopedia/dictionary. A performer is responsible for everything on the page, music and words alike. Descriptive words and phrases are often written in foreign languages, a good dictionary, encyclopedia, or combination, is a must for the serious student.


Strings:

For an instrument smaller than full size, Thomastick Dominant is the way to go. They are middle ground on price, very durable, and produce a good tone, even on factory instruments.

For a quality, full size that you have purchased, it is impossible to name one or two that will work. There are just too many parameters. Handmade instruments, like their players, have their own unique personality, causing an individual reaction with each string brand. The characteristics of the instrument and the player are the main determining factors in making a choice. Some online stores have diagrams that show string characteristics, which may be helpful at least narrowing down the field to a manageable size. But the process will likely still take some trial and error to find the right match. Understandably you cannot test strings before you buy them, unfortunately. And, be aware that if you get new parts like a bridge or sound-post, that may change the instrument’s character, requiring a new string brand search.


Web-sites: 

Here are some suggestions for online places to shop for music, strings, accessories, etc. Of course, amazon has a lot of it too.

www.sharmusic.com
www.johnsonstring.com
www.swstrings.com

Music specific, especially harder to find supplemental pieces;
www.sheetmusicplus.com
www.imslp.org (public domain site)


Reading material:

Teaching from the Balance Point - Ed Kreitman
Expanding Horizons - Mark Bjork
From Suzuki to Mozart - Hadley Johnson
The Suzuki Violinist - William Star
Every Child Can - Shinichi Suzuki