Meet Hannah Kinneberg, September’s Popplers Music Student of the Month! Hannah is an acoustic/electric guitar student of Danny Moffitt who, as only a sixth grader, has been playing guitar for seven years! She is fortunate to come from a family of guitar players, as her mom, grandpa, and aunt Laura all play. When Hannah’s not playing guitar, she likes to play soccer, paint, and do tae kwon do. In the future, Hannah hopes to write music and perform.
Whether you are an aspiring violin, viola, cello, or bassist there are many things to consider when caring for your new string instrument. Proper attention will not only improve the look and feel of the instrument, it will also promote longevity in the strings, bow hair, and body of the instrument itself. From the moment the violin, viola, cello, or bass is taken out of the case to the moment it is returned there are important precautions and steps that should be followed.
The bow: When the bow is removed from the case the student should first tighten the hair. Take care not to tighten the bow to much, if the stick is straight or arched in the opposite direction of the hair the bow is too tight and should be loosened immediately. When a bow is tightened properly, the hair should be taught and the stick should curve gently inward toward the hair.
When the bow is tight rosin should be applied. The hair of the bow should be coated evenly however not so much that rosin dust is visibly seen billowing up from the strings when in use. Moving the rosin up and down the hair four to five times for every three to four hours of play time should suffice. Unless the bow is new, in that case you will use the rosin until the bow hair is white. If a string instrument does not make any noise when the bow is run across the strings more rosin should be applied.
Before the bow is returned to the case, the stick should be wiped clean with a soft cloth, taking care not to touch the hair. The bow should be loosened until the hair hangs against the stick, but not so much the screw at the end disengages. As your skin produces natural oil that is harmful to the hair it is recommended that you touch the hair as little as possible.
The instrument: There are only two really safe places for an instrument; in a player’s hand or in the case. Take care when leaving the instrument out on chairs and never leave it hanging from a music stand. Always keep the instrument in a case when traveling and insulated during harmful weather. Do not leave your string instrument in a car for extended periods of time. Do not panic if the bridge or tail piece comes off, these fittings are not and should not be glued on, but held on by the tension of the strings and will fall off if the strings become too lose. If this happens simply ask your teacher or a string instrument repair technician to reset them. Remember string instruments are delicate and should be handled with care, if any problems or questions arise please consult with a teacher or trained string instrument repair technician.
Ear training is a very important part of a beginners training, therefore the instrument should be tuned accurately before playing begins. When placing the instrument back in the case, a player should wipe the area between the fingerboard and the bridge, along with the strings, with a soft cloth to remove any rosin dust. Not only will leaving the rosin dust to accumulate effect the look of the instrument it can also damped the sound and shorten the life of the strings.
When a string instrument is cared for properly it’s life expectancy will not be measured in years, but lifetimes. A well known string instrument maker Antonio Stradivari, constructed his instruments in the sixteen and seventeen hundreds, making those instruments well over three hundred years old. Because of dedicated instrumentalists and collectors alike some of those instruments are still around and playable today. Do you think your instrument will be around in three hundred years?