Please keep in mind that a violin is a delicate musical instrument which has to be handled with care – this is especially important for young children to learn to understand. To keep your instrument in the best playing condition, please follow these simple rules:
The student learns how to care for the instrument as if he or she owns it. Caring for the instrument includes changing the bow hair and the strings on a semi-annual basis (every six months). By maintaining a rental instrument, the student cultivates the habits needed to maintain a high quality stringed instrument.
- NEVER do home repairs: one false move can destroy the value of your instrument. We strongly recommend that all repairs be done by a professional.
- Keep the instrument away from radiators. It's best to keep it in a humidified environment in the winter as dryness can cause cracks. (As an alternative to expensive electrical humidifiers, try using a "Dampit." These small accessories are extremely affordable and fit right in one's case.)
- Never leave the instrument in the trunk of your car. Summer heat can actually cause varnish to bubble or melt off. Glue also dissolves in heat, leaving one's instrument vulnerable to open seams. It goes without saying that one should never (ever!) expose an instrument to bright sun.
- Never leave the instrument in plain sight in the passenger part of your car. This can be an invitation for a thief.
- Always loosen the bow after playing.
- Use a natural fiber cloth to wipe rosin off the instrument whenever you've ceased playing for the day. Too much leftover rosin is bad for the sound, as well as the finish.
- Periodically check your bridge for straightness (or have your teacher check it). A warped bridge will eventually fall over and/or crack.
- Occasionally check any fine tuners to make sure they are not wound too tight. If they are, loosen them and retune with the pegs. It is possible for tuners to get stuck; in some cases the tension can cause a string to break.
- When you need to change an entire set of strings, do not remove all of the old ones at once. You will lose the proper placement of the bridge, and the lack of tension may cause the soundpost to fall down.
- Be careful not to tap the tip of your bow against anything solid (even gently). This very delicate part of the bow breaks easily and is very difficult to repair. If any parts of the bow should fall off (such as the ivory button or slide), hang on to them and take the bow in for immediate repair: these are very expensive to replace.
- If you use a shoulder-rest, be sure to remove it before closing the case over your instrument. Forcing a case closed could crack the top of your violin or viola.
- Always check to see that the case is fully latched and zippered before you pick it up.
- Cellos should be carried in an upright position against the body - not down like a suitcase.
- In crowd situations, put your instrument in an out-of-the-way place so that no one will sit on it, step on it, or trip over it. Cellos in soft cases are particularly vulnerable.
- Label the instrument case with your name, address and phone number, just “in case.”
As far as possible, try to avoid exposing the violin to sudden changes in temperature and humidity. Do not expose it to the sun, and don’t place it close to a radiator or vent. NEVER leave the violin in a car in extremely hot or extremely cold weather.
Rosin dust should be removed after each time you play. Use a soft cloth like a piece of flannel or a paper towel to remove the rosin from the strings and the body of the instrument. Never use alcohol, which can damage the varnish.
Always keep the instrument and bow in the case with the lid closed when you are not playing. Make sure that the hair on the bow is loosened and the shoulder rest removed. The bow should be secured in its proper position.
When you play, do not tighten the bow more than necessary (this can warp the wood). If you are unsure, ask your teacher for advice.