This is the first blog post in our new 'Instrument Care and Maintenance Tips for Junior Players' series. This blog will provide you with some practical advice on how you can maintain your orchestral string instrument (violins, violas, cellos, double basses), or how you can help your child to do so!
Leaving your string instrument exposed to direct sunlight can be really damaging as the heat of the sun can affect the wood glue which holds your instrument together, even causing it to melt!
Sudden drastic temperature changes, i.e., cold to hot, or hot to cold, can wreak havoc with string instruments by causing the wood to contract quickly, something which can result in the wood cracking! This can be prevented by storing the instrument in a well-insulated case where the external temperature is less likely to affect it.
If you are storing your instrument in an overly dry environment, the wood can become brittle and crack. Wood needs a certain amount of air moisture in order to retain its shape. You can purchase instrument humidifiers to help with this!
On the other hand, excessive humidity can damage string instruments too, warping the wood and causing the glue to weaken, which can result in broken joints and seams.
If you ever hear a knocking or rattling sound inside your instrument, stop playing immediately! The cause is most likely a fallen sound post which needs to be reset. Contact your local retailer or repair shop to have this done.
Rosin is used on the bow to allow the friction needed in order to vibrate the string. Do not touch the bow hair with your fingers as oils from your skin can transfer onto the strings and the rosin won't be able to stick.
Cleaning your hands before and after you play will help the bow hair to last longer.
Make sure to loosen the bow hair before putting the bow away in your case
Do not store your chin rest in your instrument case unless it has a specific chin rest compartment built into it! Most cases only allow room for the instrument, the bow and a small accessory compartment for a pencil, cloth, and rosin, etc.
Adding unnecessary items to the case can cause damage to your instrument - paper or sheet music that is shoved into the case can squeeze against the instrument causing the bridge to break or the wood to crack.
Changes in humidity may cause shrinking and swelling of the instrument and may cause the chin rest to become loose. If this happens, ensure that you carefully tighten the arms of the chin res in a clockwise motion, to secure it tighter to the instrument. Don't go overboard, however, only tighten it enough to reduce movement!
1. Wash and dry your hands if they are not already clean
2. Tighten your bow
3. Rosin your bow
4. Tune your instrument if you are able to
5. Ensure that the area in which you are going to play is free of clutter
1. Open your case and ensure that there are no unnecessary items in there
2. Remove your shoulder rest (if you are playing the violin/viola)
3. Loosen your bow hair and secure it gently in the case
4. Gently wipe your instrument down with a soft cloth
5. Carefully clean the strings
6. Secure your instrument in its case
7. Ensure that your instrument case is stored in a safe, temperature-sensitive space