How to Start Playing the Violin After a Long Hiatus

If you are like a lot of people who took music lessons as a child, you probably stopped playing when you approached adulthood. Perhaps you found other things that grabbed your interest, went off to college and were busy with classes, immersed yourself in a career, got married and had children; in other words, “life” just seemed to get in the way. 

If you have decided to return to music after years of not playing the violin, you are not alone. Many people find that, as they get older, they realize that they miss playing music and regret not keeping up with the violin. 

The good news is that relearning to play the violin is comparable to getting back on a bicycle and riding. It’ll definitely be a challenge but, just like hopping on that bike once more, the basics of playing your violin will probably come back to you quickly. Over time, if you are persistent and resolute, you may find that you can match or exceed the skill level you demonstrated in the past. Before long you’ll be playing your favorite songs again. 

The first step is to consider purchasing a new instrument. It’s probably a safe bet that your old instrument has been sitting in the attic, the basement, or in a closet, gathering dust and in need of some major repairs. Whether you decide to rent or buy a new violin, make sure it’s a quality instrument. 

Go Back to The Basics 

Start with the basics, regardless of your past experience and the level of skill you had reached before you quit playing. Patience is the order of the day when returning to the violin after a long hiatus. 

The first thing to do is to begin playing scales. Start with a simple one octave G Major scale. As you are practicing, focus on building back your muscle memory, the correct finger placement, and bowing techniques. Use whole bow strokes for each note that you play. Go from tip to frog while keeping your bow centered between the bridge and fingerboard. Focus on correctly placing the fingers of your left hand and resist the urge to pick up those fingers after you have used them. This will help retrain your fingers to consistently have the correct placement. 

You should set aside at least 30 minutes each day for practicing the violin to ensure that your muscles and joints get back their flexibility. 

Warming Back Up 

Work on harder scales with more flats and sharps after you have sufficiently warmed up with the easy scales using a metronome. Once you have mastered the G Major scale, try your hand at playing a piece of music in G Major. 

With time and patience, you’ll be surprised at what you can play within a few weeks or so and find that you enjoy playing the violin even more as an adult. 

If you are looking for a new violin, bow or other accessories, visit our violin shop online.

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Remembering Roger Johnson

Roger Johnson

Roger Johnson, co­-founder of Johnson String Instrument, died on Wednesday, November 10, 2021. He was 84 years old.

Born in 1937 in rural Hillsboro, Ohio, Roger Johnson was the youngest of ten children in a farming family. Roger’s passion for music and the building of stringed instruments began at the age of 11, when he built a guitar that won first prize at the Ohio State Fair.

After completing his bachelor’s degree at Ohio State University, Roger opened the Columbus Folk Music Center, where he continued building and restoring stringed instruments. He was particularly fond of crafting dulcimers and banjos, teaching himself to carve delicate inlays for these instruments. He became widely known as a musician, singer, and instrument maker.


Shortly after moving to the Boston area, Roger, in partnership with his wife Carol, opened Johnson String Instrument (JSI) in 1976, in Newton, Massachusetts. JSI was the first violin shop to use the same quality and care for their rental instruments as instruments for sale. Roger’s vision of providing personalized service and expertly set-up rental instruments to students guides the family business to this day.

Roger always had an eye for quality and was a pioneer in bringing talented European makers to the American market. Roger spent many years traveling to Europe to find exceptional instruments and bows to develop the Karl Mueller line of student instruments. JSI grew rapidly, from a small storefront to its current picturesque location in a historic mill building overlooking the Charles River in Newton Upper Falls. Roger’s son, Adam, is now JSI’s owner.

Roger at his bench

In his later years, Roger pursued a myriad of projects that reflected his boundless creativity and entrepreneurship. He spent his time appraising violins, perfecting his skills as a painter, and exploring other artistic mediums. He also developed simple practice violins for music programs in Haiti, which he was honored to hand deliver in 2018.

Roger lived by principles of kindness, authenticity, trustworthiness, and the pursuit of excellence in all he did. His greatest passions were business, art, music, and most importantly, his family. He is survived by his loving wife, Carol, sons Danny, Adam, and Matt, and six grandchildren. He will be greatly missed.

A memorial service will be held in the spring. Donations may be made in Roger’s memory to No Kid Hungry.

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Everything You Need to Start Playing the Violin Today

Have you recently decided to enroll in violin lessons? If so, congratulations on your decision. Learning to play an instrument provides a unique source of joy, accomplishment and entertainment that isn’t achieved through any other pursuit. Another benefit over other pastimes like sports is that you can start learning at any age and keep it up throughout your lifetime. You are never too old or too young to get enjoyment out of playing music. 

For those who grew up in a musical household and already know how to play the piano, the learning curve is not as steep. Piano provides a good introduction to the basics, but playing a stringed instrument is a nice change because of the portability aspect. As a piano player who is new to playing violin, the ability to carry around and play your instrument anywhere is a treat. It’s important to note, however, that while being a pianist can help you learn the violin more quickly, it is certainly not a requirement. 

The Basics 

Before you get started, there are some violin accessories to have on hand to get the most out of the experience. The following is a list of the most common items. 

Violin case: To keep your violin protected, invest in a durable case that also prevents exposure to changes in temperature.

Shoulder rest: The shoulder rest keeps your violin in place while you play. Look for one that is adjustable in width and height.

Chin rest: Your violin will likely come with one, but you may want to purchase another if it’s more comfortable.

Music stand: A music stand holds sheet music at the right height, allowing you to sight-read it as you play.

Tuner: You’ll need a portable tuner to use before every practice session or class.

Sheet music: Sheet music or a book of violin compositions to have fun learning familiar pieces.

Rosin: Rosin is essential for creating friction between bow and strings.

Dampit: Dampit is a specially designed tube that you fill with water and store with your instrument to prevent problems caused by low humidity.

Strings: Always keep spare strings to replace those that wear out or break.

Peg compound: You twist the pegs to create the right string tension, but humidity can affect the ability to turn them. Applying peg compound keeps them from getting too tight or loose. 

Don’t forget the most important accessory of all — a great teacher! An experienced and qualified instructor can make a big impact on your ability to learn. 

The Extras 

Before you start playing violin, assure you have everything you need. Learning to play music is challenging and fun; being plagued by instrument issues is not. Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced player, Johnson String Instrument has you covered. We carry an expansive variety of violin accessories to fit any need. Stop in or scan your options online, and if you have a question, we have the answer!

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Upgrading From One Cello to Another

If you have been playing cello for years, it may be time to think about a new instrument. Cellos come in beginning, intermediate and advanced models, and it’s appropriate for new music students to begin with the easiest model. As you become increasingly adept, you will eventually reach a point where continuing to play the same cello will limit your progression. It’s at this point that upgrading to your next great cello with rich deep tones and amazing craftsmanship should be considered.

Buying a cello is not something you do on a whim as it is a fairly costly proposition. Whether replacing your current instrument or making the transition from renting to owning, it makes sense to put some time into finding the perfect cello for you. Don’t forget to take advantage of local experts, like your music teacher or a trained professional from your local music shop when seeking advice and recommendations on the best options.

What to Consider

Upgrading your cello is an exciting prospect, particularly when doing so is because your skill level has increased significantly. In which case, buying a more advanced instrument provides an opportunity to take your artistic pursuit to the next level. If you are feeling a bit limited and not ready to pay the price associated with a new instrument, there are other things you can do to improve.

Switching to a higher quality bow can change the tonal quality you get out of your cello and noticeably enhance the sound. Have you had your cello checked by a luthier at the music shop in your area? You’d be surprised at the difference in sound after a trained professional tunes the instrument. Small adjustments can result in big improvements to the sound quality of your cello.

Do Your Research

Whatever direction you choose to go, it pays to research all of the options available to you. New cellos are a big purchase, but are a necessary step in your progression as a cellist. To be able to look at all of the instruments on the market, you can shop for cellos online

It’s an easy way to make an apples to apples comparison between music shops, and find what you’re looking for at the best price. With the proviso that you find a good music shop with a solid reputation before doing business with them. Johnson String Instruments offers a large variety of cellos, bows, outfits and other accessories with shipping directly to your door.

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How to Buy a Cello Online

Buying a cello online greatly expands the selection from which to choose, and allows you to purchase the precise instrument you want at a competitive price. Shopping online makes it possible to search music shops all over the country, rather than being limited by your location. Before you make a purchase, however, it’s best to visit a good violin or string store, in person, and test out different cellos. Take your time investigating each option and playing the instrument to feel the responsiveness, resonance, and tone.

You may also want to ask a teacher or experienced cellist to play, while you stand across the room and listen. Hearing the instrument from a distance will give you an idea of its projection ability. The size and weight of the cello also impacts the sound – the bigger the cello, the more tone is produced. You need to be able to handle the instrument, so calculating the correct size for your body is important. 

Read the Reviews

Once you’ve done your research and narrowed down the list of cellos you’re interested in, it’s time to find a reputable music store. One of the biggest advantages of purchasing from shops that sell instruments onlineis that you can read about the experiences of previous buyers with regard to both the violins, violas, and cellos they sell, and the store itself. 

Look for online shops that carry high quality instruments and have a reputation for being responsive to their customer’s needs. Take the same approach to the cellos on your shortlist. Along with perusing the description and technical specifications of each, narrow your choices down to the instruments that consistently get great customer reviews. 

Who to Buy From

Cellos, like all string instruments, vary greatly in price. The cost is a reflection of the quality of the individual instrument. Handmade cellos are more expensive as a result of the craftsmanship, type of materials used, etc. As you advance as a player, you’ll learn that a cello that is handmade by an experienced luthier possesses a quality of sound that far exceeds that of an instrument with machine made parts. 

We recommend that you buy from an instrument shop, not Amazon, because the experts on staff will be able to clarify questions about how much a cello should cost based on these variables. Second party sites such as Amazon sell nearly every type of good on the market, but they are not specialists and don’t offer the type of helpful service that you get from an actual music store. At Johnson String Instrument, we maintain excellent relationships with all of our present and past customers, and our friendly staff are always available to answer questions.

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