When to Remove Finger Tapes

Violin can be a tricky instrument to learn, especially for beginners. As a result, plenty of learning devices have been developed to improve the student learning experience. Finger tapes are one such tool. They are designed to help teachers mark out note placements for their students. Finger tapes are usually colored dots or strips that can be applied to the fingerboard to indicate different notes.

Most beginning students will rely on finger tapes to learn the pitches and their corresponding positions, but there comes a time when a teacher must remove the tapes to test their students’ learning progress. The teacher must determine when to remove finger tapes to promote the best learning outcome in their student. There are a few signs that indicate the student is ready to play without finger tapes.

Every student is different

Different teachers have different philosophies about when to remove finger tapes, but the general consensus is that the tapes may come off once a student can play without looking at the fingerboard. Once a violinist can identify the notes by ear alone, they no longer need the aid of finger tapes. Some teachers also recommend removing certain tapes once the student can switch between the first and third position confidently.

While considering whether or not it’s time to remove your student’s finger tapes, consider the other ways in which beginner violinists benefit from them. These gadgets also help students by freeing up mental space, so they can focus on learning other aspects of technique such as the use of the bow or the names of notes and strings. If your student is still mastering other aspects of their violin technique, it might help their progress to leave the finger tapes in place.

How to remove finger tapes from a violin

When you are ready to take the finger tapes off, ensure you do so the right way to prevent damage to your instrument. Most people recommend using alcohol to anyone wondering how to remove finger tapes, but if you choose to do so make sure you stay away from the varnish of the violin. Alcohol and other solvents can immediately damage the finish of your instrument, so use them sparingly and only on the fingerboards themselves. Certain types of tape are easier to apply and remove; they come in strips that easily lift off the instrument.

You can browse the Johnson String Instrument website to buy fingerboard tape online for yourself or your students. Consider looking at our catalog as well to see what string instruments and accessories we have available for purchase or rental.


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Common Problems With Cheaper Violins

For beginners in particular, purchasing a new violin may seem like a big commitment. If you’ve just started taking violin lessons and have not yet determined if it’s the instrument for you, the cheaper violins may seem more cost effective. However, there are some common problems with cheaper violins to watch out for.

Price isn’t everything, of course, and just because a violin is expensive doesn’t mean it has good sound or plays well. So how can you know you are getting the best quality for your money? Well, there are a few things to keep an eye out for when you begin the violin shopping process. Here are our tips for choosing your first violin.

Look beyond the violin itself

When buying a violin, you will also need to think about violin outfits. Violin outfits are sets including the instrument itself, a violin bow, and violin case. If you’re not sure of your preferences for each individual component of the outfit, purchasing them together can save you money and be an easier way to acquire the necessary materials.

Student and beginner outfits are very common in music stores, which makes it simple for burgeoning musicians to assemble all the tools they need to start their musical career. As you progress in your musical journey, you’ll develop your own preferences for bow strength, string type, and instrument brand. Once you reach this point and are looking for better violin cases and accessories that suit your playing style, purchasing items individually, rather than in an outfit, may become the better choice for you.

Moving on up

Buying your first violin can be a bit overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re looking for, and violin outfits can ease some of that burden. However, rentals are also a good choice for beginners who want to try an instrument before they buy it.

If you’re starting to shop for violins and bows online, check out the Johnson String Instrument catalog. We offer a variety of violins and violin accessories for purchase or rental, making it a good option for people who want to simplify the violin searching process. We can guide you through the process of putting together your first violin outfit to make it as streamlined as possible. Additionally, we offer instrument rentals for every playing level: beginner, intermediate, and professional, so you can always rely on us to fulfill your instrumentation and musical needs. Buying your first violin doesn’t have to be an ordeal if you know where to look.


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The Cello Buyers Guide 

There comes a time in every musician’s life when they have to decide the type of investment they are willing and able to make in their instrument. If you are a beginner or intermediate cellist who has previously rented a cello, then it might be the right time for you to consider purchasing your next instrument.

Your first time buying a cello is a major event in your musical career, so be sure to take advantage of all the tools available to you before making your final decision. If you take private or group lessons, your teacher should be a good resource for where to find a quality cello in store. If there isn’t a professional luthier or stringed instrument specific store near you, there are plenty of excellent online resources and shops that can supply your needs.

Top tips

There are a few principal aspects to keep in mind as you look for the perfect cello for the next steps in your journey as a musician.

  1. Budget accordingly
  2. Size it up
  3. Make adjustments

Cellos can be expensive; even quality beginner cellos can cost a thousand dollars or more. This is one of the reasons that it is important for the families of burgeoning cellists to be sure that their young musician’s interest in playing doesn’t wane shortly after investing in a costly cello and all its accompanying accessories.

Also, be aware that cellos come in various sizes. Most adult professionals prefer the full size instrument known as a 4/4, but younger players can choose from one of the many other models that best suits their technique.

Finally, be willing to make adjustments as you learn more about your or your young musician’s goals and aims as a performer. Always be willing to try multiple cellos of varying brands, sizes, and prices before settling on the one you purchase. Speaking to a professional as you explore your choices can also help you make the best possible decision and make sure that all your instrumentation needs are met.

In fact, Johnson String Instrument offers a rental program, which makes it easy to find the cello that’s best for you now and upgrade as you advance. Even better is that the longer you rent your instrument the more store credit you accrue, which can be used in the future if you find a cello you want to purchase. And their team hand picks every instrument and professionally sets them up to ensure quality, playability, and sound.

Pick your instrument or outfit

Remember that you should choose your cello with your future goals as a musician in mind. For example, if classic, professional performance is your end goal then your instrument may differ from that of someone who is interested in a more bluegrass or jazz sound. Looking up a cello buyer’s guide with tips about instrument size and price at your local shop or online can be a great place to start.

Nearly as important as choosing your cello are the necessary accessories that go with it, such as bows, strings, instrument rests, and rosin. A dedicated cello shop like Johnson Strong Instrument can provide you all the advice and guidance necessary to choose the cello that takes your playing to the next level.


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Planning Your Career in Music After College

It’s that time of the year when college seniors are looking forward to being handed their diplomas and branching out into their chosen field. For some people, it may be easy to decide what path to follow after college. For others, however, the prospects aren’t as obvious.

If you are going to college to study music, you may find yourself wondering what to do with your music education degree once you graduate. The music industry is notoriously difficult to break into and high profile horror stories from people who managed to make a career in music are enough to scare anyone off. Entering into music education is an option, but art programs in schools can be underfunded and underserviced, so if you don’t have a passion for teaching, it might not be your best option. You could become a performance musician, but how does one find an orchestra to play with, let alone get accepted? If you are feeling nervous about your future in music, don’t be dismayed. We are going to break down some of the potential career options for young musicians. 

Picking your path

When planning a career in music, it’s important to understand your professional goals. What are you looking for in a job other than playing your instrument? Do you want to work with others or alone? What genre are you interested in playing? What audience are you trying to reach? Once you have decided what you are seeking to achieve in your career, you can narrow down your job options.

Performance careers may be one of the most popular paths among aspiring musicians, and while it can be difficult to get started, it’s an incredibly rewarding career path. No matter whether you want to play in an orchestra, a band, or perform as a soloist, having a strong network of fellow professional musicians makes all the difference. You can start building your network now by making connections with your music professors or getting involved with music groups on campus.

Interested in more of a behind the scenes career? There are plenty of jobs in the music industry that don’t involve onstage performing, such as managing, producing, or music journalism positions, to name only a few. Music education is also an excellent option if you still want to play your instrument and inspire the next generation, but don’t want to be onstage. 

Improvising as you go

Regardless of what type of professional musician you want to be, making connections in the music industry is crucial. You never know what relationship will get you into the audition room or recording studio. Even if you’re not keen on performing, personal connections can go a long way. 

Now that you have decided you are going to music college we want to say bravo! Stop by our website and check out the Johnson String catalog today, then check back frequently for our sales including this year’s upcoming 2022 graduation sale.


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Is Cello the Instrument for You?

You have decided to break into the world of stringed instruments, but you are not sure where to start. From violins and violas to guitars and a host of other instruments, it can be hard to decide which one is right for you.

Today we will look at the cello, which offers deep, warm, brilliant tones that are singularly arresting. The cello can access a range of musical emotions, allowing composers to feature it in both joyous and sorrowful pieces.

Additionally, one of the benefits of playing cello is that you can either sit or stand while playing. Therefore, cellos are excellent for people who are interested in embracing their instrument and moving with it to the music. If you are interested in playing one of the most historic and richest sounding of the stringed instruments, then the cello is the instrument for you.

It’s not just about the music

Learning to play an instrument is about more than making music. It’s about mastering discipline, rhythm and timing, physical strength, and patience. Maybe your goal is to play cello with other artists. In that case, you may be performing support parts and harmonies. This requires you to connect and sync with the ensemble or orchestra.

When choosing the cello bow be aware that, despite being made of the same materials as other stringed instrument bows, the cello’s is made to suit the unique voice this famous instrument produces. The bow should always match the size of the player and the cello. A cello tends to have more reverberation than its smaller cousins and much of that comes down to using an appropriate cello bow.

And let’s not forget the electric cello, which also produces the delicate and precise tones of its acoustic parent. Musicians that desire to play rock will most likely have an electric cello. Cellists that love classical but also love blues or jazz may have both acoustic and electric. Another positive of the electric cello is that it allows you to plug in headphones and rehearse even the most energetic passages quietly. If you are a cellist who lives in an apartment with thin walls, this means that you can avoid annoying your neighbors by preventing the resounding tones of your cello from permeating the walls.

If you’re going to play, you’re going to need a cello…

You can shop for cellos online, but it may be difficult to choose the right one without seeing it in person. Going to a music store first to get an idea of what you’re looking for can help you make an informed decision before you decide to purchase. At the Johnson String Instrument storefront and online, we have knowledgeable staff trained in customer service who are ready to help you choose an instrument that is best suited for you. If you are not quite committed yet, you can rent a cello before you take the plunge. Our rentals are hand selected and professionally set up ensuring quality, sound and playability. Your journey to learn an instrument is important to us.


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