Naming Your Instrument

Naming inanimate objects may seem a bit quirky or even pointless to some, but plenty of people think of it as a fun way to give a bit of personality to a prized possession. You may know someone that makes a habit of naming their cars or their plants. But have you considered people who name their instruments?

For those who have multiple instruments, giving them each names can be a lighthearted way to differentiate between your favorites. Some musicians find the practice silly, but others claim it helps them connect more with their instrument and performances. Even some famous musicians like BB King name their instruments. While there may be no objective reason to do so, there’s also no reason not to name your instrument.

Where to start?

Naming your instrument may be more difficult than you expect depending on how creative you are with nicknames. The name of your instrument can be something meant to reflect its personality or its place in your life — or you can go with something cute and/or funny. Not sure where to start? You can come up with a name that is rhyming or an alliteration with the instrument itself. Referencing the instrument’s color or shape can also lend itself well to a name for your instrument.

Looking for inspiration?

Puns are also good inspiration for instrument names. Calling your upright bass “Lance” after singer Lance Bass or naming your violin “Lynn” are ways to incorporate the instrument itself into the name. You may also choose the name of a famous composer or instrumentalist, such as Carmine Valentino Coppola. And the name “Viola” is a girl’s name of Italian and Latin origin, meaning “violet.”

Before you can think of what to name your violin, you have to know how to choose the right violin. Luckily, Johnson String Instrument can help. Not only do we offer a wide selection of stringed instruments and accessories, our site has a convenient guide for buying a new violin or renting one. Look through the Johnson String Instrument site today to pick out an instrument that will soon become part of the family.

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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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Is Viola More Difficult to Play than Violin?

Viola vs. violin is the age-old battle of the stringed instruments. While the viola sometimes is referred to as a “big violin,” there’s more to their differences than that. Along with the size of the viola, it also has a lower pitch and greater depth of sound than its more famous cousin.

Due to the violin’s popularity, it can commonly be thought that the viola isn’t as important to the orchestra or symphony as whole. In fact, the viola is sometimes mockingly called the “Cinderella” of the orchestra. However, the viola is not a fallback for failed violinists; in fact it’s an extremely important part of any string ensemble and as a solo instrument.  

Learning to play viola is…

As previously stated, there’s a rumor that the viola is for musicians who want to avoid the dedication it takes to play the violin. However, the viola is actually often more difficult to play than the violin. Some of the reasons for this are the viola’s larger size and commensurate heavier weight. Holding up the viola through a lengthy concert can be more tiring than carrying the smaller violin, and the strings on the viola are also further apart, which requires greater flexibility and dexterity than on a more petite instrument. 

Whichever instrument seems harder to play, string instrument lovers and musicians should reject the idea that it has to be viola vs. violin. Of course, there are points to be made on both sides. But in the end, they complement each other, and both are integral to the sound quality of an orchestra or symphony.

Ignore the jokes

But really, if you had to choose, viola vs. violin: which instrument wins? Reviewing the facts, the viola’s unfair reputation as a second-class instrument belies that it is more difficult to play as well as that it can be harder to learn. Not only do violists need to be able to read and play effectively in treble clef, they also have to be able to master alto clef. 

Creating the rich tones of the viola takes more effort and a stronger bow arm than creating the higher pitches of the violin. As with any instrument, dedicated practice makes perfect, so it’s time to start ignoring the jokes about violas and viola players and recognize the skill required to play this challenging and expressive stringed instrument.

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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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