For music students, part of "practice" isn't just playing the instrument, but properly maintaining it as well.
Part of the joy of teaching violin students to play is to teach them how to properly care for their instrument, whether leased or owned. Properly caring for an instrument is as important an exercise as learning to play. In fact, each task goes hand in hand. Even student violins for sale or rent can be pricy and properly maintaining an instrument will save money and trips to the local violin shop.
Below is a summary of care and maintenance of specific parts of the violin:
The Violin Bridge
The bridge is a delicate but vital part of the violin and is, along with the sound post, the soul of the instrument and it’s sound. Because it is so delicate, it is more apt to become broken or warped in the hands of a student. Because the violin bridge is held in place by the tension of the strings, it is affected by tuning from both sides of the violin, the fine tuners and the peg tuners.
The thing to remember is that the bridge should always be straight and perpendicular to the surface of the instrument. Too much tension from the pegs and/or fine tuners will bend the bridge. When this happens, keeping the feet in place, a parent or teacher should carefully put pressure on the bridge with the fingers in order to straighten the bridge and to make it perpendicular again without moving the base of the bridge.
In the event that the bridge cannot move or breaks, it is necessary to take the violin to a violin shop where an experienced violinmaker can either fix or replace the bridge. While the bridge is small and light, the way it is set up makes all the difference in the world as far as how the violin will sound.
Violin strings should be replaced at least two times per year if your student plays even a half an hour each day. The older the strings, the more tension is required to stay in tune and the more lifeless they sound. All four strings should be replaced together, even if a single string was to break and the strings are on the older side.
Parents can learn from violin shops or violin teachers how to replace the strings on a student violin. If you can purchase strings from a violin shop, it’s a good idea to have the shop replace the strings. But if there is no shop close by, it’s perfectly fine to order violin strings from an online violin shop and replace them yourself.
Since most student violins come with fine tuners on the tailpiece, you should attach the string in to the tuner first and then thread the other end of the string into the tuning peg hole clockwise and over, make sure to only insert about ¼ inch of the string into the peg.
Anything having to do with pegs is best left to an experienced violin repair shop. The one thing that can be done, as a parent of a student player, is to make sure that you and/or your student do not push the pegs into the peg holes with excessive force otherwise the peg holes will get larger and will no longer hold the strings with the right pressure. Once this happens, an expensive repair called peg hole bushing is required.