Since an instrument that is too large or too small is more difficult to play, selecting the correct size instrument is vital.
For obvious reasons, violins (as well as violas and cellos) come in varying sizes, from full sized violins for adults to much smaller student violins for children learning to play. Obtaining the right sized violin for a child is vitally important. A too-large or too-small violin can make the instrument impossible to play and can lead to a child becoming discouraged from playing an instrument that is challenging enough to play with the correct size.
It is best to seeking the professional and expert advice of a noted violin teacher or, better yet, those at a local violin shop. Violins are not measured in total length (from the endpin to the top of the scroll) but are measured from the length of the back, from the top of the neck button to the endpin.
Violins come in 7 different sizes based on those measurements:
Full sized, 4/4 violins are often thought to be appropriate for players 12 years of age to adult. Three-quarter sized violins are thought to be for children 9 to 11 years in age. A 1/2 sized violin is recommended for young players six to ten years old, while a quarter sized violin is recommended for players 4 to 7 years old. The even smaller sizes are reserved for young children aged 3 to 5.
Measuring for your violin student
To determine the correct size for your student player, you must measure the length of your child’s arm from his or her neck to the furthest part of the wrist. The student should stand straight and hold out his or her left arm with the palm facing up. Use a yardstick or tape measure to measure this distance in inches.
Based on the measurements taken, the chart below can indicate to you the correct and appropriate size of the violin:
An important thing to remember is, if your student player is between two sizes, choose the smaller size over the too-large size. A violin that is too large is much more difficult to play than one that might be a tad bit on the small size. Fight the urge to rationalize by telling yourself that the student will grow into the larger size.
Since children do outgrow the smaller violins quickly, some parents go to the local violin shop and rent the student violins to save the expense of purchasing violins and having to quickly trade them in. Once a student player is old enough to play a full sized violin, that is the best time to purchase a quality student violin from the local shop or an online violin store that is backed by a knowledgeable shop with trusted professionals who can properly set up the violin for the best tone and ease of playing.