Tips from the Teacher
You just started lessons and you're so excited to practice your new instrument! But, do you know how to properly care for your instrument so that it stays in pristine condition? Do you know what regular maintenance it needs? If not, do not fear! I will tell you all you need to know!
Don't leave your instrument in really hot or cold places. Your instrument likes to live in room temperature areas. This is especially important if you're traveling. Don't leave it in a car that's not running (aka room temperature inside) for a long period of time. It will likely be much too hot or cold.
Do keep your instrument in a temperature-regulated space that is neither too dry nor too humid, as humidity or dryness can cause cracks in the wood. When you're traveling, bring your instrument with you when you leave the car, unless it's for a very short period of time (like 15 minutes). Make sure to keep an eye on it so that you don't leave it somewhere accidentally!
Do have a name tag with contact information on your instrument so that it may be returned to you if you somehow lose track of it. (The best plan, though, is to always know where it is!)
Don't let your instrument into the hands of people who don't know how to play it, particularly young children. This is how accidents happen.
Do keep your instrument away from pets. I have before had a student tell me that his dog damaged his violin.
Don't allow chemicals or substances to touch your instrument. This includes food, hair products, cleaners, and others. Wash your hands before you play. And, don't let little brother touch the bow with peanut butter on his hands (based on a true story...).
Do make sure that you have a case that will protect your instrument. Hard cases are great, even the hard cases with canvas-like material on the outside.
Do wipe the rosin off of the strings as you put your instrument away after each time you practice. This helps the strings last longer. You can use an old (but clean!) sock or piece of a t-shirt, microfiber cloth, or flannel cloth.
Don't use a tissue or paper towel to clean the rosin off of the strings as it may shred and fall into the instrument, which would affect the sound.
Do loosen your bow before you put it away each time. This lessons the tension of the stick, which helps your bow stay healthy.
Do change out your strings at least once a year. I advise my students to use Dominant strings or Pirastro strings.
Do get your bow re-haired about once a year, or more often if needed. The bow will gradually lose hair through use and may accumulate dust, dirt, and finger oils. Re-hairing your bow when needed helps you to always sound your best!
Don't try to fix your instrument yourself if something happens to it! String instruments are delicate and their repair requires much skill. Take it to an expert so that you don't risk permanently damaging your instrument. (Don't be the parent that super-glues the bridge to the face of the instrument if it falls off!)
Do these things and your instrument will stay in tip-top shape and you'll be able to play to your heart's content!