It is certainly not uncommon for violinists to complain about their violin being uncomfortable or too big. However, we certainly would not advise allowing woodworm to eliminate this issue by devouring their way through the violin from the inside. Contrary to the name, woodworm are not actually worms but the generic name for the larvae stage of wood boring beetles. These wood boring beetles normally emerge from wood they infest between May and October so it’s essential for violinists to know to spot the signs of a woodworm at this time of the year.
Woodworm are attracted to humidity and wood. After mating, the female beetle will search for tiny cracks in wood such as a violin to lay its eggs. The eggs hatch to produce larvae and these larvae will burrow downwards into the wood and eat their way through the wood for anywhere up to five years causing significant structural damage in this time. As the larvae develop, it forms a pupal chamber where it enlarges the tunnel towards the surface of the wood and pupate into a fully grown adult beetle. The adult beetle then eat its way out of the wood and emerge through exit hole when searching for a mate and the process begins all over again.
In its larvae stage, woodworm can cause extensive damage to violins through eating their way through the wood in. Therefore, it is crucial that violinists know how to identify the signs of a woodworm infestation before the violin reaches the point of no repair.
How to identify a woodworm infestation in a violin
Dead or Alive Beetles
Finding beetles, dead or alive in close proximity to the violin is a sure sign of a woodworm infestation. If you notice beetles emerging from small burrow holes in the violin, then this all but guarantees that the violin is infested with woodworm.
The “Common Furniture Beetle” is extremely common in the U.K and as they are prone to die shortly after mating, they are often found dead near the infested wood. The “Common Furniture Beetle” is small and brown in color.
Exit Holes and Tunnels in Violin
When the beetle is ready to begin mating, it eats its way up through the wood and creates a small exit hole in the violin, similar to holes found in a dart board. If you notice burrow holes in a violin, this is a sure sign there was once a woodworm infestation but it is possible the infestation is no longer active. There may or may not be wood boring beetles still inside the wood but it is impossible for this to be determined by burrow holes alone.
If burrow holes are present in the wood, there is often raised “tunnels” within the wood too. These raised tunnels show the route taken by the woodworm in its larval as it eats its way up and down through the inside of the violin.
If there is an ongoing woodworm problem, then there should be fine powdery dust near the burrow holes. This dust is the faeces left behind by the larvae as it eats its way through the wood and is known as frass. Frass looks quite similar to moist sawdust is normally found close to the exit holes as it builds up when larvae bore through old tunnels. Frass is not generally the result of new beetles emerging so it would strongly suggest the violin has an active woodworm infestation.
The number of woodworm will multiply in time if the infestation isn’t treated. This will result in an increase in the amount of burrow holes in the violin, which will make the edge of the wood start to appear crumbly. Crumbly edges indicates the woodworm infestation has been active for a long time and should be immediately treated to prevent further damage to the violin.
What do I do if I suspect woodworm in my violin?
Any sign of woodworm in a violin should not be ignored as the damage caused will only get worse over time. The adult beetle itself cause very little damage to wood but after mating the female beetles will fly around looking for somewhere to lay their eggs which could lead to other wood in your home becoming infested. If you notice signs of woodworm in your violin then it is strongly recommended to have the infestation treated immediately and to determine if the wood boring beetles have spread to any other wood in your home.
Whoa! It’s really remarkable that you’ve finally decided to learn the violin. At this point, it is not strange that several questions are popping up in your head – it’s the normal feeling. We presume you’ve asked this question probably because of your tight schedule. However, it is hoped that you find helpful answers to your question in this article.
Unfortunately, the answer to your question is simply No! And the reasons why this is the answer is not far-fetched at all. That’s not a bother though!; because at Musical Intru, we’ve made it our paramount concern to dish out helpful guidelines intended to help you succeed in your quest to finding knowledge and attaining the mastery of your dream instrument.
You need to understand that learning to play the violin without a tutor is like ‘trying to ride on a canoe without a paddle.’ We do not deny the possibility that teaching yourself will not fructify though; we just do not see this approach as a professional to learn the instrument. The reality is, it will take a superhuman to achieve this remarkable feat. Let’s be frank with ourselves. Superhuman are kind of hard to find around nowadays.
However, before the knitty gritty of learning to play the violin is properly explained, we’d like to acquaint you with the fundamentals of learning the instrument. Sit tight!
Meet the instrument of your dream
The violin which can also be called ‘the fiddle’ is a stringed instrument and it’s mostly wooden. It is characterized with a concave wooden base and aligned with four strings tuned in the perfect fifths. At the base, the violin is played with a bow and plucked by fingers simultaneously. It is small in size but bigger than the violin. It has the highest pitch in the string family. This makes its unique tonality appealing to the ears. The violin has mostly been used in traditional classical music and orchestra. However, in recent times, it has been adapted to other genres of music such as rock and fusion.
The materials you need To Learn
Just like cultivating a land requires the use of cutlasses and hoes, some materials are quintessential for you to have a smooth jolly ride in the learning process. Some of the materials you’d need for the drill include the following;
A violin: Of course, this is a must buy as it is the instrument you are interested in learning to play. Because of the need to constantly rehearse on the instrument to attain a mastery of it, procuring the instrument is not bargainable at all. Yeah! You heard right.
Getting a violin, you need to read that post of Musical Instru. In that post they have described in detail. For durability, it is pertinent that a good brand is purchased.
Rosin: This is a must buy too because it helps to increase the friction of the violin bow and strings, hence, producing sweet tunes.
Learn how to Rosin the Violin Bow and Bow Tightening - YouTube
Technique book: As a beginner, you need something to show give you an idea of how to begin to play. This is quite handy and helpful in familiarizing yourself to the instrument.
Additional strings: This is also useful. Should you need to change a string after it gets snapped, you could easily assess them. Also, after a while, there might be a need to change the strings.
The capo: This is not required at first but also not dispensable. The capo is an auxiliary ware fastened across the strings of the violin to augment the pitch sound. It will be useful in the course of attaining the mastery of the instrument.
Violin Capo -- New Product - YouTube
The internet: Of course, the internet remains a compendium of information, helpful articles and videos online can be useful to facilitate the learning process.
Other materials required also include; the tuner, music stand, shoulder rest, and wipes to clean the violin.
Having pointed out the different materials needed for the learning process and having acquired those materials, the following are quintessential to realize your goal of becoming a Professional player in no time; you must
Get an interesting tutor: this is the point where your question is actually better addressed. The role of a trainer or a teacher cannot be overemphasized. We are not denying the possibility of learning at your own pace. This is not just advisable as you just might not be able to learn fast and accurately. Your mistakes cannot be spotted by you, so what’s the point of not getting someone to put you through. Also, there’s no denying the fact that a lot of whack guys are out there who claim they can teach the instrument. This is where the onus is on you to look for someone who’s capable, resourceful and creative in his/her approach to teaching. This will aid the learning process so much.
Learn to handle the instrument appropriately: you must learn to grip the violin and the bow in the appropriate manner. To handle the violin well, it must be placed on your shoulder rest with your chin lying on the chin rest. The instrument must be well balanced on your left shoulder. It could get uncomfortable at first owing to the force of inertia, however, with time; you’d get comfortable with it.
Practice regularly: this is the game changer actually. You must develop an appropriate practice routine because the more you rehearse, the better you’d get on the instrument. With steady and consistent rehearsals, you’d achieve your goal of becoming a pro in no time. The most important thing to note is that your practicing must be goal oriented i.e. at a certain point in time, there must be a goal in sight that you want to achieve. It could be on fingering or progressions.
Get yourself a role model: as funny as it seems, you must get someone you look up to. That is a renowned violinist who has made his mark playing the instrument. Violin legends such as Joshua Bells, Nicolai Benedetti, David Oistrakh, George Enescu to mention a few are renowned for their exploits with the violin. You could select any of them. Also, you have to be inspired by listening to various violin solo and get acquainted with several licks and fills on the violin. Some of these kind of stuff can be incorporated into your playing. It will help make it sound nicer.
Intensify effort at learning: Sincerely, it’s not going to be a bed of roses. Of course, rose is not built in a day and only persistence breaks the hardest rock. This is the psychological dimension of the learning process. You must be determined that nothing will destabilize you from learning to play your dream instrument. Once your determination and doggedness are intact, even the sky is not going to be your limit.
Track your progress: By having a recording of your playing during the practicing period, it helps you track your progress by revealing your mistakes. Subsequently, these mistakes can be corrected and gradually, you are on your way to attaining mastery on the instrument.
Congratulations on reading this article thus far! Of course, by now, you should have a firm understanding that learning to play the violin can be quite rigorous. However, by utilizing these tips, your journey to attaining mastery of the instrument would be expedited.
I haven’t been playing the violin or blogging for quite some time now. This is because I’ve been struggling with wrist tendonitis on my left hand for about 3 months now. It makes me very sad, but I’m obligated to take a break. If I don’t rest I won’t heal.
Before I got my tendonitis I was practicing a lot, especially focusing on shifting and intonation. To improve, I was repeating the same hand/wrist movements a lot and this caused a lot of tension and pain. But since I like playing the violin so much, I didn’t care and I just kept playing my violin… I didn’t feel the pain so much while I was playing but the moment I put down my instrument I used to have a burning pain in my left wrist. I kept going like that for several weeks until I finally understood it wasn’t going to get better by just playing through it. In the end I couldn’t even do simple daily activities without pain. It was just hurting all the time. I did a lot of damage to my tendons and so it’s taking a lot of time to heal.
Recovering from violin related wrist tendonitis
At first I was using a topical NSAID gel to rub on my wrist. It did help with the pain, but after about 3 weeks I started to feel very dizzy as a side-effect. So I stopped with the gel and I noticed that my wrist hadn’t improved at all. The pain was back. So it was no real solution for me. Because of feeling less pain, I kept using my wrist too much instead of giving it time to heal. So I’ve been reading a lot about other treatments. I’ve tried lots of things and here’s what I found to be most useful. I am not saying this is the best treatment, I’m just sharing what felt good for me and helped me recover. I hope some of the ideas might help other violinists who are suffering from wrist tendonitis as well.
Release tight muscles
I learned the real problem is probably not with the tendon itself but with tight muscles in the belly of the forearm. When those muscles are tight, they constantly put stress on the tendons. So by relaxing those muscles, the tendons can relax and heal too.
Gary Crowley, a chronic joint pain specialist, talks about how to do that in this video.
Wrist Tendonitis Treatment - A Quick Fix - Video 1 of 2 - YouTube
The first time I did this, it felt very weird and I didn’t know so well how to do it. But now I do this daily and it feels great. I think releasing the tension from my muscles is what helping me most to get better. More info on this method can be found on his website.
This is also something that feels very good to get rid of wrist tendonitis pain. Because of the cold, the inflammation disappears. Joshua Tucker, a tendonitis expert, explains how to do this ice dipping. Basically you need a bucket of as cold as possible water. Dip your wrist and forearm in the ice cold water for 5 to 10 seconds. After 10 to 15 minutes do this again. Repeat over and over for the duration of 2 hours. This feels amazing. It’s as if your blood starts to stream a whole lot faster. It’s a very relieving sensation!
An inflammation causes your body to use up more vitamins to heal. It’s especially useful to take a supplement of Vitamin B6. Some other recommendation are magnesium, potassium, bromelain and lots more. I don’t think it’s a good idea to start taking a whole lot of supplements, but I do understand that eating healthy is very important, so that our bodies get enough fuel to get better.
I’m applying aloe vera gel twice a day on my wrist. It helps with the pain and it also has an anti-inflammatory effect and stimulates repair. It seems to be a natural remedy with nothing but advantages. I have aloe vera in my garden so that makes it even easier. I can use fresh leaves.
At first I used a wrist brace at night and during the day, to let my wrist rest and recover. But now I only use it to sleep. If used during the day it helps to keep going longer without feeling the pain. So I would then be worsening my symptoms. But during the night it helps to wear a brace because it makes sure that I don’t sleep in a position where my wrist is under a lot of tension.
Doctor Jaspal Ricky Singh posted some great rehabiliation exercises for wrist tendonitis on his website. Compared to some other stretches and exercises I found, I like these better because he explains to do them slowly and gently. This feels healthier for me than some other exercises I did. I feel that my arm and wrist are gradually getting stronger and healthier.
Other experiences with violin tendonitis
Sadly, many violinists suffer from wrist tendonitis. Here you can read some of their stories:
I feel much better now, but I’m still going to give my body some more time to get stronger before I start playing the violin again. I’m just too afraid to start again and feel the pain get worse. So when I feel ready to start again, I will have to take it slowly and I will have to gradually increase my practice time. I’ll also have to listen more to my body. And I will experiment to find a good warming-up schedule before my violin practice. That will help prevent future injuries.
“If you want to fall in love again with the violin or any stringed instrument actually, you have to read BC Before Cremona!”
The book is written by John Huber and describes the history of stringed instruments before the 16th century. Most violin histories start with the violins that were made by the Amati family in Cremona. But the author of BC Before Cremona chose to investigate the history before that period. John Huber says he wants to fascinate and surprise us with this background information. He certainly did surprise me!
To know how the ideas and inventions concerning stringed instruments evolved, we need to know some things about history. So John Huber takes us on a walk through many countries and eras. He explains how the trade routes between different cultures and places influenced both music and instruments. For example he will tell you everything about the impact of the Silk Road in music evolvement and you get to know about many different instrument with from 1 up to 30 strings.
If you like stringed instruments and history you are certainly going to like this book. The author did a great job in describing the historical facts. Almost each page has extra notes with information from the sources he used, so you can dig in even more.
Some cool things I learned
Honestly I didn’t know much about the history of the violin or any stringed instruments in general so this was a real eye-opener. Let me share just some of the things I’ve learned by reading BC Before Cremona.
One of the instruments that was used in the Arab was called Omani rababa. It only contained 1 string because it was meant to help a poet recite his poetry. Not many notes were needed so an instrument with just 1 string was sufficient. I thought this is a nice example of an instrument especially made to serve a specific purpose.
At first instruments were made out of 1 solid block of wood. But then they started to create lutes from different thin strips of wood that were fit together to make an instrument that weighed less. It was a significant improvement in the way of making instruments but of course required more craftmanship.
From this book, I also learned why violins have corners and why guitars have gentle curves. Or when and why flat bridges were replaced with rounded bridges. And what the difference is between a viol and a violin.
And there is so much more, but I better not tell you here since it would take away the fun for you to read the book yourself. The book can be bought online on ppvmedien.de.
The violin is truly a fascinating instrument. Its rich history, global popularity, and the many benefits of playing, all make the violin an in-demand instrument to master. However, learning the violin isn’t for the faint of heart!
It takes much patience and practice to achieve the quality of sound that others will actually want to listen to! But if you’re a beginner to the violin, don’t be discouraged. Check out this fun infographic with interesting violin facts to keep you motivated on your learning journey.