What size violin for a 2 year old?

January 23, 2013 at 06:42 AM · I'm starting my daughter on the violin and I have no idea what size she needs. I myself am a semi-professional violinist and teacher, but I'm not familiar with sizes under 1/2 size. My daughter is 2 years old and is 32 inches tall.

Basically I need to know if a 1/32, 1/16 or 1/8th size would be appropriate.

I would appreciate input from anyone with experience starting a young child out on the violin

Replies (13)

January 23, 2013 at 08:35 AM · You will want to take her to a reputable violin shop and have them fit a violin to her. It's always important for the instrument to be the right size but at that age it is critical for the violin to fit right.

Good luck!


January 23, 2013 at 01:45 PM · no comment.

January 23, 2013 at 02:19 PM · I'd encourage you towards musical toys. Get some little drums, bells, shakers, xylophone, zither or harp-things. Look at Shar or other big online catalogs for a "Foamalin". Have music of all kinds playing all the time. I'd Scrub the mini-violin and any sort of "lessons" till she is at least 3 1/2, if precocious and if she talks "violin". I have Suzuki training and have taught a couple almost-4's.

January 23, 2013 at 02:47 PM · Different children are ready to play at different ages, I think. My sister started violin and piano at 2, via Suzuki, and made good progress on both. But she was able to sit still, concentrate, etc. at that age.

January 23, 2013 at 02:57 PM · There is a problem with sub-scale violins because there is no standard, so different manufacturers' instruments may be different sizes even though they have the same numerically-indicated size. Also, as you can imagine, the smaller the instrument the harder it is to get a decent sound.

The principle used in "fitting" a violin is to try to match the relative size to the child such that when fully grown the proportion (particularly of the left arm) will be the same. At least that's the principle I tried to follow when I had little students. (More later.*)

The actual method used is to place the violin under the students chin (in playing position) and select the size instrument that the child can completely enclose the scroll with the left hand. As a teacher, I'm pretty sure you know this, so I apologize if I've stated the obvious.

*You can't know what size and proportions your child will be when fully grown, but I would also consider the parents' size and the gender of the child. So for a child likely to grow longer than average arm length, I would opt for a slightly smaller starting instrument than the "hand around the scroll test" would indicate.

One other thing - try to get a chinrest that fits your child comfortably.


January 23, 2013 at 06:46 PM · A 2-year-old isn't necessarily going to know enough to treat the instrument nicely, so I suggest you tread lightly there. Lots of supervision. We got one of our daughters a plastic violin with nylon strings initially when she was 2 (and observing our oldest at a Suzuki Institute)--she was NOT happy with that. A 32nd followed shortly thereafter (and it is still in great shape after 3 players!). You will know if she can handle some mini-lessons. They won't be 30 minute or highly structured, but don't be afraid to start early. I assume you are thinking about Suzuki--if you haven't already, I strongly recommend going to an institute for Book 1!

As far as sizing, Andy wrote "The actual method used is to place the violin under the students chin (in playing position) and select the size instrument that the child can completely enclose the scroll with the left hand." I don't think that is necessarily standard at all. At least one of those first 5 Suzuki teachers in the US (Marge Aber) recommended the crease on the wrist be at the end of the scroll. That is where we sized all of our kids and my wife's students. Don't recall what John Kendall, Bill Starr etc recommended.

January 24, 2013 at 09:46 AM · Here are some of my youtube video playlists for previolin students


Enjoy - there are many music activities you can do at a young age before the instrument is introduced.

When you get to the point that you want to size for a violin you will find this video helpful.

Enjoy the journey.

Heather Broadbent

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and/or to my youtube channel


January 24, 2013 at 07:25 PM · 2 1/2 seems young to be starting violin, especially since it requires more fine motor skills than say piano. My daughter started right around four and she was okay, but I don't think she could have done same at ~2.

Anyway, if your daughter is ready, as others suggested, I would say go to a music studio/store and they will find the right size for your daughter. It's hard to equate a size to age, only because children come in various sizes. A 2 year old in 90th%tile might be a size 1/8, while a child petite in 5%tile might be a 1/16.

I'm sure your daughter will enjoy playing and you'll enjoy seeing a child holding a miniature violin playing "music" on this tiny instrument.

January 24, 2013 at 10:55 PM · I don't plan on making her play 3 octave scales. I simply wanted to know how big these smaller instruments are so that I can have one that fits her so she can learn how to hold it and pluck open strings.

Mr. Fellows, I know your daughters and they're all fantastic musicians. I will definately take your advice. Thanks!

January 25, 2013 at 07:56 PM · Do not use the method of holding scroll in palm for determining the violin size for the child, you would give her oversized violin and might cause her pain and problems.

Take a yardstick, ask your child to hold the whole arm flat, angle 45 degrees to the body (as if she were holding an imaginary violin) and measure from the neck where you would put end pin to the wrist crease (where the wrist ends and hand begins). That's the length of the instrument from end pin to the end of the scroll you are looking for your child. Disregard the fractional numbers, go by the physical length of the instrument.

Small fractional sizes are not absolutely standardized but I found following measures from experience, it might depend on the manufacturer:

1/16: 36-37cm/cca 14 inch

1/10: 40.5cm/16 inch

1/8: 43-44cm/17 inch

I have no experience with 1/32 size violin.

Unless your 2 and 1/2 year old has arms of gibbon, she will probably end up with 1/32 or 1/16, my 7-year-old still plays 1/10 and we are still waiting for her arm to grow that one inch to switch to 1/8 (she is not tall).

Good brand is Yamaha V5 SC (size) and strings D'Addario Prelude, they make them 1/16 size, do not know about 1/32. They sound very decent even on a 1/16 instrument. The good setup is essential, either you have good eyes and fingers or ask a luthier, to do a setup in those minute pegboxes is very demanding.

Best if you find a Suzuki teacher around (not many other teachers are willing to take on such young kids), your kid will be probably given cardboard or foam violin for the start and be given the huge reward of real violin once she manages her posture, violin/bow hold and rhythm. The Suzuki teacher will be also your best source of information.

Good Luck.

January 26, 2013 at 04:44 PM · Incidentally, if you don't want to mess around with a ruler, Shar has a vio-meter for $20. Unlike a ruler, it has a quasi "chin rest" and a moveable scroll that adjusts and shows the appropriate size. Handy item to have around the studio or classroom for sizing.

January 27, 2013 at 05:05 PM · Hi Marty--it's Esther Fellows and I'm responding on my husband's account. We've met a few times. Don't know if you remember me or not. As far as teaching a tiny child, you won't be able to have bonafide lessons, but there are always those wonderful teachable moments when, because she loves you, she'll want to climb in your lap when you're practicing. Take the time and let her do it and put a tiny violin under her chin while you play the bow and fingers and let her hear that sound under her own ear. There's nothing like it! Then, if she's still in that teachable moment, show her how to place her hand on the bow. Put all her fingers on the bow in just the right way--she may not be able to keep it that way, but done enough times, she'll have a gorgeous bow hold at 4 years old. Don't try to do long lessons--maybe all you get is 2 or 3 minutes of teachability. But she can learn lots and what a great relationship you'll have!

January 29, 2013 at 11:41 PM · Thanks, Mrs. Fellows. The only thing I've been doing with my daughter is showing her how to hold the violin on her shoulder. And I only have her do it until she doesn't want to anymore, but she seems to really like it, so I'm hopeful. I appreciate all of your advice (and any further advice you can give me).

She uses a small, plastic violin which is a little bit too big for her, which is why I wanted to know how big the 1/32 and 1/16 sizes are, but you've answered that question.

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