From Marty Dalton
Posted January 23, 2013 at 06:42 AM
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
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.
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.
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.
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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.
Mr. Fellows, I know your daughters and they're all fantastic musicians. I will definately take your advice. Thanks!
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.
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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