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When famous violinists talk about their earliest music lessons, they often remember fondly, "I started out on a box violin..."
What exactly do they mean? Many very young students begin their lessons on a "box violin" - a cardboard violin. The box violin allows teachers to show students the basics of how to hold, handle and care for a violin, before they actually start working with such a delicate instrument. You can buy a box violin, but it's much more fun for students to make their own, and it's also very easy. It also makes for a fun music-related craft project, whether you ever intend to play the violin or not! Here's how to do it, with written instructions below:
How to Make the Box Violin:
First, create the "box" part of the violin. I'd recommend having the teacher or parent prepare this in advance, depending on the student's level of patience with crafting.
Using the packing tape, tape shut the empty macaroni box (presumably it was opened to empty it out). This helps keep the structural integrity of the box, so it doesn't collapse.
Cut a piece of paper from the grocery bag or wrapping paper and wrap the macaroni box. This is optional, but it helps create the illusion that this is a violin, if you can't see the macaroni box.
Using packing tape, tape the ruler to the box, leaving seven inches of the ruler sticking out. Wrap the tape around the box and ruler several times, until it is very secure.
At this point, you can bring in your student! I recommend turning on some music and taking time to enjoy coloring the violin. Allow your student to use their creativity and color the violin however he or she wishes to do so.
You'll get a lot of variation here - some may want to color it brown and make it look as much as possible like "the real thing." Others will find the opportunity to have a purple violin, or a violin decorated with rainbows, flowers and unicorns. Or, they might decorate it with swords, dragons and fire flames. This is all acceptable and part of the creative process!
Once the violin is colored, cut it out. Then apply glue (like Elmer's) to the back of the paper violin, and affix it to the box.
Now you have a box violin! Here are a number of beginner practice videos that can be done with a box violin; specifically look at the Rest Position Song, This is the Scroll and the Numbers Game.
Note: When I was teaching a beginning violin class at McKinley School in Pasadena, I went to the office supply store and printed out a big stack of the Violin Cutouts on oversized cardstock. This stash has lasted me for years.
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