What does a Violinist need?

October 9, 2008 at 06:15 PM · Hi - I hope someone can assist me! I am currently studying interior design and need to design a room for a violinist. Specific needs are to make it an inspiring place to practise, rehearse with a string quartet and also to provide private lessons.

I wondered if any violinsts out there would be able to provide me with some insight as to what 'you' might want & need for a room of this type?

Any info you could provide would really help me with my research.


Replies (38)

October 9, 2008 at 06:16 PM · This is my fondest fantasy -- a studio, designed by a pro....

storage for sheet music


recording equipment

a large mirror

acoustical optimization

music stand(s) (maybe one of these?)

a chest or bench to put the violin on (maybe more than one, if the violinist teaches or plans to hold chamber music rehearsals in said room)

good light

beautiful expensive Persian rug

bay windows with glorious view

a soft and friendly cat who loves music and will curl up in corner

comfy couch where listener/parent of student can sit

teacher chair

chairs (stacking?) for rehearsals

Did I miss anything? ;)

Will you show us what you come up with, when you complete the project?

October 9, 2008 at 06:30 PM · A practice room with everything Laurie listed is definitely a dream room!!!

I would like to add a climate control system, such as AC, humidifier, dehumidifier, thermo/hygrometer, etc., for regulating the room in a comfortable temperature and humidity (~50%).

[BTW, I saw Heifetz in her dream practice room, especially the bay window with glorious view....]

October 9, 2008 at 06:42 PM · Everything Laurie said, and climate control like Wally said...

Maybe another nice feature would be a baby grand piano in the corner with a violin in a cradle on top, bow racks, Sheet music storage cabinets, music stands, good lighting, maybe a painting or two, a good stereo system, and a nice couch for the parent to sit on.

Link for violin cradles: http://www.johnsonstring.com/cgi-bin/accessorysearch/accessorysearch.cgi?select1=IS&instrument=VN

October 9, 2008 at 06:45 PM · I like your list Laurie, but beautiful expensive Persian rug + cat = hair ball stains. Bleh. Better to use a less expensive rug that withstands some necessary cleaning. Also, if you have a bay window, there is no way any self-respecting cat is going to sleep curled up in the corner...they are going to be sprawled out on the windowsill!

Other than that, I think quality flooring is important. No one wants to stand on concrete for nine hours a day! I prefer carpet with thick padding, as that is less risky for young students that drop a fiddle or bow every now and then.

Also, soundproofing. The most beautifully designed studio in the world is totally useless if there is some sort of *loud* neighbor next door (soprano, trumpeter, etc).

October 9, 2008 at 06:40 PM · I agree that Laurie has describe the best practice room ever, I would only add, put a lot of wood. That is a trick that they do in concerts room because it makes the resonating of the instruments much better. Putting to much big sofas or material that "muff" the sound isn't a good idea. A persian rug should be ok if it is the only thing! Also if this violinist has a family, think about sound proof the walls. Playing violin is a joy but for the rest of the family... Sometimes, you just want to do ugly scales or experiment things and you want to play freely without bothering the others and need intimacy! Think of the heigh of the room. in most basements, you can not play if you are standing up because you hit the celing with the bow. However, the room has to have plenty of light or the players will depress, ask the player if he want specific posters of his favorite composers, performers or cities. A nive painting of Vienna can be very nice! that is a final touch though!

good luck!


October 9, 2008 at 07:38 PM · The thing is I don't have a cat. I never have! The cat thing just came to me: a little feline friend just sounded like such a cozy thing in this sun-filled, gorgeous practice room. Hmmmm.

October 9, 2008 at 07:59 PM · I haven't seen this myself, but I've heard that the practice rooms at the Conservatoire de Montreal have movable curtains on the walls so that one can choose how "live" or "dead" they want the room to be. This would definitely be a great option to have.

October 9, 2008 at 08:12 PM · I'm changing a window out for french doors in my practice room. The contractor asked if I wanted 'sun glass' in the doors to cut down on the rays coming in. I said absolutely not! My little terrier seeks out those warm sun spots on the floor.

I second the need for a piano. The digitals are easy to move around plus it's an over sized and loud metronome. Difficult to misplace.

October 9, 2008 at 08:26 PM · Laurie, I'd be careful with the sheet music storage and carpet. My prof's office/studio meets most of your requirements...and you can't hear a damn thing in it-because it is COMPLETELY dead (even has an antique baby-grand). I've taken to having my lessons in a practice-room as I have no sense of projection or volume. All the paper, acoustic ceiling tile, and thin carpet soak up all sound.

BTW-High ceilings are also good, methinks. Also NO head-ache lighting.

Kudos to the OP-what ticks me off more than ANYTHING about music schools in the US-is that they are not designed with much of any consideration for good acoustic properties (apart from concert spaces.).....most office/studios are as dead as possible, and (non-grand) practice rooms are only large enough for an upright piano, more often than not.

October 9, 2008 at 08:45 PM · I'll tell you what I DON"T need:

1. blood and mucus smeared on the walls

2. vagrants who lock themselves in the room and/or shoot musicians in the stomach.

Of course, now that I'm out of grad school, I guess these are no longer issues.

October 9, 2008 at 08:53 PM · I like the idea of a soft friendly cat. Ms.Thomas had two huge dogs named Tzigane and Paganini whom she said would bite me if I played out of tune. I believed it, and that's how I learned to play in tune.

October 10, 2008 at 02:38 AM · -cd player

-hardwood floors,oriental rugs

-couch [leather]

-lazy boy rocker

-wine rack-built into stone

-books [built in bookcase]

-soundproofed room

-original paintings [from folk that live less than 5km away]

-light colours

-beautiful view from windows-crashing ocean waves

-baby grand piano

-2 cushioned oak chairs w/out armrests

-no cats,perhaps a chocolate labrador

October 9, 2008 at 09:16 PM · I have a soft friendly cat that likes to curl up in the same room. He looks at me once in a while and yawns.

October 9, 2008 at 09:18 PM · Laurie, here is a quick Cat Primer:

1) They ZZZ in windowsills.

2) They ZZZ in violin cases.

3) They ZZZ in the sun.

4) They ZZZ all the time! (At least mine do, the lazy slackers).

Cats are always a nice addition to a music room, as long as allergies or fear are not issues.

Also, one of my teachers had a coffee maker fired up in his studio.

October 9, 2008 at 10:36 PM · Greetings,

Scott, clealry you have never visited the practice facilities of the top British profesisonal orchestras.

Noone ha s mentioend a small fridge stocked with prunes.



October 9, 2008 at 10:34 PM · Did anyone mention a metronome? One that is out of its box!

A mechanical pencil sharpner (with a good supply of 2B pencils).

Some pictures of violins on the walls. Strad magazine does some nice posters through their company.

October 9, 2008 at 11:09 PM · Greetings,

posters is a good point.

I think it is a good idea to have ones that attract children`s attention and feature example sof rythm and stuff like that. Its amazing how much kids can absorb somewhat indirectly.

For me I also want decent poster sof the great violnists. They never fail to inspire me.



October 9, 2008 at 11:27 PM · All good ideas so far, but make sure any feline addition isn't a Savannah. When I practice, mine bites my kneecaps to force me to play with him instead of my violin. Wooden floors are a must. No sound deadening bookshelves. Leather furniture. Keep it sparse.

October 10, 2008 at 12:42 AM · Laurie's room sounds great! I'd personally take just about anything with a door that I could close and without a computer.

An aside - if you sound good in a bone dry room, you'll sound good in a nice room, so I'd pick the dead room. String quartet rehearsals in a dead room are particularly good - you can hear a level of detail that gets lost in a live space.

I'd love a sink for washing hands and getting a drink of water.


PS - I have a friend who bought a Wenger practice module for his garage so he could practice without disturbing his family! I'm even envious of that...

October 10, 2008 at 03:05 AM · They have a Wenger Virtual room at my school! Does anyone know how much these cost??

October 10, 2008 at 03:16 AM · Laurie, I love your ideas.

Care to design me an instrument making studio?

Only thing is, as much as I love my cats, they're not compatible with precariously perched instrument parts and wet varnish. I've tried to convince them that there is a cat-eating monster in the shop.

Despite my deception, do I still have a shot at getting into heaven? :-)

October 10, 2008 at 03:18 AM · I can tell you about mine:

- high cielings with odd angles (good for acoustics)

- good lighting (also with some "mood" lighting)

- baby grand piano (with lamp and wooden metronome placed on the sides)

- secretary's desk (serves as place to put instrument and drawers for various music sundries)

- cello stand (so visiting cellists have place to put it on our breaks)

- small bookcase (for storing music, place lamps, small amount of decor)

- enough chairs for a piano quintet

- enough stands with stand lights for all players

- bamboo wood floors (also good for acoustics)

- decorative rattan mat on the floor (vs. a rug) this also helps with preventing damage on the wood floors - esp. the cellist's gouge :)

- drapes on windows. Although windows are nice for letting in the light, bare glass is BAD for acoustics

- small CD player and speakers.

- portable recorder (MP3 recorder)

October 10, 2008 at 03:27 AM · a fully stocked bar for when i get REALLY discouraged and/or for after chamber music rehearsals....

and very good lighting so i don't need some kind of stand light or turn my stand awkwardly when having a rehearsal with a pianist or a chamber music rehearsal.

October 10, 2008 at 04:22 AM · Mendy, I want to come play chamber music with you in that room. I'll bring the cat...?:)

October 10, 2008 at 05:45 AM · Actually one of my teachers had a nearly-dead yellow dog named Barney that howled when students played.

Robert is allergic to cats so I'm really not seriously considering one.

Would a Koi pond work in a studio?

October 10, 2008 at 05:55 AM · Greetings,

as long as you don`t carp on about it.



PS And not if you keep the cat...

October 10, 2008 at 06:06 AM · Cats can be a wonderful addition especially with very young children.They are a great teaching aid for bowing.First stroke the cat,if it survives then stroke the violin with the bow.However felines tend to think they run the lesson.They like violin cases as mentioned above especially a newly arrived violin case and the plusher the interior the better.They are also partial to sleeping on top of grand pianos.Occasionly they like to take athletic leaps at the bow arm during fast detachè passages.As regards acoustics firstly it depends on the vicinity of the neighbours.It maybe advisable to insulate the room if one wants to play late into the night.For great intonation in ensemble playing the drier the acoustics the better.Only problem here is there is no self satisfaction as the resulting ensemble doesn't resonate but the results are worth it.If playing for ones pleasure and not for concert prepration go for a more resonate acoustic.

October 10, 2008 at 09:04 AM ·

October 10, 2008 at 06:23 AM · You have sopme wonderful suggestions, however there is one omission.

Use the french doors to open on to a garden area, preferably with a pergola so you protect your instrument from direct sun. Playing outside can be wonderful in the right weather; I love it. I often go to a park to play, because the sound as it carries through the trees and across a river can do interesting things.

The only other thing I can see missing is the glass of pinot sitting on the mantle of the fireplace.... did I mention fireplace yet?

October 10, 2008 at 06:39 AM · The idea of a workspace should be one of efficiency and usefulness. I would consult both a acoustics engineer and a financial advisor on the subject, as they both would seem to be experts in such matters. A studio should have the essentials concerning acoustic space, lighting and equipment, but be wary of "unnecessary" clutter (except the cat) The money you will save, that will come in handy in the future, will amaze you if you think on what I am saying.

October 10, 2008 at 11:08 AM · Hi,

dreaming is nice, isn't?

My practice room is the ultimate as far as wood use is concerned: 1st floor (above ground floor ;-) to avoid any US/EU confusion).

Bay window: yes, but beware of the sun overheating the room. The guy that built my house put two large windows in the roof of my practice room - facing the south. Good for views, BAD for temperature. Learn from the painters and have large windows facing the north. Still lots of light, still a view - but no heat problem.

Nobody mentioned a mirror - one of the best teaching aids.

Bye, Jürgen (about to go on a three week vacation with lots of time in my beautiful practice room)

October 10, 2008 at 11:51 AM · i think you need a fengshui master to orient all the stuff! :):):)

October 10, 2008 at 01:34 PM · I would need

- surround sound stereo

- a place for my classical music cd collection - - floor to ceiling bookcase

- natural light

- a grand piano

- beautiful lamps

- basic recording equipment

- comfy practice chairs

- lots of tissues so I can make students cry

October 10, 2008 at 02:10 PM · The dimensions and shape of the room are important. A square, rather than a rectangular room works best for chamber rehearsals. It would be ideal to have enough space to accommodate a little audience. Our living room gets converted to chamber rehearsal and performance space on occasion. The rectangular shape of the room is less than optimal, but the size is roughly OK.

I also agree with hardwood flooring and lots of light.

A mirror is essential so the player can examine his/her posture and arm and hand position.

I prefer violin hangers from the wall to those on the floor. This prevents accidents from tripping into the instrument. Our instruments are always out and being played, so they are only in the case when traveling somewhere.

The book case should have places for a CD collection as well as scores. Music scores are taller than most books, and mini scores are smaller, so the shelves will need to be adjustable. The "barrister" type with glass-front doors works well and is attractive.

Assuming quartet rehearsals will happen in this room you will need four straight back chairs without armrests and four stands. We have pretty wood stands for this purpose.

For teaching and coaching you will need a teacher chair and a parent chair or couch. I have seen benches outside studios used for waiting students. A table with a soft velvet pad near the teacher chair is helpful for placing the violin and bow.

Depending on the age of the students you might want to have some curiosities, puzzles etc... for the siblings who tag along to the lessons and for any waiting students. We had a Suzuki teacher once, who had a Korean chest filled with toys for special rewards. The chest required a key and several latches to open, further increasing the mystique. We also had a piano teacher who kept a well-stocked candy dish. My kids will forever associate piano with the teacher's candy.

A piano is really important, otherwise the teacher will have to go elsewhere to work with the students and their accompanists. I don't think a keyboard is sufficient since most accompanists would balk at using one and you will definitely need a real piano for any chamber works involving piano.

Drawers or storage chest for chin-rests and shoulder rests or loaner instruments in fractional sizes.

October 10, 2008 at 05:40 PM · Wow, thanks everyone - this is great and just what I needed. There's lots here to keep me going, but I may be back with more questions. I hope that once I finish my project I'll be able to send you a copy!

October 10, 2008 at 07:15 PM · Jennifer, my first piano teacher let me have a cookie at the end of every lesson, whether earned or not. Very fond memories, from the distant 70's.

I wouldn't know where to start with a candy dish in my studio. How do you satisfy the candy particulars of:

-ADD children on restricted diets.

-ADHD children on restricted diets.

-Children with tree nut allergies.

-Children with peanut allergies.

-Children with wheat allergies.

-Children on sugar-free diets.

-Children on artificial sweetener-free diets.

-Children on all-organic diets.

-Children arriving at the lesson so hopped up on sugar and corn syrup that they are three twitches away from full-blown Type 2 diabetes.

Not to mention the choking hazards...'tis the world we live in now. Nice thought though.

(Stickers work nicely).

October 10, 2008 at 07:29 PM · Vicky - if you are designing a room for a musician, then you definitely want to have plants, especially greenery - either by having access to a garden area or by having potted plants in nice ornamental pots. Personally in an ideal world, I'd love a huge ceiling high palm in the corner of the room, and I'd supplement that with flowers in season - especially scented flowers in arty arrangements.

I'd want cool neutral colours for the walls but that would be broken up by inspiring art/violin pics/musician photos. Lighting is for me very vital but in my dream practice room it would be highly sophisticated "spots" with dimmer/brightness switches and precise directional control. There would be a built in under-floor climate control system. I'd also have a Boesendorfer grand piano too!

Definitely a wooden floor with a nice rug, wooden furniture as required but with a modern twist - nothing too heavy or dark.

OK, now I have to win the lottery to do all this!

October 11, 2008 at 05:40 AM · -easy room that makes you feel at ease

-no phones of any type

-no humans or buildings visible out of the

windows,only waters or trees or mountains


-red & white dry wines

-hershey almond nuggets

-recording system

-extra strings [free]

-clean area

-tons of wood

-one wall of stone

-red oriental carpeting


instruments hanging on walls

-temperature and humidity controlled

-hand hewn beamed ceiling [walnut or birdseye


-stone fireplace

-all around sound

-green,treed outside area [for breaks]

-meditterreanean cuisine

-ruby throated humming birds visible out windows

-grape vineyards in backyard

-no other houses in sight

-overnite facilities at no charge

-fish lodge

-boat livery [sailboats]

-kharma consultants


-where one can find stability in the midst of


-where the wild turkeys walk upon the backs

of the short-nosed sturgeon

-where even the trees sing in tune and time

passes on,as if in a wonderfull dream...

-also,a huge handmade wooden table to set instruments on and another for snacks or dining......

-i'm almost there !!!

-during a break,a 45 minute visit from David Burgess,who just happened to arrive in a

1930 Isotta Fraschini Boatail Convertable w/5 of his new fiddles;bound and securily tethered in the back seat.......

-raffle tickets to attend SLIGOLIVE,Ireland 2008...

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