Box violin for a 2-year old?

June 3, 2015 at 02:59 AM · My daughter just turned 2 and is obsessed with the violin because I play. I know that she is way too young to start lessons, but she keeps asking for a violin and I just tell her that I'm working on it. Am I better off getting her a box violin or a tiny inexpensive violin that actually makes sound? I don't want a soundless violin to discourage or frustrate her, but then again a violin that does make sound might frustrate her, too, since it probably won't sound good at all. I don't mind getting her an instrument to play around with but part of me wonders if playing around might create weird habits that will be tough to break when she actually is old enough to start lessons. I didn't start until I was almost 8, and found myself way behind the game with my peers, with a lot of catching up to do to compete on any real level as a teenager. I do want to give her the opportunity to start earlier if she wants to, but I didn't expect her intense interest this young!

I am working on buying a piano in the next couple of months and will gladly let her bang away on that, perhaps seeing me play piano will redirect the obsession! But I think she'll always know that violin is my main instrument and she wants to do whatever I do. Thankfully, I can already tell that she has a good ear since she sings constantly.

Replies (22)

June 3, 2015 at 10:52 PM · I know nothing about box violins, but I would look for a 1/16 size real one. I have a 1/32 here for repair that the grandmother, a teacher, says is very good for its size and has been used by a 1 and a half year old. That size is pretty rare and not that much smaller than 1/16. She's probably more interested in playing than in sounding like a professional. Good luck.

June 4, 2015 at 02:19 AM · Violins are being measured in milli-VSOs these days.

1/32 = 31 mVSO

June 4, 2015 at 05:47 AM · There are Suzuki violin programs that will start at age 2 and a half. Might be worth investigating.

June 4, 2015 at 05:53 AM · My wife teaches ages 2+ students. Her test is this: are they going to drop it?

If yes, they play with the box until they learn to not drop it. If no, they get a real violin.

I have heard of some teachers out there who mandate that students spend a whole year on a box before getting a real violin regardless of their cognitive development. I personally think they aren't competent enough to recognize when a child is ready to handle an actual instrument.

Scott Cao's workshop produces excellent fractional-sized instruments, and despite the physical limitations the 1/16 and 1/32 instruments do sound pretty good.

June 4, 2015 at 10:43 AM · I have used a box fiddle for posture training, but "the real thing" is ready.

I think it's insulting for the child to have to rub rhythms on the box, when we want him/her to like the violin....

Could you rent a violin for yourself, say a half size so it's not too much bigger and both of you treat them as the most beautiful, fragile objects in the world, plucking the strings gently, cradling them like dolls. If you try to play it, don't succeed better than her for the time being.

June 4, 2015 at 02:22 PM · It's not like there will be any need for a "high quality" instrument at this stage,as she will be practicing sawing away at that thing...

You can get a very inexpensive 1/32 such as this:

or from Amazon:

Let her get started!

June 4, 2015 at 02:36 PM · Good advice, but I cannot see how a cheap sounding 1/32 is good enough for a child of any age!!

My tiny Pupils don't "saw" at their violins, they caress them...

June 4, 2015 at 03:39 PM · You've found many 1/32 violins with what could truly be called a good tone???

Maybe start her on an 1/8 size violin, and call it a 1/32 viola?


June 4, 2015 at 03:44 PM · I thought of patenting a rubber bridge!

June 4, 2015 at 04:01 PM · Or, just don't introduce young students to the concept of using rosin on their bow until theyve been at it for quite a while....

June 4, 2015 at 06:21 PM · I see a lot of two-three year old younger siblings mimicking their older brother or sister on chopsticks and books and whatever they find, and none of them were frustrated that they weren't making any sound, all of them looked like they have having a grand old time.

It sounds like the best route if you're ready to invest in the time is to find a Suzuki program that suites you and will get your young one started.

June 5, 2015 at 09:02 AM · Seraphim, my real point was that hardly anyone takes the trouble to set up these tiny violins to give a pleasant (or at least less unpleasant) sound. I had to order a minature soundpost setter and some tiny bridge blanks. I even got some imrovement with the Lark/Skylark vso's, and those Czech ones "designed to withstand a shool environment".

And Dorian, yes, children love the "sawing away" aspect; hence the Twinkle rythms. But nothing can replace the look of gentle wonder when they reach the actual song ("That's pretty!") played with gentle, swinging strokes.

June 5, 2015 at 01:42 PM · If it were me...I'd start with a box - for a month or so...and call it a practice toy.

Then, if they showed an enduring interest or dissatisfaction with the box, I'd try one of the $60 outfits.

Because it looks 'real' most toddlers will be happy with it, at least for a while. And if they learn to respect and handle it well spent.

Any budding geniuses out there won't be content with the VSO for which point you can decide if you want to spend more for a better one.

June 5, 2015 at 11:00 PM · This is like buying good sunglasses for oneself, but not bothering for one's children - whose eyes are far more fragile......

Or feeding them food full of pesticides on the grounds that they can't tell the difference....

Even a non-budding-genius deserves the best we can offer....

Ear polution! Surely on such a forum folks care about such things....

June 6, 2015 at 02:04 PM · [b]"This is like buying good sunglasses for oneself, but not bothering for one's children - whose eyes are far more fragile......

Or feeding them food full of pesticides on the grounds that they can't tell the difference....

Even a non-budding-genius deserves the best we can offer....

Ear polution! Surely on such a forum folks care about such things...."[/b]

You are comparing finding a suitable violin/violin substitute...that a toddler too young to actually play...and may or may not be interested in...and may or not have a potential talent for...

To feeding them toxic foods?

Now - what if my 2 year old showed an interest in chopping wood. Are they ready for the finest, sharpest, axe money can buy?

In my experience...2 year olds are more likely to use their violins as axes.

June 6, 2015 at 03:25 PM · "In my experience...2 year olds are more likely to use their violins as axes"

None of mine did, but then they only had me as a model! Actually they were three. Two is really a bit young.

My comparisons are not very clever, it's just that I hate the recurrent idea that bad-sounding fiddles are good enough for beginners. Small children have great sensitivity to different sounds (e.g. voices, accents), and sound structures (e.g. language).

June 6, 2015 at 03:36 PM · It's not about beginners in general, it's about 2 year olds as beginners.

How much does a "good" 1/32 violin cost?


For a violin they will outgrow within 6 months?

Re-sale value?

Have you actually found many/any "nice" 1:32 violins? Or is it like Brigadoon--a mystical ideal that appears once in a great while and shrouded in mystery?

Yes, I certainly like the idea of a very fine instrument. But the reality of the majority of 2 year old behavioral development stacks the deck against the the fine instrument's longevity and holding its value. As well as the ability of the user to actually draw out a fine tone to match.

June 6, 2015 at 04:46 PM · As I said earler, I have managed to set up tiny fiddles to sound "pleasant" if not actually "good". Even to the extent of putting a thin layer of cork under the feet of the bridge! I had to do it myself, as no luthier was interested. I really feel we owe it to our children. They can be very gentle if we are gentle ourselves.

June 6, 2015 at 09:28 PM · Always go for the best quality instrument you can afford. If you trust your child then you can give it a decent instrument.

Start is possible with box violin as described in 10 steps by Kersting Wartberg (Download Number 4 on the page

Also worth studying are Pretwinkle packs - Download Number 2 from above mentioned page.

As recommended above, search for a good Suzuki teacher.

There will be Yamaha branch nearby, they produce good quality fractional instruments - - a bit pricey but worth the money.

June 7, 2015 at 02:36 AM · I think there are significant difference between the ages of 2, 3, and 4. It seems especially with kids three or below they find it stimulating and challenging enough learning preparatory skills (e.g. rhythms like Mississippi-stop-stop, making a bunny hold, learning how to take a bow and stay balanced, etc.) before throwing in an real or fake instrument.

I don't think anyone is arguing that children don't deserve the best quality instrument, but at what stage of learning is a child ready to handle one. If anyone has taught a two year old (or a three or four year old) right from the first lesson with a real violin and bow with successful and non-painful results, I think we would all love to know how you did it!

June 7, 2015 at 11:31 PM · Singing and movement are more important. Try not to forget..

Music Play or Music Together.

June 10, 2015 at 06:55 AM · My oldest daughter started Suzuki at 2 1/2 on a small 1/32 violin.

She began her music career in a children's music class called Music Class. Before class the teacher would set the children on her lap and play little songs with the kids helping hold the bow. My daughter began to pretended playing the violin with my riding crop at her elbow as her bow. She could also reproduce complex tone and rhythm patterns; hence the lessons.

The Suzuki teacher she went to was good for a child that age. The violin was never a toy.

This was my only child to start formal music lessons so young. The others were 8 and 9. They weren't ready or motivated until that age.

I don't think anything is gained from starting so young. However, there are a few who have a passion for music at 2. If they want to work at it, why deny them?

I would suggest renting the right size violin. If she gets bored, stop.

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