All I Want for Christmas is…

Are you looking for Christmas gift ideas to inspire the string player in your life? Over the years parents and grandparents have asked me for some ideas for Christmas. Here are some suggestions ranging from books and music to equipment.

Equipment

Shoulder RestEverest shoulder rests come in lots of colors which kids love! Everything from hot pink to light pink, red, dark purple, light purple, green, black, gray…. Before you order, know what size of violin you need to buy for.


Music Stand
– while Manhasset Music stands are great stands, they can be hard to transport. Metal wire stands are light weight and easy to transport but can be a little flimsy in holding music or books. I’ve used a music stand for almost 10 years that is made by Nilton. While the cost might deter some, this stand has held up well for me and is great for travel. The music rack is one piece so music doesn’t fall through. I use it for teaching, practicing  for myself, gigging, and orchestra. Not quite as indestructible as a metal stand, but pretty close. Nilton also has a stand where the music rack folds up.

Instrument Stand – Sometimes the hardest part of practicing is getting the instrument out and getting started. If the instrument is readily accessible it makes practice start more quickly and easily.
Violin/Viola                      Cello/ Bass
     

Rosin – Rental violin often come with small cakes of rosin that are hard to use. Or maybe your student has just used all that rosin up. Here’s a great brand of rosin that comes in a box that keeps the rosin from cracking inside your case. Violin and Viola Rosin/ Cello Rosin

Metronome and Tuner – It’s never fun to practice when your instrument is out of tune. A tuner is a great tool to have for any string player at any level. A tuner can also be used in practice to work on improving intonation. This helps train your ear to hear the pitches correctly. My childhood violin teacher called the metronome the “torture machine.” Mostly because the metronome shows you all your weak spots. It seems like the metronome speeds up and slows down, when really, it’s you changing speed. While usually not the favorite tool, it’s a necessary tool for all string players.

Books:

The Man with Violin and The 39 apartments of Ludwig Van Beethoven are two books I have sitting in my studio that students can read while they wait during a sibiling’s lesson. Beautiful illustrations and a fun stories for kids of all ages.

Practicing for Artistic Success – this a great book for the advanced serious music student. I wish I had this book while in college. There are some great thoughts and tips for how to actually see success and progress in practice. So much of practice time has this idea that if we just keep doing it, it will get better. Burton Kaplan has done hours of research, observation and teaching, to help students have achievable goals and see progress in practice. This book is worth every penny!

Strist-258_largengs Magazine offers articles on technique, instrument care, and has interviews and conversations with today’s players and artists. They are offering a holiday special of 12 issues for $15. Receive it in both print and digital forms. The offer expires on December 31, so don’t miss it!

 

Music: 

Craig Duncan Master Fiddle collection – My favorite fiddle book. This collection is great for classically trained violinists who want to play bluegrass fiddle music. Craig Duncan has written out full transcripts of fiddle tunes with variations. This is a great collection to learn licks, bowing, and style.

Natalie McMaster Cape Breton Island Fiddle – Cape Breton is  a small island in eastern Canada, just north of Maine. With a spunky Celtic flare, this style of fiddling uses lots of dotted rhythms. I think of it as a cross between American fiddle and Celtic. It’s a fun mix to learn how to play and Natalie MacMaster is one of the leading artists of this genre. My favorite tune in this book is the Honeysuckle Rag!

Lindsey Sterling – One of the big names in violin pop music. Lindsey was on America’s Got Talent and they told her she would never be successful. She has gone on to prove the judges wrong. Playing to sold out shows all over the United States. Lindsey takes current music and plays it on violin. Check out her two books that have some of her most popular tunes.

Songs from a Secret Garden – From the composers of You Raise Me Up, this collection is for piano and violin. My teenage students love to play from this book. The melodies are lyrical and pass back and forth between the piano and violin.

Review Cards – Meredith Strings has created a card for each of the Suzuki pieces in books 1 -4. I use these when reviewing with students. We mix up the cards with the songs that they know; they choose 3 cards and they play those review songs on the cards. The kids love it and I love that they are reviewing! Available for both violin and viola and a set for cello.

Apps:

The Amazing Slow Downer – This app for iphone and ipad is a great tool if you are learning a piece from a recording. This app allows you to slow down the music with the option of not changing the pitch. A great way to learn some new tunes, or hear specific licks from your favorite artist.

Violin Notes Flash Cards – This app shows the violin fingerboard as well as the note staff placement. Just $.99

If you purchase the some of the products in the links above, I will receive an “affiliate commsion.” I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trad Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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