Golden Music Center Blog
Three Ways to Become a Much Better Violinist


From Violinist.com

Over the years it has seemed to me that there are,  in the case of many players,  three basic, uncomplicated things they can do to become seriously better players.  Here they are:

1)  Learn the even numbered positions.  If I could have a dollar for every player even up to and beyond intermediate level who is not comfortable in the even positions I would be able to buy up the applecorp.  What an earth is going on dudes (especially teachers!)?  Why are you not learning /teaching this fundamental thing?  If you don`t know these you don`t know the fingerboard. Yes,  you don`t actually know where certain notes are on that long black thing in front of your nose.   Do you realize how much better an orchestral player you would be with this simple knowledge?   How much better your sight reading would be? You could stop posting about sight reading....;)  How many more musical and expressive possibilities would become available?  Material:  Kreutzer no2 in 2nd/4th and 6th position everyday for a year;  the relevant sevcik;  Schradieck;  Paginini Barucaba Variation in 4th position etc.  

2)  Learn to play at the heel.

Admittedly this may be a little different (but not really) for the Russian bowing school, but most people use Franco Belgian type these days and it`s never been an excuse anyway.  My main teacher`s teacher,  Albert Sammons said `Master the heel and you`ve mastered to bow.` He may have had a point.   Don`t compromise!  Move under the thumb.  You are using six inches too short a bow. It`s just not good enough. 

BTW the heel does not automatically equate with `loud.` Some of the most delicate ,  refined and musical touces can only be done at the heel or in the lower third of the bow,  not faffing around at the point because that is supposed to be `the quiet part of the bow.`

Materials:  Kreutzer no2 and the f major separate bows and various combinations. Sevcik bowing exercises.  Casorti etc.  Scales!

3)  Handle your instrument like your loved one.

The way people handle instruments often makes me sick.  A month back a semi professional player asked to try my violin and took it from me by the bouts leaving sticky fingers on the violin.  I make a very harsh judgement about players based on this simple thing.  If you can`t  respect the beauty and elegance of your violin to the extent you are happy to smear oil on it you probably don`t have that last 0.1 percent of dedication necessary to be a pro.  Respecting,  indeed loving your instrunment is fundamental and it should be the first things teachers teach.  In the same way I have amateur students who put expensive instruments on the floor,  hang bows down so the point touches the ground while at the same time fumbling in their case for this weeks scores and my pay packet.  The same players leave instruments unattended almost anywhere during rehearsal breaks.  The big differnce between a pro and an amateur (in the judgmental sense rather than the regular employment distinction):  an amateur behaves in an amateur way towards their instrument irrespective of how good they are.

Materials: half a brain,  commonsense,  respect  and a teacher who insists on this from the beginning.

Musical Missions of Peace

Golden Music gives five clarinets to Meg York to take to Turkey.

Musical Mission of Peace champions a non-violent way to peace worldwide through the power of music.   They believe:

1) People who have learned and sung each others' popular love songs together are less likely to war with one another than those who have not.
2) Music fosters sincere, heart-to-heart communication which goes beyond treaties or political agreements.
3) Musicians make ideal international diplomats and ambassadors because they know how to work together in unifying and intuitive ways.
4) International cross-cultural sharing of popular songs easily dissolves fear-based perceptions.
5) Musical sharing promotes a healthy spiritual life, replaces materialistic orientations and is available to all, including children.
6) Musical proficiency opens the door to creating deep and trustworthy friendships across language and cultural boundaries and can heal the wounds of war.

Our Luthiers are Getting Ready to Move into the Lakewood Facility

We will all welcome the luthiers from the Golden location that are preparing their work space now at the Lakewood facility.  We are putting the flooring now and beautiful new benches are on their way.  We can't wait to have the wonderful smells of the oil finishes and fresh wood smells wafting through the store, and your company again, not to mention having all the string luthier services at ours and our customers' fingertips.  


How to Clean Your Brass Instrument - Give It A Bath

We can clean it for you which is included in the maintenance plan if it's on our rent-to-own program.  A bath might be what it needs.  Here's the directions for that.

  1. Find a bath big enough to comfortably take your horn and line it with an old sheet or towels. (This prevents damage to horn and bath.
  2. Fill the bath with lukewarm water.
  3. Remove all slides, mouthpiece and any other moving parts from the horn.
  4. Submerge the horn completely in water and press down all valves to open them (just a couple of times, you don't need to keep them down.)
  5. Leave the horn for an hour to around three hours (only if it is an instrument that hasn't been bathed in a very long time, or if the valves are stuck down.)
  6. Get a snake to clean the horn. While the horn is soaking, use a pull-through (snake) to clean out all your slides in a separate sink. If the pull-through is too wide to get round the bends in the slide, don't force it. It will get stuck and just cause damage. Use a mouthpiece brush to clean out your mouthpiece just now as well - no point in blowing all your mouthpiece gunk down into your nice clean horn!
  7. Finish cleaning. When bath-time is almost up, put your pull-through through your lead-pipe (from mouthpiece end to tuning slide) and then use either the end of your pull-through or a similar smaller brush to clean out all the valve-slides.
  8. Remove your horn carefully from the bath and tip all the water sitting inside of it out. You should be able to hear any water sloshing around inside but if you are having trouble getting it out try depressing all the valves and tipping the horn round 360 degrees towards the bell - any water should come out of the bell!
  9. Dry the horn. After making sure you have gotten rid of any water sitting in the valves, lay your horn on some towels or another clean sheet to dry. Remove any surface water with a clean cloth or towel and then leave the horn, preferably in a room with some circulating air for a few hours to dry out.
  10. Wait a few hours then tip your horn out again to remove any water that has settled.
  11. Pour some low-viscosity valve oil down the slides into the valves, and oil all the bearings and rotors.
  12. Re-grease all slides and replace them.
Rosin : What is it Good For?

Getting a new instrument is always exciting, however it is important to know how to use all the parts and understand why. This video is about the rosin we use on all bowed string instruments. We will cover how it is made, the different kinds, and how to use it.

Take a few minutes and enjoy this short video and you will be able to move forward with your playing with confidence and understanding.

Tips on Care and Maintenance

Please keep in mind that a violin is a delicate musical instrument which has to be handled with care – this is especially important for young children to learn to understand. To keep your instrument in the best playing condition, please follow these simple rules:

The student learns how to care for the instrument as if he or she owns it. Caring for the instrument includes changing the bow hair and the strings on a semi-annual basis (every six months). By maintaining a rental instrument, the student cultivates the habits needed to maintain a high quality stringed instrument.

  • NEVER do home repairs: one false move can destroy the value of your instrument. We strongly recommend that all repairs be done by a professional.
  • Keep the instrument away from radiators. It's best to keep it in a humidified environment in the winter as dryness can cause cracks. (As an alternative to expensive electrical humidifiers, try using a "Dampit." These small accessories are extremely affordable and fit right in one's case.)
  • Never leave the instrument in the trunk of your car. Summer heat can actually cause varnish to bubble or melt off. Glue also dissolves in heat, leaving one's instrument vulnerable to open seams. It goes without saying that one should never (ever!) expose an instrument to bright sun.
  • Never leave the instrument in plain sight in the passenger part of your car. This can be an invitation for a thief.
  • Always loosen the bow after playing.
  • Use a natural fiber cloth to wipe rosin off the instrument whenever you've ceased playing for the day. Too much leftover rosin is bad for the sound, as well as the finish.
  • Periodically check your bridge for straightness (or have your teacher check it). A warped bridge will eventually fall over and/or crack.
  • Occasionally check any fine tuners to make sure they are not wound too tight. If they are, loosen them and retune with the pegs. It is possible for tuners to get stuck; in some cases the tension can cause a string to break.
  • When you need to change an entire set of strings, do not remove all of the old ones at once. You will lose the proper placement of the bridge, and the lack of tension may cause the soundpost to fall down.
  • Be careful not to tap the tip of your bow against anything solid (even gently). This very delicate part of the bow breaks easily and is very difficult to repair. If any parts of the bow should fall off (such as the ivory button or slide), hang on to them and take the bow in for immediate repair: these are very expensive to replace.
  • If you use a shoulder-rest, be sure to remove it before closing the case over your instrument. Forcing a case closed could crack the top of your violin or viola.
  • Always check to see that the case is fully latched and zippered before you pick it up.
  • Cellos should be carried in an upright position against the body - not down like a suitcase.
  • In crowd situations, put your instrument in an out-of-the-way place so that no one will sit on it, step on it, or trip over it. Cellos in soft cases are particularly vulnerable.
  • Label the instrument case with your name, address and phone number, just “in case.”


As far as possible, try to avoid exposing the violin to sudden changes in temperature and humidity. Do not expose it to the sun, and don’t place it close to a radiator or vent. NEVER leave the violin in a car in extremely hot or extremely cold weather.


Rosin dust should be removed after each time you play. Use a soft cloth like a piece of flannel or a paper towel to remove the rosin from the strings and the body of the instrument. Never use alcohol, which can damage the varnish.


Always keep the instrument and bow in the case with the lid closed when you are not playing. Make sure that the hair on the bow is loosened and the shoulder rest removed. The bow should be secured in its proper position.

When you play, do not tighten the bow more than necessary (this can warp the wood). If you are unsure, ask your teacher for advice.