The violin is a musical instrument centuries old. When I first started playing it three years ago, I assumed there was nothing new in the way of technology. Indeed, for violins themselves, that’s true. But the tools available for violinists in the 21st century are just as cutting edge as other musicians enjoy.
I had heard of electric violins and amplifiers years ago. To be fair, they’re gimmicks that don’t excite too many serious violinists. I was also familiar with metronomes, and how far they’ve come. I was delighted when my violin instructor suggested a small, inexpensive digital metronome. Such a huge improvement over the ones from 30 years ago, I knew I’d enjoy it. However, I was blown away by other tools that I didn’t even really understand at first.
Playing In Tune
Tuning used to be cringe worthy. It was difficult and stressful during my one year as a viola student in the ’80’s. I never did feel that I got it right. Now, with digital violin tuners that clip on the violin itself, I don’t wince at the key. When my violin instructor suggested a tuner as necessary at first, I hesitated. Then, when she let me know that clip on tuners were an option, I twinkled at the possibility. Tuners aren’t a cheat, as I thought at first. They’re a tool to train the ear correctly, right from the beginning.
Amp It Up
From there, I discovered tools for beyond beginners. Ever heard of a violin transducer? I hadn’t, either, but love the idea of improving the quality of sound from my instrument. I can’t afford a professional quality violin, but with a transducer, I can nudge toward improved tone with the violin I have. Pick-ups and pre-amps tempt a student as well. I won’t be playing world class concert halls anytime soon, but I would like to plug in a violin for a lark or two. I used to think that only electric violins offered the amplified option. But, it’s fun to jazz up the violin on occasion from its sometimes stuffy image.
I never imagined three years ago when picking up such an old instrument that new technology would come along. While the violin and playing technique haven’t changed much, new students have several tools to make studies easier. I know that learning now is far easier than it was just a few decades ago, during my first attempt to learn a stringed instrument.