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Bowed String Instruments - Care Guide

The strings instruments are fragile and very sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity. Treat them gently and with special care. Do not allow siblings or other friends to touch or use them. If, for any reason, your string instrument gets damaged, please do not try to mend it yourself, seek advice from your instrumental teacher.

Storing the instrument at home

Please always keep the instrument in its case. Never store it near heaters or windows. Do not leave it near doors or exits or places where could easily be knocked, avoid direct sunlight.

Cello players

If your cello has a soft case, keep it next to a wall on the rib side. The handles of the soft case must point towards the ceiling. The fragile bridge and strings face the wall.

The cello can also be stored vertically in a corner with the endpin (Spike) on the floor. The bridge and the strings side should be facing the corner of the two walls.

Transporting the instrument

Soft cases do not provide much protection. On rainy days, make sure your string instrument is covered by an umbrella as much as possible.

Take extra care when going through doors and exits, avoiding any knocks or hits.

Avoid touching, holding or knocking the area of the Pegs and Bridge.

Cello players

Transporting cellos in soft cases on public transport is not ideal. In case you have to use public transport, keep the fragile raised parts of the cello facing yourself. Cellos can be transported, in a car boot or the front seat of a car with the bridge and the strings facing upwards.

Before a practice session

Make sure you have tightened your bow by turning the screw of the bow clockwise. The hair will get tighter, and the stick will straighten. Do not over-tighten the bow. It should always curve inwards towards the hair with about half-inch gap in the middle.

If needed, apply rosin. Take the rosin out of the rosin box, be careful not to drop it, as it is very brittle and will break into pieces if knocked or dropped. To avoid sticky fingers, always hold the rosin with the protective fabric.

Next, hold the rosin in one hand and the bow in the other. Press the bow gently onto the rosin and make a few swiping strokes from the heel "frog" to the tip "point".

Protect the rosin from chipping - cover the metal ring of the bow with your thumb (where the hair is attached to the heel "frog")

After you "rosin" your bow if your fingers are sticky, wash and dry them thoroughly. Now you are ready to start practising.

Your practice session

Learning a musical instrument is fun. To progress and have fun, you have to be patient and persistent. Unlike other subjects you may study, your string instrument homework requires a daily practice of 15-20 mins, but ideally 30 mins a day. This frequent repetition is essential to develop your muscles to play the instrument. The more you practise, the more progress you make.

When you practise, think about your posture - how you hold your instrument, your bow grip, where applicable - sitting correctly on the chair. Make sure you draw the bow only in the playing area - right in the middle between the bridge and end of the fingerboard. Never play with the bow on the fingerboard. Make sure you draw the bow always parallel to the bridge.

After practice session

If needed, rosin the bow. A good practice is to apply rosin after your session. This way, the rosin has more time to set on the bow's hair.

Loosen the hair by turning the screw of the bow anti-clockwise. The stick will bend towards the hair, and hair will become loose. If you turn too much, a gap may appear between the screw and the end of the bow stick. In this case, turn the screw back, clockwise until the gap disappears.

Wipe the rosin powder from the body of the instrument by using a dry cotton cloth. Use only a cotton cloth for cleaning the body of your string instrument. Never use any chemicals, water or any liquid. Do not use any polishing substances as those will destroy the varnish. Avoid spreading the rosin powder on the strings above the fingerboard area.

Cellos in soft cases - taking the instrument out of the case and putting it back in

First, carefully take out the bow. Then, take out the rosin from the pocket. If you have enough space, place the cello (still in the case) on the floor on its flat side (back) and carefully unzip the soft case. Otherwise, hold it with one hand and carefully unzip it with the other. Take the instrument out by holding the "neck" of the cello with one hand and taking the case off the bridge and strings with the other hand. Once you take the cello out of its case, you should only rest it on the floor on one of its ribs (its side)!

Do not leave it on its back or the fragile side (bridge and strings). Never touch, hold or knock: the pegs, the bridge, and the playing area (the gap between bridge and fingerboard where you place the bow on strings).

Putting the cello back in the case is the reverse of taking it out.

First, place the soft case on the floor, so the back straps are on the floor, and the pocket for the rosin is facing the ceiling. Otherwise, take the case in your left hand and hold the cello with your right. Carefully put the cello back by holding the neck with one hand and keeping the top side of the case away from the strings and bridge with the other hand. Once fitted in the case, carefully zip it up. Put your rosin in the top pocket and zip it up. And finally, the bow, make sure its hair is loose. If not, loosen the hair of the bow. Slide your bow in the bow pocket with tip (point) of the bow first and the heel (frog) last. Close the bow pocket.

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