1/32 for 4yr 4 mos girl?

Delores said: Nov 15, 2012
 5 posts

Hi all

We recently acquired a 1/16 for my daughter but was told its too big. The teacher said it is just too big but when I use the measurements online, it seems she is right at the size for a 1/16. She is taller but skinny. I always thought 1/32 are for small kids who are 3 and younger. Could it be actually true she might need a 1/32? She is already 4yr4mo as of right now.

Rafael Videira said: Nov 15, 2012
Rafael Videira
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
West Haven, CT
24 posts

Every teacher has a slightly different aproach to sizing instruments. I personally prefer to have a student on a small instrument rather than on a big one: The student may have “outgrown” one size but might not be quite ready for the next size yet, so I would keep him/her playing the smaller violin; I share the opinion that the student should “grow out” of the interment instead of growing up to eventually fit the instrument. An instrument bigger than what the child can handle may cause discomfort leading to poor posture, poor intonation and possibly injury.

I like the measuring system Susan Kempter suggested in her book “How Muscles Learn”. I could find part of it on google books (page 21).

I hope it helps.


Rafael Videira, DMA
Violist—Violin and Viola Instructor
www.RafaelVideira.com
www.SuzukiSchools.org

Delores said: Nov 15, 2012
 5 posts

Yes that helps a lot. Thank you very much for the input. I seem to be talking myself out of the 32nd because of what I am reading online ie 32nd is for 2-3 yrs etc. I just can’t seem t think my daughter who is 4 would fit that. In your experience have you ever taught anyone older than 3 on a 32nd???

Melanie said: Nov 15, 2012
Melanie Barber
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Maple Valley, WA
24 posts

I have two 4 year old and two 5 small year old students on 1/32 violins. I too have seen age recommendations like the ones you are talking about and feel they are very misleading. Even for a few of my students, I feel the 1/32 is still too larger so I would not worry about your daughter. I hope this helps put you at ease.

Rafael Videira said: Nov 16, 2012
Rafael Videira
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
West Haven, CT
24 posts

I also have had 4 and 5 yo in 1/32 violins.

I agree with Melanie: the age recommendations are very misleading. In my opinion, it’s impossible to make a violin size recommendation without seeing the child (and perhaps a couple violins). A good amount of my Book 1 training was spent on what to consider when measuring a student; besides the size, one needs to consider the width (which varies a lot!) and, sometimes, the weight of the instrument and how this will affect EACH child. I am sure your teacher have received this kind of information during his/her training and is just applying this knowledge .

Have a great day!


Rafael Videira, DMA
Violist—Violin and Viola Instructor
www.RafaelVideira.com
www.SuzukiSchools.org

Delores said: Nov 16, 2012
 5 posts

Thank you so much Melanie and Rafael!

Your input has totally put my mind at ease. I think I’ll go look at some 1/32 now :) very much appreciated, both of u!!!!

Delores said: Nov 16, 2012
 5 posts

I have one more question for you great experts! I have the 1-16 bow. Can I use it with a 1/32 violin? How much difference is there in weight and length?

Jennifer Visick said: Dec 20, 2012
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

Yes, with your teachers’ permission, and if your child’s arm length and the ideal angle of the violin in playing position on the shoulder for YOUR child is appropriate to a longer bow, there is no reason you can’t mix and match up or down one bow size. I wouldn’t go to big, though: a larger bow is more unwieldy and heavier; a smaller bow size may be better.

However, not sure why you would need to do this: most fractional sized instruments come in “outfits” that include a bow of appropriate size.

There is a lot of variation in the sizes of little instruments: “big” and “small” versions of 1/32 and 1/16 and 1/10 and so forth. I have been in a violin shop, helping a student choose a violin, and have seen instruments labelled 1/16 which are the same body size as another instrument from another maker labelled 1/10; and there is always some variation in width & string length.

Ages are misleading. A child is sized based on shoulders, neck, & arm & finger length; not by age. Do you choose your shoe size by how old you are, or by the size of your foot? It is the same with violins, except where a parent may choose to let a child use a shoe that’s a bit large and “grow into” it while using it; a violin teacher usually wants a child to “grow out of” a violin while using it. If a child is “between” violin sizes, go for smaller, not bigger.

Kiyoko said: Feb 2, 2013
 84 posts

Does the rule of thumb, place the violin on the shoulder and the hand should wrap around and over the scroll with the arm fully extended, still hold? It’s how my Suzuki teachers taught me how to roughly size a violin when I was young.

Sometimes you see young performers on larger instruments because of sound projection, not because they are a good fit. It is better to outgrow your instrument for the reasons already given, but also because your child will be more focused on learning instead of being frustrated by trying to overextend their arms and fingers.

If the arm is too short for the bow, kids don’t learn to use the full length of their bow. Not to mention bow positioning. If your child can use the shorter bow, I’d start with that even if the teacher says it is okay to use the longer. Early habits are so hard to break.

Phankao said: Feb 25, 2013
Phankao WanPiano, Viola, Violin
128 posts

Except a 1/32-sized violin would certainly not produce that much sound. Quite alright on the A & E strings but unstable on the D and definitely not much sound from the G string. My 4yo who is actually quite small-sized was previously on the 1/32 when he first started violin at 3, and that’s what we experienced. He’s been using the 1/16 for nearly 1yr and altho’ he’s grown since a year ago, the 1/16 is still the size for him, as far as I’ve observed. Too bad that the G-string is not that stable but at least has more of a tone than the 1/32. Cannot imagine him playing his Gossec Gavotte on the 1/32. The D & G strings are required for gavotte. ;D

Kiyoko said: Feb 25, 2013
 84 posts

@Phankao:
The sound might be a little less between 1/32 and 1/16 size instruments of similar quality, but is much more dependent on the quality of the instrument itself. The stability of the strings staying in tune is also somewhat dependent on the instrument quality and can be affected by factors like bridge placement, the pegs, the brand of strings, and humidity, as well. Also initial slippage when tuning can be lessened by how you tune.

If you are having issues with tuning, and the strings staying in tune, you should discuss that with your teacher.

Phankao said: Feb 26, 2013
Phankao WanPiano, Viola, Violin
128 posts

We are quite happy with the 1/16th. Am glad we’re not using the 1/32 at this point. Both of those 2 violins were personally chosen by a professional for us, so quality-wise it’s fine for that size.

Sue Hunt said: Feb 26, 2013
Sue Hunt
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
390 posts

Using high quality strings makes a real difference. I string 1/32 instruments with Tonica by Pirastro and find the pitch very stable.

Phankao said: Feb 26, 2013
Phankao WanPiano, Viola, Violin
128 posts

@Sue Hunt: Tonica? I’ll go search that out for my son’s 1/16th, since I think he’ll be using that until at least his 5th birthday late in the year. I tried to string Dominants, but find them too thick.

Phankao said: Feb 27, 2013
Phankao WanPiano, Viola, Violin
128 posts

By the way, how is Tonica strings different from Pirastro Piranito strings or Chromcor strings? I remember using those on my son’s 1/32 and not finding them suitable.

Sue Hunt said: Feb 27, 2013
Sue Hunt
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
390 posts

Tonica aren’t rigid but they are pretty thick too. However, they can make a small instrument sound extra nice.

Sue Hunt said: Feb 28, 2013
Sue Hunt
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
390 posts

Tonica sound way better than the other fractional Pirastro strings. It all boils down to the size of the holes in the pegs. I shouldn’t get too worried about it. Being too small for a 1/16th is a very short phase in a child’s life and at this time, they are only likely to be using the top two strings anyway.

Irene said: Mar 7, 2013
Irene YeongViolin
160 posts

my 2 year old daughter started with 1/32. at 4 1/2, teacher recommends her to use 1/8.
she is 104cm tall.

Phankao said: Mar 8, 2013
Phankao WanPiano, Viola, Violin
128 posts

wow—she’s really tall then! My elder boy was 105 at Primary 1. ;P

My 4yo is 96cm tall now and using 1/16.

Sue Hunt said: Mar 8, 2013
Sue Hunt
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
390 posts

It depends on much more than height. There’s also length of arm and width of shoulder to consider.

Some children are not as strong as others and have less stamina. A good playing position isn’t instinctive or easy to maintain for a beginner. It’s best to be conservative till a child can maintain a good relaxed playing position. You can develop this gently with fun violin hold games. I would pop them into a practice between other practice tasks.

Mircea said: Mar 8, 2013
Mircea Ionescu
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools, Viola
Crestwood, KY
23 posts

Thanks for the good recommendations teachers and thanks to you parents that are involved and committed!

One thing that I also take into consideration is correct placement of all four fingers on each string. This way the student is on an instrument that he or she can succeed, which is so important because the early years are for building the foundation. Teachers have you found finger placement important?

Sue Hunt said: Mar 9, 2013
Sue Hunt
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
390 posts

Yes Mircea. I find that if anyone is playing an instrument which is too big and heavy, it’s just too difficult to get the hand into an ergonomic position where the finger tips can look down at their correct landing spots.

Phankao said: Nov 2, 2013
Phankao WanPiano, Viola, Violin
128 posts

Talking about strings… an update. I found violinchannelstore ships for free internationally … and I found Helicore 1/16 strings were really good for my boy’s 1/16 violin. Even the D & G strings resonated well, and their pricing is much lower than for Dominants and not quite as thick. And Helicores are quite stable for tuning.

He’s now just upsized to a 1/10 and the new violin came strung with Tonicas —the one that @Sue Hunt recommended. Yeah, they are nice. His violin teacher says Tonicas are good (never said I shouldn’t go back to the Helicores! haha!!!)—but another friend I asked said I should either stick with the Tonicas or better bc they are less boring-sounding than Helicores.

And yes, my boy has gotten used to the Tonicas, so we’d stick with that. ;D

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