Let’s face it, most musicians are not going to be hitting the Forbes Billionaires List anytime soon. Unless you’re one of the rare exceptions, a trust fund baby, or happen to have a very lucrative “day job”, finding the cash to devote to your musical passion can cause one big headache.
Ah, but there are tricks to make things easier. It’s all about what you know, and who you know. Let’s look at a few examples, starting right from the beginning – when you first start playing your instrument.
The cost of even a basic violin can be quite startling to any beginner, but this is one cost most of us just have to cop. There are ways to make the pill a bit easier to swallow though. There is, obviously the option of finding a used violin. The first port of call to pop into your head is probably ebay, and (for Australians) sites like gumtree.com. A word of warning before using ebay – many a violinist has been burned by buying a starter violin outfit for an ‘amazing price’. The ad says it’s brand new, has everything you need to start playing, the picture is soooo pretty, and it can be as cheap as $50! BEWARE! These violins are often terribly made, can be almost unplayable and can cost hundreds of dollars just to have set up properly. This is the VSOP (Violin Shaped Object Phenomenon). So if using ebay, either make sure the brand new violin you’re looking at is high quality (remember the info in the ad is designed to make you want to buy it – always double check the quality), or buy a high quality second hand violin from the site, if you’re able to find a bargain. Just, remember, if it sounds too good to be true it usually is.
If you do enough research, you’ll come to the same conclusion I did before buying my first violin. It’s better to buy quality. Here at Animato Strings we have a great quality violin outfits starting at only $237. Sure, it’s not $50, but this violin is professionally set up (not always a guarantee when buying from ebay, or even your local music shop). It truly is ready to play, and won’t cost hundreds of extra dollars to fix the bridge, nut and neck problems often encountered in new, inferior, violins. And you get the same great product whether you come into the store, or buy from the website.
If you want to try to save a few more dollars check out dateaviolin.com. It’s an auction site dedicated purely to the sale of new and used violins. It’s like ebay for music lovers (who actually care about quality). Alternatively you might consider hiring a violin until you’re sure that you’re going to love your new musical adventure.
There are some great options for finding free resources if you know where to look. Scribd.com was a godsend when I first started playing. You can find an enormous range of user uploaded content; everything from sheet music, to introductory manuals, and “how to” guides. If what you’re looking at is copyright protected, I wouldn’t recommend downloading the content, but it’s available for view anywhere that you have an internet connection. For content that isn’t copyrighted make sure you check out imslp.org. They are a great resource for classical sheet music.
If you can’t find the sheet music you want for free, or want to have a (legally obtained) paper copy, once again Animato Strings has your back. The store has good prices and an enormous repertoire of sheet music for all number of different string instruments. You can come in and browse (or ask for direction from the friendly staff), check out some of the offerings on the website, or even give us a call on 1300739777 if you have a specific request, and we’ll let you know if we have it.
Strings! Oh my, what an expense those can be, but good strings are vitally important to the quality of the sound you produce. Another one of the ‘unavoidable’ costs associated with being a stringy. A traditional set of strings from the well known, high quality, brands can cost over a whopping $180 for a set. But there is a solution for those in the know. Deitrich Lasa has developed a set of strings that will give the top western brands a run for their money – Maestro Strings. Not only do they sound awesome (check out this video to see for yourself) but they can save you a bundle. You can purchase them here or here, and they cost only $39.95 for a violin set. That is a lot less than other high quality strings. A very nice way to keep some cash in your pocket.
One of the most important money saving tips I can give the more experienced stringy is to find and become a loyal customer to a good luthier. Not only will you be getting the best service for your money, it also makes it easier to keep up to date with the best bargains that cross their path. If you get to know them well, you may even be able to trade some volunteer work for some of the things you need like strings, rosin ect.
Remember, your local luthier has a lot of knowledge, so if you’ve got a minute be sure to head on down to Animato Strings and let us know what you need. Happy customers make happy businesses, so have a chat with the staff at Animato, and they can point you in the best direction.
There are more resources out there than there is room to fully describe them (without this post becoming the length of a Dickens novel), so I’ve listed some below with a short description. Take a quick look and see if any suit your needs.
For free sheet music-
- 8notes.com – has a range of free classical sheet music, and the occasional piece of modern music, for a wide range of instruments. Sheet music often accompanied by audio of the song, which is a nice touch.
- cantorion.org – a nice collection of high quality free classical sheet music. Some sheets also have audio available. A lot of the sheets also have customer reviews.
- pianofiles.com – this one requires you to sign up, but once you do you can trade sheet music with other members. There is an enormous amount of music on this site, and a lot of modern sheets also. The website is like a middleman, you have to actually download the sheet music from the members, not the site. Remember though, getting copyrighted sheet music for free isn’t exactly on the up and up, so do so at your own risk.
- free-scores.com – has a free sheet music section as well as a paid section.
- dateaviolin.com – an auction site dedicated to the sale of violins
- dateaviola.com – an auction site dedicated to the sale of violas
- dateacello.com – an auction site dedicated to the sale of cellos
- animato.com.au – that’s us! Lots of instruments at great prices.
- noteflight.com – a great tool music notation tool if you want a virtual medium for writing down your own compositions, which you can save online and access from anywhere. It lets you hear what you’re composing as you go, and you can download an audio file of your finished masterpiece. A free account will allow you to save 10 songs, but once completed you can print those out, or take some screenshots, and delete the song from your account in order to save more. Also has online sharing options.
- Notepad from finalemusic.com – Great software alternative to noteflight. It’s totally free, has a ton of functions and you can make as many compositions as you want. Straight forward to use, the only downside is that because it’s a downloadable software package, not an online program, you can only access your work from your own computer unless you upload it to Finale Showcase. This sort of software is great for teachers also, as you can neatly write your own exercises and distribute them to your students.
- youtube.com – Remember to check youtube. You can find sheet music in some of the videos along with audio. Sometimes true masters of their instruments will post videos with tips, or free lessons, master classes ect. Plus, what better resource to find a little inspiration than from your rocking peers around the world.
Have some other great resources to share? Let us know by posting a comment below.
Don’t forget to check out the Animato Strings facebook page.