What Should I REALLY Have
Inside My Violin Case?
I've never seen a violin case look like this.  I've always believed that violin cases were manufactured with all sorts of little "treasures" inside.   I've seen everything in a case from chewing gum to baseball cards to cigarettes to tiny plastic dolls.

Maybe the question should really be, what should I take with me to my lessons, practices and concerts!

Summer is almost over.  School, and violin lessons, are going to be starting up again pretty soon.  I always find it to be a good idea to get prepared a week or two before school begins!

If I've been a little slack . . . well okay, if I haven't practiced regularly . . . well OKAY, if I don't really remember what closet I put my violin in, but really don't want dust bunnies falling out of the f-holes when I open up the case at the first rehearsal, it is time to break out the old fiddle, and take an inventory of what I've got stowed away inside there!

What, besides your violin and bow, should be inside your violin case?

The answer is a little different for each one of us, but here are a few of the things that I have found helpful once or twice in my violin career.  
A lint-free cloth.  This is an absolute essential to make sure that you wipe the rosin off your violin and bow when you're putting your violin away.  A little attention at the end of a session can be worth its weight in gold.  If you've ever gone a while without cleaning the instrument (can you see my face getting red?) you know just how ugly built-up rosin can be.  You know how much the rosin can affect the tone of your strings.  And you know how hard caked-on rosin can be to clean off.  Spend a minute now and sound good, or sound bad and have to spend 30 minutes later.  The choice is yours.
A pencil to mark my music.  I NEVER use pen on my music!  Why?  Just as sure as God made little green apples, the teacher, conductor AND section leader is going to change their minds . . . numerous times!  I need the pencil to keep track of the most recent bowings or fingerings I need to remember.  I need to mark passages I need to pay attention to.  I need to be able to take notes about things my teacher says. I need to be able to write down questions if I am practicing by myself or write information in my practice journal.  I prefer a wooden #2 pencil because it is dark enough to be visible on the music and the "lead" is the perfect lubricant on the nut and bridge in case you need to change or replace a string.  A little pencil sharpener doesn't hurt either.
An A.  That's right an A!  440 hertz.  I don't care if you use an electronic tuner, a pitch pipe or a tuning fork, you'll be the hero of your section or your ensemble if you can produce a usable tuning tone . . . especially if it's an accurate one.  It's amazing how often I've heard students tuning to one another.  "I guess we'll use Art's A," is just a compromise.  It's not critical to be accurate if all you are trying to do is tune relative to one another, but tuning to a true A is essential to develop your ear and to really hear what the composer meant!  Some folks have a tuner / metronome combination.!
Paper.  Whether that is your practice journal, some index cards, or a notebook of some sort, you need to have some paper.  There is almost always something said during a lesson that can make a difference in your playing.  You may have a brainstorm while you are practicing about something that you can ask you teacher about later on.  You may encounter a difficulty that you would like your teacher to address . . . and if you're like me you won't remember it when the lesson comes around.  It never hurts to have something to write on in your case!
A few Paper Clips.  These have many uses.  Not only can you use them to hold individual sheets of music together, you can use them as bookmarks in your lesson book.  You can use them to hold music on a stand if you are playing outside on a windy day (Some folks use clothespins or rubber bands).  I've even seen someone bend the tip of a paper clip and use it as a chinrest wrench to secure a loose chinrest (although I would not recommend this!)  Paper clips have a million uses!  I'm sure you'll come up with some that I've never even imagined.  Throw a handful in!  (In a plastic baggie, of course.)
First, there is the obvious list of things you need to play your violin well.  Your Shoulder Rest, Your Rosin, and your Mute all come to mind.
Next are the things you carry in case disaster strikes.  Extra Strings (I like to have two sets), Extra Bridges (Again, 2), Fingernail Clippers (for fingernails and a multitude of other things), and a Fingernail File.
A Case Humidifier.  Most of you know this as a Damp-It (but that's a brand name.  This keeps the humidity in your case constant to limit the possibility of the violin's cracking.  If you live in a climate subject to extreme temperatures this really is a must-have -- or at least an ought-to-have!
And finally, in honor of my daughter, a Hair Scrunchie.  It keeps the hair out of the eyes and away from the shoulder where the violin is headed.  It keeps the rosin out of the hair.  In her case -- another must have.  In my case -- if you what is left of my hair all together in one place it still wouldn't fill up the darn thing!
Is this a complete, exhaustive list?  By no means!  But if you've got at least most of these things you'll be prepared for almost anything even the most demanding of teachers and frustrating of circumstances will throw your way!

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