'Tis the season

..for giving and getting gifts! Here are some of my favorite gift ideas for the string player in your life: 1) New strings!

Seems a little dull, but the right set of strings can really make a difference. The wintry weather can be especially hard on string instruments, causing strings to break more frequently. Why not make a little upgrade to those strings? My faves are Evah Pirazzi.

2) A new metronome

Honestly, all musicians should have one of these anyway. But if not, try this one. Reasonably priced, and it does the job. I prefer the "clicking" metronome to the "beeping" ones -- the beeps can sometimes be inaudible over the sound of the violin!

3) "Fun" music.

Sometimes my students become bored of their lesson materials. Gasp! Pop or fiddle music can help keep students motivated and interested in learning the violin. Try searching for sheet music from their favorite movie or band.

4) A fancy case

Students tend to love the rectangular cases. I've always been a fan of Bobelock cases. They're beautiful and sturdy. As a word of advice, I would stay away from anything over 7 lbs., as it can become quite heavy to carry around. Which leads me to my favorite recommendation...

5) A padded case strap

If you or your student have to carry a violin around a lot, this Case Sling neoprene shoulder strap somehow makes it feel much, much lighter. The strap has a layer of gel-like padding and just a bit of stretch to it. I've had mine for several years and I'm not sure how I managed without it! It makes carrying the violin so much more comfy.

I know, I plug Shar Music so much you'd think I get a commission for it. I don't!