Since it's been quite toasty outside lately, here are a few instrument-care reminders to keep your fiddle in tip-top shape! 1) Never leave the violin/viola in a hot car for any extended period of time. Hot temperatures wreak havoc on the delicate wood instruments. Heat causes cracking, bubbling in varnish, and warping. Bring it inside with you whenever possible!
2) Humid temperatures can cause pegs to stick or become impossible to move. For a lightly sticking peg, loosen it first, then gently turn it until the string reaches the correct pitch. If it won't budge, don't force it -- pegs can break, and then you'll have a real problem on your hands. Instead, take it to a reputable violin repair person such as Brobst Violins, Michael Weller, or Potter's Violins. They can use a peg lubricant to loosen it up.
3) To keep the violin finish looking gorgeous, always wipe it off with a soft cloth after playing. Make sure to get underneath strings where rosin dust builds up. Also remember to wipe the strings themselves to remove rosin dust from the bowing area and any residue from the fingerboard. Lastly, to prevent fingerprints, try to avoid handling the violin by the wooden body. Instead, hold the violin from the neck.
4) When you are returning your instrument to its case, remember to loosen the bow so that the hair becomes slack. Otherwise, undue pressure is placed on the hair and the wood of the bow, putting both at risk for breakage.