If I had only been given a dollar, for every child who struggles to play a violin, viola or cello which is too big, I would be a very rich woman. What is more to the point is that practising on a large instrument puts huge stress on a growing body and can cause serious and lasting damage to the musculoskeletal system.
Fortunately, when you know what to look for, finding the perfect Size Violin/Viola/Cello For a Child is easier than you think. Remember that you should always consult your teacher before buying or renting an instrument.
A child’s age is only a rough guide, because kids come in all shapes and sizes and all of them grow at very different rates.
For violins and violas, the following chart will be useful. Again, the sizes are not written in stone. A child with wide shoulders might have short arms. Also, a child might be narrow shouldered with long arms and not have the strength to play a large instrument.
For a rough guide, measure from the mid neck (at the jugular vein) straight out to the middle of the left palm.
|Age||Player’s arm length||violin/viola size||back length||bow length|
|2 – 3 years||14″ and under||1/32 size||8″||16.75 “|
|3 – 4 years||14 ⅛ ” – 16 “||1/16 size||9″||16.75 “|
|4 – 5 years||15 ½” – 17″||1/10 size||9.5″||17.75″|
|4 – 6 years||16 ½” – 18 ½”||⅛ size||10″||19.25″|
|5 – 7 years||18″ – 20 ⅜”||¼ size||11″||22.5″|
|7 – 9 years||20″ – 22 ¼”||½ size||12″||24.5″|
|9 – 12 years||22″ – 23″||¾ size||13″||27″|
|11 years – Adult||22 ½” + small hands||⅞ size||13.3″||29.5″|
|11 years – Adult||23″ and up||Full size||14″||29.5″|
|12 years – Adult||24″||Petit Viola||14.5″||29.1″|
|13 years – Adult||25″ – 26 ¾”||Small Viola||15″||29.1″|
|Mid Teens||26″ – 27″||Medium Viola||15.5″||29.1″|
|Mid Teens and up||26 ¾” – 27 ¼”||Full Size Viola||16″||29.1″|
|Large Adult||27 ¼ and up||Large Viola||16/6″||29.1″|
An even easier way to find the correct size is to place an instrument in playing position. Ask the player to extend the left hand outwards underneath the instrument and curl the fingers round the scroll (the curly bit at the end). If this is easy and the elbow can bend to an angle of around 100 degrees, you will have the right size. If the angle is less than 90 degrees, you can think about going for the next size up.
Beware of growth spurts. It is very tempting to skip a size, but bear in mind that sometimes kids can be tricky and just stop growing for a year or so. If in any doubt, always err in the small side. You want to make things as easy as possible for your child.
Here is a chart for approximate cello sizing, however you must consult your teacher when buying.
Measure arm length from the arm pit to the tip of the middle finger.
Measure finger span from the tip of the pinkie to the tip of the index finger.
|Age||Players height||Arm length||finger span||cello size|
|4 – 6 years||Under 3″ 6″||Under 18″||3″||⅛ Size|
|5 – 7 years||3′ 6″ – 4′||18″ – 22″||3″ – 4″||¼ Size|
|7 – 11 years||4′ – 4′ 6″||20″ – 22″||4″ – 5″||½ Size|
|11 – 15 years||4′ 6″ – 5′||22″ – 24″||5″ 6″||¾ Size|
|15 years – Adult||5′ and up||24″ and up||6″ – 7″||Full Size|
If you have access to small cellos, get your child to sit on a stool to sit with knees bent at 90 degrees and feet flat on the floor.
Hold the cello and make the following checks.
•1 The upper edge of the cello should touch the sternum (breast bone).
•2 The lower corner should touch the left knee.
•3 The neck of the cello should be a couple of inches in front of the left shoulder.
•4 The bottom peg should be near the left ear.
If the cello ticks all these boxes, it will be the right size for your child.
Please don’t overtax your child with a large instrument. You could be responsible for causing major physical damage for them to cope with in later life. All it takes is a little common sense. After all, it’s much easier to practise on a smaller instrument!
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