Things 4 Strings Blog

Better Skills, Greater Joy: Posts from our String Studio

Things 4 Strings in China!



Recently China has been high on our minds, with so much violin making and violin studying happening there.

With the recent addition of 10 Chinese trademark and registrations, our Things 4 Strings Intellectual Properties portfolio has increased to over 25 USA and international patents, trademarks and registrations. We also recently successfully defended our rights by invalidating in China courts TWO copycat Chinese patents.

Just last month Things 4 Strings accessories were again presented at the Music China: Shanghai music industry expo. We thank our China Agent, Jerrie Zhoa for all her work servicing so many teachers.

After the event, Ruth enjoyed presenting lectures and masterclasses at violin studios in Chongquin, Shangrao and Nanchang, as well as at Nanchang University.

Above, Ruth Brons enjoys a "Thank You"  performance from a young violinist who had a Bow Hold Buddies start. And below, Chongquin teachers explore the Bow Hold Buddies bow hold.

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Cal. State Univ. Study: How to Speed Success in Violin Group Classes

Things 4 Strings LLC logo Bow Hold Buddies Made in USA

Perfect Bow Hold in One Class! The Bob Cole Conservatory of Music, California State University Study found that Bow Hold Buddies® accessories allowed the majority of student to formulate a correct hold after ONE class.

Teachers found Bow Hold Buddies® accessories "efficient" in a group setting because they not only teach a proper bow hold but are also fun to use. They agreed that the device helps to keep the pace of students' learning of right hand technique at the same level so the group class can progress at a steady pace, and no students are left behind. There was no need to stop and correct bow holds.

"Students can visually see where their fingers need to go. Now students can focus on other aspects of  sound production and learn left-hand technique."

Bow Hold Buddies in 1st Group Violin Class


Bow Hold Buddies® Accessories:

The Original!

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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Claire Stefani

Playing any instrument means MOVING … a lot!  A properly fitted set-up does not replace the benefits of a postural correction approach, but will optimize its benefits. 

We all recognize the validity of fitting the right size instrument and bow to a player’s body type.  But, when it comes to chin and shoulder rest set-up, the myriad of possibilities to adapt equipment to body type can be daunting.  So before you buy ANOTHER chinrest or shoulder rest, here are some guidelines on what matters, based on my bottom-up experience of fitting/working with some 400 musicians in the past 4 years.


Head balance

The head weighs 12 to 15 pounds.  The axis of its balance is at ear lobe level.  The head should rest on the chinrest at the same level as the end of nodding “yes”.

Arm balance

Arms should be supported by the back muscles in the same way as when hugging someone (but not falling in their arms!).  If not, the arms will pull the instrument down with force that can’t be borne by the head and shoulder nor compensated for by the chinrest/shoulder rest set-up. 

Best tool to train arm support? Apply the motion logic of walking, initiated from the hips, to arms: get the momentum going from the shoulder blades.  For more on this, refer to scapulohumeral rhythm from the body mapping approach. 

Instrument position

Up or down, in or out … it should be the teacher’s and player’s preference, not a chinrest or shoulder rest dictating how the instrument is held! One thing to remember though: by allowing a contact point with the collarbone instead of only on the left shoulder, one will notice:

  • a reduced need to clench
  • more freedom in the left shoulder, less strain on the left arm and hand
  • less heaviness, more freedom in the bow arm

Follow the pain

One player’s comfortable set-up could be torture for another.  It’s the same logic as trying on shoes! Initial pain or fatigue with instrument playing comes from muscle tension.  So as early as possible, identify any skeleton imbalance in playing position (vs. neutral position) leading muscle to sustain a static position instead of contributing to movement.  And say NO to the “no pain no gain” mantra, as it only leads to injury.

Claire Stefani, after 20 years of experience with musical accessory manufacturer/distributors (BAM Cases and then D’Addario), founded Volute Service International to provide an active interface between music instrument/accessory makers and orchestral string players and teachers.  Claire’s interest in violin/viola ergonomic set-up and its impact on movement efficiency stems from her experience as an international field hockey player in her native France.  She is a fitter for the Frisch & Denig chinrest line and has helped more than 400 musicians with their set-up.  She is also an avid amateur chamber music violist and violinist in New York City, an affiliate Andover trainee, and an active member of the Performing Arts Medicine Association (PAMA).  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Fun App for Practicing: Tiny Decisions

Tiny Decisions App Screen Shots

While I am perhaps personally one of the worst cell phone users on the planet (my own phone is rarely charged and I don't use it to receive calls), my students and I have thoroughly been enjoying adopting a wonderful little app called Tiny Decisions into our practice routine. The hardest part of practicing (after actually opening the case) is often just deciding what to practice first! As a Suzuki teacher, for decades I have provided my students with a Review Chart to keep both a record of their progress and help establish a warm up routine. But this (FREE!) app really does the trick in a neat and modern way, and is downloaded and customized for each student within minutes. 

Tiny Decisions is an app to make all decisions fun & easy! Just input your question, add/import options and spin the wheel to get a random answer!


* Create your own decisions to make
* Built-in decision templates
* Set weight for options
* Select non-repeating options
* Flip a coin
* Share decision with your friends
* Import options from clipboard, one option per line
* Make quick decision

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1694 Hits

2018 ASTA National Conference

String teachers! Heading to ASTA?

Hands down, our favorite event all year -- because what could be nicer than hanging and learning with the string bunch that comprise the American String Teachers Association (ASTA)?

Please stop by the Exhibit Hall and say "Hello!" 

Ruth Brons, Things 4 Strings accessory teacher/inventor, will be on hand at our Booth #514 for product demos and teaching advice.

Our new partner Music & Arts will be handling Things 4 Strings accessory sales at Booth #305.


2018 ASTA National Conference

March 7-10, 2018

Hyatt Regency Atlanta

Atlanta, GA 

Booth #514



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