So, your child asked Santa for a violin. But it's best not to buy one until you get some help from a violinist, ideally a violin teacher. And whatever you do, don't buy a violin from a store or website that sells instruments from multiple families, and avoid Amazon and Ebay like COVID.
I know. It's only September. Do we really have to talk about Christmas? Well, there are two reasons this is an important topic to cover sooner rather than later. First, I want to do this early enough to hopefully catch you before you make a costly mistake. Second, a decent beginner violin costs more than the general public assumes, so you might need more time than you thought to save for such a purchase.
Every January, parents contact me to tell me how they bought a violin for their child as a Christmas present, or how their child chose to spend that Amazon gift card they got for Christmas on a violin, and now they are looking for a teacher. And then I have to tell them that the $50 violin they found isn't really a violin at all but a VSO. I dread these conversations, but if I just quietly take someone's money and let them struggle with an instrument that simply isn't designed to work properly, I feel like I'm stealing. I can't teach your child to play a $50 violin. They probably won't be able to keep it in tune. And when it breaks, it won't be because your child was careless with it (even if they were). Rather, it will be because the companies that make and sell cheap VSOs don't really care that the materials they use won't stand up to normal use.
Instead of buying a violin for your child, look into renting. If that's not an option where you live, there are shops that rent long distance, or perhaps no-interest financing with Southwest Strings would be a better choice for you. But besides getting a quality instrument, there's another reason you want to talk to a teacher first.
Sometimes, rental programs include other items besides just the instrument, and even if they don't, it might cost less to purchase everything you need at the same time, especially if it saves you from having to pay for shipping for that one small item you didn't realize you needed.
After you talk to a teacher, there's still something you should do before you purchase a violin. You either need to let your child in on your plans (in other words, it can't be a surprise) or else you need to make a card for your child telling them they will be getting an instrument and lessons after the holidays. This is because buying a violin is kind of like buying shoes. You have to make sure it's going to fit, and that means you need to either measure your child or put an instrument in their hands. Personally, I prefer the card idea. You can go ahead and book a trial lesson with us for after the holidays, too.