Practicing at home is taking on new meaning during these times. Regularly practicing violin always required diligence and dedication to your instrument. Now string players find themselves mostly at home, creating music for their family and neighbors and maybe the occasional livestream. But as you prepare for your big living room concert or Instagram debut, you may want to practice in complete privacy. Or maybe you want to pull out your violin for the first time in a long time and are thinking of ways to decrease your volume … at least until you get your intonation up to standard (we’ve all been there!).
Whatever reason you have for playing at a reduced dynamic level, there are solutions to make sure you can keep practicing even when you are in close quarters with family members or next-door neighbors.
Bear in mind that acoustic string instruments — that is, wooden instruments without electric components — cannot be made fully silent. That said, you can affix a practice mute (a piece of rubber or metal) under the bridge of the instrument to significantly reduce the vibration of the strings, and hence the overall volume. This is a good option for those okay with a little bit of sound emanating from the instrument.
For those looking for greater reduction in volume, there are instruments made expressly for that purpose, such as electric strings. However, even these instruments may lack the capability of true silent practice unless they allow you to plug in a set of headphones. Many electric string instruments are specifically designed to be used with amplifiers, meaning that if you want to play silently, you have to get a little creative. One solution is provided by a Yamaha product called SessionCake. This compact device allows you to plug in an electric violin (or other non-silent instrument) and amplifies its sound so you can hear it in headphones. You can also connect additional electric instruments so you can jam along with friends.
Yamaha SILENT™ Series violins such as the YSV104 and SV250/SV255 are an even better option, since they allow you to directly connect headphones as well as an external audio source for completely silent play-along practice. The YSV104 also provides adjustable settings that allow you to switch the sound in your headphones between a realistic room ambience ideally suited to practice and the deep, rich reverb of a concert hall. (Click here for more information about the differences between SILENT and electric strings.)
All kinds of music is being performed on SILENT and electric string instruments these days, so play what you like and what you want out in the world. We want to hear you!
Ready to learn more? Here’s a video that shows you how to set up an electric violin:
Click here for more information about Yamaha SILENT strings.