Animated gif: Helmholtz motion

At a group class for my five violin students (aged between 7 to 9 years) at Stella Maris chapel, Miramar, one of them wished to know why we need to apply rosin to the bow hair.

So I threw the question back at them, and they came up with:

“So that you get a better sound”.

“So that you can be heard”,

etc etc.

I then tried to explain to them how it is difficult to walk on a floor that is super-smooth or wet or mossy, and one could slip and fall, which is why we are more sure-footed on a surface that’s less smooth. And so we came to the concept of Friction.

“Ooh, yes, I know all about friction! We studied them in class just a few days ago!” piped up one girl excitedly.

Them? I wondered.

“What class was this?” I asked tentatively.

“Arithmetic!” she replied, very pleased with herself.

Then the penny dropped. “You mean Fractions!”

She nodded in agreement.

It took a while to explain to them the difference between the two, apart from the obvious difference in spelling!

Anyway, while writing this post, I came upon a wonderful online article that does discuss the physical and mathematical principles involved in producing a “good” sound on the violin, and is certainly worth a read.  

So I’m grateful to all my kids: one for having asked the question, and the others that give me all these interesting answers. They helped me to learn a little more about the instrument as well.