I’d forgotten how insane the first two years of a new baby are. I mean, really insane. But the little one is almost two now, and suddenly I have time to do projects AND blog about them!
Last year we started doing Suzuki violin with the three older kids. Then I got violin envy and bought myself a cheap violin so I could play along with them during practice. And then I started to miss my viola, so I reclaimed it from my brother (he borrowed it in high school) and traded it in for something smaller (I have no desire to repeat the tendinitis I had in high school). So now we have four violins and one viola, and that’s a lot of cases to keep out in the living room.
Have you ever noticed that the stupidest things can keep you from doing a task? Like, the garbage can needs a new bag but you don’t really want to put one in, so you leave the cheese wrapper on the counter for the next person to deal with?
(What, that doesn’t happen in your house? The Mr. and I are going to have a talk about this…)
Around here we call it “friction” – the annoying little things that are a deterrent to doing things right. Having a laundry hamper with a lid is friction. Having to stand on a step stool to reach the healthy food is friction. Having to open your instrument case, remove the instrument, attach the shoulder rest, and remove the bow – you’d better believe that’s friction.
As any Suzuki parent will attest, it can be enough of a challenge to get your kids to practice their violins. And frankly, even I would sometimes choose not to practice – even though I love playing my viola – because I only had a minute and it would take more than half that to get my viola out and ready to play. So I started thinking about ways to store the violins so that they’re ready to go, easy to see, and still safe from bumps, scratches, and dry air. And I started thinking about how violin shops display their instruments, and after some googling and some more thinking I built this:
It started life as a BONDE storage unit from IKEA. We’ve had it for 12 years and have used it to store wine glasses, serving platters, candlesticks, menorahs, and basically anything that wasn’t ugly enough to put behind closed doors.
But now it’s a violin display case. Because it has a door, the violins can’t get knocked or scratched when they’re hanging there. Also because of the door, I can humidify the air a bit so the instruments don’t dry out and crack. And because the door is glass, we can see the violins hanging there, whispering “play us… play us!”
Do you need one of these? Well, then. Roll up your sleeves and gather the following:
- 1×3 dimensional lumber, length determined by the side of your cabinet and the number of instruments being stored.
- several wire hangers – one hanger is good for two instruments.
- some narrow wood lath or wood moulding, same length as the board (one for each side)
- finish nails
- carpenter’s glue
- wire cutters
So here’s how I did it (in about 10 minutes.) First, I took a piece of 1×3 lumber and drilled holes into the side. You’ll have to measure your instruments for best results, but I found that a spacing of four inches between instruments works well for the children’s violins (1/16 to 1/4 size) and six inches are needed for a full size violin and 15″ viola. So measure those distances on each side of the board, and using a narrow drill bit, drill holes into the sides. The holes on both sides should line up with each other.
Next grab some plastic-coated wire hangers (we get them from the dry cleaners), cut off the twisted and hooked part, and straighten out the rest with your pliers. Cut a length of 12″ for each instrument you’ll be hanging. Then shape the wire into a rectangle (about 3″ on bottom and 3 1/2″ on either side), with the cut ends forming the top of the rectangle.
Partially fill the holes you drilled in the 1×3 with carpenter’s glue. Place the two cut ends of the wire rectangle into one pair of holes (one end on either side of the 1×3) and press them as far in as they will go. Hold them there for a moment so that they stay when you let go. Repeat for as many hangers are you need.
Theoretically you should be able to stop here. But I’m paranoid about my instruments, and so I added a strip of 3/4″ moulding to each side of the board (I used both glue and nails) so that the wire cannot be pulled out of the board. I recommend doing that.
Finally, you’ve got to attach the hanger to the inside top of the cabinet or shelf. I was able to take the shelf out and install the hanger while it was on the floor, but you might have to do this inside the cabinet. If you do, get someone to help you hold it up straight while you screw through the board and into the top of the cabinet. I used 4 screws and it’s quite solid.
The bottom line here is that in one fell swoop I’ve reduced the number of excess wire hangers, used up some of my scrap wood, and made it extremely easy to just pull an instrument out and play it – even for a short minute or two. The kids practice more, I practice more, and the living room looks just a bit more sophisticated.
If only all of life’s friction points were this easy to eliminate…