Looking after your violin
Keep it clean | After you have finished playing use a soft, lint free cloth to wipe away any rosin dust that has landed on the top of the violin around the bridge area. I also wipe the strings where the bow touches. Rosin is very necessary but it is acidic. If you leave it on the varnish it will eventually eat its way into the surface and then it becomes very difficult if not impossible to remove. A quick wipe is all that is needed to keep violin looking and sounding at its best. While you wipe the violin it’s a good idea to wipe the stick of the bow. Don’t wipe the hair though!
Loosen the bow | The little screw at the end of the bow makes the frog to slide up and down the stick and controls the tension of the bow hair. When you are playing, the gap between the stick and the hair should be about the thickness of a pencil at the middle of the bow. When you have finished playing you should unwind the screw so that the hair almost touches the stick. If you don’t release the tension on the hair then you risk stretching the hair or taking the curve out of the bow stick. If that happens you will find that you cannot tighten the bow hair correctly and it will be much harder to play. It is an expensive business re-hairing a bow - in fact, it costs more to rehair a beginner bow than to buy a new one - so simply remembering to loosen the hair after playing can save you a lot of money. If a bow air breaks, trim the loose ends with nail scissors. Don't pull the broken hair out as you are very likely to loosen more hairs and make the problem worse.
Keep nails short! | Fingernails that are too long are bad for your violin technique but they are also bad for your violin. Regularly playing with long nails will damage the surface of your violin strings and make them wear out much faster.
Keep safe | Keep your violin safe. When you are not using your violin put it back into its case and make sure you fasten the lid. So many good violins are damaged because people do silly things. They lift up the case without having the lid fastened. The lid falls open and out pops the violin onto the hard floor. Or they put the violin on a chair, forget it’s there and sit on it. Or put the violin away without taking off the shoulder rest and then force the case lid shut. Don’t be one of the silly ones! The safest place for your violin is in its case, except for when you're playing it.
Keep cool | Don’t let your violin get too hot. Your violin is glued together with hide glue, which is designed to soften at high temperatures so that instruments can be taken apart for repair. What that means is that if your violin gets overheated the glue could fail and your violin may crack open. Leaving an instrument in a car on a sunny day can cause quite severe damage. As a rule of thumb, if it’s too hot or cold for you then it’s probably too hot or cold for your violin. At home, be careful not to leave your violin case against a radiator or in a conservatory or sun room - even if it's not hot enough to damage the glue, the changes in temperature will make your violin go out of tune much more quickly.
Accidents do happen! | Violins do get bumped and dropped occasionally! If the violin has been dropped, pick it up and have a look at it. If you're lucky, no damage will have been done. Perhaps the violin will need to be retuned or the bridge may have been knocked out of line. You can reposition the bridge by holding the feet and gently pulling it into place as it is only held by the tension of the strings. Your bridge should be at right angles to the violin belly, with the feet opposite the inner notches of the f holes.
However, if you hear a rattling noise when you pick the violin up, the sound post has fallen. Loosen the violin strings by turning the pegs and do not play the violin. You need to get professional help with this. If the fingerboard had been knocked off or a seam has opened or other damage has been done, don't panic! Most damage is repairable. Pick up anything that has come away from the violin and take all the bits to a repairer! Bows from beginner violin outfits are usually cheaper to replace than repair, however.