Instruments for improving players
Why do I need a better violin? | By the time you are playing Suzuki Book 3 or 4 or working on grade 3 or 4 music you will probably be ready for a better quality violin than a beginner's outfit. You will be learning to use a wider variety of bow and left hand techniques and you will be working on using much more expression in your playing. All of these will be easier to master with a better quality, more responsive instrument. However, as well as considering the make of instrument you need to think about having good quality strings and a decent setup. A badly cut bridge or string action that is too high or too low is really going to affect the development of your playing now.
What should I buy? | Among the Chinese violins, a Stentor Conservatoire with upgraded strings is a good choice at this level, as are the various Chinese violins sold by Stringers, Cardiff violins etc under their own labels. I have also played and liked Sielam Divertimento and Cantabile violins. Gliga is a Romanian make and the Gems violins are well worth a look at this grade - have a look at Elida's web site for these. They also make proper small violas!
There are also quite a few older instruments around - some really nice small 19th century French instruments, for example. They are likely to cost from a few hundred pounds upwards (and you'll probably have to buy the bow and case separately) Before choosing to buy one of these, think whether your child is careful enough to look after an antique instrument! Buy from a reputable dealer who can guarantee that the instrument is in sound condition.
This is just a short overview of instrument brands of which I have personal experience - I have a selection of small violins of different makes which I am happy to show to pupils. There are lots of other violin makes on the market!