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String Project - California State University, Sacramento


How to make a box Violin/Viola

  1. Find a box from cake mix, croutons, etc. It should measure approximately 8 x 6 x less than 3.
  2. Make violin necks out of a stick: Home Depot's paint stir sticks work fine and they are free! Careful, the stick must be sturdy enough to sustain a child's use.
  3. Make a small straight slice in the box, the width of the stick where you would insert the neck.
  4. Glue the stick inside the box, inserting it about 3-4 inches. Use massive amounts of hot glue.
  5. Stuff the box firmly with crumpled up newspapers. Make it quite sturdy and unable to be squashed.
  6. Using packing tape, close the end; tape around the box in many places - width and length
  7. Cover the box with construction paper, wrapping paper, etc.
  8. Tape everywhere. Expect that any loose edges will get ripped off.
  10. Hot glue a square of non-skid material under the box where it touches the shoulder. You may want to put a rubber band and add a sponge for long necked students.
  11. Put a sticker or draw a flower on the neck where the stick bow will meet the body of the violin/viola.
  12. Place 3 dots in the B-C#-D positions on the fingerboard. (1-high 2-3).
simulated violen simulated violen (alternate view)

How to make a stick bow

  1. Buy 48 long 3/8 dowel and have the store cut it in half (or do it yourself) 48 Costs about $1.25.
  2. Sand the ends of the stick to eliminate splinters and sharp edges.
  3. Buy pink pearl erasers (on special $.49 for a two pack)
  4. Slice off the ends of the eraser in order to make a rectangle.
  5. If possible, make an indentation the length of the eraser so that the stick will fit more snuggly.
  6. Hot glue the eraser to the stick about 1/2 from one end.
  7. Wrap tape around the stick and frog - keeps it clean and helps make it more sturdy.

simulated stick bow

How to make a cello from PVC pipe

  1. Buy 3/4 PVC pipe ($1.25 for a long pipe that will make almost 2 cellos)
  2. Buy cross-joints for 3/4 pipe (+ shaped) - one joint for each cello - about $1.00 each
  3. Buy four ends for 3/4 pipe - about $.30 each
  4. If you are going to make many cellos, get a PVC pipe cutter - about $9.00
  5. Cut two 6 lengths, one 26-30, one 18-24 length (you will be able to adjust these lengths to the child by cutting off pipe as needed)
  6. Assemble in the cross joint the two short pieces opposite each other.
  7. Assemble the longer pieces, across form each other, with the longer part meant to be the neck of the cello.
  8. Add the tube ends to the 4 open pipe ends.
  9. You may wish to glue all these parts together with special PVC pipe glue, but this will mean you can not disassemble the cello for storage and will also make size adjustments harder)
  10. Cut a 2- 4 long section of the larger pipe. You need pipe large enough to accommodate the larger tip of the real bow. Tape this small pipe securely about 4 inches above the knee cross bars. The bow will be placed inside the tube for practice. Three different levels of string crossing are possible inside this pipe (D is flat, A tilts up, G tilts down).
  11. Once the cello is fitted to the child, add finger dots for each finger and thumb (I use round stickers for fingers and a cotton ball, felt pad, piece of velcro or corn pad for the thumb).
simulated cello parts simulated cello
simulated cello (alternate view)

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Simulated instrument progression