New York Philharmonic Apprentice and Master Violins Now Available for Students

New York Philharmonic Apprentice and Master Violins Now Available for Students

Harold Hagopian, president of New York Stringed Instrument Company Inc., who is a Juilliard graduate and violinist, has partnered with the New York Philharmonic to create the Official New York Philharmonic Apprentice Violin, which the Orchestra has endorsed as a high-quality starter violin for children, as well as the Master Violin for more advanced students. Now available nationally through SHAR MUSIC, this is the first time that the New York Philharmonic has made such an endorsement.

Tested by violinists from the Orchestra, the violins are offered from 1/16 size, appropriate for a two-year-old, through full size, and come with numbered Certificates of Authentication from the New York Philharmonic.

"The violins have everything in it that teachers have been asking for over the years," said Mr. Hagopian, who owns Traditional Crossroads, a world music label, as well as Virtuoso Resources, a Manhattan atelier with a large selection of violins, violas and cellos for children. He opened the unique instrument shop in 2010 after trying in vain to find a suitable violin for his then five-year-old son.

After meeting many teachers over the past eight years and hearing their frustrations about the quality of student instruments, Hagopian began a quest to design a perfect starter violin, one that would fulfill their recommendations for the key elements of the instrument: wood, the strings, the bow, and the tailpiece and tuners.

The Wood: The New York Philharmonic Apprentice and Master Violin are made with spruce tops and maple backs, the same materials Stradivarius used 300 years ago. The wood is dried and seasoned for a minimum of seven to 10 years before the instrument is constructed, an expensive process but one which makes wood more resonant and much stronger. Oil or alcohol varnish is then applied so the wood can breathe and project a loud and sweet sound. The pegs are made of hard ebony so they won't break.

"The most common problem in cheaper student violins is with the wood," states Hagopian. They are often made with fresh ? "green" or "wet" ? wood. Within weeks they start to collapse because the wood is not strong enough to hold the tension of the strings. As the wet wood starts to dry, the violin warps, and parts begin to loosen and fall off. The violins are impossible to keep in tune because of the shifting frame. Sometimes instruments made of soft plywood are sprayed with polyurethane to keep them from falling apart immediately. For the pegs, cheaper violins use plywood, painted black, and the pegs break off, often within a week.

The Strings: The New York Philharmonic Master Violin uses strings that many of the Orchestra's players use. The most popular brand is Dominant Thomastik, which cost around $60. For the smaller Apprentice model, Hagopian found that Dogal Strings, hand-made in Venice, Italy, had a fantastic sound. Dogal Strings is a small, family-run company that has spent three generations perfecting violin strings by experimenting with different materials and tensions made specifically for the violin.

The Bow: The bow is made with real Pernambuco wood from Brazil, the same type of tree used by the French master bow makers of the 18th and 19th century, not plastic or carbon fiber. They are strung with real horsehair, as are all professional violin bows.

The Tailpiece and Tuners: Because young children are usually not strong enough to turn the pegs on the violin, teachers often request that "fine tuners" be attached to the tailpiece. Old-fashioned tuners are made of metal and are installed on each string. They are very heavy and also change the crucial string length that causes 20 to 30% loss of sound. The New York Philharmonic Apprentice Violin model uses a state of the art carbon fiber tailpiece with built in tuners. Children can turn them easily and the string length is not compromised so that the full potential of the violin can ring out.

Said Theodore Wiprud, New York Philharmonic Vice President, Education, "We work with thousands of talented students every year, too many of whom are being held back by inadequate instruments. A student who aspires to play professionally, certainly at the level of the New York Philharmonic, at some point needs a quality instrument. The New York Philharmonic Apprentice and Master model violins hit the sweet spot of affordability and quality, as judged by Philharmonic musicians themselves."

Added Frank Huang, Concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic, "The violins have a rich and even sound. They're perfect for the budding violinist with aspirations of joining a world-class orchestra, possibly on the way to becoming a future member of the New York Philharmonic."

For more information about the New York Philharmonic Apprentice Violin, contact Harold Hagopian, or (917) 365-7808.

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