Listings of local violin/fiddle rentals, sales, repair, performing groups, and other helpful resources for fiddle students.

Hope Hoffman teaches violin/fiddle for all ages in Rockland and Belfast, Maine.

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Shar Music has great customer service (mail-order, by phone or online). Their company Shar Violins has a flexible purchase plan for instruments via mail-order including upgrading to a larger size and trade-ins, which makes it similar to renting. They also sell various supplies and equipment including shoulder rests, and often have very reasonable prices for strings.

To find what size violin would fit your child, advice is linked here, and also here.

Al Corey music store (Waterville, Maine), call ahead 872-5622 to see what supplies they have in stock.

Mark Donovan (Bowdoinham, Maine) makes instruments, and may do repairs, (207) 666-8226.

Frost Gully Violins (Freeport, Maine), upscale repair, sales and rentals.

Johnson Strings (Massachussetts), good quality rentals and sales.

Music & Moore at 49 Topsham Fair Mall Road, Suite 20, Topsham, ME (207) 725-4733. Friendly service and reasonable prices. A rental program may be available in the future.

Carter Ruff (Bath, Maine) makes guitars, and sometimes repairs violins.

Sirius Music (Brunswick, Maine), contact Tom Bailey at (207) 729-1387 or (207) 319-8846.

David Stimson (Boothbay, Maine) offers repair services including: gluing and crack repair; new bridges and soundposts; fingerboard dressing; nut repair and replacement; sound adjustment; tuning pegs. Located at 261 River Road; davidstimson [at] gwi [dot] net, (207) 380-2842.

Salt Bay (Damariscotta/Newcastle, Maine), reasonably priced sales and repair, on Route 1, (207) 563-6611.

Somerset Violins (Waterville, Maine), reasonably priced sales and repair.

Stamell Stringed Instruments (Amherst, MA) offers a one week, home trial of instruments and bows.

Starbird Music (Portland, Maine) has a rental program and is a nice place for supplies.

I've been told that American Music and Portland Conservatory might also have rentals.

Many of my students have had good luck getting a starter violin on e-bay and craigslist. You never know what you'll get, but it's an inexpensive gamble. Maybe they are just lucky people.

Mail-order sales of strings, instruments and supplies:;; International Violin Company;;



I recommend getting a $5-$10 foam shoulder rest to start, then trying out more elaborate shoulder rest designs before purchasing another. The foam ones are sold online, Stamell Stringed Instruments and Shar mail-order music supplies, and other places online and in stores.

An article about posture, shoulder rests and chin rests is here.

An overview of types of shoulder rests is here.

I use a high-tech Bon Musica shoulder rest, which was well worth the money. It's sold through many companies online including and Shar.

Shar Music offers customers the option of purchasing several kinds of shoulder rests at once, trying them out at home, and shipping back/returning the ones that don't fit. This seems like the most efficient way to find the right kind to fit each individual. It would cost the price of 2-way shipping, plus the price of the shoulder rest that's not returned. Remember that child-sized violins need child-sized shoulder rests!

Strings vary in material, quality and tone; an overview, including how to change the strings on your instrument, is here.



Maine Fiddle Camp ~ I've attended this for four years, and it's really amazing and worthwhile. Very enriching for musicians of any and all levels of experience. Fiddle, piano, cello, guitar, banjo, bones, tin whistle, mandolin, bass, and accordion. Classes and workshops with performances, jams, song swaps, and dancing. Lakeside setting with bonfires, swimming, bunkhouse cabins and tent sites. And, incredible food featuring local organic produce. Here's a link to a waltz I composed for Maine Fiddle Camp.




Family contradance (Belfast, Maine) the first Friday of each month in Belfast from 6-7 p.m. The music is an "open stage," so you are welcome to bring an instrument and join in making music for the dancers. (Falmouth, Maine) Opportunity for beginners through advanced players of all ages, on many instruments, to rehearse and perform. I played cello and accordion with them for a season and recommend it, it is educational as well as fun and gentle/supportive. I encourage students to drop in and listen to rehearsals.

Coastal Youth Orchestra (Brunswick, Maine) Community orchestra with musicians of all ages; see their website for schedule of rehearsals and concerts.

Here is a link to some of the tune lists of groups in Maine which welcome musicians of all ages and levels, including students and beginners.




Downeast Friends of the Folk Arts ~ Lists music jams, concerts and dances throughout Maine and New Hampshire.




Tuning notes for fiddle/violin:
E string ~ A string ~ D string ~ G string

A way to listen to tuning notes online is linked here -- the tuner does not need to be downloaded, you can just click on the notes that appear on that web page.

Some of my students like to have a book. One that is fairly useful is "First Lessons -- Violin" by Craig Duncan, published by, sold at local music stores and probably on e-bay as well. I think it comes with a CD and DVD.

Larry McCabe has some good-looking books sold online at Mel Bay including "Music Theory 101," "Easiest Fiddle Tunes for Children." I definitely recommend his book "How To Play Fiddle," published by Santorella Publications. Some of his books include CDs, and he also has books of Appalachian and Irish tunes.

A book that looks good as an overview of fiddling is The Fiddler's Almanac; you can buy it here, and browse through its pages here.

Listening to music is very important to learning to play it; I recommend exploring the fiddle music on; you can listen to audio samples from each CD on the site. Many Maine fiddlers' albums are available from this site, and a variety of styles can be found to suit your individual taste.

Free tutorials on technique and some basic tunes are at

More free fiddle lessons are at



An online library of traditional music (audio and sheet music) is here.

Both audio files and sheet music for many common traditional tunes are also here; also at The Kitchen Musician's website; The Fiddler's Companion (from which audio files can be created using this file conversion site); and John Lamancusa's collection of old-time fiddle tunes which includes field recordings of them.

CDs of beginner through advanced fiddle tunes can be purchased from Maine Fiddle Camp.

You can print free sheet music for fiddle tunes, and download audio, at

Written versions of common fiddle tunes are in several books including the New England Fiddler's Repertoire, the Portland Collection, and the Waltz Book series. Some of the books are available used at, and at music stores.

Additional audio archives are at the Digital Library of Appalachia.

Click here for a site with free, printable music staff paper

Here is a link to some of the tune lists of groups in Maine which welcome musicians of all ages and levels, including students and beginners.

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