What Size Violin Should a 7-Year Old Play?

Is your seven-year-old learning to play the violin? Are you trying to decide what size violin is the best for him or her? Finding the perfect violin can be tricky, but with my help, finding the right size of instrument shouldn’t be an issue. 

What size of violin should a seven-year-old play? Depending on the seven-year-old’s height—or, more specifically, arm length—the violin can vary in size. A violin should reach from the musician’s shoulder to the middle of his or her palm. There are plenty of ways to measure the perfect violin. 

My advice should make the task quick and simple so your seven-year-old can channel his or her energy toward learning to play.

Choosing the Right Violin

The perfect violin for your seven-year-old is just a matter of measurement. The following information was gathered by experts at fiddleheads.ca, and it should help you determine what size of the instrument is right for your child:

Age Arm LengthViolin SizeViolin Body AND Total MeasurementsLength of Bow
11 years +23″ and larger4/4 or Full size14″ AND 23″-23.5″29.5″
Small Teen 22″ 7/8 size13.5″ AND 22.5″29.5″
9-12 years21.5″ – 22″3/4 size13″ AND 21″27″
7-9 years20″1/2 size12.5″ AND 20.5″ 24.5″
5-7 years18″ – 18.5″1/4 size11″ AND 18.5″-19″22.5″
4-6 years16.5″1/8 size10″ AND 17″19.25″
4-5 years15″1/10 size9″ AND 16″

3-5 years14″1/16 size8″ AND 14.5″16.75″

According to this chart, a child between the ages of five to seven years can play a violin anywhere between eighteen inches and twenty-two inches long, or a half- or 3/4-sized instrument.

This is a great reference, but it might not be specific enough for you. If you’re still unsure what size violin is right for your seven-year-old, you can always measure his or her arm yourself.

Generally, however, if you take your child to a musical instrument supplier, the salesperson will measure his or her arm and offer violins of a respective size. This is the most informative and precise way to obtain an instrument.

If you’d still rather take the measurements yourself (if you’re buying the instrument online, for instance), there’s a pretty good rule of thumb regarding violins for seven-year-olds:

1/8-sized violins are for children with arms roughly seventeen inches in length. Full-sized violins are for young adult or fully grown musicians with arm lengths of approximately two feet.

Seven-year-olds typically have an average arm length of eighteen to twenty inches, which makes a half-sized violin ideal.

The Consequences of Playing a Too-Big Violin

It’s only natural to wish you could buy your seven-year-old a violin that would last him or her a lifetime. Violins are massively expensive, and it’s certainly a financial strain to purchase a new one every time your child has a growth spurt.

Unfortunately (and somewhat surprisingly), playing a too-big violin can weigh heavily on your child’s physical health. 

Violins that are too big force the body into odd angles and poor alignment. Not only do students develop physical injuries from a large instrument there can be emotional side-effects. Students that have a too large of a violin become unmotivated due to pain and fatigue while playing.”

(Read more about violin sizing here.)

A too-big violin mainly causes its musician excessive exhaustion, whereas playing a well-sized instrument should feel relatively comfortable and even effortless. The unnecessary labor required to play on a disproportionately large violin would deter any musician from continuing to play—especially an impressionable seven-year-old.

If you’re still unconvinced, imagine playing the piano. I’m sure most of us tried to reach an octave at some point with underdeveloped, adolescent hands. It’s practically impossible, and even if you made it, I doubt it felt too good.

Violins aren’t so different. If children try to repeatedly reach from note to note in intervals that don’t quite match their finger spans, things might get messy.

Consequences of Playing a Too-Small Violin

I can actually serve as a pretty persuasive cautionary tale when it comes to playing too-big violins.

I’ve been playing the violin since I was about six years old. I assume you don’t know how old I am now, but trust me, that’s a long time. When I first started out, I had the ultimate tiny violin.

I’m serious. It was so cute. (I still have it, as a matter of fact, even though I can’t really play it anymore.) I loved playing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” and I had a great teacher who taught me good posture, so I never felt any sort of strain or tension—not even when I played the aforementioned tunes for hours on end, offering no relief to my sweet but undoubtedly exasperated mother.

 When I turned eight, I grew about four inches in a matter of months. My six-year-old violin, of course, didn’t grow with me. I began to feel serious aches between my shoulder blades every time I tried to play.

The songs I was learning were far more complex, now, but I had a hard time reaching all the necessary notes without cramping my fingers or getting a kink in my neck.

For the first time in two years, I wasn’t excited to play my violin. I didn’t want to go to lessons; I didn’t want to practice whatever songs my teacher assigned me. My violin was causing me horrible pain. It just wasn’t fun anymore.

Thankfully, I got a new violin (one more appropriate to my height and arm length), and I went straight back to annoying my mom with simplistic melodies on repeat.

Two violins later, I still do the very same thing—albeit the songs I play now are hardly simplistic, and I don’t live with my parents. But you know what I mean.

I even have a friend who played on a too-small violin for about three years, and she developed some serious spine and neck problems as well as minor arthritis that still plague her today.

(This is ironic, as the finger movements associated with accurately proportioned violins is actually proven to alleviate arthritic symptoms.)

The size of the instrument you buy for your seven-year-old is unarguably crucial to his or her health, and it could very probably affect whether or not he or she chooses to continue playing in the future. 

Bow Length for a Seven-Year-Old

Bow length is just as important as the size of the violin itself, and no, I’m not talking archery.

The bow is a crucial tool for playing the violin. Without it, musicians could only pluck, and while plucking has its place in classical music, it’s hardly the main attraction. 

A bow that is too big is hard to control. It will either be too heavy or too long for your seven-year-old to keep between the bridge and the fingerboard.

If you’re at all familiar with the violin, you know that playing anywhere but between these two boundaries results in a watery tone far from the vibrant, resounding sound violinists hope to achieve.

Young musicians must learn a certain posture to keep their bow from sliding up and down their violins’ strings. A too-long bow will prevent young musicians from developing the muscles necessary to achieve this posture, and it could very well result in a fallen and broken bow or damaged instrument. 

Once again, the length of a bow should be proportional to the size of the player. The chart under heading one, “Choosing the Right Violin,” should give you a pretty good idea of what bow goes with what size of the violin.

Just remember: The shorter the bow, the stiffer it will be. A stiff bow is easy to keep in place. The best way to determine what bow is right for your seven-year-old is to let him or her try it out before purchase.

Even an inexperienced child should be able to manage the perfect bow without too much difficulty.

Related Questions

How can I know what size my violin is? Again, every violin size (half, full, 3/4, etc.) correlates with an exact measurement. These measurements should be consistent for every violin of a specified size. The aforementioned chart from fiddleheads.ca is a great reference.

Check out this Violin Sizes FAQ for more information. 

Where can I buy a violin? Odds are, you have a great musical instrument supplier nearby. If your house is too remote and you can’t find a store that sells what you need, or if none of the price tags quite line up with your budget, there are plenty of online stores that sell high-quality instruments at a relatively low cost.

Don’t let the name deceive you: Guitar Center is awesome for buying starter violins. So are Musician’s Friend and even Amazon

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