Much less expensive: a satin bag (available from Shar here) can provide an extra level of insulation for your violin and protect it inside the violin case. Plus, they're pretty and feel luxurious. You can also find a silk scarf and wind it around your violin inside the case if you're more of a print person.
- Get a space heater and keep it in your practice area. One year, when I was at Baldwin-Wallace, the temperatures dropped rapidly before the building turned the heat on. I got a $10 space heater from Walgreens and it saved my practice life!
- Fingerless gloves, like these from the Gap or these from L.L. Bean. You can play with them on if absolutely necessary, but I love having these to wear around the house or to wear before rehearsals and during breaks. That way, you can be sure that your hands will be warm and ready to play!
- Do make sure that you warm up before you play. Do arm circles or jumping jacks to get the blood moving before you even open the case, and let yourself play scales or finger patterns slowly for a few minutes (I love Schradieck No. 1 for this!). Just like a car, your body will take longer to warm up in the winter, and it's important that you don't leap straight into your most technically difficult piece (this is generally not a good idea anyway!).
- When you need to warm up your hands FAST, try these hand warmers from L.L. Bean. One of my classmates in college carried them around with her during the winter, and I thought it was a brilliant idea.
- Layer intelligently. It's important to stay warm, but bulky layers can also restrict your movement. Your violin will feel different through a hoodie than it does through a t-shirt. Find lighter layers on top that will still allow you to move freely and then add heavier layers on the bottom. Try a tank top or undershirt under a thermal long-sleeved t-shirt, layer leggings under your pants, and wear warm fuzzy socks. Keeping your feet warm while you practice will make a big difference!
That's all for now! Stay warm, everyone!