As a child, I remember always looking forward to the new CD that I would get in my Christmas stocking! (I also remember the first CD I ever received, shortly after we got a CD player for the first time...) These days, an iTunes gift card or gifting a digital album would be a great way to give a violinist music.
Some other violin accessories that would be great stocking stuffers are:
Dampit or case humidifier
Pencils (special pencils for writing on music make a great gift - I recommend Palomino Blackwing Pencils or Magic Writer Pencils)
Pencil holder for music stand
Metronome/tuner combination (One of my favorite brands is Intelli)
- Sheet music
- Music stand
- Gift certificate to the violinist's preferred violin shop for repairs/bow rehairs
Maintaining a violin takes a lot of equipment throughout the year, and the gift of strings, the next round of sheet music or method books asked for by the teacher, or a gift certificate to the violinist's favorite violin shop that they can use toward bow rehairs or repairs can make a fantastic gift. A durable music stand for home practice (such as a Manhasset) can be a welcome upgrade from a folding stand; likewise, for the violinist on the go, a trusty and compact folding stand for gigs and travel can make a wonderful gift.
A word of warning: Violin strings are NOT created equal, and each different brand of strings will sound different on each violin. If you're purchasing strings, please consult with your violinist, their parent, or their teacher about the right brand!
On a similar note, consider asking the violinist, their parent, or their teacher before purchasing sheet music for them - or give them a gift certificate to a sheet music supplier such as Sharmusic.com or their local sheet music shop. I still remember how disappointed I was when we bought a book that said "Star Wars" and "violin," when I was 10 years old and still in Suzuki Book 2...only to find that the Imperial March was written in D-flat major! It was frustrating and challenging to play.
One of the most important part of any violinist's life is listening to music, and upgrading the equipment they listen to can be a special and valuable gift. Headphones or a speaker system can be transformative in the way you hear music. Good headphones can also contribute to protecting hearing - avoid ear buds or anything that goes directly in the ear. Choose noise-canceling headphones that fit over the ear and will reduce noise around the listener so that the volume of the music can be softer.
My personal favorite brand is Bose, and I love my noise-canceling headphones (which were a Christmas gift a few years ago!). I love that I can hear all the voices in a string quartet. On my list for the future is a set of speakers for home listening.
Violins, bows, and the cases to protect them are massive investments and purchases to be seriously and carefully considered. Whenever it came time to upgrade my instrument, my parents considered that my birthday and Christmas present combined for that year. I would still get a few small other gifts, but that was the big one. I think one year, my mom even moved my violin case under the tree on Christmas morning.
So, if you're a parent and you are considering an upgrade for your child's violin, talk to your teacher for advice about a purchase and consider making it a Christmas gift. If you're another relative or friend wanting to contribute to gifting a violin or bow to a violinist you love, please talk to them or their parent first. Never, ever purchase a violin without the violinist - choosing an instrument is an important and special process, and they should try out the instrument and receive their teacher's approval before you purchase it. And remember, cheap instruments on the internet are never a good deal. It can cost more than what you pay for the instrument to get it functional. Amazon is not a reliable source for fine instruments and bows, nor is Ebay.
If you are looking at a big investment ($2,000 or more), the best thing to do might be to put a sum of money in a Certificate of Deposit or another interest-generating account in the violinist's name for a couple of years, and then they have that money when they are purchasing their first full-size, or to put toward the purchase of a step-up or professional instrument.
Cases are another option for a gift for which the giver should consult the violinist. Consider how heavy the case is, how often the violinist travels, how many bow holders they need inside the case, and if a waterproof exterior makes sense. I know that waterproofing was high on my list of requirements when I attended school in northeast Ohio. Also, ask a reputable luthier their opinion on high quality cases - what brands do they most often have to fix in the shop? I remember case shopping and being disappointed when the case that looked the most stylish was also one of the ones with the least reliable latches, according to the luthier I was working with.
The moral of the story is this: holiday gifts are a wonderful way to make sure the violinist in your life has all the accessories, supplies and instruments they need to be successful throughout the year - but for the big ticket items, consult with the professionals, especially their teacher, first.