11 December 2023

The 10 best gifts for musicians, makers and restorers this Christmas

By Lark Music

We all have that one friend or family member who is notoriously difficult to find Christmas gifts for. And we want to find a gift that is both thoughtful and useful, one that they will enjoy!

At Lark Music we have more than 25 Christmases under our belt, so we wanted to help you navigate the musical landscape to offer a symphony of practical, weird and inspiring ideas, from instrument essentials to odd accessories.

So, whether your recipient is a musician, or a musical instrument maker or restorer, here are our top gifts that will strike a chord this year!

All musicians

1. Masterclasses or workshops

Continuous learning is crucial for musicians. Gifting music lessons or workshops provides an opportunity for skill enhancement and the exploration of new techniques and styles. With technology making knowledge ever more accessible, around the globe a masterclass from an expert in their field could be the perfect gift this Christmas.

2. Subscription or membership to a musical organisation

Membership to a musical organisation could be the ideal gift for that budding musician to kick-start their musical journey. Organisations such as the ISM, BVMA or Musicians Union provide vast opportunities and benefits that go beyond just a simple gift. A membership to a musical organisation can be a valuable and thoughtful gift for several reasons:

  • Networking opportunities: Membership often grants access to a community of fellow musicians, providing opportunities to network, collaborate, and share experiences. This can be particularly beneficial for both aspiring and established musicians looking to expand their connections within the industry.
  • Professional development: Many musician organisations offer resources, workshops, and educational materials that contribute to the ongoing professional development of musicians. This includes access to industry insights, masterclasses, and educational events that can enhance skills and knowledge.
  • Exclusive access to events: Memberships may come with perks such as exclusive invitations to industry events, concerts, and workshops. This can provide unique opportunities to gain insights from professionals, attend performances, and stay updated on the latest trends in the music industry.
  • Advocacy and support: Some organisations advocate for musicians’ rights and provide support in areas such as legal advice, copyright protection, and fair compensation. Being a member can empower musicians by giving them a collective voice and access to resources that address their professional concerns.
  • Discounts and benefits: Many musician organisations offer members exclusive discounts on instruments, gear, software, and other music-related products and services. This can result in cost savings for the musician, making the membership a practical and economically beneficial gift.
  • Access to resources and publications: Memberships often include access to a wealth of resources, including industry publications, research, and databases. This can be valuable for staying informed about market trends, industry news, and educational materials.
  • Community support: Being part of a musician organisation provides a sense of community and support. Members can connect with like-minded individuals, share insights, and seek advice or mentorship, fostering a supportive environment for personal and professional growth.
  • Recognition and awards: Some organisations offer recognition and awards for outstanding achievements in music. Membership may make musicians eligible for consideration in various award categories, providing an additional avenue for acknowledgment of their talents.
  • Career opportunities: Membership of a musician organisation may open doors to career opportunities, whether through job listings, audition notices, or other avenues for professional growth. This can be particularly beneficial for musicians looking to expand their careers or find new opportunities.

3. Airtags or other tracking devices

As a musical instrument insurer, we cannot understate how devastating the loss of an instrument can be to a musician. Every safety and security measure musicians can put in place to prevent the worst occurring is music to our ears.

Airtags are a fantastic gift for a musician. They’re small, discreet and their battery can last for up to a year. Active whenever there is an iPhone in range, not many trackers can provide a network almost anywhere in the world with a device this small, discreet and battery powered. Flautist Gareth McLearnon uses them to keep track of his instruments. Although not fully recognised by insurers as a protective measure, a gift of an Airtag or other tracker could provide that extra peace of mind this Christmas.

4. Concert earplugs

A musician’s hearing is one of their most important senses (unless you are the incredible Dame Evelyn Glennie!). Concert earplugs are therefore an investment in the longevity of a musician’s hearing, as a good quality set of high-fidelity earplugs will protect their hearing during loud performances, while maintaining clarity of sound, and could therefore be the gift of choice this Christmas.

5. A recording session

A gift card for a professional recording studio session provides a musician with a valuable opportunity to capture their music in a high-quality and professionally engineered environment.

A recording studio gift card is a thoughtful and practical gift for musicians serious about producing high-quality recordings and elevating their musical projects to a professional standard.

String players

1. Strings

If it wasn’t obvious, strings are essential to all stringed instruments, but don’t let the simplicity of this gift idea make you overlook them as an option. Strings are a fantastic gift idea for several reasons:

  • Variety of options: Strings come in various materials, tensions, and brands. Gifting a set of strings allows the musician to experiment with different tones and find the ones that best suit their playing style and preferences.
  • Encouragement for regular maintenance: Regular maintenance is crucial for the longevity and performance of string instruments. Gifting strings encourages the musician to engage in this essential aspect of instrument care, promoting a sense of responsibility for their craft.
  • Consumable item: Strings are consumable items for string instruments, meaning they wear out over time with regular use. Musicians need to replace their strings periodically to maintain the instrument’s optimal sound quality. Thus, gifting strings shows consideration for the practical needs of the musician.
  • Enhanced sound quality: Fresh strings can significantly improve the sound quality of an instrument. Over time, strings lose their brightness and clarity, so providing a new set can rejuvenate the instrument’s tone, contributing to a better overall playing experience.
  • Versatility: Whether the musician is a professional or a beginner, strings are a versatile gift applicable to various skill levels and musical genres. From classical to contemporary music, having spare strings is always beneficial.

2. A custom capo

Capos can make for a simple, affordable gift. They are a useful tool, which every guitarist will need at some point. But you don’t have to stop there. With a little bit of time, effort and research, capos can make a thoughtful, personal gift. A personalised capo not only adds functionality to a guitarist’s toolkit but also demonstrates an understanding of their musical needs and a desire to enhance their playing experience.

3. Rosin

Rosin is a solid, amber-coloured substance that is derived from the resin of pine trees. It is primarily used by string instrument players like violinists, cellists, and double bassists to enhance the performance and sound quality of their instruments. Rosin helps create friction between the bow and the strings, allowing the bow to grip the strings and produce sound. Without rosin, the bow would slip over the strings and produce little or no sound.

There are many types of rosin. Musician make a choice depending on what instrument they play, and the temperature and sound they are looking for. Many musicians will have their favourites, but you can’t go wrong if you stick to these general rules:

  • Light rosin – used more in high temperatures – for violin and viola players
  • Dark rosin – used more in low temperatures – for cellists and double bassists

As always, there are an abundance of options when it comes to rosin, but don’t let that intimidate you when choosing a gift this Christmas. There are very few musicians who wouldn’t appreciate the gift of this essential item.

Makers, luthiers and restorers

1. UV torches – Makers and Restorers

The craft of violin making and restoring has been evolving for centuries. UV torches as a modern tool can be a valuable tool in the crafting and maintenance of string instruments. Here are some reasons why a violin maker might find a UV torch useful:

  • Wood inspection: UV light can reveal hidden details in wood that may not be visible under normal lighting conditions. It helps in inspecting the quality of the wood, detecting imperfections, and assessing the overall condition of the instrument.
  • Glue identification: Different types of glues may be used in the construction or repair of violins. UV light can assist in identifying glue lines and residues, aiding the violin maker in ensuring proper adhesion and addressing any issues with past repairs.
  • Varnish assessment: UV light can highlight varnish inconsistencies and reveal details about the application of varnish on the instrument. This is particularly helpful in evaluating the quality of the varnish and identifying any unevenness or imperfections.
  • Age and authenticity verification: Violin makers and restorers often deal with antique instruments. UV light can be used to examine the age and authenticity of an instrument by revealing details such as retouching or alterations that may not be apparent under regular lighting.
  • Crack detection: Hairline cracks or repairs in the wood may be challenging to spot with the naked eye. UV light can enhance the visibility of cracks, making it easier for the violin maker to identify and address structural issues.
  • Spotting repairs: When working on instrument repairs, a UV torch can be instrumental in identifying previous repairs or modifications. This is crucial for maintaining the integrity of the instrument and ensuring that repairs are cohesive with the original craftsmanship.
  • Insect damage detection: Wood-boring insects can cause damage to string instruments. UV light can reveal traces of insect activity, allowing the violin maker to address potential issues promptly and prevent further damage.

2. Books for makers and restorers

With such an extensive history, spanning thousands of years with hundreds of techniques and methods, the craft of instrument making and restoring is an expansive one. Although instrument makers may pride themselves on their own skills as a craftsperson, a book about violin making is a thoughtful gift that provides both educational and inspirational value. It caters to the recipient’s passion for their craft, offering a wealth of knowledge and serving as a guide on their journey to becoming a skilled and knowledgeable violin maker.

Our partner Florian Leonhard now has pre-orders available for his third book, The Archetypal Violins of Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù, dedicated to classic Cremonese violin making. Why not consider the gift of knowledge?

Why not gift peace of mind?

We have more than 25 years of experience in helping musicians find peace of mind, rather than playing it by ear.

Get an online quote or get in touch with us by completing our enquiry form. If you’d prefer to speak with one of our experts, please call 020 3846 5271.