If your child expresses an interest in learning to play a stringed instrument you will find that you need a child-sized instrument. Unlike brass and woodwind instruments which are a one size fits all, there are many sizes for stringed instruments.
The music industry uses fractions to denote the different sizes in violins, cellos, and basses. Instruments run from 1/32 size (something a toddler would use) to a 4/4 size (something an adult would use.) These fractions are just to identify the instruments, a half size violin is not exactly half the size of a 4/4 size. Generally speaking there is about one inch difference between sizes.
Violas are slightly different. They are measured by the actual body length. Anything that is 15 inches or above is considered to be full size. Full-size violas can be 15, 15.5, 16, 16.5 or 17 inches. Most adults play on a 16 or 16.5 inch viola. If a child needs a smaller size viola, usually a half-size or quarter-size violin is used and just restrung as a viola. When getting an instrument, you will need to bring the child with you so s/he can be measured for the proper size instrument. This is not something that can be done over the phone or by just giving us the height of the child.
After determining the proper size, you can start leasing the instrument. Leasing is recommended with fractional sizes since the child will be growing out of them. Here at West Music we do not sell fractional sizes, only the full size instruments. As your child grows you can simply trade up to the next size and so on until s/he is at a full-size instrument, and then you can look at buying.
West Music just got in a new inventory of high quality violins, violas, cellos, and basses to purchase. Learn more at orchestra.westmusic.com.