Sorcha, you posted while I was writing. Your fiddle advice is excellent. Setup is a very personal thing and bows are far more important than most beginning fiddlers imagine. One should only buy a bow after playing it, or hearing it played, on one's own fiddle. Several bows should be compared side-by-side for sound until the right one is selected.
I also like your idea about placing instruments in front of speakers. There is nothing like keeping those molecules moving to improve the sound of an instrument. If you can't be there to play it, at least play music at it.