Anyone can learn how to play the violin, regardless of age or musicality, yet there are some things that every prospective player should know before they begin their journey.
Firstly, you should know that the violin is not just an instrument, it is a prestigious club or a community. You’ll notice that, as soon as you become a violin player, you’ll meet fellow violinists, go to classical performances and ensembles, and follow likeminded musicians on social media – you’ll probably start to live and breathe it.
Knowing you are not alone in being passionate about this instrument is quite reassuring for some and adds to the enjoyment of playing yet others may feel threatened knowing that there are so many others like them out there trying to get by (particularly in a professional sense) as a classically trained musician.
Some violin players in the classical music world may only be toddlers but could be better than you already!
By starting to play the violin, you are entering a community of violinists. Photo credit: Sebastiaan ter Burg on Visual Hunt
If you have watched people playing the violin or electric violin in movies or as part of classical concerts, put these memories to one side just for a moment. We aren’t saying that you should dismiss them altogether, as this is some great inspiration for the future, however, we urge you to remember that you won’t sound anything like that for a long time!
For example, mastering the uncomfortable art of holding a violin bow in an optimised position and toughening up your collarbone take lots of practice, as does the ability to actually play a tune.
Remember that that scratchy sound you make whilst you get your head around holding your bow properly is normal, and it will ease up over time!
If you want your violin to be good to you, you must be good in return and care for the instrument.
Although the idea of maintaining a piece of equipment seems a little tedious, rest assured that this will become a habit and will be no different to just doing a warm up before you practice.
If you have ever watched a performer prepare for a violin performance, you will no doubt have seen them tightening the curved bow and applying what looks like a small object (a violin rosin) over the bow hair. To maintain their curve, you must loosen up the bow when not in use and then tighten it again the next time you play it.
Bow hair needs friction in order to make sound so the sticky rosin is applied to trigger these vibrations and then leaves a residue that must be cleaned off.
Now that you know what to expect when you start learning to play the violin, see our tips for beginners below.
When you learn to play the violin, it’s easy to be fooled into thinking all you need is yourself and your instrument. However, every violinist needs, as well as their trusty instrument:
-a good bow
– a carry case
-a rosin (described above)
-a music stand
-pencils and erasers (for note-taking)
-a metronome (a device that helps you stay in time)
-good lighting (in which to read music and practice playing in)
One of the things you will need, along with your violin, is a bow. Photo credit: BotheredByBees on Visual hunt
It may seem a bit of a silly tip, but actually, practising at the same time every day actually makes you more committed. If you don’t set aside a specific time to practice, then you are far more likely to be too busy, too tired or to find some other excuse to skip practice altogether.
It’s up to you how many times a week you practice, but it goes without saying that if you practice on a regular basis, you will improve faster.
Playing live music and using apps just don’t seem like they should mix – but they do! So many mobile violin apps and great digital tools have been developed in recent years to help musicians, like practice trackers, music journals, tuner apps, etc…
Some are free to download whereas others might charge a small fee. It’s the price you pay for an easier life!
Along with a carry case to pack your instrument into, make sure you put a folder together with all of your sheet music in it. Throw in a few pens, pencils and erasers too so that you have everything you might need in one place.
Keeping all of these essentials in one place can make practicing so much easier and more efficient.
Finally, unless you’re really brave, don’t try to attempt learning the violin on your own!
Find a teacher who can teach you the basics at your pace and help you to improve over the course of your study programme. There are many different methods of learning the violin: at school, group lessons, or at home with a private tutor.
Now that you know and have all you need to start learning the violin, let’s focus on how you can learn to play the instrument.
Remember that are more ways you can learn, like by teaching yourself with ear training or using video tutorials online, but below are the most effective methods for fast learning and quick results.
Find out more about learning the violin in an association.
Most schools in the UK offer facilities for pupils to learn a range of instruments during their Music classes, with string instruments including violin, viola, cello and double bass. Some schools may even be able to offer lessons on the harp.
While your standard music violin lesson may not be the best environment in which to fine-tune your instrumental skills (especially if you have a Year 9 class full of jokers who are only committed to destroying the instruments), most avid musicians will join the school orchestra, practice after school with extra-curricular music lessons or will be picked by a tutor to give them the opportunity to build on their skills during term-time.
Some children get the opportunity to play string instruments like violins at a young age at school. Photo credit: juhansonin on VisualHunt.com
Back in 2016, the government announced a new scheme whereby a promise to donate £300 million over the next 4 years was made with the aim of helping young people from every background enjoy the benefits of music and the arts. A lot of the funding has been dedicated to clubs, but the move has helped to raise awareness of the importance of children getting access to music facilities during their education years.
Learning stringed instruments isn’t an opportunity that all youngsters get, unfortunately. But the good news is that many aspiring musicians can learn the essential elements of playing a string instrument and more by signing up for lessons and workshops in their area. Whether it’s beginner violin lessons you’re after or something more advanced, you will find violin lessons or violin teachers tailored to you.
During classes, you can expect to learn about the different violin parts like the violin bow, whether to hold it in your right or left hand, what to do with your middle finger, how to read music and, ultimately, how to play. One of your first compositions might only be Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, but your instructor will work on ways to take you from being a little star to a huge star on the music scene!
As you learn melody after melody, a good teacher will gradually introduce new techniques to help you make more beautiful music and make the experience more enjoyable.
You don’t have to pay an absolute fortune on violin classes with a professional musician boasting decades of experience. There are many accomplished individuals seeking to pass on their skills who may or may not have extensive experience teaching music theory to students like yourself. The advantage, however, is that you can search around and find someone who you feel compatible with.
Also, those very young or less practiced teachers may be better placed to teach you the basics in a more logical way, having not so long been a beginner themselves.
Superprof features tutors with varying levels of experience and offering different rates. With this platform, you can either choose to look for tutors based in your area or you can opt for online classes via video link, which could save you money in the long run and make it easier to guide you to the right tutor for you.
Learning the violin over Internet connection is also great for those who have busy lives and need to schedule in lessons with minimal disruption to their routine (like having to travel to a studio or tidy up in preparation for a visit from a tutor)!
Whichever method you decide on to learn the violin, remember that the road will always be up and down so try to stay motivated. If you lose faith, why not take inspiration from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra or other famous musicians featured on radio stations like Classic FM.
Just think symphony orchestras performing Beethoven or Brahms!