Are you already a musician or do you want to build on your musicianship? Do you have a number of instruments in your repertoire or are you focused on one specific instrument: playing the violin? Did you know that you live in a city that offers one of the best music conservatories in the country?
We challenge you to get a place at this renowned music establishment or one of the other fantastic music academies and music schools in this region!
Violin teachers all over Birmingham are waiting to pass on their expertise and turn you into the best performer you can be.
This, however, is not the only challenge, as you know. Simply beginning violin is no easy feat. Below we look at what makes violin playing so challenging to strings musicians and what the results are when you learn music in this way.
Many of us are guilty of slouching over desks or sprawling across the sofa at night to watch TV, but training to play the violin can teach your entire body a thing or two and encourage you to be more aware of your appearance. Much like when you train to be a dancer or ballerina, this art encourages you to improve your posture and brings with it a number of health benefits.
It may look easy, but holding a stringed instrument and its bow in a comfortable position actually takes a lot of practicing, and failing!
To play the violin properly, you should be holding the string instrument with your core fully engaged, meaning that your abs will be tight, shoulders back and down, and you’ll be sitting upright with no shifting. Music classes should help you to master this.
Although hard to get used to at first, this enhanced first position will become easier as time passes and could bring you a number of health benefits, such as better breathing techniques.
Playing violin can correct a bad posture because of all the muscles you need to engage. Photo credit: Elvert Barnes on Foter.com
Making Multitasking Easier
Aside from the above adjustment to your body positioning habits, you’ll also need to conquer the strain on your arm muscles and the ability to multi-task, as both of your hands will be doing something very different! Try rubbing your tummy with one hand whilst patting your head with the other, and you’ll see how hard it is to do both at once!
As well as having active, engaged arm muscles, other muscle groups you’ll use are the neck, shoulders, back and abs, making it a very good upper body workout. Not to mention, of course, the brain workout you will be doing too!
You may also find it challenging on your hand and wrist to spread your fingers across the strings at the angle which you hold your violin. Violin fingering is one of the hardest types of placement you’ll have to experience as a musician.
Learn Sight Reading
All musicians must learn to read music, but learning to read music whilst having both of your hands occupied is particularly hard as any musician will know.
Whether you are taking guitar lessons, bass lessons, cello lessons, flute lessons or drum lessons, you will need to be adept to reading compositions at a glance or understand the discipline of being led by a composer. You don’t see professional musicians with their heads buried in books and pausing to turn over the page!
The concertmaster plays an important role in performances. Photo on Foter.com
Improvisation may also be necessary as a musician, especially when you are a soloist with no concertmaster to watch.
Nigel Kennedy is one of the leading violinists of his time, having used his love for the string instrument to younger generations. He is known as quite a controversial character in the world of classical music, with quite an extrovert personality, yet it is this flair that captures the attention of his audiences.
His concerts are quite flashy, and Kennedy himself rocks a unique punk-infused appearance when on stage. Some might say that he is like the Johnny Rotton of the classical world, with strong political views that he doesn’t shy away from and his powerful stage presence during performances.
His performances can be described as a mixture of classical and jazz, and the artist has performed with rock artists too which shows his diversity on the instrument. His concerts are highly publicised which means that he has been a huge influencer in attracting new listeners to the classical music genre.
Though born in Brighton, Kennedy has affiliations with the city Birmingham, after having performed with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra during the 80s and 90s. He began his musical journey by having piano lessons with his mother, who was a musician too specialising in the cello. During his music education, he attended Juilliard where he studied under Dorothy DeLay.
Kennedy has been honoured a number of awards for his contribution to the music world, one being at the 1997 BRIT awards when he was given an Outstanding Contribution to British Music award.
Below are a couple of places that you may wish to consider for your music placement, starting of course with the prestigious Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.
If you aren’t sure that you’re ready to take the big step of starting a conservatory of music, then you can find a teacher first who is trained in teaching music and can help you with beginner violin before you begin a music program.
Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
The Royal Birmingham Conservatoire is a conservatory for music that is known across the country.
“As a student in the Strings Department at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire you will be part of a dynamic and exceptionally supportive student and staff fraternity. Strings Staff include and internationally renowned performers and pedagogues.
We foster creativity and individuality through our bold and varied performance programme offering a wide-ranging agenda of solo, chamber music and orchestral performance opportunities, many internal and external recital possibilities and frequent from international artists and visiting tutors.
We devote much attention to Pedagogy and the importance of adequately preparing our students for this essential and fascinating facet of the music profession. Above anything else – we care about the future of every one of our students and are utterly committed to helping them realise their dreams.
Tutorial Staff within the department include seasoned soloists, chamber and orchestral musicians, pedagogues and educators at the forefront of Conservatoire training.
Learn from world-leading artists who will help you nurture your talent
Our students have the opportunity to work with visiting artists such as:
Heath (Ensemble in Residence)
Schubert Ensemble (Ensemble-in- Residence)
Julian Lloyd Webber
Rudi De Groote
Students are also offered the opportunity to audition for placements with leading professional orchestras, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Welsh National Opera, Chamber Orchestra of Europe and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO).”
Selly Oak Music School
Selly Oak Music School, founded by Dr Heng-Ching Fang (a graduate of the above Royal Birmingham Conservatoire), offers lessons in the city covering Violin, Piano, Viola, and Music Theory.
If you’re unable to join a music academy, then there are lots of one to one or group lessons available that cater for all ages. Photo credit: Pedronet on Foter.com / CC BY
“Selly Oak Music School is founded by Dr. Heng-Ching Fang (PhD in Music, University of Leeds; Master in Music- Guildhall School of Music, City University; PGDip, Birmingham Conservatoire), and provides private Violin, Piano, Viola and Music Theory lessons (in Birmingham UK, and Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia). If learning a musical instrument is your dream, Selly Oak Music School aims to Make Your Dream Come True.
We strongly believe that music is for everyone, regardless of background, culture and status. We want to offer the opportunity to people from all walks of life to learn and enjoy music.
In Selly Oak Music School, we tailor our music lessons to your needs. Our student-focus approach makes sure that you get the most out of your time. We also aim to cultivate student’s love of music and stimulate their potentials as we believe building up student’s self-esteem and competence is essential.
We believe that teacher’s qualifications, trainings and experiences are vital. ‘Quality’ Lessons instead of ‘Quantity’ lessons save you more time and money. As you know a solid foundation is very important during the learning process. Even for young beginners, they deserve the best teacher. In terms of teaching quality, Selly Oak Music School do not compromise! You certainly deserve the best.
For beginners, the lesson can be started from an absolutely basic level. For young pupils (age 3 – 10), We consider the participation of parents, both during and after the lessons, is essential. Supervising or assisting practising is vital, so childern can learn to do this regularly and effectively.
For pupils who are in higher grades, Selly Oak Music School concentrates on a wide scope of musical training, with the emphasis not just on playing in a ‘correct’ manner, but also focusing on performaning technique, musical interpretation, sight-reading, and historical intuition as trnaforming your ‘performance’ into a ‘fine style’ is our next step.”
Read our other blogs on learning violin in the UK: