As everyone around you makes statements about their new year’s resolutions, it gets you thinking about what you are going to give up, or start up, in 2019.
To make a realistic goal that you are actually likely to keep, why not consider trying something different that will give you a new skill but that will also be rewarding? Learning to play the violin at music school or at home is a great way to get your year off to a bright start, and by next year you’ll be wondering why you didn’t start earlier!
Did you know that the earlier you are exposed to a musical instrument, the better you become?
This isn’t just down to the extra hours of practice you get in, it’s that your developing mind somehow becomes attuned to the musicality and reading and writing music becomes second nature. Just imagine, if all children were taught to read music at the same age as they learn to read, then our society would be far more lyrical and creative.
But, on the other hand, would we want to live in a world where everyone had rhythm and where music students with their musicianship and sight reading skills just faded into the background? No! Those who love music making should be celebrated as the talented individuals they are!
Musicians are individuals expressing themselves in the best way they know how to. Photo credit: Phil Roeder on Foter.com
However, we understand that not everyone has the opportunity to learn to play a fiddle or other instrument during their childhood – music classes like piano lessons, cello lessons, voice lessons, drum lessons, bass lessons, flute lessons, guitar lessons… they don’t come cheap (not to mention the equipment that you need to have on top of the cost of your tuition). With this in mind, we have put together a few tips to help you get started with playing the violin, a popular string instrument, whether you’re a student or an adult.
Learn how to maintain your instrument
If you want your violin to be good to you, you must be good in return and care for the instrument. When beginning violin, don’t be surprised if your violin teacher teaches you how to care for violins before you learn how to play the violin!
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 (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.
You must remember to have your violin tuner with you at all times as you don’t want to play on an ill-tuned instrument and risk being told you sound scratchy!
When and how often should I practice?
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.
You must practice as much as you can if you want to master playing the violin. Photo credit: LearningLark on Foter.com / CC BY
Check out resources that can help you learn
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!
Keep a folder containing all your music sheets
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 practising so much easier and more efficient.
Find a teacher!
Finally, unless you’re really brave, don’t try to attempt learning the violin on your own!
You can find a private tutor by consulting the Superprof website, where you’ll see the hundreds and thousands of music teachers offering their services across the UK. You can choose a music teacher who lives nearby so that you can schedule regular meetups, or you can book sessions in with a musician online, which means communicating via telephone, video call, email and learning from virtual tutorials, recordings and using your own initiative.
Below are just some establishments which offer tuition in violin playing, and where you might choose to study.
Royal Northern College Of Music, School Of Strings
RNCM’s School of Strings provides an inspiring environment in which to pursue your training to the highest level.
The school offers study in the following areas: violin, viola, cello, double bass, classical guitar and harp.
“The School has an open class policy and you will be encouraged to attend as many classes as possible given by tutors other than your own.
Throughout your degree you will receive:
- Weekly Principal Study lessons
- Opportunities to take part in masterclasses given by visiting tutors
- Regular Performance Classes
- Opportunities to be involved in chamber music sessions on core repertoire such as Brahms Sextets
- Regular workshops and clinics on ‘How to Practise’
- Your instrumental lessons are complemented by various extra classes throughout the year which have been designed to enrich your learning as a solo player or ensemble musician such as Speciality Classes, Strings Recitals or Orchestral Excerpt classes.
You will receive a broad range of solo, chamber and orchestral performance opportunities through Recital Classes and Professional Experience Schemes with our unrivalled range of professional orchestral partners as part of The Platform.
There are twice-yearly compulsory auditions (behind screens) for RNCM orchestras and ensembles, which include the RNCM Symphony, String, Chamber, Concert and Session Orchestras. In addition, there are a number of internal competitions and opportunities to play in RNCM festivals and masterclasses, including the annual Strings Festival.
The School has a strong tradition of chamber music; leading chamber ensembles such as the Brodsky, Navarra and Sorrel Quartets were formed at the RNCM. You will be given numerous opportunities to be involved with chamber music with both staff and students, and you will be able to establish your own student ensemble through the College’s Chamber Music department. You will quickly develop and refine interpretative, collaborative and rehearsal skills under expert direction provided by RNCM tutors.”
Some colleges or music academies offer the opportunity to perform as an ensemble. Photo credit: ancasta1901 on Foter.com / CC BY
Manchester Violin School
The Manchester Violin School is a company that offers private tuition in the field of violin with one of its two highly-qualified teachers and founders and their team.
“The Manchester Violin School (MVS) provides high quality music education across the city of Manchester. Founded by two highly-qualified and experienced teachers, MVS strives to achieve musical excellence through motivating, ambitious and enjoyable lessons specially tailored to suit the individual needs of our students. The tutors are professional musicians who perform regularly and have a huge wealth of tutoring experience. We specialise in teaching violin and chamber music, but also offer viola and musical theory lessons. All our tutors have passed enhanced DBS checks.
What makes MVS unique is that our violin teachers share their experiences, tips and resources to provide consistent high-quality teaching. We ensure that our teachers work together to guarantee the most advanced teaching methods are being used.
Currently the only private violin tuition service in Manchester that holds termly Informal Concerts, we give all our students the chance to perform to a friendly audience (most of whom will be fellow students!). We also encourage our pupils to take part in chamber music as we believe playing together is fun and can supply that little bit of extra motivation when it’s needed.”
In addition to offering top-quality violin lessons, the school has the facilities to offer an instruments loan scheme, meaning that you can borrow a bowing instrument of your choice for as little as £4 a month (plus a small deposit to cover any damages).
Below are details of their pricing for your information:
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