If you have never played the violin or seen a violin being played then you haven’t lived!
There is nothing better than hearing someone bowing a symphony on a fiddle that is literally music to your ears, transporting you to another place.
The sound of the violin can transport you to your own special place, like this sculpture hidden in a peaceful park. Photo on Foter.com
Over the last couple of decades, musicians have vamped up violin music and managed to create some truly diverse sounds that range from classical to contemporary in style, some stretching as far as to be called techno or electric. One very big name in the world of the violin is Vanessa Mae, who has sold several millions of albums. Many say that she has brought opera music into the twenty-first century.
While violin solos in modern music aren’t unheard of, it is often renditions of popular music played on the violin that soar in popularity. For instance, just google violin versions of songs on YouTube, like ‘Next to You’, originally performed by Justin Bieber and Chris Brown.
Whether you wish to learn the art of the violin through workshops in order to play traditional classical music or you are keen on using the instrument to create a more unique sound, you can’t go wrong with opting for learning the violin as there are many benefits on offer.
In addition, there are many ways to learn: at school, at college, with private lessons, at university or at a conservatory.
It may look easy, but holding a stringed instrument and its bow in a comfortable position actually takes a lot of practising 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. 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.
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!
Grasping the right right position for violin playing can be quite a challenge. Photo credit: rs-foto on Foter.com / CC BY-SA
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.
You should also 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 (whether solo or in a quartet or orchestra), you’ll meet fellow violinists who love the art of music making, go to classical performances and ensembles, and follow likeminded musicians on social media – you’ll probably start to live and breathe the musical instrument and each composition learned.
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.
Finally, it is good to keep some perspective… you will not sound good for a very long time unless you put in the necessary hours of practice. This is because the violin is no easy instrument to play, and requires real skill, flair and talent. Most of all, it requires commitment and hard work so be prepared to work hard to achieve the best end result!
If you live in the big smoke or want to travel to the capital specifically to become a musician, then here are a few places offering violin lessons that you might like to look into.
There are, of course, many more places and tutors offering exceptional musical services so be sure to do your research before applying.
Endorsed by big names like The Guardian, The Evening Standard, BBC and The Daily Telegraph, Arts Academy is a part of the Arts Group Ltd and offers young pupils the opportunity to be taught string instruments like the cello, double bass and the violin.
They teach students of 4 years old and older, and you can scroll through their extensive list of teachers plus their bios on the websites.
With a free session offered if you sign up, the company has a proven method of teaching kids to keep them interested.
“Our unique method focuses on separating you child’s MusicHour™ into diverse activities so there is no time for boredom, always keeping things moving, and never, ever do one task for more than 15 minutes:
5 mins of Meet & Greet
15 mins of revising the previous weeks piece
15 mins of FunTime™ (using flash cards/playing music games)
15 mins of starting the forthcoming weeks piece
10 mins of FunTime™ (using flash cards/playing music games)
[…] The system has been organically developed by Creative Director, Robert Emery over ten years of teaching. He discovered his pupils found traditional methods of learning restrictive and ineffective, leading to the creation of the Arts Academy method.”
City Lit offers courses in violin and viola, covering a range of individual modules costing less than £200 each. Choose from short tasters and year-long courses.
You will need to have your own violin and case when attending lessons or hire one. Photo credit: Xavez on Foter.com / CC BY-SA
The ‘violin and viola 1: module 1’ course, for instance, is set up as follows:
“What is the course about?
You will learn the basic playing techniques for violin or viola, and learn to read basic music notation. This course is suitable for absolute beginners and continues with module 2. Tutor: Isobel Clarke.
What will we cover?
– How to hold the instrument and bow correctly
– Good posture and movement while playing
– Basic fingering patterns to allow you to play simple tunes
– How to listen to your own intonation and play in tune
– Reading and writing simple music notation.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to…
– Manage the violin and bow
– Produce a pleasant tone
– Know the sound and structure of major scales starting on open strings
– Read and play simple tunes and rhythms.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This course is suitable for complete beginners.
You will need to follow written and verbal instructions in English and engage in class discussions.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Classes will comprise tutor explanation and demonstration, group playing and individual practice (please bring your own instrument). Sessions will also include class discussion, aural skills and theoretical study.
To make progress you will need to practise regularly outside class (ideally at least 20 minutes on least 4 days per week).”
Greenwich Music School
Greenwich Music School is a centre of excellence in music education, providing top music courses for all ages, from early years through to adults, as well as professional training for musicians and music teachers. It is a registered charity.
“Why Greenwich Music School?
Crafted individual curriculum for each student.
High-quality music lessons from expert tutors, who are at once professional musicians and dedicated teachers.
Tuition for all ages and all levels, from beginners to professional coaching.
Performance opportunities every term.
Additional support available, including aural skills support classes and accompanists for exams and performances.
Option to enter exams, festivals and competitions.
How does it work?
First we arrange a trial lesson at peak rate. After that, lessons are booked for a fixed day and time, each week or fortnight*, for the term in advance (11 to 12 weeks). See term dates.
This continues until you give us notice to stop or change lesson time/day. Notice is required at least one month before the end of term to stop at the end of the term or change time/day from the start of the next term.
- Tuition fees:
Peak times (weekdays from 3.30pm, all weekend):
30 mins £23.00 • 45 mins £34.10 • 60 mins £45.15
- Shared lessons, per student:
30 mins £15.10 • 45 mins £19.10 • 60 mins £23.00
Off-peak times (weekdays before 3.30pm):
30 mins £20.70 • 45 mins £30.69 • 60 mins £40.64
Shared lessons, per student:
30 mins £13.59 • 45 mins £17.19 • 60 mins £20.70
- *Fortnightly lessons (not recommended for students before grade 5 standard)
30 mins £24.84 • 45 mins £36.83 • 60 mins £48.76
30 mins £22.36 • 45 mins £33.15 • 60 mins £43.89We offer discounts for third and fourth family members, and on fees for group courses for those enrolled for instrument/voice lessons with us. […] We also offer ad hoc or one-off lessons, consultations and coaching sessions, with a surcharge of 30% on the above fees.”
You can also find violin lessons in other major UK cities, such as: