A lot of people want to learn the violin (or fiddle) but are scared to take their first steps. The instrument’s too expensive, they can’t take violin lessons near me, they’re too impatient, they can't find any violin teachers, there are plenty of reasons.
However, if you’re passionate about learning to play the violin, anything is possible!
“The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have” - Vince Lombardi.
Never doubt your abilities and go for it! Even beginners have to start somewhere.
Learning an instrument on your own isn’t an impossible a task, even an instrument as complicated as the violin can be learnt without a violin teacher. Holding the bow, positioning your fingers on a violin string, adopting the right posture... these are all things you can learn.
So how can you do it?
How long does it take?
Here’s our best advice.
Why Teach Yourself the Violin?
There are plenty of reasons for taking violin classes with a private tutor at your home or over the internet or attending a music school or conservatoire.
There are a lot of places in the UK where there are no conservatoires, music schools, or a limited choice of private tutors.
While a lot of people want to learn the violin, very few are probably motivated enough to travel miles and miles to someone who'll teach them violin.
The price of violin classes is often an important factor that you need to take into account. Some people can’t justify investing this amount of money in classes each year. Conservatoires can cost nearly £10,000 per year to attend.
Furthermore, you have to be accepted onto the courses at conservatoires, too. That means you may need to look at other ways to learn violin music. Additionally, if you don't want to learn how to play classical music or perform in an orchestra, you probably won't want to be taught by these violin teachers.
For some, this level of commitment is frightening. Attending regular classes can sometimes be difficult if you have an irregular schedule. In these cases, teaching yourself how to play the violin might be the ideal solution, especially if you're a beginner.
Remember that you’ll need to regularly study if you want to make significant progress. Learning to play the violin or study music theory on your own also grants you an increased level of freedom. The musician gets to choose when they play or practise, meaning they can do so when they’re in the mood and making the learning process more enjoyable. Like we said before, you have to enjoy it.
When you regularly attend classes, you can feel obligated to play rather than for the fun of it. This means you can be put off music and end up giving up completely. Learning to play on your own can also help you to become a more autonomous student and improve your improvisation. The strict rules taught in conservatoires are nowhere to be seen here.
Of course, depending on how they’re implemented, these rules either be an advantage or disadvantage. The violinist needs to develop their own artistic style and knowing the basics can help them do this. You may need a bit of practice before moving onto an electric violin.
The Different Ways to Teach Yourself Violin
Where should you start when you learn how to play violin on your own?
Some decide to start by learning music theory while others prefer to skip this step and start playing straight away. Whichever approach you choose to take, there are plenty of ways to start learning the violin on your own.
Learning the Violin when You’re already a Musician
This depends on the type of musician you are.
If you choose to add the violin to the list of instruments you can already play (be them piano, guitar, cello, flute, recorder, clarinet, trumpet, saxophone, oboe, accordion, etc.), it’ll be easier to learn than starting from scratch.
You might already have a good understanding of music theory or perfect pitch. This means you’ll just need to learn the techniques to manipulate the instrument like adopting the right posture or working on your violin fingering and your left hand (right if you're left-handed).
If this isn’t the case, you can learn the basics like reading sheet music for violin pieces online or by using books or manuals.
Check out our violin lessons for beginners here.
You can also learn to play an instrument just because you’re naturally gifted at music. Those who are lucky enough to do this can perfectly reproduce music just by listening to it. Keep in mind that this is really rare.
Learning the Violin on YouTube
If you don’t want to start learning about music theory straight away, there are plenty of ways for novice violinists to start learning to play without having to worry about it.
There are several channels on YouTube which can teach you how to play a few songs simply by watching videos that tell you where to put your fingers in order to play a song. Just like the game Guitar Hero, just move your fingers in time to the music.
You can learn to play the violin online on your own in no time.
Learning the Violin with Tablature
Tablature can be really useful for those wanting to learn how to play the violin. Guitar players will already know what I’m talking about here.
Tablature can replace violin sheet music. They are often written on four lines (each line representing the strings of the violin) with numbers on them. The numbers tell you where about on the neck of the violin you should put your fingers.
Violin tablature (or tabs) are a little more complicated than guitar tabs since violins don't have frets like most guitars do. You’ll need to therefore learn exactly where these numbers correspond to on the neck.
Learning the Violin on Your Smartphone
Smartphone apps are one of the great things about modern technology.
Some of them, like Meludia, allow you to learn music theory in a more interesting way while others can help you learn to play the violin.
Learning the Violin with Books
If technology isn’t your forte, there are plenty of printed resources that can help you. There are plenty of books and manuals on certain aspects of playing the violin like:
- holding the violin bow and bowing techniques
- finger placement on the fingerboard
- training exercises and violin scales
- working on your memory and broadening your repertoire
- maintenance like tuning and replacing violin strings
- reading sheet music and notes
- improving your rhythm
- performing intermediate and advanced techniques like vibrato and pizzicato
Almost everything you need to know about violin playing can be learnt from popular books sold in stores.
There are some books that might even be putting violin teachers out of work. There’s a wide range of materials for every level, too!
Learning Violin: The Best Ways to Start Playing Violin
Before you pick up your violin, there’s a few steps you should take to make sure you’re starting on the right foot. Here are a few of them:
- Firstly, you should practise as often as you can. Sometimes we want to be able to play a piece perfectly immediately. Practising is the only way you’re going to get there. There’s no magic fix. Any violinist will tell you that.
- Set yourself objectives! Setting yourself clear objectives will help keep you motivated. This is what apps often do to encourage you to keep playing (and using the app). Everyone loves a challenge. However, make sure that your objectives are achievable so that you don’t get discouraged.
- Be patient! You can’t deny that the violin is a complex instrument. Don’t give up the second you encounter difficulties. You’re bound to hit the odd speed bump. You need to know how to get past them.
- Put together a programme that suits you. Organising your learning is a good idea for knowing where to go and how to make steady progression.
To get even more advice, you should consider visiting blogs and forums for violinists. There are plenty of musicians out there who are happy to help you become a virtuoso. However, remember that learning on your own can have disadvantages, too. There’s no music teacher available to correct you when you’re doing things wrong (like having the wrong posture or holding the bow incorrectly).
How Long Does it Take to Learn Violin on Your Own?
It can be difficult to give an exact figure for learning the violin. Learning the violin without music theory or violin lessons near me means every budding violinist can go at their own pace. This can be both an advantage and a disadvantage.
Those who are taking classes have the pace set for them and they can’t change it. Their practice and training is therefore regular. They’ll advance a bit every week.
When you learn an instrument on your own, finding a rhythm can be tricky. It depends on your motivation and when you’re available.
This can also vary with age. Younger musicians are generally better at assimilating new concepts whether they’re learning to play a musical instrument or speaking a foreign language. Furthermore, adults find it harder to find the time to practice an instrument on a weekly basis.
Some violinists have chosen to film their progress over a couple of years. You can find their videos on YouTube and use them as a guide for how quickly you should be going.
At What Age Can You Teach Yourself Violin?
While children tend to learn more easily than adults, there’s no age limit when it comes to learning to play the violin. An adult can more easily change their rhythm while a child will need to be set milestones and goals.
Generally speaking, children under 12 will find it difficult to learn the violin on their own. It’s also easier to correct the bad habits picked up by children.
You could therefore say that the ideal age to start learning the violin on your own is around 13. You just have to be motivated, autonomous, and follow your own lessons while paying particular attention to your technique and good violin practices.
You should also find out more about online violin lessons or studying to play the violin with a teacher.