The violin is one of the most beautiful and complex instruments to play- so it's no wonder that it's also one of the most popular and inspiring instruments for students of all ages.
Whether you dream of playing the Bach double or Vivaldi's Four Seasons, the violin is an absolutely enchanting instrument, and can express every type of emotion.
Have you been considering playing the violin for a long time? When learning to play the violin for the first time, this can be very intimidating! It's not like the piano where you aren't producing the actual sound of the instrument. For complete beginners, it can take some time before what you are actually playing sounds amazing. This is one of the reasons that learning how to play the violin can be so intimidating.
But with the right approach and dedication, then there's no reason that complete beginners won't be able to succeed in playing the violin!
Some questions you may be asking yourself are, how do I choose a violin teacher? What can I learn during my violin lessons? What methodology should I follow. How often do I need to practice?
Here are Superprof's top tips for beginner violinists to help answer all your questions and to help you excel in playing the violin!
Violin Initiation: Starting the Violin as a Complete Beginner
One of the most important things to do when starting out with the violin is to find an instrument that is perfectly suited to your needs. This is why it's a good idea to go to a specialist violin shop or a music shop, as an advisor will be able to help you to select a violin that is able to meet your needs within your budget.
Remember that each violin is truly unique. Violins come in a range of sizes, shapes, and colours. It's important to check with a specialist to make sure that you are purchasing the right size violin. This is because a violin size will impact your ability to play and the sound of your instrument.
Violins will come in six different sizes, from 1/16 to full size violins for 4/4 size for adults. When trying out violins, make sure that your left palm fits comfortably around the scroll of the violin, and that you aren't over-extending any muscles in your hand or neck.
A violin specialist will also help you to select an appropriate bow for your violin, and provide advice on how to correctly maintain your bow and violin.
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Now that you've find your violin and bow, what's the next step?
Make sure that you store your violin safely when you aren't practicing! It's highly recommended to purchase a sturdy hard-cover case that will protect your instrument at all times. Make sure that your violin is stored carefully in a padded case to avoid any risk of damage, particularly when transporting a violin to and from your lessons.
Another important tip for maintaining your bow, is to avoid touching or managing the bow with your hands. The horsehair of your bow is extremely fragile and should be handled very gently. Make sure that your bow is not overly tightened or overly slack in order to protect the strings and the structure of the bow itself. You'll want to discuss with your teacher how to properly tighten and loosen your bow before and after playing, as this is one of the most important tips to consider when properly maintaining your violin.
Another important step is to apply rosin before playing the violin. The rosin will help to protect the strings of the violin and the bow, and to improve the sound of the violin while you are playing. Be careful not to apply too much as this can also impact the sound of the violin. You can purchase rosin at your local music or violin shop.
When you are finished practicing and before putting your violin away, you should always wipe your violin and strings down gently with a cloth to remove any dust or excess rosin which can also have an impact on the sound of your violin.
Before starting out, ask your teacher for further tips and advice on how to properly maintain your violin, as well as if they can recommend any other violin equipment that you may need for your lessons.
Violin Lessons for Beginners
Although each teacher will follow a different format for their lessons and a different teaching methodology, most teachers will follow the same basic structure for their lessons:
- Warm up exercises (scales, arpeggios)
- Musical theory
- Practicing Pieces
Just like playing sports or going for a run, you need to warm up at the beginning of every listen to get your mind and your body ready for your practice.
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Your violin teacher can recommend great warm-up exercises, such as practicing a staccato, a legato or vibrato in order to practice your technical skills while warming up your hands. Scales
For violinists, warming up usually consists of practicing a range of scales and arpeggios, whether you are a complete beginner or a more advanced violinist. By going through your scales, time signatures and notes, this is a great way to revise musical theory that will be extremely helpful during your practice.
For complete beginners, some of the musical theory may seem intimidating for you - but not to worry, the more you study with your teacher, the more comfortable you'll become!
These technical exercises will not only help you to become a better violin player, they will also help you to develop muscle memory when playing so that you'll be able to master a range of tricky scales and combinations of notes. You'll be able to play better and master more difficult pieces!
With your violin teacher, you'll go over a range of music pieces that you've selected together based on your level and musical interests. You'll learn everything from the basics, such as rhythm, musicality, dynamics and how to perform.
As a beginner, you'll likely start with more simple and easy-to-play tunes such as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (the one piece that every violinist starts with). You'll eventually work your way up to more advanced pieces as you gain more confidence and technical capacity.
It's important to practice the violin in order to review what you've been learning and ensure that you are able to advance as quickly as possible.
You may also want to discuss with your teacher whether you would like to prepare for musical exams. This is a good idea for anyone who is interested in pursuing a career as a professional musician.
Musical examinations, such as the Royal Conservatory of Music are not always mandatory for every teacher, but it's a good idea to discuss with your teacher whether this would be a good option for you. By passing music exams, this is a great way to keep track of your advancement and learning and is a great addition to your CV and when considering a career in music.
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Violin Basics for Beginner Violin
Before moving on to advanced pieces, and fulfilling your dream of performing the Four seasons in front of a music hall filled with people, you'll need to start with the basics as an absolute beginner.
It can take a while to produce an excellent sound while playing the violin, so don't get discouraged if you don't sound like a concert violinist weeks into starting. Playing the violin takes a lot of time and effort, but it's definitely worth the commitment if you're willing to learn!
By learning with a violin teacher, they'll be able to help you set the groundwork and to set realistic and achievable goals for yourself as you progress.
One of the first things that your violin teacher will teach you is the correct posture. You'll learn how to hold the violin and bow properly, which is the very first step to take when playing the violin.
Pay attention to the correct positioning of your hand on the neck of your violin and the positioning of your hand and fingers. Always remember to keep the bow straight. It may seem uncomfortable at first, but after lots of practice you'll surely get used to it!
Make sure to start early by settings up excellent practicing habits. Start with warm ups and always remain wary of your posture, tone and intonation no matter what level you are!
As a violinist, it's also essential to learn about musical theory in order to be able to read sheet music and play in a musical ensemble.
If you want to play advanced music, you'll need to know how to read sheet music and understand musical theory- from time signatures to keys to dynamics. Take the time to learn your theory as this will make all the difference in your playing!
In addition to the notes you'll need to understand other notations when playing- such as intonation and dynamics. You'll come to understand concepts such as forte and crescendo which will really add finesse and take your playing to the next level.
So now that you've decided to start playing the violin, the next step is to find a great teacher to help you advanced your skills as a beginner violinist. So what are you waiting for?