Learning something new, whether that be for future employment or simply to explore a new hobby; it takes perseverance, dedication, resilience and an undying level of commitment.

Malcolm Gladwell, the well-known author of the book Outliers and Talking to Strangers, had in the past coined the idea that to develop mastery within any area, a person will have to dedicate over 10000 hours of their lives focusing explicitly in practicing that particular skill.

To put the 10000 hours rule into perspective, this equates to 20 hours per week for 10 years; so not only is it dedication but mastering a particular skill also boils down to the freedom of time.

To perform at a mastery level or to be deemed an expert within a designated field can take a considerable amount of time. And this particular rule doesn't distinguish between learning areas and can be applied to sports, academic fields, or in this case, learning a musical instrument.

The discipline of practise every day is essential. When I skip a day, I notice a difference in my playing, after two days, the critics notice, and after three days, so does the audience.

These words, spoken from no other than Jascha Heifetz, are synonymous with Gladwell's 10000-hour rule.

Heifetz was one of, if not the most, celebrated violinists of the 21st Century, and it is known that he established an unparalleled level of violin playing in which present violinists can only aspire to.

To develop even close to the skills and consistency of violin playing honed by Heifetz will take not alone such dedication and practice, and mastering the very essentials of playing the instrument. It will also take a talented violin teacher.

Although not all players set out in the hope of replicating or even surpassing the greats, a large majority of players are simply drawn to the violin for its encapsulating sound.

Regardless of motives, necessary considerations must be made before even purchasing your first instrument. It is integral to gain the right guidance for when a beginner purchases their first violin for the instrument's weight, size, and material to help compliment the posture and aspiring playing style of the violinist.

From controlling the bow to the violinist's stance when playing - support from an experienced violin teacher will deter the chances of picking up bad habits right from the very start.

Yet, before searching for the 'ideal' teacher, it is firstly important to consider a range of aspects before making contact. Also, the various platforms for contacting such teachers must be analyzed and various considerations must be made prior to learning to play the violin

Finding a Teacher

A violinist reads from sheet music.
There are multiple approaches to finding the right violin teacher for you! (Source: Visualhunt)

With a wealth of information at our fingertips, it is almost certain that most people turn to the internet when they are in search of information.

Although it can be a helpful tool, when it comes to learning an instrument, especially a classical instrument like the violin, you will often find there are a variety of different approaches in finding an ideal violinist teacher. For there are those who offer their services for varying costs and who specialise in teaching students at different levels of style and experience level.

Playing a classical instrument like the violin, cello or bass isn't considered to be the most popular choice of instrument learning and this can also prove beneficial for beginners, for learning such instruments can create a community of groups across a town, city or district.

Explore Local Schools, Colleges, and Musical Universities

This can be an effective method: contacting students who are already at an advanced playing level who offer teaching services to beginners. 

For those who head toward the route of higher education within instrument learning, the best way these students can make a 'quick buck' is by teaching their skills to beginners and intermediary violin players.

Therefore, contacting musical departments within your locality is a great way to start!

Also, if a child is interested in learning the violin, ensure the music department within the school is aware of this. Some schools offer musical classes free of charge or music teachers will often have some references for students to further hone their skills during out of school hours.

Local Music Stores

A singer poses outside of a violin store.
Local music stores in parts of the country have made a recent resurgence in popularity! (Source: Visualhunt)

Although they have depleted over the last fifteen years, local, independently run music stores still very much exist across most towns and cities within the States.

Such music stores often have a flyer area and noticeboards in which music teachers advertise their services. In main cities across the States, from Manhattan, New York to Sugar Land, Houston, there are specialized violin shops where tailored advice can be given to those who are looking for their first instrument!

Often in these stores, you have assistants who can offer valuable advice not only for those looking to buy an instrument but for those who are interested in hiring a teacher. It is also worth noting that playing the violin requires various pieces of equipment and the violin itself will not be the only purchase!

Again, it is important to establish if you wish for violin lessons to be taken at home or if you are willing to travel.

Teachers often include traveling costs within their hourly rate but you will often find that their rate will be reduced if the student is willing to travel to a teacher's home or private studio.

Word of Mouth

Once you gain access to a network of fellow musicians or aspiring artists, most will find it considerably easy to develop connections within the industry. This is because fellow musicians can provide notable recommendations for violin teachers, whilst being able to shed light on the expected hourly rate, destination, musical/teaching style, and professional level.

People usually prefer advice from those they are closest to, therefore, to enhance your chances of receiving positive recommendations, enhance your friendship circle of those who are into classical and contemporary music (as well as additional genres in which violins may be associated).

There are various online blogs and often you will find that some are specific to a particular area, take Bow & Hammer, for example, a modern classical musical blog specifically for those interested in violin playing within the city of Chicago.

Home to the revered Musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, it certainly is a city with a strong reputation and there are countless musical stores and active students and music teachers at your disposal.

Becoming involved with such blogs is a great way to get your foot in the door in the process of building connections whilst familiarising yourself with what your local area has to offer when it comes to all aspects of the violin.

What Makes A Good Teacher?

A violin teacher instructs a novice player.
Some teachers specialize in teaching children under the age of ten years old. (Source: Visualhunt)

Knowledgeable, warm, enthusiastic, patient whilst understanding?

A good teacher for some may not be for others, but a good start is certainly if a teacher has a preset of violinist skills whilst having some experience with teaching fellow students (of varying levels).

'Plenty of fish in the sea', an expression used in a plethora of circumstances and situations, yet when it comes to finding a music teacher, it couldn't be more poignant.

Simply because music teachers will often provide an introductory, reduced priced starter session to help understand if the student is comfortable with the teacher. If the first lesson is a complete hit and you are prepared to sign up for a twenty set of lessons, this often comes at a considerable price so you must be completely sure before handing over your money. 

Here are a few handy pointers to consider to help in the process of finding the ideal violin teacher:

  • Locality
  • Will the tutor travel to you?
  • Regularity - Are their schedules relatively free?
  • Specializations - are their teaching methods reflective of your learning preferences i.e. genre/musical style
  • Price - is their hourly rate sustainable for weekly/fortnightly sessions?
  • Experience level - do they have knowledge in teaching students similar to your proficiency and age?
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Christopher