Choosing the right musical instrument to learn can often be a challenge. Whether it's woodwind, strung, brass or percussion - experimenting with a range of instruments will help to establish the best fit!

Learning the violin to an intermediary or expert level is, also, far from an easy task.

It requires precise finger movements and dexterity, close control and advanced hand-eye coordination.

Although the violin is often considered to be one of the most challenging instruments to learn, don't let this tarnish your desire. Generally, bowed instruments are known to be some of the most difficult to master - they are complex and sensitive, yet, effective practice and a necessary level of motivation will allow a beginner to master some of the most basic scales and beginners' songs.

The first, and inarguably the most important requirement is time. Whether you wish to self learn through books and online resources, or, to begin a course within a musical setting or even hire a musical tutor - if you simply don't have the time to commit long term then it is likely such early skills will not be mastered.

There are also multiple points to consider before this musical journey. These include:

  • Purchasing a violin - Firstly, violins aren't known to be the cheapest of instruments. Not only will the instrument cost a fair sum, but additional equipment including the case, rosin, bow, and maintenance supplies add to the overarching price.
  • Sheet music - if you aren't already skilled in reading music, the best time to start is now! Multiple online resources and sheet music is easy to access, however, it cannot be learned overnight so practicing patience during such a process is pivotal.
  • Perseverance - it is said that to become a proficient player can take any time from 3,4 to 10 years. And surpassing this period, you never truly stop learning. It simply boils down to the aspirations of the player and how good they truly want to become.

Becoming proficient as a violinist is largely down to the repetition and practice of basic techniques. Even when it comes to holding the violin, the player must consider a range of factors.

Firstly, the player must maintain a straight posture, this is whether the instrument is being played in a standing or sitting position. As the butt of the instrument rests on the neck, the instrument should be lowered slightly whilst being placed upon the collar bone whilst being held in place by the jaw.

Perfecting the position of the player's hand is equally important.

The non-bow hand must rest underneath the neck of the instrument to allow the four fingers to arch over the neck toward the strings. An important point to consider: this shouldn't feel uncomfortable! If you feel as if maintaining this position is a challenge then the instrument or general positioning of your fingers mustn't be correct.

Below is a list of additional factors to consider whilst starting as a beginner!

The Essentials of Learning the Violin

A close-up shot of a violin.
Violins are delicate instruments that need constant maintenance to ensure they remain intact. (Source: Visualhunt)

A violinist needs a range of musical equipment and resources before being able to play!

From rosin to keep a bow lubricated to a durable violin case and musical stand, classical stringed instruments are known to be some of the most expensive types of instruments to be involved with.

Learning how to read music is also very important as an aspiring violinist. If you have no previous experience in reading sheet music, the learning of violin techniques should be done so in conjunction with the studying of sheet music.

This is important because almost all violinists use sheet music as a reference for composition. Unlike the guitar in which the player can use tabs and chord booklets - a violin is a classical instrument and players almost always opt for sheet music!

The essentials of learning the violin is the first port of call for every beginner!

Important Equipment for Learning the Violin

As mentioned earlier, a player must invest in many different pieces of equipment before they can begin learning the violin. Such equipment includes:

  • Violin
  • Violin Case
  • Bow
  • Rosin
  • Violin Tuner
  • Musical Stand
  • Sheet Music

Seasoned players may not require the need for a violin tuner as they can tune their instruments by ear. However, beginners must invest in such equipment before their experience develops and they no longer require such devices.

Also, some players prefer to sit whilst playing which means they will not necessarily require the use of a music stand and can instead rest their sheet music on a table or similar surface.

A street performer play his violin.
Some specialist instrument cases can hold all accessories for your violin! (Source: Visualhunt)

Violin Lessons for New Players

Of course, there are multiple ways of learning a new instrument but there is no better and traditional way of investing in structured lessons from experienced teachers.

It is important to consider that learning the violin can be one of the most challenging and difficult instruments to master. And, the fine dexterity involved with finger movement means bad habits can often be picked up.

To prevent this from occurring, structured and regular lessons enable a teacher to identify such habits and they are able to act upon them before such habits negatively affect a player's development.

Traditionally, beginners will embark upon 30, 45-minute sessions with the same teacher on a one-to-one basis.

However, group sessions have since risen in popularity and students are even taking online violin lessons! 

In Search of the Ideal Violin Teacher

A student reads sheet music.
It is advised that aspiring violinists spend time learning how to read sheet music. (Source: Visualhunt)

Now comes the simple question: how does one begin in finding the best violin teachers?

In this day and age, we will often turn to the internet in our search, yet there are more conventional approaches that may just offer you better opportunities.

If you find yourself in a city or well-populated town, an effective method would be to establish if there is a musical school/university within your local area.

Students who attend these establishments will often play to a very high standard and as students, they are often looking for ways to make ends meet during their studies!

So, a number of these students will offer their knowledge and experience within a teaching context.

Also, as they are still offering their services whilst learning their craft, they will usually offer lessons at a reduced price.

How Much do Violin Lessons Cost in the USA?

Now comes arguably one of the most important questions: are violin lessons expensive?

As stated earlier, utilizing students as teachers is a great way of saving money! Also, as discussed in this article, paying upfront for a group of lessons will often help you to save a buck or two.

Music teachers often deduct the overall cost when students commit to a bulk of lessons. 

Also, teachers may offer their first, introductory lesson for free! The overall price is dependant on a range of factors including: 

  • Music teachers experience
  • Whether the lessons are performed at the students or the teacher's house
  • If lessons are conducted in a licensed musical facility
  • Duration of lessons. This could be anything from 30, 45 or 1-hour sessions.

Top Tips for the Beginners

Practicing every day at a similar time is a great way to develop a consistent schedule, thus leading to development at a quicker rate. It is incredibly important when learning any new skill that regular bursts of practice are organized within your schedule. 

Youtube and phone applications are a great way to track progress. The development of technology and the accessibility to such tools allow us to learn new skills remotely, without the need of a third party! So, on the days you may not have a lesson, use such tools to your benefit!

Record yourself as you play! This again is an effective method in identifying areas for improvement whilst monitoring developments within your performances. These can also be shared with a music teacher during practice sessions. 

Begin playing scales slowly whilst gradually increasing the speed. The use of online metronomes can help you keep in time and increasing the speed allows you to track progress!

Once armed with the necessary equipment, there is an abundance of online and app-based accompaniments to support in your learning! 

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Christopher