There are a wealth of benefits associated with learning a new instrument. From cognitive developments like enhanced memory and retention to developments within social bonds and overall well-being, the hardest question becomes simply this: which instrument is right for me?
It becomes a challenge when attempting to identify where such inclinations derive from; whether you awoke with a sudden desire to develop your chess playing or you have found it a challenge to withhold a lifelong desire to learn the trumpet - sometimes it is easier to submit to such callings.
So, if you are reading this article, it means you have indeed surrendered to your desire of playing the violin. So, let's highlight a few fundamental points to get you started upon this journey:
- It isn't easy: sorry to burst your bubble, but although learning the violin can be a fulfilling and worthwhile experience, it takes perseverance, graft and an undying level of motivation to be even considered an effective player.
- Expect to learn a new language: the benefits of learning a new language are well documented in a whole range of studies, and learning the violin is of little difference. Sheet music is what violinists use to read notation and to truly understand the language of the violin, you must be prepared to learn the theory in conjunction with the actual playing itself.
- It isn't cheap: indeed, there is a varied price range when it comes to purchasing the equipment and signing up to a learning group/private tutoring sessions but don't expect this could be done so without investment.
Once these realizations have been considered, you are truly ready to go! There are a wealth of approaches for beginners and this article aims to highlight such approaches to help get you on the right track!
Online Violin Tutors
Often regarded as the most significant learning tool of the 21st Century - Youtube can be a one-stop-shop for just about every area of learning.
There is an increasing volume of those who are utilizing this platform to gain more familiarity/subscribers on their channels and there are many high profile players who offer top tips for budding violinists.
All online videos which are shown on Youtube can, of course, be accessed free of charge and require simply an effective Wifi connection and a comfortable space to play the violin.
Online resources have certainly developed and improved over the years, however, more traditionalist, string-based players would suggest not using such platforms exclusively.
As already discussed, enhancing your skillset on the violin is no easy feat.
In fact, it is considered to be one of the more challenging instruments to gain above-average proficiency.
Due to the instrument size and the fact that it doesn't carry fretboards upon the neck of the instrument (like that of a guitar), positioning of the hands and the mastering of various techniques is incredibly important.
Bad habits are easy to pick up when learning the instrument from the very start and this is why experienced players would always suggest in seeking a third party; someone who has 5+ years of violin playing experience who carries musical teaching experience.
The reason for this is discussed in more detail below.
Why Opt for a Violin Teacher?
As discussed in the previous heading, alternative, online resources have developed significantly over the years.
One big detriment to such alternative methods however is the direct consultation one does not receive through the eyes of someone with experience.
Bad habits can form quicker than you may expect and this can result in barriers to progression.
Not alone can an experienced violinist teach you how to play the violin, but they can offer advice and necessary suggestion on learning sheet music, as well as helping beginners with the purchasing of equipment.
Bad habits that are picked up at the beginning of learning can involve players in seeking help, often when it is too late. A lot of violin teachers have experienced this situation - when students cannot seem to develop into a further level of playing because of ineffective techniques that have been picked up along the way.
This results in the teacher having to regress upon the student's development to 'iron-out' the unwanted learned skills. This can often entail in the student having to revert to the beginning of their learning even if they may are composing or replicating music at an intermediary level.
So, it is a worthwhile note that students must search for a teacher before they play their very first notation, in order to master the very essentials of learning the violin.
Here is a summary of the advantages involved when hiring a professional violin teacher:
- Makes learning purposeful
- Allows sequence within the learning process
- Prevents unwanted techniques from tarnishing future development
- Enables professional review to monitor the development
- It allows the student to adopt effective strategies honed by those who understand what does and does not work.
- Sustains motivation - structured lessons are an effective way of maintaining consistency and direction whilst learning a new instrument.
What Opportunities Are Out There?
Violin teachers can come from a realm of backgrounds and experiences.
Of course, the more experience/success stories behind a teacher's resume, the tendency there is of a price increase within their half-hour/hourly sessions.
However, if you find yourself located close to a music college or university, this is often a great way of finding a violin tutor.
From Boston Conservatory (at Berklee) to Rice University Sheered School of Music in Houston, America is filled with some of the most prestigious classical programs for higher education students.
If you find that you are located relatively close to one of these establishments, it is advised to contact the main offices. Students regularly offer their services to beginners and their prices can often be more competitive than standard teachers.
Superprof also lists active violin teachers and the online website can identify those who offer their services in certain parts of the country. By identifying the area, a list of teachers within your locality can be identified as well as their hourly rate.
A number of these teachers often offer their first lesson for free to establish if it is the right match between student and teacher. The more teachers you trial with at the beginning will increase your chances of finding an ideal teacher in alignment with cost, availability, and locality.
An additional factor to consider is that some of these teachers can offer the choice of traveling to the student's home for lessons! This option can make it easier for the student, however, the price of the session may increase due to the commuting time.
Professional teachers may also offer their services within a music studio or alternatively at their home. What has also gained in popularity over the years is group sessions for beginner violinists.
Partaking in a group-based learning situation will usually require the student to commit to a series of lessons, usually spanning across a period of 1-6 months. If this is a route that sounds more applicable to your needs, then it is important to establish if such a long term commitment can be made.
This is because missing sessions due to other commitments can result in falling behind the rest of the class. Such group-based sessions also result in the teacher setting additional work that can be completed during out of schooling hours. This allows beginners to develop at a quicker rate as regular practicing sessions are vital in a speedier and more sustained development.