The violin (or fiddle) isn’t an easy instrument to learn. It requires a lot of hours of practise and even more motivation, especially if you’re trying to join an orchestra and become a concert violinist.
There are very few people in this world who don’t like music. Music is for everyone, after all. That being the case, it’s worthwhile dedicating an entire article to starting your musical learning journey. Especially since it can take such a long time to become a virtuoso like Paganini.
Buying a violin, deciphering sheet music, learning to read music, using tablature, learning arpeggios, studying music theory, expanding your repertoire, there are so many steps you have to take on your journey.
How long does it take to learn to play the violin?
Which books should you use to help you learn?
Can you use the internet?
Should you call a music teacher?
We’re going to try and answer all of these questions over the course of this article.
This is the first question you need to ask yourself before your first violin lesson is how much time you’re going to commit to your violin lessons.
Learning the violin can take ages, especially if you want to become a professional performer, play concerts, or become a composer.
A student can struggle to play a simple melody without hitting the wrong notes even after years of instruction. This might put you off the whole idea.
You need to be willing to commit to learning for at least a year. This isn’t something you can learn to do in just a matter of months. Piano lessons tend to have more immediate benefits because making a note on a piano is effectively as easy as pressing a button your keyboard. When it comes to the violin, you’ll need just a few months to make sure you’re adopting the right posture. Your progress will also depend heavily on your motivation.
If you choose to teach yourself rather than working with a teacher, your motivation will decide whether or not you continue to learn the violin when things get tough. The more regularly you practise, the more quickly you’ll progress.
The time taken to learn the instrument will also depend on your background as a musician.
It can take a few hours per week of practice in order to become an adept violinist. (Source: Monoar)
Those who’ve already studied music theory with teachers or learnt another musical instrument (like the bass, cello, accordion, electric guitar, flute, etc.) will find learning the violin much easier than somebody who’s an absolute novice with no experience of performing.
Those with an experienced ear will also find things much easier. Ear training will help you better understand pieces when you listen to them and your brain will find reproducing these pieces much simpler, too.
This is a good habit to have when you’re learning any musical instrument.
If you’ve never done music, you’ll need some time to learn these skills, too. Don’t worry, though, this will come with time.
If you want to speed up the learning process, there’s some advice you could follow. For example, you could use tablature to learn songs without needing to be able to read sheet music or call a private tutor to give you violin lessons at home.
Regularly working on your fingering and finger placement can also help you learn much more quickly. There are exercises you can do daily wherever you are, on the bus, at work, etc.
To learn to play the violin, whether on your own or with a tutor, you might need to get some reading materials.
They can help you learn more about certain concepts outside of your classes.
In addition to books, there are also smartphone apps and online tutorials you can follow. These can be really useful for beginners but become less helpful the more you know about the violin.
So where can you find useful materials on holding the violin bow correctly, tuning your violin, positioning your left hand?
There are specialist music stores that have lots of books on violin techniques as well as sheet music and tablature. You can choose the right materials for you and there’s usually a knowledgeable sales assistant there to help you.
Websites can also be a good option for picking up reading materials but you should always read the reviews from other customers before buying. It’s recommended that you peruse the book offline before committing to buy a copy. You don’t want to pick up a book for intermediate and advanced techniques when you’ve just started learning.
This will help you see if the book’s easy to read, how clear the images are, and how difficult the exercises in it are.
There are plenty of good books for learning to play violin. (Source: Moritz320)
You also need to invest in books that you’ll want to read. Many musicians buy books that end up collecting dust on their shelves. However, that doesn’t mean that they weren’t useful books, they just weren’t for them.
While they’ll never replace a private lessons with a violin teacher or music lessons at a conservatoire (a special school of music), books can structure the learning process and often follow a programme designed by professionals. They can also be a valuable resource on a particular skill or technique.
Using these books alongside books on music theory can sometimes be all you need to start improving. As long as you’re motivated!
Some books, such as Max Jaffa’s “How to Play the Violin”, come highly recommended. Additionally, a brick and mortar music store has staff who’ll be happy to suggest the best resources for music students.
You should heed their advice. The sales assistants in music stores are often musicians, too, after all.
While violin manuals and books are often more comprehensive, there’s nothing stopping your from learning to play the violin online with the help of the internet.
As a beginner, it can be really useful for helping you to progress. On the other hand, once you reach a certain level, you’ll find it more difficult to progress just using the resources available online.
You could use the internet to access tablature for contemporary or classical songs and learn how to play them.
There are plenty of YouTube channels with beginner violin lessons looking to learn the basics of the instrument.
Whether free or otherwise, there are many detailed videos on how to do certain basic techniques like holding the bow.
This is one of the most important things you’ll ever learn, after all.
You can use YouTube channels to learn to play violin. (Source: Mohamed Hassan)
Whether you choose to use free sites like YouTube or paying a subscription, the progress you make will be down to you. You need to keep the following in mind if you want to advance:
Good things come to those who wait.
If you’re looking for more advice, checking out dedicated violin forums is a good idea. There are lots of musicians and violinists who can answer your questions and help you. There’s also plenty of music for violin players online that you can play along to.
Why not find a video that teaches you how to play a particular solo or ensemble piece?
If you’re struggling to find instrumental violin music, you should check out some of the following violinists:
|Johann Sebastian Bach||1685||1750|
|Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart||1756||1791|
|Pablo de Sarasate||1844||1908|
If you feel that things are getting too difficult, you should consider looking for a violin instructor on tutoring platforms and choosing the teacher who’s right for you.
10? 25? 50? 80?
You can start your music education and learn to play violin at any age.
The violin is sometimes taught in retirement homes in order to keep the elderly active and work on their memory. In fact, there are different ways that learning a piece can help you improve your memory.
Being older doesn’t mean that your brain is incapable of learning new things. Of course, manipulating violin strings can be tricky at an older age. The violin can therefore be learnt by students of all ages. It just depends on how you learn it.
Adults generally struggle to learn the violin because of other commitments rather than being unable to learn new things due to age.
Adults struggle more with setting aside time to practise each week or attending lessons at a music school or centre. Additionally, the tuition at music schools and universities can be rather expensive. They also struggle to find a time between looking after the kids and working to pick up the violin.
My advice is to be honest with yourself and choose a part of the week that you know you’ll always be free.
No matter your age, you can start learning to play violin today! (Source: HCE70)
It’s not the same for children learning to play the violin. Children struggle to focus when playing the violin. It’s therefore not recommended that children attempt to teach themselves the violin. They should work with a private tutor or attend lessons at a music school. Their tutor should also have experience with children and adapt their teaching to the age of their students.
Music classes for children can teach them about several instruments at once (ukulele, recorder, guitar, saxophone, violin, singing, etc.) before they choose the one they liked the most. If they preferred the piano, don’t force them to perform in a string quartet!
If your child enjoys playing violin, keep in mind there are smaller violins available for smaller hands.
What about teenagers?
It can be tricky getting them interested in anything at all, let alone violin playing, especially if the music they listen to doesn’t even include any violins.
The violin is an instrument that can take years of study. They can’t give up in the middle of their studies.
To make sure they remain interested in their violin lessons, there are certain techniques, like using games and challenges, to keep them interested. Smartphone apps (for either iPhone and Android) can also be really useful since they probably spend most of their time on them. There are violin teachers who specialise in teaching adolescents, too.
They’ll soon be familiar with more advanced violin techniques as a result.