Hello lovelies! I’ve been playing violin for just over a year now and it has been such a journey so far! I am still in love with playing and continuing to learn and grow. The violin is a tough but rewarding instrument and it will give you as much love as you put in. If you want to know more about why I decided to start learning the violin as an adult, you can check out my blog post here.
So, if you’ve decided to learn to play the violin, get ready for a wild ride, enjoy it and dig into my top 8 tips for someone just starting the violin. As a caveat, I am very much still a beginner, and this is only based on what I have learnt in my first year playing!
RENT IF POSSIBLE
When you first decide to learn the violin, you will obviously need a violin to play on! I would highly recommend renting for your first maybe six months, instead of buying if possible. This allows you time to decide if you really are enjoying playing and if you want to eventually invest in buying your own violin. Plus, for me anyway, it was a relatively cheap option and you only need a really basic student violin to start to learn. Buying your own violin is also a really nice goal to have that you can start saving for as soon as you begin learning! Just find your nearest music shop/luthier and see what the options are!
GET A TEACHER
I know a lot of people self-teach themselves instruments and have been successful at it, however I would always recommend getting a teacher. Even if it is just for the first few months or lessons, it will set you up with the basics so you don’t develop any bad habits. Particularly with the violin the initial learning curve is very steep, so I believe it is really beneficial to set yourself up in the right way. If this is really not possible, there is so much content online that will help get you going.
FOCUS ON THE BASICS
As a beginner, I believe it is super important to focus on the basics and build on those continually as they will impact every part of your playing. This will literally start with just learning to hold the violin and bow correctly, to practising whole bows and open strings. These sorts of things don’t always seem that important but trust me when you are struggling to play a piece, going right back to basics might be just what you need.
I recommend building some basic technique work into your warm up (which you also be doing!)
CONSISTENCY IS KEY
The idea that regular practise will help you improve is probably not a completely new concept to you, but another element to this is to not go in 100% and burn out. What I mean by this is decide what period of time you can commit to violin every day or every other day. This might be 15 minutes; this might be an hour but you should try to be fairly consistent with this and not swing from practising for 10 minutes one day to 2 hours the next!
Similar to this, build up your practise time. As a beginner your body is just getting used to holding itself in a different way and it needs time to adjust. Slowly build up your practise time whilst you are still a beginner. Also remember to warm up well and take regular breaks!
THEORY IS FRIEND
So, this is not something every beginner wants to hear, but you are going to have to learn some theory to help you. I don’t mean you need to go and study for hours on end, and depending on your end goal, you will pick up a lot of stuff as you learn. However, it’s always a good idea to have a basic knowledge and understanding of not only how to read music but key signatures and understanding musical symbols and signs. Again, there is so much content and information out there, so a quick search is all you need!
HAVE A GOAL IN MIND
And keep setting goals! This is helpful both to keep you motivated and to push yourself. Your goals could be anything from learning a new scale, to playing a new piece or performing in front of someone for the first time, or even buying your first violin! If you enjoy learning and playing the violin, you will naturally just want to improve but having specific goals in mind can help you stay motivated to practise.
BOWING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU THINK
Many people think what is going on with your left hand, i.e getting all the notes in tune is the most important thing but I would argue that actually getting your bowing consistent, straight and producing an even tone is the thing to focus on. This is because your bowing really influences the sound produce and to get that right is the first step to playing beautifully. Bow control, like intonation, is something you will constantly work on but getting a strong foundation in bowing is essential as then you can turn your attention to your left hand.
GO EASY ON YOURSELF AND ENJOY IT
Everyone starts learning to play an instrument for a different reason, but for most people enjoyment is a part of it. So, when you get frustrated and a bit downhearted, remember why you started in the first place. Remember that everyone goes through moments when they don’t feel they are improving, but every time you pick up that violin you are improving. Another point with this is to also remember to listen to your body. I know I said consistency is key, but if you are just really not feeling like practising one day, then that is okay!
And there you have it, my top 8 tips from what I’ve learnt in my first year learning the violin. I still have so much to learn and that really excites me! It has pushed me out of my comfort zone and taught me a lot about myself!
Do you play an instrument? How long have you been playing and what challenges have you faced?