When you’re learning to play the violin, there are many new concepts and techniques to incorporate. In fact, many beginner violin students often feel overwhelmed at first because of the number of new skills required. However, you can make the situation less harrowing by focusing on a few fundamental tasks. You chose the violin for some personal reason, and finding ways to encourage your progress during the early training stages can greatly influence your future success.
This list of do’s and don’ts for beginner violinists can help you navigate the first few years of training, so that you can maximize the time you spend learning this wonderful, expressive string instrument.
“Do” set up a regular practice schedule. To learn anything successfully, you have to actually practice. And, while there will always be special exceptions, by sticking to a firm practice schedule, you’ll develop skills much faster, which is important for effectual learning. Your regular practice time and duration should be set up according to your personal needs. For example, if practicing in the morning works better for you, you might want to arrange to get up 20-30 minutes earlier than usual so that you can get your practice done before anything else.
“Don’t” ever neglect to perform your finger exercises before practice. Beginner violin students don’t always recognize the extreme importance of warming-up your muscles before submitting them to repeated motion. Doing warm-up drills before each practice can help prevent acute and chronic repetitive motion injuries.
“Do” develop effective practice methods. Believe it or not, just practicing the same mistakes over and over won’t help you make progress. Beginner violinists need to learn effective practice techniques that engross their entire attention and focus, and they should develop particular visualization techniques to help overcome difficulties. Deliberate practice methods and suggestions will speed the progress you’re able to make.
“Don’t” “ignore your form. For many students, holding the violin is an entirely new concept, and it’s easy to gradually slacken your hold, bend your back, or start drooping your shoulders. These things are terrible on the learning process. Being lax in your posture makes it more difficult to keep your bow on the correct location, deliver the right amount of pressure, and make good contact on the strings, all of which influence the sound. And, if you don’t sound good, you won’t want to keep practicing.
“Do” take frequent pauses while practicing to relax your fingers or stretch. Most acute injuries are caused by a prolonged duration of one certain motion. Beginner violinists can also avoid cramps and strains by limiting practice times, and eschewing “marathon” practice sessions. As you build your muscles and coordination skills, you’ll be able to play for longer periods of time without strain.
“Don’t” expect mastery overnight. Be patient. Not everyone is a prodigy, and learning to play a string instrument takes time. Moreover, certain techniques are harder for certain people. Some techniques may feel natural, while others present a more challenging aspect, but no one is perfect overnight.
“Do” stay relaxed. There should never be a time when your arms, shoulders, neck, or hands are clenching or gripping the instrument with tension. Tension is like kryptonite to a super violinist, it robs you of your ability to perform, and can lead to serious physical harm. When playing the violin, try to release any tension you have in your hands and neck.
“Don’t” neglect to check your instrument tuning before you play. Beginning violinists should always check the instrument for tune before playing. For many students, learning to distinguish the correct pitch of a note is difficult, and you don’t want to make it more difficult by practicing (and listening to notes) on an instrument that is off-key.
“Do” purchase a good portable chromatic tuner to carry with your violin. Having an effective, quick way to check your instrument for tune is a responsible habit and will make you a better musician quicker. Most of the time, your instrument will only need very slight adjustments, but by practicing tuning those perfect fifths over and over, you’ll help develop your intonation.
“Don’t” stop exploring new sounds. One of the wonderful aspects of learning to play a musical instrument is the outlet it offers. Explore different genres of music, percussive techniques, and other ways to individualize your own playing style.
Beginner violin students can increase their odds of success by staying focused on the fundamentals, maintaining personal discipline, and remembering to have fun.