If you’re new to any sort of musical instruction, learning to play the violin might seem a little bit daunting at first. Or, perhaps you’re super psyched and excited to get started. Either way, those individuals who take the time, and put in the effort to learn to play the violin can reap rich rewards by possessing this wonderful skill.
Many new students ask, “What’s the best way to learn to play the violin?” And although that’s a logical question, the answer really depends on what type of learning techniques work best for you. Because essentially, the best method for learning any new skill is using a form of instruction that conforms to your specific cognitive (mental) processes. You will learn to play best—and have the most fun!—when the style of teaching you choose is a good fit with how you think.
OK, that was a little technical, so let’s break it down and look at some of the ways you can learn to play the violin. You can decide which ones you think will work best for you.
Common Forms of Instruction
If you know how to read music, you already have a great head start. The first and most basic form of learning any instrument involves knowing how to read music.
Many players—fiddlers, bluegrass music players—learn to play music by ear. The study of music notation (music written on paper) is less important for these folks, but students who will play with an orchestra typically are proficient at reading printed music notation
Obviously, no one expects you to learn this skill overnight, but there are many apps and websites available that can help you memorize the notes on the Treble and Bass clefs, time signatures, note lengths, rhythms, and all the rest.
School/Teacher Instruction with a Group:
If you are learning to play violin in an ensemble or group at school, then your teacher will probably conduct class using a mixture of hands-on training and music instruction. This means that depending on how many students your teacher has in class, he or she will sometimes be speaking to other students about their instruments.
While you wait, practicing your fingering positions for the piece of music you’ve been working with is a good way to improve your proficiency.
Your teacher will help you learn to read music and show you the proper fingering, bowing, and other mechanics involved in playing the violin. A good mnemonic example for learning the treble clef staff: beginning at the bottom, for lines “(E)very (G)ood (B)oy (D)oes (F)ine” and for spaces, FACE. For the Bass clef: for lines starting at the bottom, (G)ood (B)oys (D)o (F)ine (A)lways and for spaces (A)ll (C)ows (E)at (G)rass.
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Of course, your school may not have a qualified stringed instrument instructor, or you may be learning as an adult. If you are going to learn to play the violin with a personal instructor, then you can orchestrate the frequency and length of your instruction sessions.A private teacher is also a wonderful enrichment for a serious student to have in addition to group lessons offered at a school.
The main thing to remember when you employ a private tutor or personal violin instructor is to practice, practice, practice. A private teacher is also a wonderful enrichment for a serious student to have in addition to group lessons offered at a school.
One of the benefits of school-based learning is the fact that every day, 5 days a week, students are exposed to the materials for learning. If you learn to play the violin on your own, you’ll need to apportion time each day, or at least, every other day, for practice.
Consider the way that you learn best. Do you prefer to look at visual representations (like a projection), or would you rather hear someone tell you the information?
When you learn to play the violin, it involves kinesthetic instruction. Which simply means that you use your hands and muscles to help remember and retain the information. But this type of instruction works even better when you pair it with and additional source. So if you prefer to read to learn, buy some manuals on proper techniques that feature tablature illustrations. But, if you’d rather hear and see someone perform, go on YouTube and watch videos, or purchase an instructional series of DVDs. Recording and listening to your own playing—and watching yourself play in a mirror—also help develop mastery of the violin.
Learning to play an instrument takes time and effort, but anyone can do it. However, you don’t want to get discouraged early on, so here are a few tips for keeping your enthusiasm.
- Purchase a chromatic tuner and check to make sure that your violin is in tune before you practice. An out-of-tune violin is very difficult to play (and listen to).
- Learn how to tune your violin strings right away.
- Learn the proper way to clean, store, and maintain your violin. Remember, a violin or any instrument can be ruined by neglect.
- Think about the way you like to learn, and incorporate those methods into whichever area of instruction you take.
The best way to learn to play the violin really depends on you. Choose a method that will encourage you to keep at it, and practice. You can do it!