best violin songs

The 5 Best Violin Songs of All Time

The 5 Best Violin Songs of All Time

As a violinist, you’re probably aware that there is an abundance of songs that feature the violin. In addition to the classical and baroque styles that brought the instrument to worldwide fame, there are many modern pop and rock songs that highlight the beautiful sounds of the violin. We’ve selected a handful of the best violin songs that showcase the true versatility of this magnificent string instrument.

 

1. Bach’s Chaconne

It wouldn’t be a true compilation of the best violin songs if we didn’t include the infamous Bach. The fifth movement of Bach’s Partita No. 2 in D minor for unaccompanied violin is easily regarded as one of the best violin songs of all time. This particular video contains Nathan Milstein performing the piece, who is acknowledged to be a very accomplished violinist, and does the piece great justice. While it is not played at an incredibly high tempo, it does allow the player to show his or her prowess completely.

 

2. Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto

Another phenomenal piece written for violin, Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto includes both beautiful and haunting moments, as well as fast paced and technical sections that require rigorous practice. At more than 25 minutes in length, depending on the particular conductor and soloist, the piece allows the violin player to expand musical horizons as long as he or she wishes.

 

3. Vaughan Williams – “The Lark Ascending”

In a bit more contemporary classical vein, Ralph Vaughan Williams composed “The Lark Ascending” after being inspired by a poem of the same name written by George Meredith. It is a piece that can be played by violin accompanied by piano or full concert orchestra. As the title suggests, it is a light and airy piece, composed to actually transcribe into the sounds of a lark.

 

4. Kansas – “Point of Know Return”

When the rock group Kansas formed, Robby Steinhardt was an integral member of the band. He didn’t play guitar or drums, nor was he a lead vocalist; rather, he was a talented violin player who was able to give the band its signature sound that set them apart from other rock groups of the time. In the song “Point of Know Return,” Robby’s talents are on display throughout, including a bridge and solo section that bring the violin to the forefront.

 

5. Lindsey Stirling - “Crystallize”

While Lindsey Stirling hasn’t been performing internationally for long, she has quickly become the face of dubstep violin playing. While the combination is quite unique, the marriage of a centuries-old instrument and modern computer-generated music tickles the eardrums in a way that can only be described as one-of-a-kind. The attention to detail in her recordings is quite evident, blending new techniques with classical standards. If dubstep is a musical genre that you enjoy outside of violin playing, be sure to check out all of her songs.

 

Obviously, this is a very short list and contains only a few of the best violin songs that have been created. Use this list for inspiration when you’re practicing and learning violin. The more you immerse yourself in the wide variety of violin genres the better. If you have a particular violin piece that you feel should be acknowledged, feel free to let us know in the comment section below!

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From the Expert Top Violin Tuning Tips

From the Expert: Top Violin Tuning Tips

 From the Expert: Top Violin Tuning Tips

Learning how to properly tune your violin is important for many reasons. Not only does it ensure you get the best sound, but it also helps train your ear. Knowing how to tune a violin, however, is often easier said than done. Below, violin teacher Carol Beth L. shares her top violin tuning tips…

Effective tuning is a vital skill for a musician to acquire. For kids just starting to learn violin, parents may want to grasp proper tuning as well, so that they can assist the child in the beginning. In time, however, the student should be able to do it him or herself, or musical independence will be difficult to obtain. Typically, violinists have a pretty standard process for tuning their instrument. Below are some simple tips and tricks to remember when tuning your violin:

1) Start with your A string

Find an A to listen to, and then compare and adjust your A string to match. There are several different ways to obtain a pitch. For example, if you’re playing with other string musicians ask them to play you an A, or if you have a nearby piano that’s in tune use that. If you don’t like either of those options, you can use an electronic tuner (often combined with a metronome) to provide the standard 440 A. There are also apps and online tuners that will tell you if you’re sharp, flat, or in tune. While these can be useful, be careful not to become too dependent on them. As a trained musician, you should be able to tell on your own whether your instrument is too high or too low based on a given pitch.

If you really want to train your ear, make it a habit to listen for the A and match it using your ear. If an electric tuner is your only option, I would recommend using it only for the A string, and then use your A string to help you tune your other strings. Using the electric tuner to check yourself after you’ve given it a go on your own can help you reinforce or adjust your ear.

2 ) Invest in a tuning fork

You may want to consider investing in a tuning fork, which requires less space than an electronic tuner and doesn’t require batteries. Tuning forks are made to vibrate at 440 Hz, or the perfect A. To see if you’re properly in tune, play your violin’s A while ringing the tuning fork. If your violin is out of tune, you’ll hear a distinct difference between the note you’re playing and the note played by the tuning fork.

If you’re around young people, you’ll quickly become very popular after they see the tool’s usefulness. All you have to do is strike it on a table and touch the base to the body of your violin, and they’ll be fascinated when they hear the perfectly in tune 440 A. Many of them will want to try it out themselves, and it will most likely become their new favorite toy (and even disappear!) if you aren’t careful. Amazon carries quite a few tuning forks ranging from about $4 to $14 plus shipping.

3) Listen for the ‘click’

When you’re finished tuning your A string, tune your E string next, followed by the D and G strings. For the E and D strings, use the A string as a reference point to hear whether your other strings are in tune. When done right, you should be able to hear the chord “click.” If one string is too high or too low, the sound will be slightly dissonant, not smooth. For strings that are too close in pitch, they will tend toward an augmented fourth (also known as a tritone), which is one of the most (if not the most) dissonant chords out there. If you can’t quite tell at first if they’re in tune, or if you can’t tell whether the string you’re tuning is too high or too low, try playing the notes separately, and then return to playing the chord. When you reach the G string, use the D string as a reference point.

4) Check the pegs

As you tune, use your pegs only if your strings are more than about one-fourth to one-half a step off, your fine tuners need to be adjusted, or your violin doesn’t have fine tuners. If the string only needs to be adjusted a little bit, use the fine tuners instead. The smaller the instrument, the larger the impact the tuners will have, since they’re pulling back or releasing a larger percentage of the (relatively smaller) string. If the instrument has no fine tuners, sometimes you can adjust the pitch a small amount by slightly tugging on the string and then releasing it, or by pushing on the string in the string box area in the scroll.

5) Keep it safe

If your instrument is exposed to humidity or temperatures to which it isn’t accustomed, be prepared for it to go out of tune. To prevent this from happening, place less stress on your violin by keeping it in a place where changes in temperature, pressure, and humidity will be minimized. The same applies to when you replace your violin strings. Violin strings need to be replaced from time to time; the new strings will change at the beginning as they stretch out in response to the pressure exerted upon them.

6) Adjust to your surroundings

As you become more accustomed to tuning your instrument, be open to adapting to groups that use non-standard tuning. A cellist with whom I sometimes play commonly uses 432 Hz as her standard A, since it was often used prior to modern times. It sounds about a half-step lower than a 440 A. I tune down my instrument to match hers when I play chamber music with her, and re-tune it when I go back to play with my own orchestra. Some professional orchestras tune slightly high – between 441 and 445 Hz – to help the string instruments sound brighter.

 

Violin tuning is both a skill and a way to train your ear to hear both chords and small differences in pitch. At first, learning how to tune your violin can be difficult. With constant repetition, however, it will become a natural process – and you may even end up with some useful tips of your own! If you’re looking for some additional violin tuning tips, ask your violin teacher to give you some expert insight into the practices he or she uses.

 

CarolCarol Beth L. teaches viola and violin in San Francisco, CA. She currently plays viola in the San Francisco Civic Orchestra and has been teaching students since 2012. Learn more about Carol Beth here!

 

 

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How to Prepare For Your First Online Violin Lesson

How to Prepare For Your First Online Violin Lesson

How to Prepare For Your First Online Violin Lesson

Have you always wanted to play the violin? Online violin lessons are a great option for busy or remote students. Below, experienced violin teacher Carol Beth L. discusses several ways to prepare for your first online lesson…

Taking live, online violin lessons can provide a lot of flexibility absent in face-to-face lessons. Neither you nor your teacher needs travel to meet the other, making scheduling easier and more convenient. Live online lessons, however, are a bit different from face-to-face lessons as there are several moving parts. Therefore, it’s important to be sure you’re prepared. Here are a few things to test before your lesson begins.

The setup

Make sure you have a strong Internet connection and that you can log in to your preferred communication platform, whether that be Skype, Google+ or something different you and your teacher have chosen. If you’ve never used the platform before or you haven’t used it in quite some time, don’t count on just hopping on five minutes before your lesson begins. Remember Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. That being said, log in to the platform 15-30 minutes before your lessons begins to make sure everything is running smoothly.

The best angle

Check your camera connection and, more importantly, how you’ll appear on the screen. Your teacher will need to see you from the waist up to ensure you have the right posture. He or she will also want to examine how you’re holding the violin, so be sure that the entire instrument fits comfortably within the horizontal parameters of the screen. If you’re a beginner and aren’t quite sure how to hold your violin, you might try reaching your hand out to the left while in view of the camera. If the camera can see your face and your left hand at the same time, you should be fine. In addition to making sure you’re positioned right, you must find a space that has minimal disturbances ( if any) and you’re comfortable in.

The sound

The audio element is just as important as the visual element. Before your lessons begins, check the audio quality. This is especially important if you haven’t used the platform before or if you haven’t used it to record yourself. It’s a good idea to set up a chat with a friend or family member beforehand to see if he or she can hear you talk or play your violin clearly. While you’re at it, make sure you can also hear them!

The equipment

Make sure you are on top of any additional equipment you need. Are you a beginner? Have a violin that fits as best you can estimate, but for young students especially, be ready for feedback from your teacher if necessary. Have rosin for your bow and a pad or chin rest for your violin (according to your teacher’s recommendations and your preferences). If you have a pad or sponge instead of a chin rest, make sure you have a way to attach it. A large rubber band usually works fairly well. A fold-up portable stand may also be useful, along with any books and CDs your teacher recommends. If you haven’t used your stand before, figure out how to set it up well before lesson day.

 

Once you are set up and ready to go, relax and have fun. Like many things in life, learning the violin is about the journey as much as it is about the destination. If you can enjoy the ride, you may coast further ahead than you would otherwise. Be prepared for obstacles; you and your teacher may find certain elements of your online violin lessons need further adjustment. If you can start successfully, however, those difficulties will be easier to negotiate.

 

CarolCarol Beth L. teaches viola and violin in San Francisco, CA. She currently plays viola in the San Francisco Civic Orchestra and has been teaching students since 2012. Learn more about Carol Beth here!

 

 

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Best Places to Find Easy Violin Sheet Music Online

Top 5 Websites for Easy Violin Sheet Music

Top 5 Websites for Easy Violin Sheet Music

 

After weeks of practice, chances are you’ve nearly perfected the beginner songs recommended or required by your teacher and you’re looking for something a bit more challenging. Or perhaps you want to try something different other than a nursery song or scales. If you’ve reached the point where you want something new to supplement your regular lessons, there are several helpful websites that offer a wide range of easy violin sheet music.

Whether you want something contemporary,  classic, or just a slight change from the usual, spend some time combing through the following five websites. Note: If you’re at an intermediate level, the last three websites will give you the challenge you need to keep your interest in violin piqued.

Violinsheetmusic.org

Violinsheetmusic.org is at the top of the list not necessarily because it is the best, but because it has nearly 90 songs that are basic and very recognizable. From Christmas to American patriotic songs, the easy violin sheet music selection will help reinforce the early techniques of fingering and bowing. Because the songs are extremely familiar, you’ll be able to tell when you’re hitting the right notes and when you need to work on your fingering a little more.

Fretless Finger Guides

Another site for beginners, Fretless Finger Guides gives you more than just easy violin sheet music. The website provides additional instructions for each of the songs presented. While it has a very limited selection, the songs give you much easier versions of much more difficult songs, such as Fur Elise and Scarborough Fair. Ultimately, it can be a much more rewarding experience as you work toward transitioning beyond basic songs.

8notes.com

8notes.com offers different levels of violin sheet music, according to both skill and genre. If you choose to select music based on skill level, you’ll get a long list of songs within various ranges, including beginner, easy violin, intermediate, and advanced. If you don’t want to comb through a long list of mixed music genres, you can either select a type of music from one of the tabs at the top of the level page or you can choose from the main page. The various genres listed include wedding music, Christmas, world, and film.

Musicnotes.com

All of the sheet music on musicnotes.com will cost you between $2 and $5, depending on the song’s popularity. For example, Let It Go is available for download at $4.25 because it’s currently the No. 1 downloaded song  on the website. Musicnotes.com is wonderful if you know what song you want to practice. All you have to do is simply enter the information in the search and adjust the skill level of the sheet music, located on the right column.

Virtualsheetmusic.com

Another site that requires payments per downloaded song, virtualsheetmusic.com makes it easy to look up songs based on either your skill level or the song you want to download. Like musicnotes.com, it offers a much wider range of songs than the free sites previously mentioned. So, if you’re willing to pay a small fee, you can find the right song for your current mood or desired level.

Let’s face it, repeatedly playing the same kinds of songs and scales can turn practice into a chore. By leveraging the aforementioned websites, however, you can find easy violin sheet music to make practicing more interesting and fun.

 

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How Much Are Violin Lessons for Kids?

Violin Prices For KidsThink you could be the parent of a budding Vivaldi? Learning to play the violin is an intricate activity, requiring the appropriate guidance. You may be concerned about the pricing of a violin instruction for your child due to the complexity of the art. Though you may want to start your child on lessons right away, you may have concerns about pricing. Worry not, violin lesson prices are not as problematic for your pocketbook as you may think.

What should you expect for violin lesson prices?

  • Private lesson costs
    Private violin lesson prices start around $15-35 per half hour, rising to $40-100 per half hour for teachers with special qualifications.
  • Group lesson costs
    Group violin lesson prices typically cost around $40-100 per month. They are a good addition to private lessons, but are not sufficient alone for learning to play the violin.

Why private lessons?

Private lessons maximize musical potential. How?

  • They’re frustration-free.
    Offering the perfect pace for each student, no one laments their learning curve or lags behind. These issues are often especially discouraging for beginning students in a group setting.
  • They build confidence.
    Private lessons set children up for success by meeting them where they are at, helping them build a solid foundation.
  • They teach children HOW to practice.
    More time is spent by the student alone in practice than with the private instructor. This instills proper practice skills to help the student get the most out of practice time – the most control, the most results, and the most confidence.
  • They keep students motivated.
    Private lessons typically hold students’ interest better, particularly those experiencing difficulty “taking it to the next level.” Private teachers give students someone to be accountable to, guidance when they’re not sure what should come next in their studies, and motivation when they’re stuck in a slump.

What factors affect private violin lesson prices?

  • Formal training
    Instructors with advanced degrees or specialties may charge a higher price for violin lessons. The violin can be a challenging instrument to master, and it is essential to find your child a professional who has the experience and expertise to get them started out on the right foot.
  • Experience teaching children
    Finding a teacher who is both experienced with and excels at teaching children is also critical to your child’s success. Teaching a child violin requires specialized methods which sometimes differ from those utilized with adults. In addition, a high level of patience is necessary, particularly for teaching young kids.
  • Student’s level of proficiency
    Teachers who only teach beginner students sometimes charge less than those instructing more experienced musicians. As skills develop, however, plan on finding a teacher with additional expertise.
  • Style
    The violin is adaptable to a number of styles of music, from bluegrass to jazz to classical. If your child is eager to learn a specific skill or genre, you might pay higher violin lesson prices for the specialized experience.
  • Where the lesson will take place
    The location of your lesson — your teacher’s studio, your home, or lessons via an online video chat service — may affect lesson prices. If you’re on a budget, traveling to a teacher is typically more affordable, as some charge for travel time and mileage.
  • Lesson duration
    The length of a lesson also dictates price point. Your budding little violinist will likely have a shorter attention span than an older child, so lessons typically start out short – about 30 to 45 minutes at most – and progress in length with your child’s skills.
  • Location
    In areas that have a higher cost of living, violin lesson prices will be more expensive than those in smaller, rural locations. Don’t fret if you’re in a high-dollar area, however. You do have options, including live online lessons via video chat. And the bonus? Mom’s taxi can take a much-needed break!

What’s included in violin lesson prices?
Violin teachers giving private lessons will dedicate 30-45 minutes, once per week, solely to your child. They will monitor your child’s progress in real-time, explain necessary theories for each piece, provide immediate feedback on your child’s performance, offer encouragement, assign practice pieces before subsequent lessons, and more.

What’s not included?
You should expect to purchase books and materials needed for lessons on your own or directly from the teacher. Plan to spend about $25-75 per year on sheet music and books. Should your child wish to participate in recitals or competitions, necessary fees, which vary based on event, are also at an additional cost.

Ready to develop your child’s natural musical abilities? Find a great violin instructor near you today!

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How to Measure the Success of Your Child’s Violin Lessons

violin for kidsWhen it comes to violin for kids, how can you tell if your investment and energy is worth it? Here, San Francisco, CA violin teacher Carol Beth L. shares her advice…

 

Parents and teachers want the best for their children and students. Both want to believe in their children’s potential. So do the children themselves. All groups want the child to be successful. But not all of them measure success in the same way. When children, parents, and teachers disagree on what it means to be successful – and how to reach that success within music lessons – it can cause conflict that impedes the child’s progress as he or she learns to play violin.

Keep Your Child’s Goals in Mind

The first step is to make sure you know what your goals are, and to ensure that the goals of the child, parent, and teacher are compatible. Success for a budding professional and for a casual amateur may look very different. Like your definition of success, your goals need not be identical with your child’s or your teacher’s – merely compatible.

Once you have set your goals, success is much easier to define. If your goals are lofty, however, be careful not to let it undermine your child’s lessons. Many violin teachers are familiar with parents for whom success means finishing one song and starting the next one really quickly. We realize that not all parents think this way. But for those that do like to go fast, not so fast. If it happens, it happens. But if it doesn’t, don’t rush.

Keep Your Expectations in Check

A few years ago, I taught a summer camp with a viola student who joined at the last minute. I only knew he was supposed to be a book two student by Suzuki standards. On the first day, I listened to each student play. He took out music for “Bourree,” which is indeed a book two piece in the Suzuki method. He prefaced his performance by saying, “I’m not very good at viola.” He was right, but it was not his fault. When he played, it was clear that he had been pushed to play music that was too difficult for him. He realized his true level, and became demotivated because he couldn’t play the songs he was being assigned.

Another summer, a violin student was considering coming to my area and was interested in continuing lessons. He had had three teachers over the course of two years. When the first teacher didn’t push him to go fast enough, the mother found him another teacher. Later, she had her son audition for an orchestra. The people auditioning gave an honest assessment of his level, and noted that he was missing some basic technique. Fortunately, the mother respected their opinions very much. Unfortunately, some damage had already been done. His third teacher asked him to redo some songs in order to pinpoint technical skills he had failed to learn previously. He became frustrated and bored, and he was no longer as motivated to practice. Pushing him forward so quickly with his second teacher undermined the child’s ability to do his best.

A student is much more likely to be successful if he or she does not rush, but advances steadily and solidly, learning each piece with precision and solving any problems along the way.

Make Sure FUN is Part of the Equation

Some parents and children also come in with the view that violin for kids should be fun. I agree. Fun and humor help students learn and assimilate information, and also stay motivated. At the same time, it should not come at the expense of being serious. And yes, it is definitely possible to be serious and have fun at the same time!

Using music to connect with others and make friends is a wonderful way to incorporate fun into music. As I grew up, my mother and her friends made a point to bring us young musicians together to play music. One of my college friends only takes her violin out when we meet to play duets – but loves it when we do. Many Suzuki teachers have group classes for their students in addition to private lessons, even as beginners. Local Suzuki teachers around the world also organize and host local summer institutes – week-long camps for violinists and other musicians ages 18 and under, again including beginners. For more advanced students, many cities have youth orchestras students can join.

Success looks slightly different for nearly every violin student out there, since the combination of goals and interests is different for everyone. Nevertheless, having a clear understanding of each party’s goals and the opportunities in your area will help you, your child, and your teacher know what success looks like. This in turn will help you measure the success of your child’s violin lessons.

CarolCarol Beth L. teaches viola and violin in San Francisco, CA. She currently plays viola in the San Francisco Civic Orchestra and has been teaching students since 2012. Learn more about Carol Beth here!

 

 

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Setting the Right Goals for Violin: 4 Questions to Guide You

8336824466_2de008b312_bBefore you start learning violin music for beginners and all of the violin techniques you need to know, it’s smart to write down specific goals you’d like to achieve. Here, San Francisco, CA violin teacher Carol Beth L. share some guidance to get you on the right track…

 

Teachers, students, and parents of younger students come to the table with different expectations about violin lessons. Even before beginning the lessons, it is important to talk about those goals to make sure everyone is on the same page, and that at a minimum, no one’s goals interfere. A few basic questions can usually help pinpoint appropriate goals, and may even help you decide if you’ve found the right teacher.

1) Why are you choosing the violin, and who is choosing it?

With young students, sometimes the child chooses an instrument, and sometimes it’s the parent. While adult students more often choose their own instruments, peers may have an influence as well. Sometimes no one cares much which instrument it is; other times, several parties might care strongly. Violin could be on the table because a friend or family member plays violin, because the prospective student saw a beautiful violin concert, or because it’s just what’s available. These are all valid reasons. In most cases, though, especially for small children whose parents must approve and pay for related expenses, lessons will go more smoothly if the choice of instrument is not one-sided. For adults, also, if your peers are encouraging you and they are involved in your motivation for picking up the violin, it is important that their motivations be sufficiently matched by your own affinity for the instrument.

2) What role do you wish the violin to play in your life?

You may have heard about research indicating that classical music can encourage people to think in new and different ways, allowing them to improve academically. (If you haven’t, start by googling the Mozart Effect.) Others may value the new or deepened friendships found in other musicians. Maybe you just want to learn violin music for beginners for a fun hobby. Still others may hope for talent worthy of a career as a professional. Knowing your goals can help your teacher point you to appropriate resources. In some cases, teachers may focus on certain age ranges or levels. If your situation doesn’t match, they may be able to direct to you a more appropriate colleague.

3) For children, how much parent or family involvement will there be?

This depends on the family, family situation, and age of the child. Younger children often require more guidance, while older children and teens may benefit from gradually increasing independence. In the Suzuki method, parents and siblings are encouraged to stay and watch the lessons. Parents who want to be more involved tend to like this model, and children can benefit greatly when parents can help them between lessons because they know exactly what went on in the lesson. In some cases, however, it may not be feasible for parents to be present. Some of my students are in an after-school program, for example. These students’ parents are often at work during the day, and unable to attend or find separate times to take students to lessons. This does not mean that they are not interested; they communicate on a regular basis and support their child at home. It does mean, however, that they do not have the benefit of seeing what goes on in the lesson. If your child is the one taking lessons, make sure you and your violin teacher are on the same page.

4) How much time will the student spend practicing the violin on a regular basis?

There is no set answer for this question, and the right amount of time varies from student to student with age, level, and goals. Appropriate practice times may vary from around 10-20 minutes a day for very young beginning students to two to three hours or more a day for very serious students. The constant in all cases should be that practice is regular, and that the musical or technical goals for the next lesson take a priority over the number of minutes the student practices. Depending on your teacher, he or she may have specific practice requirements, and will be able to tell if those requirements are being met. If you have practice limitations at home, letting your teacher know will allow him or her to either suggest solutions or adjust expectations to meet what you are able to do. Long-term expectations of all parties need to overlap reasonably in order to avoid frustration.

As you talk with your or your child’s teacher, you may find other areas that help you set the right goals. Do your best to keep the communication open, and if something is not going the way you expected it to go, say something! It may help you reach, adjust, or even discover new goals for your violin lessons.

CarolCarol Beth L. teaches viola and violin in San Francisco, CA. She currently plays viola in the San Francisco Civic Orchestra and has been teaching students since 2012. Learn more about Carol Beth here!

 

 

 

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Ready for Your Violin Lessons? Here’s What to Expect

8535222188_597eb58e0f_kIf playing the violin has always been a dream of yours, congratulations on taking that first step and signing up for private lessons! Here, Philadelphia, PA teacher Gina P. shares what to expect and how to prepare…

 

Congratulations! You (or your child) have decided that you’d like to begin playing the violin, and you are taking that desire seriously by booking some lessons. That’s great! You’re starting down a path that leads to the joys of making music, and you’ll get boosts in coordination, finger strength, creativity, self-confidence, self-discipline, and right-brain power along the way. So, let’s get started! Here’s what you can expect at your first violin lesson:

Getting to Know You

You’ll spend a few minutes getting to know your new teacher and sharing some information about yourself: What are your interests? Have you studied music before? What kind of music do you like? If you’re still in school, what grade are you in? Things like that. You want to start building a rapport with your teacher, and feel out whether you like working with this person. Having the teacher that’s the best fit for you makes a huge difference in how much you learn and how enjoyable your lessons are.

Next you’ll want to set some goals: what genre(s) of music are you interested in playing? Any pieces in particular? Can you read music now, and if not, would you like to be able to? I generally feel like progress takes whatever amount of time it takes (which can be sped up, depending on how often and how effectively you’re practicing), but it’s never a bad idea to make clear where you’d like to be headed.

Getting to Know Your Violin

Next, you’ll go over the names of the different parts of the violin and the bow, and talk about how to care for each. From scroll to end button and tip to heel, you’ll want to get familiar with your new instrument as well as its accoutrements, a cake of rosin (rubbed on the bow and used to increase friction between the bow hair and the violin strings) and a shoulder rest.

Playing the violin also includes learning how to take care of it: wiping the strings and the body down after each time you play, treating the delicate bow tip and hair with special care, and storing it properly in its case.

You might also learn about tuning the violin at your first lesson, or your teacher might take care of that in the beginning. Either way, you’ll discuss to which pitches each string should be tuned, and how to tell if a string is sharp (higher) or flat (lower) from its designated pitch.

Now you know the different parts of the violin, and how to take care of it. Next, you’ll want to pick it up and talk about how to hold it — where to situate it on your body, what kind of posture to adopt, and how to position and use your left hand to gently support the violin. It’s likely that you won’t start using the bow until a few lessons in, especially if you are a young student. But you want to make music! I’ve got good news for you: you can make sounds with the violin even without a bow, by plucking the strings with your right hand pointer finger. This is likely what you’ll do for a few lessons, learning as you go where to put down your left hand fingers to make different pitches.

Wrapping Up

That sounds like enough for one lesson! At the end of your first time together, you and your teacher can discuss what to work on for next time, and how to work on it, including how long and how often you should practice. Your teacher may use an exercise or song book in the first lesson, or in the subsequent lessons, or never, depending on whether you’d like to learn how to read music or not. You should write down whatever homework you have, and any important things you learned that you definitely want to remember later.

So there’s a general idea of what you can expect at your first violin lesson. Like learning anything new, it might be slow going in the beginning, but hang in there! You’ve started on an exciting and fulfilling musical journey that can provide you with a lifelong source of joy.

GinaP

Gina P. teaches music theory, piano, singing and violin in Philadelphia, PA. She received her Bachelor of Arts from New York University, and her Bachelor of Music, Vocal Performance from Temple University. She has been teaching students since 2011. Learn more about Gina here!

 

 

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5 Ways To Make Money Playing Violin

5798939739_7bffcf4d6f_bWhen you think about making money using your skills as a violin player, violin teacher jobs might be the first thing that comes to mind. But there are so many more options! Here are some ideas from Brooklyn, NY teacher Julie P...

 

The ability to play the violin is a very marketable skill. If you’re looking for violin teacher jobs, working at a school or teaching private lessons is a great way to earn money. But if you’d prefer to just play and perform, there are a number of opportunities open for you to make money with your violin playing.

1. Special Events

Special events such as weddings, funerals, bridal or baby showers, and church services are great places for violin players to provide music. Any of these events may call for a solo violinist, but often they call for string quartets or trios. The types of music requested are usually classical and light jazz/pop, but it really depends on the event. Churches often use violinists as part of larger orchestras for special services around Christmas and Easter, or as a solo instrument for weddings and funerals. Some funeral homes keep a database of musicians to contact when clients request special music.

2. Playing in Bands

If you play any music in the rock/pop/folk/bluegrass/jazz genres, you could make money playing violin in a band. Since the violin is often a featured instrument in these groups, playing in a band is great for people who enjoy performing as a soloist. Some groups provide written music, but often the violin player improvises their own parts, so it’s important to be able to improvise and play by ear. You can also work your way up to soloing with musicians such as Celine Dion, David Bowie, and the Rolling Stones.

3. Cruise Ship Entertainment

Many cruise ships hire string groups (often trios) to play mostly classical music in the dining room, as well as in places like the grand promenade on large cruise ships. If you have your own group and possess the proper repertoire, this can be a great opportunity to get performance experience while also seeing different parts of the world. Cruise ships pay a weekly salary and also provide room and board free of charge. Some cruise ship companies have websites that list opportunities for musicians, but often your best bet is to find an agency that books acts on cruise ships.

4. Musical Theater

Many musical theater productions call for violinists. If you enjoy this kind of music and don’t mind playing the same thing for multiple nights in a row, playing for a musical can be a great way to make money. The top level for this kind of playing is Broadway, where the pay is quite high. But opportunities exist in almost all major cities, as well as at high schools, colleges, and community theaters.

5. Symphony Orchestra

The violin sections of professional and semi-professional symphony orchestras are made up of some of the very best classical players in the world. Getting a job in one of these orchestras is very difficult and consists of passing at least one audition, if not more. The amount of money these orchestras pay their members depends on the number of services (rehearsals or performances) that make up their season, as well as the performance level of the orchestra itself. The top orchestras pay a full-time salary while the semi-pro groups often pay a set amount per service. Audition notices may be posted in union papers and some trade magazines/journals.

For any of the ways to make money playing violin listed above, you have to be a solid player as well as have good networking skills. Musicians are often recommended and hired by word of mouth, so it pays to know as many people as possible in your field. It’s also important to conduct yourself professionally in all work situations, and be easy to get along with. If people have a good time on the gig with you, chances are they’ll want to work with you again.

If one of these five ways to make money playing the violin appeals to you but you don’t have the necessary skills yet, private lessons are a great way to move toward your goal. Find the right teacher to help you achieve your goals today!

JuliePJulie P. teaches flute, clarinet, music theory, and saxophone lessons in Brooklyn, NY. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Ithaca College and her Masters in Music Performance from New Jersey City University. Learn more about Julie here!

 

 

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In-Person, Online, or DIY: What’s the Best Way to Learn Violin?

violin for kidsBefore you begin your violin lessons, you’ll need to make a decision about the type and location of the lessons. Here are some helpful tips from Brooklyn, NY teacher Julie P...

 

So you or your child wants to learn how to play the violin, but you’re not sure if you want to work with a teacher in-person, online, or maybe just go the DIY route? This article will help you think through the pros and cons of each option. By the end, you should have a better idea of which way is the best way for you to learn violin.

Teach Yourself Violin

Learning the violin on your own is definitely the cheapest option. There is no weekly or monthly payment for lessons and in addition to the thousands of tutorials available for sale, there are tons of free books and videos available. This option allows you to progress at your own pace and requires no regular schedule or commitment.

This option is best for someone who is self-motivated and who already has at least a basic musical background. If you’ve played guitar or some other stringed instrument before, you’ll probably be able to figure out how to tune the violin, and where to place your fingers on the strings for proper intonation. If you’ve never studied a musical instrument before, these tasks could be very challenging for you and you would probably do much better with a teacher. Either way, if you want to get serious about playing — or if you find yourself struggling or losing motivation — it’s time to commit to private lessons.

Online Violin Lessons

Online lessons are great because they let you study with anyone in the country from the comfort of your own home. Lessons can occur at any time of day because of the access to teachers from all different time zones. Online lessons are also very useful for when a teacher or student travels out of town, or if one of you feels sick and doesn’t want to pass the illness on to others, yet still feels well enough to take or teach the lesson.

However, there are a number of significant drawbacks to online violin lessons. While the sound quality is usually good enough to conduct the lesson, it’s definitely not as good as in-person lessons, and there can be connectivity issues as well. The teacher cannot play your violin to tune it or assess it for mechanical issues. Teachers also cannot assess and correct postural issues as easily, nor can they play along with you due to the way sound is transmitted through the online format.

Online lessons are best for people who live in remote areas where teachers aren’t readily available, and for people who need a higher calibre of teacher than is available in their area. This option could also be good for people who don’t have easy access to transportation.

In-Person Lessons

In-person lessons are the best way to learn the violin. If you have the ability to take violin lessons from a teacher in your area, try to make this option work first. A teacher who meets with you for lessons can help you purchase a quality violin, and then periodically assess your instrument for any mechanical issues. He or she can also show you how to tune and take care of your violin, which is very important to your progress as a violinist.

Teachers who meet with you in person will help you establish a healthy and effective playing posture, as well as quickly identify any bad habits that need to be corrected. In-person lessons do not suffer from any sound quality issues and teachers are able to easily play along with you to help you train your ear. Additionally, it’s easy for teachers to quickly write down practice reminders or exercises for you to take home.

 

As you think through the three options for violin lessons, consider what your musical goals are. If you want to learn how to play advanced classical violin music, you’re going to need a teacher to lead you through that process. If you want to play on a casual level just for fun, the online option might work out for you. If you’re really not sure what the best way to learn violin is for you, try taking a few lessons just to see how it goes. Regardless of how you decide to learn the violin, having the help of a teacher as you get started will greatly speed up your progress.

Ready to get started? Check out the great violin teachers in your area at TakeLessons.com!

JuliePJulie P. teaches flute, clarinet, music theory, and saxophone lessons in Brooklyn, NY. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Ithaca College and her Masters in Music Performance from New Jersey City University. Learn more about Julie here!

 

 

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