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violin performance

The Ultimate Violin Performance Checklist for Parents [Infographic]

violin performance

Does your child have a violin recital coming up? Below, violin teacher Julie P. shares the ultimate violin recital checklist to help parents ensure their child has the best performance…

Your child’s first violin performance is an exciting time! Your child gets to show off what he or she has learned, while you get to marvel at how far he or she has come since their first violin lesson.

Recitals can be a wonderful family event and a great confidence booster for your child. However, they can also be stressful, especially if you don’t know what to expect.

There are so many things in which to keep track. The best way to ensure that your child’s first violin performance is a positive experience is to make sure you and your child are prepared ahead of time.

There are three main areas in which your child needs to prepare: the violin playing, the performance elements, and the items to bring. Your child’s violin teacher will help him or her with the violin playing, but it’s important that your child also practice at home regularly to reinforce the skills he or she learn in lessons.

The performance elements include playing in front of people, knowing how to bow before and after a performance, entering and exiting the stage, handling sheet music, etc. These are all things you can practice at home with your child to make him or her more at ease the day of the recital.

The items your child needs to bring to his or her performance can also be discussed and prepared ahead of time to reduce any stress the day of.

Follow the steps in the infographic below, and your child will be on his or her way to a great first violin performance. In fact, your child may love it so much he or she won’t be able to wait for his or her next violin recital!

violin performance

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Don’t leave all the preparation up to your child’s violin teacher. Use the checklist above to ensure that your child is ready for his or her big debut!

JuliePPost Author: Julie P.
Julie 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!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Photo by Eden, Janine and Jim

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learn violin

What’s the Total Cost of Learning to Play the Violin?

Do you want to learn violin, but you’re not sure if you can afford it? Below, violin teacher Carol Beth L. shares the total cost of learning to play the violin…

Is “learn violin” on your to-do list for this year? Learning to play any instrument is an investment. Some students or parents may not realize, however, exactly how much investment must be made in order to reach their goals.

The cost of learning the violin can be broken down into a few major categories, which include both monetary investments and time. Below, we breakdown all of the costs associated with learning how to play the violin.

Cost of a Violin

learn violin

What is the cost of a violin? Well, the exact cost will depend on whether you decide to rent or buy. Different options are appropriate for different students. For example, the cost of a new student violin at the lowest level can range from about $100 to $500, with $300 being a good mid-range price to have set aside.

While you don’t need an expensive Stradavarius to begin violin lessons, it’s important to have a functional violin that sounds good and isn’t too difficult to tune. Otherwise, you may become frustrated when you aren’t able to make it sound the way you want it to.

If you don’t want to spend a lot of money upfront, you have the option to rent a violin. Violin rental prices may vary slightly depending on where you’re located. However, the typical rate is around $25 to $30 per month.

Many studios will allow you to apply a portion of the money to purchasing the violin later on. This is a good option for those who aren’t quite sure if they want to continue to learn violin. This option is usually a little more expensive than to buy it directly at the beginning, but it can be worth it.

Cost of Violin Accessories

learn violin

There are a lot of accessories that you’ll need to help you learn violin. For beginners, this will likely include a basic violin book of techniques and maybe a book of exercises. As you become more advanced, you will likely need to purchase violin books for scales and perhaps for sight-reading.

Other important supplies include a tuning fork, a metronome, and a stand. Many vendors now offer combined electronic tuner/metronome devices.

If you can’t find one, tuning forks are another good way to tune your violin. This tool will help you develop a good ear, since it will only give you your initial A!

Though you may not use all of these accessories, beginners should be ready to set aside between $50 and $100 for violin supplies.

Cost of Violin Lessons

learn violin

The cost of violin lessons is the most obvious investment people think of, and since it is ongoing, it is probably going to be the largest. The exact cost will be determined by your area and by whether your lessons are 30 minutes, 45 minutes, or a full hour.

For younger, beginner students, a half hour lesson is usually enough. Older and more advanced students may wish to spend 45 minutes or an hour each week.

The hourly cost of lessons in most areas can vary from $30/hr to $80/hr or more depending on the location, studio, and teacher credentials.

Cost of Violin Recitals and Activities

learn violin

Enrichment activities and recitals can help inspire and motivate students to learn violin, but don’t be surprised if these outside activities come with a cost.

While some studios will allow students to participate in their recital for free, others may request a recital fee that is used to cover the cost of the venue or other incidentals.

Your violin teacher may also recommend concert attendance, summer camp, group classes, or orchestra in addition to private lessons. These are often recommendations and not requirements, but they can help the student advance in other ways by providing a variety of musical experiences.

Incidental Costs

learn violin

As lessons progress, there may be some unpredictable costs that come up. Perhaps, for example, your violin rosin breaks or is lost or your strings break.

A full set of average violin strings can cost between $10 and $20; high quality strings can cost more. Inexpensive rosin can cost less than $5, while higher quality rosin might cost closer to $10 or $15.

Such incidentals are usually minimal, but it is good to be prepared when they come up.

The opportunity to learn violin is a rewarding endeavor, and certainly worth the time, effort, and costs associated. While it is difficult to put an exact cost on learning to play the violin, considering these areas should help estimate how much you will need to put aside.

CarolPost Author: Carol Beth L.
Carol 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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Violin YouTube

Top 5 Violin YouTube Tutorials for Beginners

Violin YouTube

Learning how to play the violin has never been easier, thanks to the wide variety of online resources available today. Whether you’re looking to teach yourself the violin or you simply want to supplement your current violin lessons, YouTube has a great selection of violin tutorials to choose from.

Violin YouTube tutorials are a great alternative learning tool. Students can try out tutorials from many different violin instructors until they find the one that best fits their needs and skill level. What’s more, violin YouTube tutorials are archived, meaning students are able to access them whenever they want.

There are tons of violin YouTube tutorials that teach students everything from bow maintenance, violin techniques, and practice exercises. With so many YouTube channels available, however, it can be difficult to find the best one to suit your needs.

Below are our favorite violin YouTube tutorials for beginner students who want to work on their musical skills.

1. Violin Tutor Pro

Why we like it: Practicing the violin doesn’t have to be boring. Violin Tutor Pro has a wide range of tutorials covering topics like playing basic cords, improving violin slurs, and learning to read violin sheet music. It’s host, Michael Sanchez, shares his expertise in easy-to-follow lessons that are instructional, yet entertaining.

“Our YouTube channel is a great place for violin players to improve their skills, whether they’re just starting out or have been playing for years. Michael is an effective and engaging teacher, and–most importantly–he knows how to make learning fun,” said Loren Alldrin, owner of Violin Tutor Pro.

Check out this video of Michael teaching students how to properly hold a bow:

2. Violin Lab Channel

Why we like it: With close to 30,000 subscribers, Violin Lab Channel is one of the more popular violin YouTube channels. The site features in-depth, studio-quality videos that offer actionable tips to those who are serious about learning how to play the violin.

“There are many qualified teachers out in the world, but there was very little accessible instruction on the Internet that demystified the complexities of violin playing and presented the information in an organized sequential system. At the heart of my teaching is the desire to quantify the ‘unquantifiable'; the subtleties and nuances of great playing that many people assume is out of their reach,” said Beth Blackerb, founder of ViolinLab.com.

Students can browse through various different categories—including bow technique and left hand technique—to find exactly what they want. They even provide Spanish subtitles for many of their lessons.

Check out this awesome tutorial on the do’s and don’ts of violin vibrato:

3. TheStringClub

Why we like it: TheStringClub is a perfect resource for beginner students who want to put their skills to the test and learn how to play popular songs like “The Star Spangled Banner,” “Jingle Bells,” and “Twinkle Little Star.”

What’s great about these videos is that they are easy to follow, as the videos feature numbers that slide down the strings so users can easily play along to the notes on the screen.

Check out this great tutorial on how to play the “Mission Impossible” theme song on the violin:

4. Fiddlerman

Why we like it: Besides covering a wide range of violin techniques, Fiddlerman has helpful tips and tricks for maintaining your violin. For example, the channel has various tutorials on removing and setting a soundpost, restructuring a fallen bridge, and learning to properly rosin your bow.

Are you thinking about purchasing a new violin? If you need some expert advice, the channel also has a review section in which the host evaluates different violin brands.

Check out this video on how to master double stops on the violin:

5. Heather Broadbent

Why we like it: Another great resource for beginners, Heather Broadbent features tons of engaging tutorials. As both the creator and a professional violinist, Heather shares her expertise and tips on topics like solos for young violinists, how to read violin sheet music, and how to improve finer coordination.

Heather takes what she calls a “holistic” approach to instructing students in order to help them fully connect with playing the violin.

Check out this video on various violin stretches that help to reduce tension:

So there you have it! Whether you’re looking for tips to help teach yourself or you want to supplement your existing lessons, be sure to check out these five violin YouTube tutorials!

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Violin Mistakes

Are You Making These 5 Common Violin Mistakes When Practicing?

Violin Mistakes

Do you want to get more out of your violin practice? Below, violin teacher Montserrat P. shares some common violin mistakes students often make when practicing and how to fix them…

You don’t think Lindsey Stirling or Jascha Heifetz got to where they are without practicing the violin, right? In order to prefect your violin skills and progress further, you must frequently practice. After all, practice does make perfect.

Unfortunately, many students don’t know how to properly practice on their own, without their violin instructor to help guide them. They either end up not practicing enough or working on the wrong techniques.

To ensure that you get the most out of your practice sessions, avoid these five common violin mistakes.

1. Over-Practice

We all know that feeling when we finally start to get a passage right. Although your fingers are learning it, and your brain understands it; it’s not quite solid. So you think to yourself, “Just five more minutes; that’s all that I need to get it right.”

Well, as long as it is just five minutes, then go for it.  But if after that time the passage is still not there, stop playing.  Your body and mind have a limit, and if you push them too far, there will be no improvement. You will be playing in what I like to call “automatic mode.”  In other words, you will not be thinking nor paying attention, and you will run the risk of getting an injury.

Avoid this all too common violin mistake by listening to your body and your mind. Don’t overwork yourself; once you get to the point when your practice is no longer productive, stop.

2. Poor Posture

Your hands and arms are not the only parts of your body that are involved in your playing; your back plays a very important role, too. Your back muscles provide the support and strength your arms need to play. You depend on those muscles to pick up your violin and do what you love.

That is why proper posture is so important.  Back problems can quickly go from a temporary injury (such as pulling a muscle) to a permanent problem (like scoliosis or other deformations).  If you develop these conditions it can – and probably will – keep you from playing the violin. Therefore, take care of yourself in order to be the artist you want to be!

3. Unbalanced Practice Time

Do you spend three quarters of your pre-determined practice time in your scales?  Do you usually find yourself overplaying in order to practice your études?  What about your solo piece?

When practicing, it very often seems as though there is a lot to be done and too little time to do it.  That is why it is very important to start practicing with a time distribution on your mind.  As a general rule, you should spend half your time practicing scales and études, and half your time on your solo repertoire.

By doing this, not only will your practice session be more productive, it will also allow you to get a proper warm-up in. What’s more, your technique will be settled by the time you get to your piece, giving you the time and freedom to start working in musicality and expression.

That being said, feel free to adjust your practice time according to your needs.  If your arpeggios don’t sound great but your scales do, cut some time from the scales to work on the arpeggios.  If you have a recital coming up, spend some more time practicing your repertoire.

The important thing is for you to have a plan in mind before you start playing.  Believe me; you will be able to hear the results.

4. Not Warming Up

Would you run six miles right after you got out of bed without any type of warm-up? Every person knows that this is a terrible idea, as your body hasn’t had time to prepare for that activity, and there is good chance that you will get hurt.

Well, there is no reason for you to treat violin practice any differently. If you don’t do proper warm-up exercises before playing, your muscles will not be prepared, and your practice session will not be as productive.

For example, without a proper warm-up, your hand will be warming itself up with the complicated parts of your practice, which means that it will not be learning what it is playing. This will lead you to waste time, and chances are, you will end up overplaying and probably injuring your muscles.

Once again, your body is your most immediate instrument; your violin is just an extension of it.  You need to take care of your body if you want to be able to successfully play and practice.

5. Not Taking Breaks

This is one of the most important, yet less widely-known rules of violin practice. The rule of thumb is to play 20 minutes and rest for two or three. By doing so, you will ensure your body rests enough to be able to continue, but not too long so as to cool off. Also, your mind has enough time to internalize the progress you just made, but not too long to get completely distracted from your practice.

Of course, breaks will be different for everybody.  You might want to play for an extra 10 minutes and then take a longer break; or maybe you will want to take a long break at the end of an hour (in addition to your smaller breaks).  Whatever method you choose, the important thing is that you pace yourself and give your body and mind the time they need to assimilate the work they’ve just completed.

Are you committing any of these common violin mistakes? If not, good job!  Keep doing what you are doing.  If you happen to be guilty of these violin mistakes, don’t worry.  Now you have the tools to fix your errors and start learning. Good luck!

Montserrat P. Montserrat P. teaches violin and music theory lessons with TakeLessons. Originally from Costa Rica, she is now completing her studies at Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. She is bilingual in English and Spanish, and has been teaching music lessons since 2012. Learn more about Montserrat here!

 

 

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Photo by Tony Alter

3 Straightforward Steps for Violin Tuning

Violin tuningFor beautiful tone, understanding how to tune your violin is one of the most important things for students to learn. The tuning process will support your ear training, as well as help beginner musicians recognize the connection between strings, pegs and the sounds produced by the violin.

Without an in-tune instrument, any techniques you try to learn will be offset – not to mention your neighbors might complain! Check out these 3 straightforward steps that go into violin tuning, as originally published by Lumuel Violins:

Step One:
Comparing the sound difference between a reference tone and the sound of your violin.
First, you’ll typically need a source for generating reference tones for each of your violin strings. Reference tones can come from a number of sources such as a piano or a tuning fork.

Step Two:
Using the violin pegs to tune the sound of each string most of the way close to the reference tones.
Many problems can happen at this stage. Sometimes the pegs are really hard to turn. They appear stuck or when they actually move, the pegs feel like they are turning through sticky gum or tar. Yet another problem occurs when the peg is easy to turn, but as soon as you let go, the pegs won’t stay in place, but loosen up again. (Your violin teacher can help you combat these issues!)

Step Three:
Fine tuning each violin string to match the reference tone (or at least very close to matching).
To fine tune a violin, you need to hear minor pitch differences between the reference tone and the sound of your violin. This is not easy for many beginners. To put things in perspective, it can take years of ear training to discern very small pitch differences.

With proper training, you can hone your ability to tune your violin by ear.  Once you’ve mastered this skill, the sky’s the limit!

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Photo by Bob Jagendorf.