Purchasing Your First Violin, Teaching Methods & More

how to play violinExcited about learning how to play the violin? The first steps to success are finding a good-quality instrument, and an exceptional teacher. Read on as Fort Lee, NJ violin teacher Oleg R. details a few of these beginner violin basics…


Anyone who is interested in starting instrumental lessons should keep in mind that neither small improvement nor professional success will ever come in a short period of time. It doesn’t really matter how talented students are or how sharp their memory is. What does really matter is how hardworking the person is and how much time one wants to invest in his or her future.

Let’s talk about some specific details for beginners who want to learn how to play violin or viola. It’s very important to purchase or rent an instrument according to your physical size. For very young students, I wouldn’t recommend purchasing an instrument in the beginning. Children grow quickly and you may be stuck with an instrument that you cannot use anymore. Renting is a better choice because it allows you to switch to a bigger size when your child grows. I would strongly recommend purchasing or renting string instruments in professional violin stores, never online or in guitar stores. Some of these instruments are not adjusted to even minimal professional standards and sound quite horrible, which can discourage beginners from continuing their lessons. It’s also important that you obtain the necessary extra equipment. For violinists or violists, this means a shoulder rest or a sponge; cello players will need a rock stop.

There are several different method books that string teachers use for beginners. I recommend Volume 1 of “Essential Elements 2000” for violin, viola or cello. This method book is most suitable for very young students. For older students or adults who want to start lessons, I would recommend Book 1 of “Suzuki Violin School”. The classical pieces that Mr. Suzuki collected and published in his Suzuki Violin School Method (Books 1-10) are the most popular books for string students on the market. I usually work with students on books 1 through 6. After completion of Suzuki Book 6, you’ll be capable of performing much harder and challenging pieces.

I am much more reserved in my opinion about Mr. Suzuki’s teaching method (don’t mix it up with his popular and highly-recommended collection of classical songs in books 1-10 of his “Suzuki Violin School”). The method is suitable for very young students (age 3-6) in their first few steps on the bumpy road to success. However, I typically don’t recommend this method to students who want to play for a long time. The Suzuki Method doesn’t require any knowledge of notes, and it doesn’t encourage to learn anything seriously. In my teaching practice, I use just a single element of the Suzuki teaching method. I put a few stickers on a fingerboard to help beginners locate notes when they start violin lessons. The stickers are quickly removed after the student and I are both confident that they don’t need stickers any more.

Stay tuned for part 2 of the article to learn about a few more of the basics of playing the violin!

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You might also like…
10 Things to Know Before Buying a Violin
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Fort Lee violin lessons with Oleg R.Oleg R. teaches piano, violin, cello, music theory and viola lessons to students of all ages in Fort Lee, NJ. He received his Master’s degree in Violin Performance and Education from the Moscow Conservatory of Music, and joined the TakeLessons team in February 2013. Learn more about Oleg, or search for a teacher near you!


Photo by agullalee

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