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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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Top 5 Instructional Violin Books for Kids

violin books

Do you need to purchase a violin book for your child, but you’re not sure where to start? Below, violin teacher Julie P. shares her top five violin books for kids…

There is an unbelievably large amount of music books available to kids who want to learn the violin. While there are many great options to choose from, sifting through all of them to find the best one can be daunting.

Most students start with a method book, but activity and solo books can be great supplemental materials to aid a student’s progress. To help guide your selection process, below are my top 5 violin books for kids.

1. Adventures in Violinland

This charming series engages beginners with a unique approach that’s geared toward children. It is full of pictures (some even for coloring!), recurring characters, and familiar songs.

violin books

The series starts with book 1A and includes 24 books that follow a very systematic approach. What’s more, it includes a scorecard and points system that helps kids see their progress as they move through the books.

 2. Essential Elements 2000 — Violin Book 1

This is a great beginners method book most appropriate for students ages seven and up; although I have used it successfully with students as young as five. It is full of classical, folk, and holiday melodies that children already know.

violin books

It also includes rhythm and technique exercises, as well as theory and music history information that provide a well-rounded approach to learning the violin. Students will benefit from the MP3 play-along tracks as well.

3. Harry Potter, Solos for Violin

Students who are Harry Potter fans will love learning how to play the theme songs from the movies. The book of 10 songs includes parts for both the violin and piano accompaniment.

violin books

It also includes a CD, featuring demo tracks with orchestral accompaniments that sound just like the movie versions. This book is for kids who have been playing the violin for at least two years, although the recognizable theme songs will make it easier for beginners to play along and learn.

4. Early Start on the Violin — Volume 1

This fun method book features large print music and text that’s easy for young children to read. Additionally, it takes a unique method toward teaching notes, as it focuses on one finger at a time. This is an ideal approach for children who struggle with finger coordination.

violin books

By the end of the book, students will be able to play popular folk songs and will become more familiar with reading violin notes. This book is best suited for younger students, ages four to six.

5. Freddie Fiddle and Betty Bow

This imaginative violin activity book is a great supplement to the other books kids use during their violin lessons. The book covers everything from the various different parts of the violin to right and left hand techniques to the names of the notes on the violin.

violin books

Activities within the book include drawing and coloring, using stickers, and flash cards. This book is great for further engaging small children in learning the violin.

With so many violin books available, there is something for every child. If you’re not sure which book to choose, you might want to consider asking your violin teacher, as they probably have a few favorite violin books that they recommend to students.

 

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!

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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. TakeLessons

Why we like it: If you’re looking for practical tutorials for beginners, this is a great place to start. With videos on finger positions, how to properly hold your bow, and how to play vibrato violin, the playlist below won’t leave you disappointed.

All the videos are created by our expert violin instructor, Naomi. Her thorough teaching style and the way she breaks down difficult concepts step-by-step make her tutorials some of the most popular on YouTube.

Start by checking out her video on how to tune your violin, below:

2. 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:

3. 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:

4. 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:

5. 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:

6. 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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Best Violin Strings

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Violin Strings

Best Violin Strings

Are you a beginner violinist who needs some guidance on what type of violin strings to purchase? Below, violin teacher Montserrat P. shares some expert tips on how to choose the best violin strings…

Choosing the best violin strings for your instrument is extremely important. Finding the proper strings guarantees you’ll be able to play your violin to its full potential, which leads you to achieve more efficient development as a musician.

Unfortunately, if you don’t have the right guidance, selecting your strings can turn into a rather complicated and confusing process. It is not a matter of what type of violin strings you want, but instead the type of strings your instrument needs in order to produce the sound you want.

If you’re a classical violinist, for example, you wouldn’t want to choose violin strings that are better suited for a country fiddler or vice versa.

There are several different types of strings available. Lucky for you, we’ve created a mini guide that will help you to find the best violin strings to suit your instrument and desired sound.

Let’s get started!

Violin Strings Review: Three Main Types

Before you can choose the best violin strings, you need to know your options. There are several different types of strings you can choose from, and getting familiar with each and every one of them is the very first step toward making a sound decision.

1. Gut core strings

Gut core strings were the very first type of violin strings made. While many claim that they are made from cat gut, these strings are typically made with sheep intestines.

In terms of sound, gut core strings have a warmer, more complex sound than others and a very low tension. They are usually preferred by professional musicians who specialize in baroque music. These strings do have their disadvantages—specifically, they are more expensive and less durable.

Gut core strings are very sensitive to temperature and humidity changes, which make them prone to getting out of tune and/or breaking. Let’s just say that there’s a reason why they are mainly used by professional violinists.Best Violin Strings

2. Synthetic core strings

Synthetic core strings are the most popular choice among musicians. This type is much more stable in pitch, deals better with temperature and humidity changes, and costs less than gut core strings.

Besides the previously mentioned benefits, many professional musicians and students prefer synthetic core strings, because they are also more flexible when it comes to playing different music genres.

Even though the warmth and complexity of the gut core string is still present, the sound of a synthetic string is less complex and a little bit harsher. Nonetheless, synthetic core strings are still a very good option for both experts and beginners.

Best Violin Strings

3. Steel core strings

Steel core strings were introduced as an alternative to gut core strings. The string’s core is covered by metals, such as silver or steel, which makes them much easier to work with when it comes to tuning, for they are not affected by changes in the atmosphere.

This feature, along with their extremely low price, is why steel core strings are widely used by beginner students. Tuning your instrument is not something you learn in your first private lesson, and steel core strings offer the stability needed for the student to be able to practice without having to worry about tuning his or her violin.

However, these strings do not have any warmth in their sound. They are often described as loud and bright, which is not particularly liked among classical music circles. However, this sound is perfect for jazz, bluegrass, and folk music.

Best Violin Strings

Tips for Choosing the Best Violin Strings

Now that you’re familiar with the three main types of violin strings, you’re one step closer to finding the best violin strings for you and your instrument. Here are some other tips to consider.

  • Weigh the pros and cons: Take some time to really think about the advantages and disadvantages of each type to help you decide which one best matches your level and aspirations. The last thing you want to do is make a rash decision and end up regretting it later.
  • Ask the right questions: Are you an intermediate student exploring different styles? Or do you consider yourself a hardcore baroque player? Ask yourself these types of questions before making a decision; you do not want to end up with the wrong strings.
  • Seek a second opinion: Even though you know your musical self pretty well, it’s never a bad idea to ask for a second opinion. Ask your violin teacher or your fellow students what strings they use or if they have any suggestions.

Choosing the Right String Gauge

Once you’ve determined which type of string you want, the next step is to start thinking about the string gauge, which is just a fancy way to refer to its width.

Most players stay in the middle gauge because it offers the best of both worlds: the volume of the thicker gauge without its massive tension and slow response, and the precision of the thin gauge without its low projection.

So, which string gauge should you choose? Well, that depends on your instrument and what type of sound you want to make. If your violin is already loud enough, for example, you might want to turn to a thinner gauge. If your instrument has a hard time projecting its sound, a thicker gauge might be better.

At this point in the process, you will really want to ask somebody with more experience for some help. An experienced violin instructor will be able to tell you what your instrument needs in order for you to achieve what you want.

Where to Buy Violin Strings

Now that you have gone through the process of figuring out which strings you need, you’re ready to buy them and start working your way toward the peak of your artistic development. Below is a list of websites where you can find awesome brands that carry the best violin strings.

  • Shar Music: This online violin store has a wide variety of violin strings to choose from as well as other accessories. The site gives you all of the information you need to make a confident decision, including information about the brand, warranty data, and helpful ratings and reviews from actual customers.
  • Johnson String Instrument: Serving as New England’s largest violin shop, Johnson String Instrument carries all of the top violin string brands at great prices. Don’t live in New England? Don’t worry, you can purchase items online through the company’s website.
  • JustStrings.com: With a name like JustStrings.com, you know this online musical instrument strings and accessories store has an impressive selection of violin strings.

Other Helpful Resources

  • Violin String Review: If you want to find some honest reviews of violin strings, visit Violin String Review, a website dedicated to supporting and promoting strings.
  • Violin Information: Authored by a professional violin maker, this website has tons on great information about the ins and outs of purchasing strings and other accessories.
  • Consordini.com: This informative website has a ton of great reviews on a wide varitey of violin accessories. Check out this post on the 10 best violin strings.

Now that you have this information, go and start the process of finding the best violin strings for your instrument. Hang in there, ask for help when it gets confusing, and remember how amazing it will be once your strings are ready and you can start playing!

Montserrat P.Post Author: 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!

By Steve Snodgrass

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Learn the Violin Online: Top 5 Online Video Platforms for Lessons

violin online

Taking private, in-person violin lessons is the best way to learn the violin; however, sometimes there aren’t enough qualified teachers in your area. Luckily, there are various different video conferencing platforms that allow you to learn the violin online, and finding the right teacher for online lessons is very easy to do.

Besides having a larger pool of qualified teachers to choose from, online violin lessons can be taken just about anywhere and at anytime. With the kind of schedules most people have today, it’s not always easy finding a time to meet with a teacher. Setting up an online lesson, however, allows you to fit lessons into your busy schedule.

Before you can learn the violin online, you must choose a video platform that works best for you and your teacher. Below are some tips to consider when selecting a platform.

Tips for Selecting a Platform

There are a few things that you want to consider before you start your online violin lessons.

  • When it comes to violin lessons, price is always a consideration. Thankfully, many video platforms are free, so you don’t need to worry about additional costs when taking violin lessons online.
  • You need a reliable Internet connection. Every platform has a minimum bandwidth requirement, so make sure you find one that works within your Internet’s capabilities. You don’t want to have a lesson drop in the middle of a song, nor do you want to be distracted by trying to work with something that isn’t user friendly.
  • The platform should enable you to set your status as “busy,” so that you can avoid any interruptions.
  • Do make sure to discuss what platform you choose with you teacher, as he or she may already have a preference or suggestion for a particular one.

Once you’ve considered the tips above, it’s time to find the platform that suits your needs. The following five platforms are the most popular for learning the violin online. The platforms aren’t in any particular order, so feel free to try out different options if your teacher doesn’t already have a preference.

Top Platforms for Learning Violin Online

1. Skype

violin online

Skype

Arguably as the most popular video platform, Skype allows you talk face-to-face with your teacher over any mobile device for free. All you have to have is a reliable Internet connection to take advantage of Skype’s popular video calling service, and setting up an account is easy.

The only downfall of this platform is that if you want to have a group video lesson, you’ll need to upgrade to Skype Premium for about $5 per month. Additionally, Skype requires you to set up a username and password.

2. Google+ Hangouts

violin online

Google+

Google+ also offers free video conferencing, called Hangouts. Run by the most widely-used search engine, this platform is well designed and user friendly. If you already have a Gmail account, set-up is easy—all you have to do is sync your existing account with the platform.

Google Hangouts is a bit less reliable than Skype, because the platform requires more computing power. If your computer barely meets the requirements, you’re more likely to experience freezing and buffering, which can bring your lesson to a screeching halt.

3. Tox

violin online

Tox

Tox is a new and nifty video conferencing program. The great thing about Tox—besides being free—is that it doesn’t allow advertising on the site, so you will not be distracted by scrolling text or popups while you’re in the middle of a lesson.

As a newer program, however, it is not as established as Skype or Google Hangouts, so you may encounter unanticipated issues the first few times you use it.

4. Viber

violin online

Viber

Viber is similar to Skype and Google Hangouts in that it’s free, easy to use, and available on any mobile device. Rather than using a username and password to log in, however, the platform uses your cell phone number as an identifier—which could come in handy if you tend to forget your username and password.

Like Tox, Viber is fairly new to the market, which means some technical issues may not be completely worked out. What’s more, Viber is said to have lesser call and video quality when compared to Skype.

5. ICQ

violin online

ICQ

As another free option, ICQ is great for students who like to communicate with their teacher via social media, as the platform allows users to exchange messages over a number of different social networks. Video chats can happen at the click of a button.

There are known security issues with the program, however, and you may receive spam. Also, based on their terms of use, ICQ owns the information you post to their platform.

 

As you can see, there is a variety of online platforms that you can use to learn the violin online. If you’re not sure which one to choose, you might want to consider trying out a few to see which one you like!

There are a number of benefits to taking violin lessons online from reduced costs to more flexible scheduling. Don’t make excuses as to why you can’t learn the violin. Set up an online lesson today and become one step closer to reaching your goal!

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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. Don’t have much time to devote to practicing every day. Even if you can find 15 minutes a day, it helps! Here’s a quick practice routine to help guide you:

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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how to hold a violin

How to Hold a Violin Properly: 7 Expert Tips and Tricks [Infographic]

How you hold your violin makes a huge difference in the way you sound. Below, violin teacher Julie P. shares some helpful tips on how to hold a violin properly…

As a beginner violin student, you know that posture is very important when playing the violin. Since there aren’t any keys to push, every sound is created by forming precise angles with the violin and bow. Below are some tips on how to hold a violin properly and how to find the best posture to support your playing.

how to hold a violin

1. Sit or Stand Up Straight

Why it’s important: Maintaining an upright playing posture is not only good for your body, it also helps create enough space between the violin and your body to allow for excellent bow and arm movements.

Slouching will make it more difficult to play and can even lead to long-term injuries.

2. Hold Violin Between Chin and Left Shoulder

Why it’s important: The left hand needs a lot of flexibility. Not only do the fingers need to be able to move quickly, when you get into more advanced music, the left hand will have to shift up the fingerboard to higher positions.

Even if you’re just a beginner and are not yet shifting to new positions, it’s best to adopt this good habit from the very start.

3. Keep Left Shoulder Relaxed

Why it’s important: The left arm is supported by the left side of the torso. If the left shoulder is tense, the left arm loses support from the torso. Not only that, tension from the shoulder will creep down the arm and cause other problems.

If you feel your left shoulder tensing up, your shoulder rest may not be placed high enough. Look for a shoulder rest that can be adjusted higher, so that it spans the distance between your chin and your shoulder.

4. Relax Left Arm Away From Body

Why it’s important: The left arm needs space to move, as well as flexibility. Holding the arm in against the body, or out in a “winged” position, adds tension to the posture and reduces flexibility. Therefore, make sure you’re relaxing your left arm away from your body.

5. Keep a Straight Line From Left Elbow Through Left Wrist

Why it’s important: It’s common for beginners to hold the palm up against the neck of the violin to support it. This puts a lot of strain on the wrist, in addition to reducing the movement range of the left hand.

Maintaining a naturally straight extension from your arm through your wrist helps to eliminate tension and reduce strain on your inner wrist.

6. Put Your Left Thumb in the Same Spot Every Time You Play

Why it’s important: Playing in tune on the violin requires exact finger placement for each note. Even more, that exact placement needs to be replicated consistently over and over again as you play through music.

The left hand is anchored by the left thumb, so find the best place for your thumb, and practice putting it there every time you play. Usually it’s on the side of the neck, near the nut.

7. Pretend to be the Best Violinist in the World

Why it’s important: You probably already have a picture in your mind of what it looks like to play the violin. Chances are, that picture is the result of seeing professional violinists in action.

These players all hold the violin properly, and if you imitate them, you’ll automatically sit up straighter, relax your arms wider, and play with less tension. Plus, pretending you are the best violinist in the world is fun!

As you can see, there are some common themes when it comes to how to hold a violin – eliminating tension and creating flexibility being key. Following the tips above will make a positive impact on your playing and reduce your chances of having an injury.

Your violin teacher can also give you individualized attention to help you improve your posture.

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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suzuki violin method

Is the Suzuki Violin Method Right for Your Child?

suzuki violin method

Are you thinking about having your child start violin lessons? There are several different musical teaching methods you can consider. Below, violin teacher Julie P. shares some of the benefits of the Suzuki violin method…

Since it’s inception over 50 years ago, thousands of people have learned to play the violin using the Suzuki method, many of whom have gone on to become renowned professional musicians.

Created by Japanese violinist Shin’ichi Suzuki, the method is based on the notion that all children can learn to play a musical instrument the same way they learn to speak their native language.

History of the Suzuki Violin Method

Shin’ichi Suzuki was born on October 17, 1898, in Nagoya, Japan. While Suzuki’s father owned a violin factory, it wasn’t until he was 17 years old that Suzuki became interested in playing the violin.

After taking lessons from a teacher in Tokyo, Suzuki traveled to Germany to study with famous violin teacher Karl Klingler. Shortly after meeting his wife, Suzuki moved back to Japan where he started to teach violin and later create the Suzuki violin method.

Also known as the Mother Tongue Method, the Suzuki approach was created on the notion that the same principals children use to learn their “mother tongue” can be also be applied to learning the violin.

The teaching philosophy has enabled thousands of children to play various instruments and has become one of the most popular methods today’s music teachers use. To learn more about the history of Shin’ichi Suzuki, click here.

7 Principals of the Suzuki Violin Method

The Suzuki method is a great way to for children to learn the violin. Students of all ages stand to benefit from its structure, group learning environment, and focus on discipline.

If you’re wondering whether the Suzuki violin method is right for your child, check out the seven main principals of the teaching method below.

1. Structure

The Suzuki method is a very structured approach to learning. Programs are typically made up of a combination of private lessons, group lessons, and theory classes. Children are expected to attend all classes, as well as practice every day at home.

It is believed that repetitive practice of songs and exercises over weeks and months leads to a mastery of the skills being taught.

2. Listening

In the Suzuki philosophy, it’s believed that listening to music every day is important for the musical development of the student. Children are encouraged to listen to music daily, especially recordings of the songs they are learning in their lessons.

If your child loves to listen to music, the Suzuki method is a great fit. They will find great enjoyment in listening to the Suzuki repertoire as well as learning how to play along.

3. Group Lessons

The group lessons are beneficial for many children. Groups are determined by ability as opposed to age. While this might be intimidating for some young children, it might motivate others who look up to older children within their group.

Playing and practicing with other children is fun for students, and many of them will go on to build lasting friendships through their Suzuki program. Students also find motivation from group lessons, as they are challenged to keep up with the class.

4. Performances

Recitals play an important role in the Suzuki learning process, as they give all students a chance to showcase what they’ve learned and practice in front of a crowd. Group performances create a safe environment for children who might be nervous about performing in front of others.

Younger students are often inspired when they hear the performances of more advanced students, and look forward to someday performing those pieces themselves.

5. Rote Learning

Beginner Suzuki students learn all songs and exercises by memory. This allows them to focus on the skills necessary for playing the violin, without having to worry about trying to read music.

Students learn to read music after their skills have advanced to a point where their playing is more fluid. This approach is great for young children, as well as those who struggle with reading or other visual tasks.

6. Commitment

Students in a Suzuki program usually have to two to three classes/lessons per week, which is a significant commitment. Additionally, the daily practice expectation is taken very seriously.

If your child is already in a number of activities that demand much of his or her time, Suzuki may not be a good fit. However, students in the Suzuki program benefit greatly from the high frequency of classes, as skills are repeatedly reinforced.

SEE ALSO: How to Motivate Suzuki Students to Practice

7. Parental Involvement

One last thing to consider when deciding if the Suzuki violin method is right for your child is the required commitment from parents. Parents are expected to learn the violin alongside their child, attending all lessons and classes, and directing practice sessions at home.

Sometimes there are even group lessons just for parents, as well as separate private lessons if parents need more help with learning the violin.

The Suzuki method has been an effective way to learn the violin for decades. While the commitment is significant, Suzuki programs can be a great bonding experience for parents and children.

Finally, practicing the Suzuki violin method can also be a great family social activity, as Suzuki programs tend to create strong communities among the participating families.

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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used violins

Is Buying a Used Violin a Good or Bad Idea?

used violins

Deciding whether to buy a new or used violin can be difficult. You want a quality instrument that’s going to last, but you don’t want to spend a fortune. So what do you do? Below, violin teacher Julie P. gives her two cents on what to consider when purchasing a used violin…

If you’re in the market for a violin, you may be wondering whether buying a used one is a good or bad idea. This is not an easy question to answer, as there are a lot of things to consider.

On the one hand, you can get more for your money when buying used violins. However, there is a real risk, as you could purchase an instrument that needs more repairs than you originally thought. Before you decide to purchase a used violin, ask yourself the following four questions.

1. Is it in Good Working Condition?

Assessing the condition of used violins is the toughest part. Beginner violins need less attention than intermediate or advanced instruments, but they still need to be in excellent working order. When learning violin, the last thing you need is to be fighting an instrument in poor condition.

Most used violins sold at music stores have been professionally checked and set up by a repair technician. Nonetheless, you want to make sure to ask the store manager before purchasing.

An ideal beginner or intermediate violin will have a bridge and strings that are no more than a year or two old. What’s more, the instrument should have sealed seams, pegs that don’t slip or get stuck, and no cracks. If an instrument needs repairs for any of these items, the purchase price should reflect that.

If you’re buying an instrument from a private party (for example, eBay or Craigslist), there is much more risk involved. Besides playing the instrument to see if you like the way it sounds, here are a number of other things to look for.

  • Is the bridge standing straight up, or is it warped?
  • Does it have a full set of strings?
  • Does the body have any cracks?
  • Are the seams fully sealed, or are they opening up?
  • Do the pegs move easily?
  • Is the fingerboard straight or warped?

2. What’s the History?

When considering buying a used violin, its helpful to ask about the instrument’s history. Has it been played recently, or was it sitting in a closet for five years prior to being put on sale? Oftentimes, instruments that have been collecting dust for some time will require more attention and repairs, which means more money out of your pocket. Ask the store manager or independent seller the history of the instrument, including any past troubles he or she might have had with certain parts.

3. Does it Come with Accessories?

Chances are if you’re looking to purchase a violin, you’re also looking to buy accessories to go along with it such as a case, bow, rosin, and shoulder rest. Advanced instruments are commonly sold without any or just a few of these accessories. However, beginner and intermediate instruments should come with at least a bow and a case.

4. Am I Getting the Best Value?

Do some research to find out how much it costs to buy a new instrument at the same approximate craftsmanship level. Sites like Shar Music and Southwest Strings are good online resources for comparing prices. Another way you can check the going market price for used violins is by looking at instruments for sale on sites like Craigslist and eBay.

While there is no way to accurately compare new and used instruments directly, in most cases, you should pay less for a used violin than for a new one at the same level.

Buying a used violin can be a great idea if you’re already familiar with violins and can give an accurate assessment of an instrument. If you’re not comfortable assessing an instrument, but still want to buy used, find a reputable music store that sets up its used instruments ahead of time, or have your violin teacher check out the instrument to give you a second opinion.

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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What Are the Different Parts of a Violin? [Infographic]

Are you a beginner violinist? While you might be eager to start playing immediately, it’s important to learn the basic functions and parts of a violin. Otherwise, you’ll have a difficult time understanding what your violin instructor is saying when he or she asks you to “keep your bow parallel to the bridge.” Check out the graphic below to learn the basic parts and functions of a violin:

01

There you have it; those are the various different parts of a violin and their functions. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with these parts, you’re ready to start the fun stuff—playing the violin!

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