Before 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…
If you’re like most violinists, you want to make continual progress and reach new levels of playing. But how do you set the right goals for your violin practice? And once you’ve set your goals, how do you make sure you’re on track to reaching them? Here are four questions to help guide your goal setting process for violin.
What Are the Fundamentals of Violin?
There are four main fundamentals of playing the violin, all of which the right violin goals can help you accomplish: proper posture, left-hand technique, right-hand technique, and bowing.
- Assuming proper posture is essential for producing a good sound on the violin. The violin should be tucked under your chin, with the back of the instrument resting against your collarbone.
- Your left hand should be positioned on the neck of the violin, while your right hand should be placed on the bow.
- The left hand is responsible for positioning the fingers on the correct strings and pressing down to create a clear note.
- The right hand is responsible for producing a smooth, even sound by moving the bow across the strings.
- Bowing is a key element of violin technique, and takes practice to master.
With proper posture and correct left- and right-hand technique, you will be well on your way to sounding like a pro on the violin!
Ready to learn the fundamentals of violin? If so, your first step is to sign up for violin lessons. You’ll learn everything you need to set your own violin goals – and become an expert violinist. You can get an idea of what you’ll cover in yoru violin lessons by watching the video below:
What is the Goal of Playing the Violin? Well, It Depends
For some, playing the violin is all about perfecting their technique and becoming masters of their craft. They strive for years to play difficult pieces with precision and control.
Others see playing the violin as a way to express themselves emotionally, using the music to convey the joys and sorrows that words cannot describe.
And still others view playing the violin as a form of meditation, a way to focus their minds and find inner peace.
In truth, there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to the goal of playing the violin. It is different for everyone, which is why setting the right violin goals will also be different for everyone.
Some people play for the sheer pleasure of making beautiful music, while others use it as a way to connect with other people. Whatever the reason, there is no wrong answer when it comes to the goal of playing the violin.
How to Set Realistic Violin Goals – Tips for Any Player
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.
What Are the Benefits of Playing the Violin?
The violin is a beautiful and versatile instrument that has been around for centuries. Though it takes practice and dedication to master, the violin can provide its players with a lifetime of enjoyment. In addition to the personal satisfaction that comes from playing music, the violin also provides a number of other benefits.
For example, playing the violin can help to improve coordination and concentration, and it can also be a great stress reliever. In addition, research has shown that playing a musical instrument can help to boost brain power, making the violin an ideal choice for those looking to sharpen their mental skills.
Ultimately, whether you’re looking to boost your brainpower or simply relax after a long day, playing the violin may be the perfect activity for you.
How Long Should You Practice Violin a Day?
The amount of time you should practice violin each day depends on a number of factors, including your skill level, violin goals, and available time. For beginners, 15-30 minutes a day is typically sufficient. As you become more advanced, you may want to increase your practice time to 1-2 hours a day.
Ultimately, the most important thing is to be consistent with your practice. That means practicing every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. If you can’t commit to that, then it’s better to practice for a shorter period of time each day than to have long stretches of time between practices.
The key is to find a balance that works for you and stick with it. With consistency and persistence, you’ll be surprised how quickly your skills will improve.
Setting Violin Goals That Work for Anyone and Everyone
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.
If you’re looking to set the right goals for your violin playing, ask yourself these four questions. They will help guide you in choosing the right goals and make sure that you’re always moving forward in your playing.
And if you don’t have a teacher yet, be sure to sign up for lessons with one of our amazing instructors! We can’t wait to help you reach your musical dreams.
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!
Photo by agullalee