Learn to play violin – first steps

After you have decided to start your journey with the violin, you must take some steps to prepare before you can learn to play violin.
First, you must have an instrument to play. You can get one from your teacher or school, if you are a pupil, or you can find one in the many music stores and platforms available offline and online.
Let’s consider what you should get:

  • A violin with accessories. This includes the violin case, the violin itself, the bow, rosin (sometimes included) and a shoulder rest (can be a sponge or pillow if you have a short neck). You might have to purchase the shoulder rest separately. In this case, make sure you get one that matches your violin’s size. By the way, I don’t believe that a beginner needs the cheapest violin available. The quality of your instrument is very important at every stage of learning, so don’t go with a low-quality one. I don’t want to say that you should buy a legendary “Cremona crafted” instrument, but you should have one which will not fail in technical matters (keeping the tune, for example, or having a straight bow-stick). Also, you should take pleasure in grabbing it and playing on it. A variety of good instruments are available in different parts of the world, but I recommend three brands which you can get almost everywhere, either offline or online: Stentor (number one for me), Yamaha and Strunal. One important point to mention: For learning, go with an acoustic violin, not an electric one!
  • A music stand and a book (or books), including a music sheet notebook. You must consider the latter with your teacher.
  • It is also a good idea to have an additional set of strings to replace broken ones. Once again, consider quality. If you want good strings, consider such brands as Pirastro, Thomastik and D’Addario.
  • It is always useful to have a piano or keyboard in your practice room. If you are studying in a proper music school, you will learn piano as a secondary instrument. Even if you don’t, you should embrace any chance to learn the basics. I can’t overestimate the importance of this. It will help with your pitch, with understanding Music Theory, with tuning your violin, etc.
  • Also, it is a good idea to have a tuner – not a pitchfork but a digital one, which will show the note you produce. The next chapters include instructions for tuning your violin and information about the basics of maintenance. Also, you can download this information to your phone as an application.
  • A metronome. Do not get an analog one, as digital ones are much more precise. You can buy it or simply download one to your phone as an application.

You can get all these things in a proper music store or online (eBay or Amazon, for instance).

Regarding your environment and schedule, you must plan your time in a way that allows you to practice daily for the required amount of time. At the very beginning, I usually recommend that you practice about 15-20 minutes per day. Other teachers may have different suggestions but what is important is that you should practice every day. If you have a tight schedule, you may consider splitting the lesson in two or even three sessions of 5-10 minutes (excluding your preparation time, when you open and tune your violin).

Carefully consider the environment, as you must feel comfortable when you practice. Make sure you have everything you need with you; ask your housemates to not disturb you during your practice. The best idea is to have a room where you can be alone during your practice. Just bring all your musical things (perhaps including a glass of water or a cup of tea/coffee), close the door, and set your mobile phone to silent or even airplane mode. Then tune your violin, rosin your bow, get your notes on a music stand and enjoy!

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