How To Play the Violin

The violin, a four-stringed instrument played with a bow, can be mastered beginning with the following techniques.

  1. Find a qualified violin teacher.  The Suzuki method is a fantastic method for learning to play violin, and a certified teacher can be located by looking in directories online or by inquiring at a local music shop.  Some schools offer Suzuki lessons within the school day or private lessons after school.  Having an inspiring, talented teacher will ensure that the student is getting the best instruction and will continue to practice at home in addition to attending lessons.
  2. Be prepared to commit to practice times whether the lessons are for yourself or for your child.  If the lessons are for an adult, she must practice every day.  If the lessons are for your child, you must commit to attending lessons as well so that you know how to help your child practice outside of his lessons.  Also be prepared to commit time to concerts, extracurricular events and possibly, fundraising.

  3. Be prepared to spend some money.  Lessons in our area cost about $15 for ½ hour.  Renting or buying an instrument also has a cost involved.  Be prepared to buy music, books,and CDs, along with rosin, strings or other equipment.
  4. Decide whether to purchase or rent.  Most beginning students opt to rent a violin from an area music store.  This allows a student to opt out if he finds that he can't follow through with practicing and lessons.  Rentals from the music store tend to include insurance as well, which is a great option for a child who tends to be careless with his things.  The insurance will cover any necessary repairs to the instrument.  The cost of renting a violin in our area can range from $10 - $15 per month.  The option of purchasing an instrument can be even less costly than renting, although the owner is then responsible for the cost of any repairs necessary for the violin or bow.  A beginning student can use a student violin, which may not be concert quality, but is serviceable for beginners.  A student violin can be purchased online for about $60 plus shipping (another $20-$25).  The violin will come with a bow, a case, and occasionally, extra strings or rosin.
  5. Have the student measured for size.  Violins can be rented or purchased from a full-size violin down to a 1/16th size violin.  A preschooler or kindergartner would start with a small violin and be remeasured every year to see if the violin needs to be upsized.  Any qualified teacher can measure the student for violin size.
  6. Follow proper technique.  You must have the proper positioning of the instrument and bow, a familiarity with the sound of the strings, and the ability to read music to master the violin.

    • Strings: The violin is based on four strings, G being the thickest and lowest in pitch, D, the next highest, A the next, and E, the thinnest, highest-pitched string.  Pressing on a string will make its pitch higher.   Practice placing your fingers on the proper place on the string to achieve the pitch that you want.
    • Holding The Violin:  Hold the violin with the chin rest under your chin and your left arm with fingers facing outward on the strings.  The line of your body should be as follows: nose to chin (facing strings) to left foot, all in a straight line.  The violin should be at a 45-degree angle to the line of your shoulders.  The end button on the violin will point directly to your throat.

    • Holding The Bow: Hold the bow with your right hand and your thumb between the stick and the hair.  Your second finger should be touching the silver of the bow, the first finger should be leaning and touching the stick between the first and second knuckle.  The pinkie finger should rest lightly on the stick.

    • Make music: Gently, but firmly draw the bow over the strings of the violin between the bridge (the wooden part that holds the strings) and the fingerboard (the long black strip underneath the strings).  Use your left hand to determine the pitch of the string, and your right to determine how loudly to play.  The more heavily you push the bow onto the string, the louder you will play.

Finally, follow through on your commitments and practice, practice, practice.  Dr. Suzuki said to "only practice on days that you eat."

 

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