Saturday, September 19, 2009

Can people learn to play the violin easily?

There are many different places that people can learn to play the violin, but can they actually learn how to play the violin very easily, and for a cheap price? There are many factors that people need to consider when learning to play the violin because the total price is very expensive if people forget to factor in prices such as the maintenance if the violin is old. But as people nowadays seem to have less time to do things as they have to be at work longer, can people learn to play the violin in a quick amount of time that is easy to do?

In previous posts, I have talked about how people can have violin lessons and whether it is worth having them taught by a professional violin teacher. But there are in fact some neat tricks that people can take to try and learn the violin as easily as possible, and progressing without having to take too much practise.

One thing that people may often forget to do when playing the violin is that they do not clean it on a regular basis. Violin cleaning is essential to having a vibrant sound coming from the violin; if people do not clean their violins often, then it will become harder to play as the bow will stick to the string far less.

To be honest, it costs very little to clean the violin effectivly. All that is really needed is a smooth cloth and some gin. Once the violin has been played to a certain extent and they want to pack away, it should be fitted into a person's routine that they clean their violin. Pull across the string (especially n ear the violin bridge) with the smooth cloth and that's all that needs to be done! A little dab of gin should be added to the strings once a month on a cloth so that any residue that has come from the violin is washed off. By cleaning the violin very simply, people should find that it has become easier to play and learn to play the violin and have more progress as the tools that they are using are far better.

But to be honest, the main ways to learn to play the violin are the methods that will have been repeated a thousand times before. Playing easy violin scales and practising often every week is simply the best way that people can learn how to play the violin.

Try to have a certain room to practice in, and setting up a timetable of when to practice can be a very good idea to structure when to practice correctly. By having this done, people should also notice that their violin playing is improving.

A final way to improve is by listening to orchestral or violin music on a regular basis. This way, people will be able to recognise which notes are being played and can become more musical in their playing. By absorbing themselves into violin music, they will find that their fingers may be in the right place more often than not and have a better feel for the music.

On the whole, even if people are offering amazing schemes on how people can learn to play the violin easily, it is fairly impossible to do so. Grinding the work is the best way, and the rewards that come from practicing are simply amazing. The skill is worth working through - even if people do not enjoy it so much after a while.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Violin Lessons - are they needed?

Violin Lessons are a great help. But is it always needed? Recently, I have had a lot of questions concerning my previous post on violin tuition. Personally, I have violin lessons every week, and it is worth every bit of expense to help me have that extra quality. Violin lessons also help if you wish to take the route of taking a violin exam. I will try to explain in detail what will generally happen in a violin lesson to give you an idea if you wish to take this route.

In general, violin lessons are set out in a weekly timetable for set amount of time and the lesson will take place at the same time. The first thing that happens in a lesson is to tune the violin; you don’t want to be blamed for playing the wrong note when it isn’t your fault! It is essential so the violin teacher knows how you are making mistakes later on in the lesson. A new player shall usually have the violin tuned by the teacher, but at a more advanced stage, it can be tuned by the person themselves.

Then, there are a whole variety of things that can happen in a violin lessons. For myself, my violin teacher asks me to play certain “scales” on my violin. This is to warm up the fingers and check how well I have been progressing. Usually, the violin lesson shall progress naturally, the lesson then leading onto pieces and other things regarding what you are doing.

Sometimes however, the violin lessons shall all be about an incredibly important thing: the violin technique. For many people, they do not realise how they aren’t bending their left fingers, pulling their right elbow over the violin and not doing a proper bow hold. A violin teacher notices all these things, and shows what to do better.

At the end of a violin lesson, the violin teacher will tell the person what to practise specifically for the next week. And then the process repeats itself. Violin lessons are incredibly handy if you wish to improve your violin technique quickly, but may not be cost effective for some people. And in this current economic doom, you may decide to put it off. Lessons in the UK vary from £10-20 per ½ hour and anywhere from $15-30 in America. Of course it depends where you live.

Violin lessons often take place in a music centre, so it is important to find one nearby to you. Violin lessons are sometimes held in the violin teacher’s house also. But what is most important is that the violin lessons that a person has should be enjoyable and worthwhile. If they aren’t you should be able to find another violin teacher easily.

But there are other alternatives to having violin lessons rather than having the traditional method. For example, online video sites such as YouTube have users providing online video lessons. And the best thing about these violin lessons is that they’re free! With this, you can have these violin lessons from your own home, and are saving a lot of money! Also, you have the added benefit that you can practise the violin whenever you wish, and not have to “make” time for it.

Although these practises are unique and are becoming popular, I still have to say that having violin lessons from a violin teacher will make you a stronger violin player. They give the personal support which the internet won’t and personal guidance which you may need to improve on which you may have realised. At the end of the day, it’s up to you whether you wish to have violin lessons!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Violin Lessons/Violin Tuition - is it needed?

Violin lessons are one of the most common questions I get asked about. They are incredibly useful for many people, and I still have them today. But as these tough times come into force, it may not be the most suitable option.

Most commonly, a violin teacher will teach for a set period of time and lessons in general are once a week. I think that violin teachers make a massive difference, as they notice the things that people do wrong that they don’t even realise. Violin teachers also tend to be very friendly and helpful.

One thing I must stress is that if you decide to have a violin teacher and don’t believe you get along with them, don’t feel as if you have to stay with them. I don’t mean to blast common sense, but otherwise you’ll lose the enjoyment and just be wasting money. If the teacher doesn’t suit, then move on and find another.

Violin teachers tend to teach in music centres, so as long as there’s one nearby, then there should be a violinist willing to teach. Another avenue is to go down the private route, for example, some violin teachers often teach in their own homes or come to the person.

But the only downside to having a violin teacher is the cost. For instance, a half an hour individual lesson can cost up to £15/$25 (Britain/US) and is going to stack up. I think that this is the best way to be taught, as someone can always guide the person what to do next, and their past violin experience can help.

Another alternative is to teach yourself how to play the violin! Instead of having violin tuition, tutoring yourself could save an awful lot of money, and the flexibility of when to play the violin. Going down this avenue will require a lot more patience, and may take longer to progress.

What I’d recommend is to get some violin books. Violin books are relatively inexpensive and show how to read real music! Most music shops stock violin books, so I’d get the basic ones if you wish to go down the route. On the Internet, a place like Amazon would be the best to go to – their best sellers tend to be the best books to start with. But Violin Tution such as CD’s are a waste of time as they don’t help, leading onto my next point – video!

Now, watching videos on websites such as YouTube will help a great deal on simple things, such as violin posture amongst other things. Such as searching “Violin Lessons” on there will come up with a whole range of things which should set you on your way. Again though, violin lessons on the internet are not the same thing as having a real violin teacher to guide you through the tricky progression!

On the whole, having violin lessons will help an awful lot and if you’re keen to progress quickly – it is the best way to go. But learning how to play the violin by yourself is another great way – just do what feels best. But make sure of one thing – don’t by the trashy Violin Audio Tapes!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Violin Strings 101

Violin Strings are one of the most important parts of the whole instrument, if not the most. But there are so many different types of violin strings, how can you be sure of which ones to buy? Well, there can be 3 different types of strings. These are:


These were made of sheep gut, interestingly enough, and were the norm for many, many centuries. Gut strings are known for having a very warming tone, but the violin can easily fall out of tune if heat is applied to them. These strings are rarely sold in violin shops today, they are sold by individual violin string makers.


As technology developed, these strings became very popular for the beginner violinist. This is because the strings were a lot cheaper than other sets of strings and the pitch doesn’t change very easily – which means less hassle =). But, the sound quality is dampened, as these violin strings can sound a bit “thin” at times if coming to the end of their lifetime.


These were invented only about 30-40 years ago and consist of nylon and other composite materials. These are incredibly popular for classically trained violinists as they have the qualities that gut strings have but also have an incredible shelf life.

Now I’ve got that out of the way, the latter two are the main sets of strings that every violinist uses today. Only people that use specialist “Baroque” instruments use the gut strings as they to work better with the style of instrument. I’ll show you one of each type that I think is the best of its own standard.

Red Label Violin Strings

Now, these strings are made of the “Steel Core” material. They are incredibly good value for money and last for a long time. But I have found that these strings can hurt your fingers as they may have to be pressed down a little harder than other sets. The Red Label strings value at around £20 a whole set – for violin strings this cheap, I would recommend them to anyone for a spare set of strings if a beginner.

Dominant Violin Strings

Well, these set of strings are just incredible. Period. They are the classical violinists dream. These set of strings are made from the synthetic core and although being more expensive than all steel strings, they are definitely worth the extra price. These strings sound like gut strings and again, last for an incredibly long time. They do fall out of tune every now and then, but they do require “fine” tuning probably every time you practice.

How to fit the Violin Strings

Now, it’s a whole different ball park fitting these fiddly pieces of violin equipment! First of all, loosen the current violin strings using the peg to twist so it unwinds. When the string doesn’t seem tense, look at the fine tuners and see where the violin string ends. From there, pull that part of the string backwards and then simply pull up! The gold coil that you will see hooks inside the violin adjuster.

After you have got out the string, take out your new violin string and place the gold hook straight away into the adjuster slot. Once that’s done, it’ll be necessary if you don’t have nimble fingers (no offence intended :P) to collect a pair of tweezers. Stretch the string to the end of the fingerboard with the coloured material at the end. Try to guide the end of the string through the tiny hole of the violin peg! Push it through so it won’t fall out, and when done so, twist the violin peg several times until the violin string looks to have a similar tension to how the other violin string did before.

All that needs to be done is to do it for each of the other strings! It may get really frustrating, but it is so more rewarding and an interesting process rather than paying money for something unnecessary. But just beware, don’t tighten the string too much, or it’ll break and violin strings aren’t necessarily cheap ;). Now that I’ve told you all about violin strings, now go do it yourself!