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5 Things to Know Before Learning the Violin

Click here for free sample violin lessons from ArtistWorks!

Boy, did I have a tough time my first few years of learning violin.

I thought parents encouraged their kids to practice their instruments, right? Because of the screeching sounds I was making back when I first started, my parents frequently told me to stop practicing! Thankfully those days are long gone and after 10 years my parents finally admit to enjoying my playing. Nevertheless, there are a few things I wish I had known before I started learning violin. (Violin for beginners doesn't have to be so difficult!). 

1. You won’t sound like the violins in movie soundtracks for a long time. 

My friend once wrote, “the sound of an airy violin,” in one of her poems for a school assignment. It's nice imagery, but the truth is - your violin will most definitely not sound airy when you're first starting out. For one thing, the way you hold the bow is probably one of the most unnatural positions to get comfortable with, although it later will become second nature.

So when you play with that awkward bow hold for the first few days or weeks, all you will hear is scratch, pause, and once you get the hang of that - it will sound like some inconsistent buzzing noise, like the way a mosquito buzzes near your ear. 

learning violin

2. Your violin will always be noisy in some cases.

Even professional violinists sometimes find their violin playing sounds scratchy and noisy, but there is a bright side to this! Think about the way a violin is held. The f holes, where the sound is produced, are merely a few inches from your left year. Because of this, some say violinists lose hearing in their left ear after a long time because the sound is simply too close to the ear.

Violinists, especially when working on solo pieces, aim to articulate their sounds to the last seat of the concert hall. So just because you hear that scratch and creak, with the dampening effect of a concert hall the audience will only hear the beautiful music.

3. Your violin needs care.

If you have a violin, you need to understand that some work will go into maintaining it. Don’t worry, though - this will become a habit over time. When a violinist prepares to play, you see them first tightening the bow, then applying a small object over the bow hair. A bow is shaped with a little bit of a curve. To maintain the curve shape, it has to be loosened each time it is not in use.You simply turn the knob at the end of the bow and then turn it the other way the next time you use it.

The object that violinists apply over the hair of the bow is called the rosin. Bow hair is naturally slippery and does not make a sound on its own. It needs friction and sticky rosin triggers the friction. The rosin leaves a residue on the strings and it has to be cleaned off. You will also want to wipe down the rest of the violin after use to ensure all rosin is off of your instrument. It is important to never use alcohol to clean your violin, instead using a lint-free, soft cloth to wipe off the rosin dust. Most violin stores will sell you a violin cleaning kit which features a proper cloth.

These are only a few of the things that go into maintaining the instrument. On top of learning how to clean a violin, you will also want to learn how to change violin strings and bow hair, amongst others.

Click here for free sample violin lessons from ArtistWorks!

4. Many people around the world already play the violin better than you, they may even be 4 years old.

While it's true that there are many amazing young violin prodigies, it shouldn't make you discouraged. That’s the case in many other instruments too. Rock guitarist and ArtistWorks instructor Paul Gilbert discovered an 8 year old girl who could play a song that he wrote which is at an extremely advanced level (check out our blog about Li-Sa X here).

Many people will be better than you, but this will always be the case - so best not to let it bother you. It may be a while before you perfect techniques like violin vibrato and violin scales, however that's no reason to get discouraged. It's not a competition after all, the objective when playing violin is to express yourself through the music. 

5. You are not alone. Welcome to the violin community!

Violin is a community. I have made my closest friends from playing violin. Once you start taking violin lessons, you'll also meet fellow violinists as you attend local concerts or join a local ensemble. We violinists love talking about what we're working on or what inspires us. So reach out to the community and make your voice heard, we want to get to know you! 

Check out the links below for more tips for learning violin for beginners. These are just a few of the things I wish I had known before I started learning violin. But even still, I survived the first few years of playing violin so with these tips in mind I know you will do just fine. 

Did you know you can learn violin online at ArtistWorks? Click here for free sample violin lessons!


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