The violin is a popular choice among stringed instruments, and many want to learn to play it. But it’s also a complex instrument. And unfortunately, many people feel like they need more time to invest in learning it. Some people think they’re too old or not talented enough to tackle it.
If you want to learn the violin or are struggling to learn it, you’ve probably wondered just how hard it is to learn to play. Any musical instrument will take time and practice to become good, but here is all you need to know about the complexity of the violin.
Is it Hard to Learn the Violin?
So, how hard is it to learn the violin? Any string instrument you take on, such as the violin or the guitar, can be hard to learn. The violin can be one of the most difficult instruments to learn due to the many parts within the learning process, but it also makes such beautiful music.
Learning the violin is comparable to learning a foreign language. It can be difficult, but with some hard work, it can become easier and more successful for you.
The instrument consists of four violin strings, a bow, a chin rest, rosin for the bow, and a carrying case. When stringing the violin, there are knobs at the scroll, or the top, of the violin that you turn to tighten and change their sound or note. Strings and bows wear over time, so you can get your bow re-haired and restrung.
The basics of playing the violin include the following:
- Tighten and rosin your bow (You want to make it somewhat sticky)
- Tune the violin (the notes should be in the order of G, D, A, and E). It can help to have a tuning pipe or piano nearby to play and help you stay in tune.
- Grip the bow
- Holding the bow means that you start by gently laying your index finger on the grip – the padded part of your stick – and place the tip of the pinky on the flat part of the bow.
- Holding the violin
- Bring the end of the instrument where the chin rests up to your neck, with the lower back of the violin on your collar bone, holding it with your jaw.
- Hand positioning
- Placing your left hand under the neck in support of the instrument, point the scroll out, and then bring your fingers up over the strings. Work on holding the violin steady and watch where your wrist goes so you don’t fall into the “waiter hand” habit, which can lead to injury.
As a beginner learning to play, your hand should start as far up the neck of the violin as possible, allowing your finger to come down on the string. Eventually, you can slide your hand up and down to reach higher notes.
When you play the violin, use the flat side of the bow with the hair in the middle and the fingerboard, and gently pull the bow with your right hand along the string as straight as possible. Keep the bow parallel to the bridge and apply some pressure. Tilt the bow toward the bridge at a 45-degree angle. You’ll hear a sound – you’ve just played a note for the first time!
Pretty soon, you’ll work on learning scales to practice going up and down in notes. Eventually, this will become comfortable enough with your playing that you can progress to short, simple songs before going into more complex violin pieces.
Physical Demands of Playing the Violin
Once you begin playing, you may notice the need for good posture to emanate good notes. One of the best ways for beginners to learn violin is to work with an expert instructor, take violin lessons, and execute proper posture. It may feel awkward initially, but it’s an integral part of learning to play.
A strong core is another demand when learning to play the violin. You not only have to stand up straight but be able to do it for lengthy periods. You can play while sitting too, but you still need to ensure that you have a straight back and build up those core muscles to stay that way.
Working on your fingering and wrist movements with some extra exercise can be helpful. Your teacher should give you some hand exercises to work on at home.
You don’t want a lot of tension or soreness in your wrist or wrong finger positioning to lead to injury and give you reasons to pause your learning or, worse, stop it altogether.
Your violin teacher knows how to work with students, even beginners, to help you learn the best way to sit or stand as necessary to play correctly and bring your attention to the other physical demands of playing.
Violin playing involves strength, muscle memory, and dexterity. Your violin teacher knows what warmups and exercises to help build up your stamina.
Endurance to Play the Violin
Don’t let the thought of physical demands and endurance turn you from learning this beautiful musical instrument. Any new hobby for beginners can take a long time, and there is work that needs to be put in to achieve success. If you want to learn a new language, you have to practice. If you’re going to paint pictures, you have to practice.
Consistency in regular practice helps those learning the violin to get better. It’s crucial to set aside time every day, if possible, to work on your craft. It doesn’t have to be lengthy; consider taking ten to twenty minutes out of your day to practice your scales and build up your finger strength. Over time, it will become part of your routine, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ll learn new music.
How Hard Is It to Learn to Play the Violin?
There are some challenges to address when beginner students learn violin. Intonation and pitch can be frustrating when you’re not playing the proper notes. In addition, challenges with your bow and hand positions to play the appropriate key can feel discouraging. Here are some other challenges that can arise during your learning and some strategies for addressing them.
Finding a violin teacher
Finding a violin teacher can be difficult when you’re just beginning your journey. You need to know what’s important to learn or what should be covered so you trust your instructor to help guide you.
Some suggestions that can help you narrow your search include asking around to see what your friends and family recommend, going to a local music store and asking for information on violin instruction, or doing an online search in your area.
When you’re looking for the right violin teacher, it can help to have some of your goals in mind. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What specific goals do I want to accomplish with the violin? This can include things like mastering vibrato, learning finger positions, and more.
- Does the instructor offer a trial lesson? You can learn if you’re compatible and if you want to continue learning from them if you have the opportunity to try out lessons from a few different teachers.
- What sort of learning approach or style does the teacher use? Does it line up with my objectives?
- What are the teacher’s credentials? You might be curious if their students became violinists or played in symphonies and orchestras.
It can help before you look up some YouTube videos and see how professional violinists play. It can give you some insight to help you determine the kinds of different ways to approach playing, simple tunes you want to learn, or techniques you want to master.
You may even want to look into taking an online violin class to help you advance your skills. An online course can tackle simple tunes or show you more advanced techniques once you get started.
Here’s an example of our violin instructor, Maya, teach how to do vibrato:
Reading sheet music
Sheet music is another big challenge for violin players. It can feel overwhelming if you’re not familiar with music theory. That is another aspect of your learning that can take a long time to learn but is necessary for your progress.
One easy way to help you when learning sheet music is by breaking down sections of music. Prioritize a technique, aspect of your lesson, or style you’re doing, and only focus or concentrate on one thing at a time.
If you feel overwhelmed or get discouraged, take a break. The violin is an instrument to enjoy, so you must take your time and not do too much. Advanced techniques can be accomplished after you master the fundamentals.
Give yourself some grace, and take your time with each new piece of learning that comes your way.
Benefits of Learning to Play Violin
While it is hard to learn to play the violin, many benefits can come from learning it besides its beautiful music. Kids who start learning the violin early can benefit when they go to school, and adults can become some of the best musicians with a lot of practice.
If you’re interested in learning to play the violin but are weary of its many challenges, here are some advantages that make it worthwhile!
Connecting with music is a powerful way to reach others. Playing music allows an emotional outlet for expression and can be beneficial to help us change our moods, process those feelings, and become more empathetic.
Better social skills
Music is also influential in its ability to bring people together. You can improve your social skills by connecting with other musicians and being part of a group. You might want to join a local orchestra, or if your violin teacher wants to teach all students a new skill, it’s a great idea to do it in a group session and allow interaction between one another.
Dedication is necessary when playing, which can prove difficult when you constantly do it yourself. The encouragement and help you receive from others can be a resourceful tool during your journey.
Improved cognitive function
The violin is one of the more difficult instruments to learn, making it one of the best for helping to stimulate your brain. Things like reading comprehension, memory recall, speech, and language processing can all be affected by learning the violin.
Part of playing involves reading music and being able to interpret notes, key changes, and adjustments you need to make, which all involve the brain and its functionality.
Learning other string instruments
The violin gives a much better roadmap and pathway for learning other instruments down the road. So if you’re interested in taking on the piano or the guitar, the violin could be the perfect beginner instrument to make it easier when you tackle something new.
If you learn violin before the guitar, for example, you’ll see how much easier the guitar is since it gives you a fretboard as a guide. All violins have a fretless fingerboard, so you have to figure out your finger placement without the help of the fret lines.
Fine motor skills and coordination
When learning from a good teacher, violin playing is an excellent workout for your hands. Pressing strings, sliding the bow, and holding the instrument help build your fine motor skills and finger strength.
Learning the violin also requires coordination throughout the body. Holding the instrument and the bow, placement of your neck, proper posture, and positioning of the fingers ensure that you can emit the best sound, and your coordination continues to improve over the years.
Hard To Learn, But Easy To Love
If you need help learning the violin, your best course of action is to work with a good teacher who can help you with regular practice to improve your skills. Learning how to play correctly involves a lot of simultaneous movements with your body, and a private tutor will understand how to address your particular needs.
All students hope to achieve different things in their learning. If you’re interested in playing the violin but are nervous because of its complexity or concerned that it’s hard to learn, don’t be! Many professional musicians will tell you that the biggest hurdle is having the dedication to start.
There are so many wonderful things that this little solo instrument can teach you that go beyond understanding notes and reading sheet music. Even if you’re no longer in your early years, you can learn to play the violin from a music teacher without hours of daily practice.
Remember that you’re not going to become a master violinist right away. Find yourself a good instructor, practice often, take good care of your instrument, and enjoy the beautiful sound of the violin!