When someone says, “Wow!” You’re a multi-instrumentalist! “I largely taught myself!” I often remark when people ask how I learned. Sure, I had many amazing musicians to talk to and learn from, but I’ve never had any consistent official tuition on any of the instruments I play, with the exception of the violin. I basically taught myself how to play most instruments on my own. I’ve taught myself to play the piano, guitar, and a variety of other instruments over the years so that I can play in bands and music groups. When you combine that with the fact that I’ve been a violin instructor and player for over 16 years, I believe I have a lot of useful information to provide about how to study the violin on your own. So, what exactly were my ruses? How did I manage to study so many instruments all by myself? And how can you learn to play the violin on your own? There’s no avoiding the truth that it takes a long time and a great deal of personal commitment. Anyone who claims to be able to master the violin in a few of months is lying. After a fast crash course with a violin teacher, you might be able to play a simple tune, but it won’t be enough to join a jam session, play in an orchestra, or even play along with a play-along without scratching and squeaking. (Read my post “How Long Does It Actually Take to Learn the Violin?” if you’d like to see what you could realistically learn as an adult beginner in 1-5 years of playing the violin with video examples.) Throwing yourself into the deep end is the key to learning to play any instrument well, including the violin. I practiced every day during the period when I made the most progress, almost all of my friends were musicians, and music was, for a time, the center of my entire life. I used to keep track of how much I practiced each instrument in my diary as a kid to motivate myself to practice more. It was challenging at times to learn new instruments and compare myself to all of the talented musicians I was surrounded by. But I feel it was also crucial to my achievement since it served as a continual reminder to me that I needed to practice. One thing that was really beneficial in learning new instruments was that I gradually established practicing methods that worked for me and helped me learn a new instrument faster. So, this is my own recommendation for learning the violin on your own, which contains all of the tactics I employed and found to be really beneficial.
How to Teach Yourself Violin in 6 (Not-So-Easy) Steps
1. Practice scales and fundamental violin exercises for at least 30 minutes each day.
Wait! Please do not exit the article just yet. I understand that practicing scales isn’t your favorite pastime. When they first begin playing the violin, most of my students dislike scales. We began playing the violin to play our favorite songs, after all. Isn’t it a waste of time to rehearse uninteresting scales? Surprisingly, most of my violin students like practicing their scales after a while. The problem is, practicing scales is THE WAY TO GO if you want to learn the violin effectively (and not take 20+ years to play a melody well). Scale practice could be viewed as a path to greater intonation. When you practice songs, you will, of course, learn intonation. You will learn it three times faster if you practice your scales and arpeggios. Scales are the most effective approach to concentrate on all of the fundamentals of your playing: intonation, violin hold, bow hold, tone generation, and so on. And once you see how quickly your violin playing improves, you won’t want to go back. If you’re going to practice scales and exercises, make sure you pick ones that will get harder over time. As a result, with each scale and workout you practice, you will discover new skills. So, to ensure that you learn as well as possible, begin practicing scales right away.
2. Practice pieces, removing the most difficult elements and practicing only those.
If there’s one trick to learning to play the violin beautifully on your own, it’s to listen to yourself. This is especially crucial if you don’t have access to a teacher. You might not make any improvement if you practice for hours a day but don’t listen to yourself and evaluate your playing for errors. When you’re practicing your parts, be sure to pay close attention to yourself. Do you like the sound of it? Is it well-balanced? Do you bow it with the proper technique to make it sound nice? And, if not, how could you make it better? Then concentrate solely on the aspects of your game that you want to improve. Listening to yourself and playing at the same time might be tough at times. There are a lot of things to check for when studying the violin, especially when you’re just getting started: proper bow grip, violin position, and if your fingers are in the right spot. It’s even more difficult when you have to evaluate yourself at the same time. So, what’s the best way to go about it? The answer is simple: your phone! While you’re training, videotape yourself and review it afterwards to assess your performance. My adult students can submit their personal videos for Victoria’s evaluation in Julia’s Violin Academy, my online violin academy for adults. Victoria is Julia’s Violin Academy’s second violin teacher. We are honored to have her as a teacher at our Academy, having served as assistant concertmaster of the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra and solo violinist in numerous musicals and film projects. I’ve also discovered something amusing!
My kids have frequently learnt a great deal by recording the video, even before sending it in! They become aware of mistakes they hadn’t noticed before just by watching themselves play.
3. As much as possible, listen to violin music.
One of the most challenging aspects of violin playing is maintaining accurate intonation, which necessitates a keen ear. LISTENING TO MUSIC is one of the best ways to improve your ear. Violin music, in particular. I used to listen to violin music every day, nearly nonstop, when I first started playing. I listened to all of the classic violin concertos, Bach, orchestral compositions, and even my Suzuki Violin Method book’s CDs over and over… If you want to make the most of your time, listen to violin music as frequently as possible. This will help you develop your ear and improve your sense of musicality, rhythm, and intonation.
4. Listen to other violinists who are more experienced.
And don’t just watch them; try to understand them as well. What kind of bowing methods do they employ? What part of the string are they playing in order to get their tone? You will pick up a lot just seeing other violinists perform, even if you aren’t aware of it. Attend local concerts if you have the opportunity. If you reside in a city, there are frequently inexpensive possibilities to attend smaller violin concerts. Many music schools may even invite you to attend one of their students’ concerts for free so that they can gain experience performing in front of an audience. Immerse yourself in a setting where you may hear and see other violinists perform.
5. Make pals with other violinists.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “You are the average of your five closest friends?” Yes, it is correct! Learning to play the violin in a friendly environment with friends who appreciate your passion for music and why you are practicing for hours every day to master an instrument is much easier. The violin is a tough instrument to master. If you’re going to do it well, you’ll need a supportive group of individuals to assist you. Your violin pals will sympathize with your difficulties and encourage you to keep going. They’ll tell you that it’s normal to sound like a sobbing cat for a few months and that it’s all part of the healing process. They will truly appreciate the complexity of the pieces you play and the amount of practice you have put in to get there. Your violinist buddies will encourage you to continue practicing. One of the most important factors in my ability to play a variety of instruments is having a supportive friend group and family who encouraged me to practice and encouraged me to keep going.
6. Give your practice’s mission a greater meaning.
Consider why you want to play the violin…. Do you wish to make greater connections with individuals in your life? Would you wish to be able to express yourself creatively? Do you want to join your town’s jam session or orchestra? Do you want to study something fantastic to remind yourself of your abilities? Do you wish to be a part of a family tradition of playing an instrument that has been passed down for generations? Is there something you’ve wanted to do since you were a kid that you’ve always wanted to do? If you’ve figured out why you want to play the violin, you’ll have the drive to keep practicing, even when it’s difficult and seems impossible. So there you have it: six stages to self-learning the violin. If you follow these steps or a similar one, you will one day receive comments on your violin playing and be asked how you learnt to play so well. Then you can say with pride, “I taught myself!”
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