With how elegant and graceful violinists look while they play their string instrument, it’s easy to mistake their craft for something that’s easy to do. They do look like they’re just gliding their bow against the strings and moving their fingers on the instrument’s neck and they already get to produce beautiful music. Unfortunately, it’s a lot more complicated than that.
How hard is it to play the violin, you might be wondering? As it turns out, the violin is one of the hardest string instruments there is to master. There are lots of aspects of this instrument that makes it tricky to master.
However, it’s not impossible to learn. Beginners of all ages will find themselves progressing in learning the basics of the violin with the right tricks and techniques as well as a lot of practice.
If you’re interested about the difficulty and hardness of learning violin, read on as we’ll go into details of the challenges in learning this stringed instrument.
Learning to Play the Violin: How Hard is it to Play the Violin?
One of the most pressing questions there is for anyone interested in learning to play the violin is whether it’s difficult to master. The answer has different effects in interested parties so it’s not necessarily bad to talk about the difficulties in learning this string instrument. Some tend to get discouraged and intimidated upon learning the answer while others get excited and all the more determined to give it a shot.
Is it Hard to Learn the Violin?
Is it really hard to learn the violin? How hard is it to learn in reality? You might have heard talk that violins are tricky instruments to work with but just how difficult can it really be to get acquainted with? Quantifying the challenges will help those who want to know exactly what they’re getting themselves into.
Why is the Violin So Hard to Play?
To give you a good idea on how hard it is to learn the violin, let’s take a look at the few challenges that aspiring violinists will need to face:
The physicality of the violin.
The first major challenge that you’ll have to overcome is the physicality of this string instrument. Violin playing requires a certain posture, the right positioning of the instrument, and the coordination of select body parts to make everything work.
For starters, you don’t just place the violin on your left shoulder and lean your head to it. There are specific instructions for this detail and you need to get it right if you want to play properly. It’s also not easy to direct your left hand to apply pressure on different chords while your right hand executes specific bowing techniques to give you the results that you need. Doing all of these at the same time adds a certain amount of difficulty to learning to play the violin.
Playing the violin is not just physically challenging but will mentally engage you as well. In order to play a piece, you’d most likely need to learn how to read notes. Unlike when playing the guitar, violin pieces are written in sheet music so you’ll need to sight read if you wish to be a highly skilled violinist.
Sight reading may seem simple in theory but it doesn’t come easy for many. It may just be reading but it’s different from regular reading as you need to automatically identify and execute the notes written on the sheet music with consideration of its tempo and other shifts in details.
For some folks, finding the time and effort to practice regularly is the toughest part of learning to play the violin. Much of violin playing is learned through repetition so regular and frequent practice is beneficial for learners.
It’s actually recommended to spend at least 30 minutes a day on practicing scales and basic violin exercises to improve your skills and muscle memory. Unfortunately, this will be asking for a lot for many interested parties.
Finding the right teacher.
While you can certainly learn how to play the violin on your own, taking violin lessons is also an excellent way to get started with this musical instrument. A lot of the basic steps in the learning process will need some instruction so if you’re not the type who learns from video demonstrations or illustrations from books, taking private lessons or classes with a professional violin teacher will help you greatly.
The only problem is that finding the right instructor can also be a challenge. Determining whether their teaching style will work for you is nearly impossible. There are also different instruction styles available including the Suzuki, String pedagogy, and the Russian Violin methods so they can use different methods or a combination of one or all. Some may even throw in their own techniques so it can be quite difficult to assess how well it will work out for you.
How Long Does it Take to Learn the Violin?
There’s no definite time frame on learning the violin as it will all depend on your knack for music and the frequency of your practicing. If you tend to pick things up quickly and you’re having an easy time learning the basics, you’ll get the groundwork done in a short span of time. Combined with regular practice, you might be able to learn the ropes in just a couple of months.
Can Adults Learn to Play the Violin? Can You Learn the Violin on Your Own?
What might surprise many is that even adults can learn to play the violin. Learning the violin late in life is not the most difficult thing to do. In fact, some tend to find it easier, especially those who have accumulated general music knowledge over the years. With a good foundation, some were also able to resume learning without too much difficulty.
As hinted above, it’s also possible to learn the violin on your own. There are lots of self-taught violinists out there, some are even masters of the instrument. However, picking up the violin from scratch without initial instruction or knowledge about music theory can be difficult. Even the self-taught masters like Tartini, Paganini, and Mischa Elman all have foundations in theory and basics before they explored their own styles and developed their skills on their own.
If you’re wondering how to learn violin by yourself and how hard it is to learn violin by yourself, the process is not as straightforward as one would like. Again, as the most successful self-taught violinists have good foundations, it might be better to seek instruction first if you have zero knowledge in playing the said string instrument.
If you don’t want to spend money before knowing if you like the instrument or not, there are instructional videos online that are available for free that could help you out. They demonstrate the basic techniques but will still need further instructions.
Books are also essential if you wish to teach yourself how to play the violin. They’re great references as you can always come back to their instructions any time.
Violin vs. Other Instruments
Compared to other instruments, the violin is significantly harder to learn. However, if you’re thinking that it will be a good base for other string instruments, you’ll find a number of issues later on.
For example, some folks think that learning the guitar would be easy after learning the violin. This is not entirely true because the left hand techniques used in violin are very different from the guitar. Can a violinist play guitar? Sure but there will be some relearning and technique tweaking necessary. This makes the learning process quite tricky.
If you’re thinking of learning fiddle alongside the violin, you’re in luck as they’re the same instrument. The fiddle is actually a colloquial term for the violin as it’s mostly used to play folk styles of music. To learn to play the fiddle as a beginner is done by ear, however, than formal training and written music so it’s an entirely different experience from learning violin playing.
Is it difficult? It largely depends on your foundation. If you already know how to play the violin then you don’t really have to learn to play the fiddle in the traditional manner. You can just adjust the music style you’ll play. If you don’t have any background knowledge, then playing the fiddle will be as challenging as playing the violin.
5 Things to Know Before Learning the Violin
To further help you gauge how hard is it to play the violin, here are a few things that you should know about the process before you get on with it:
Patience is a Virtue
Unlike with other instruments where you can get the perfect tune and hit the right note upon initial instructions, your playing will not sound anything like the songs at first. Even if you managed to learn how to play a violin for the first time on your initial peek into a lesson or tutorial, there are very good chances that you will not be able to replicate the actual violin music that is played by a professional or advanced violinist.
Your violin might even sound noisy at first and it’s probably because you haven’t mastered how to hold it right yet. This is why practice and patience are highly necessary if you really wish to learn to play the violin.
Your Background in Music will Determine How Smoothly the Process Will Go
A good background in music will be of great help if you wish to learn the violin at a later age or on your own. Don’t be disheartened, however, if you do not have prior knowledge in music theory but want to learn the violin. It’s still possible to do so but you will need more patience.
Your Violin will Need a Lot of Care
Maintaining your violin in top shape is another essential step in learning how to play the said instrument. Preliminary steps are always necessary so you have to keep those in mind and observe them carefully all the time. If you don’t care for your instrument, there’s a very good chance that it will not last as long as you’d like and it might hamper your learning process.
Sight Reading can be a Pain
Reading sheet music is one of the most challenging parts in learning the violin. If you’re not adept at this yet, you have to train yourself well to improve your skills.
There will be Lots of Purchases Necessary
As a part of caring for your violin, additional items will be required. You’ll need to get some rosin, backup violin strings, rags, rock tops, a tuner, and a music stand just to name a few. These will be necessary for you to learn the instrument properly.
Bonus: Getting Private Lessons is Worth Considering
If you’re already enjoying your progress while teaching yourself how to play the violin but hit a snag on the road, it might be worth getting additional instruction from a professional. They can give you valuable tips on how to play the violin and make the process a lot simpler for you. They can also ensure that you’re doing the right thing.
Tricks to Help You Learn the Violin Faster
Are there ways to make the process simpler or faster? Cutting corners is not exactly possible for learning to play the violin but you can speed up the learning process through regular and frequent practice. Muscle memory can be helpful for beginners in violin and regular practice can help with that.
The use of a music stand is also highly recommended as it will help you develop a proper posture. This is essential if you want to play the violin correctly, so there shouldn’t be any compromise in that area.
Knowing how to properly care and work with your violin is also crucial if you want to make the most out of your practice sessions. Building a habit of tuning your violin every time you’ll use it will help you create a good routine and ensure that working with an instrument that is in top shape.
So how hard is it to play the violin? There’s a good amount of difficulty in the process but it’s not impossible to master, no matter what age you are. With a good foundation, you can certainly go far even if you don’t have a violin teacher. And if you do, you might be able to explore your skills later on with some creativity and knack for music.
It might be intimidating to learn the violin but with how amazing this string instrument is and how fulfilling it can be to play, your efforts will pay off once you’ve learned and mastered the skill.
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