October 19, 2015
Tips to Get the Most from Your Violin Lessons
If you’ve decided to take violin lessons, and are committed to learning how to play, there are a few things you can do to make sure you get the most out of the experience. It may surprise you to find out that there’s more to learning the violin than just showing up for your lessons and practicing occasionally. The violin is a beautiful, but complicated, instrument which can take years to become comfortable with. While the experience of learning to play can be fun, it’s also important that you take the responsibility seriously and dedicate yourself to the endeavor.
Opt for a Qualified Teacher
The first step, which is perhaps the most important, is finding a qualified teacher. When learning the violin, you can’t rely on YouTube videos or tutorials. Similarly, if you get a music teacher without the proper experience playing and teaching the violin, you’ll be starting off on the wrong foot. In addition to experience, you’ll want a music teacher that understands the process, encourages you, and keeps you motivated to keep learning, even when you feel discouraged. As we’ve recommended in the past, word-of-mouth recommendations are the best place to start. There are plenty of places to go to for word-of-mouth recommendations, from friends and family members to local music stores, schools, and churches.
Once you’ve gotten a list of potential teachers, it’s important that you meet with them, discuss your interest, their experience, and gauge their demeanor. Ask yourself “is this the person I want to rely on to help me learn the violin?” If you get the opportunity, attend any recitals or performances that your potential teachers may have coming up. You’ll also want to come up with a good list of questions, concerns, and considerations to bring to your potential teacher. Make sure they’re answered to your satisfaction before committing. Finally, consider the price. Less expensive teachers may seem attractive initially, but they may not have the skill level you desire. On the other hand, just because a teacher is expensive doesn’t mean they’re the best. Don’t be shy about discussing price, as your commitment to violin lessons may go on for a long time.
Choose a Professional Environment
Once you’ve settled on the right teacher, it’s time to find the right environment. While you want to find a location to learn that’s comfortable, you don’t want it to be too comfortable. This means, you want it to be an educational, professional environment. No TV’s, kids, pets, or other potential distractions that will hinder your ability to learn. Regardless of the length of your lessons, you want to make sure you’re getting the most out of your time. The environment where you’ll be learning and practicing should be a point of discussion between you and your teacher. Ask for their opinions, voice your concerns, and don’t be afraid to make any changes you think will be necessary.
Look for Performance Opportunities
Since you’re probably just starting out, don’t let the prospect of having to perform in front of others make you nervous. Obviously, at the beginning, you won’t be ready to perform a recital with your violin. Still, after a few months, when you’ve built up some confidence with your instrument, it’s important for you to look for opportunities to perform. Opportunities to perform inject some added motivation into your lessons and practice sessions which are often extremely beneficial. Remember, it’s perfectly normal to feel nervous, and not every performance is going to be perfect. Even the most talented and accomplished violinists in the world have gone through exactly what you’ll be going through. It’s an important part of the process, and one that you’ll certainly be thankful you took advantage of down the line.
Once you’ve selected your teacher, found the right environment, and started lessons, the most important thing you can do to learn the violin is practice. Practice is crucial to the mastery of any instrument, and the violin is no different. If you can find time to practice every day, then your skill with the violin will certainly improve over time. Take your practice time seriously. If you need to set aside a certain time that’s devoted only to practicing with your violin, you should. Turn off your phone, turn off the TV, put away any potential distractions and inform your family that you should be left alone to practice. The more you practice, the more you’ll get out of your lessons. You’ll progress more rapidly and you’ll be able to address questions or concerns you may discover with your teacher. If you don’t practice, you’ll waste time and money during your lessons making the same mistakes over and over.
Prepare Your Violin
The violin is an instrument which requires a certain level of attention, care, and maintenance to operate properly. Your music teacher will likely spend the first few lessons instructing you about the various ways to maintain, store, and prepare your instrument before and after you use it. It’s incredibly important that you take these lessons to heart. If you ever need a refresher on how to properly maintain your violin, we’ve got you covered. Once you’ve got the routines down for how to properly handle your violin, you’ll be ready to go. Before every lesson, prepare your violin carefully, the way your teacher has instructed. Make sure your hands are clean, make sure your violin is tuned, and that you rosin your bow. This will take a little bit of time, so get to your lessons early, if you can.
Enjoy the Process
The final tip for making sure you get the most from your violin lessons is to remember to enjoy the process. You’re learning and playing the violin because it’s a beautiful instrument and a rewarding experience. Learning any instrument can be discouraging, so remind yourself occasionally what it is you love about the violin and find ways to make the process as enjoyable as possible.
You’ll need some accessories, too. Check out Essential Violin Accessories for Students.