What You Need To Know About Violin Lessons? – By Ern Ee Leong

Out of curiosity, I sometime would ask my students “What does music means to you?” The replies were a collection of eclectic responses from all ages, such as, “Practicing violin feels therapeutic”, “Playing music made me happy”, “Music expresses feelings that are hard to described”, “music makes me feel relaxed”, etc. Albert Einstein once made a comment “I know that the most joy in my life has come to me from my violin”. The feedbacks were insightful, and it shows that the presence of music is essential to individuals. Through reflecting on how much it means to us, its’ a gentle reminder to educators on how much music means to the students

Apart from music being essential to individuals as mentioned above, learning music also plays a dominant role especially in mental and physical development, social skills, and discipline. Here are the 5 benefits of learning a musical instrument that has been mentioned in the previous blog posts on 20 August 2017:

  1. Boosts Confidence and Self-Esteem,
  2. Improves your Physicality and Coordination,
  3. Instils Discipline, Perseverance, and Patience,
  4. Increase in Knowledge of other cultures,
  5. Enhances your Memory.

In this article, we will be focusing on violin and what to expect before getting your kids started on the violin.

Learning the violin may seem challenging at first, but you will be surprised by the many benefits. Besides, your child will also be experiencing the joy of making music with their peers such as in an orchestra or string ensemble as well as the fulfillment of being able to perform a great repertoire with confident; which itself could already be an investment!

Cost

In Aureus Academy, we provide high-quality learning experiences at a reasonable price. There is a wide range of professional music educators to cater to the needs of students from different backgrounds. Students will also have a chance to have lesson with another professional educator to expose different teaching styles to boost their motivation in learning; as every educator have their own distinctive approach in teaching that might better, suit and inspire the student.

Types of violin lesson

Violin playing can be categorized according to the different genres: classical, pop or jazz/improvisation. However, regardless of what genres you end up choosing, the fundamentals of playing the violin are extremely crucial. The fundamentals for violin include the correct posture, right-hand techniques: playing with the bow, pluck or left-hand techniques: fingerings. With a strong foundation, you will be able to excel in any genres you desire. Usually, lessons will be conducted in a more classical format (sometimes with simple pop pieces added to keep the student interests). The techniques in playing the instrument will also include learning the theory of classical music before proceeding to Pop and Jazz. There are a number of world-class professional musicians such as David Garrett who is a pop and crossover violinist, who was classically trained.

Benefits of learning the violin

Firstly, it plays a major impact in improving the social skills of the individual. If he or she has a shy personality, learning violin is a great way to improve social interaction with others through joining orchestras or playing in smaller ensembles. This provides opportunities for them to interact and work harmoniously with one another for a common goal and allowing them to step out of their comfort zone. On the other hand, for students who are more outspoken or extroverted, picking up violin is also a great way to improve their concentrating skills, memory and self-discipline in lessons preparations (practicing). “Children who take part in music develop higher levels of social cohesion and understanding of themselves and others,” says Dr. Alexandra Lamont, Lecturer in the Psychology of Music at the University of Keele. In a nutshell, it definitely adds a new social skill set as well as developing others important skills into their pocket.
Secondly, it helps to improve attention span as well as self-discipline among students. A study by the McMaster University’s Institute for Music and the Mind has shown that learning music do actually improves the student’s attention span.

Practicing violin or any other musical instruments should neither be a core, nor should consist of intense practice that wear outs energy. Practicing violin should be of good balance between well focus practicing session, which need not be 10 hours straight, and making practice session fun, which should be advised by the teacher. A proper practice session will definitely improve the attention span as well as strengthening the self-discipline of younger students as they have to practice in order to get better.
On top of that, learning violin could also strengthen reading and presentation skills. A Suzuki violin teacher from the Neighborhood Music School in New Heaven, Mary Larew pointed out that “Presenting yourself in public is an important skill whether you become a professional musician or not”. This skill is interrelated to public speaking, additionally once a young learner has obtained a well-developed musical skill, it will also give them an added boost of self- confidence when presenting themselves in public.

Lastly, it helps to cultivate a sense of responsibility especially for younger age learners. Violin is one of the instruments that require a lot of care. It has to be in a suitable temperature as well as environment. The violin needs to be tuned and cleaned after every practice session, and handling the violin with care before and after playing. Besides, if the student joins the orchestra or string ensemble, they have to practice their own music before attending the rehearsal so that the rehearsal can be more about making music together rather than focusing on individual instrumental techniques. These will add on to the cultivation of responsibility among the students.

What to expect in a violin lesson?

In a typical violin lesson, you will not only learn the necessary techniques needed to play your instrument well, but you will also get to explore different genres of repertoires.

Getting to know your teacher and his or her goals/directions may take more than a few lessons. The progress of the lesson may also take a few lessons to notice.

Therefore, communication is the key: 1. Communication between the teacher and the student,  2. Communication between parents and the teacher is very important.

Communication between the student and teacher is important, as it will determine the most suitable learning method to advise the student as well as to monitor the progress of the student. A series of questions are important for the students to better understanding and playing style of the repertoire such as, “How do you feel about this music? Happy, sad, exciting or playful?”, “What kind of story do you think this music trying to picture?”, etc.

Communication between the parents and the teacher is very important to set realistic goals and expectations. Besides, working together would ensure that the student is getting most out of the lesson as the parents could monitor the student progress throughout the week and giving some motivation/reminder for them to practice.

Setting goals together with your teacher is also very important as it gives a sense of direction and motivation for the student to practice. Usually, your violin teacher will ask if you have any pieces in mind that you would like to learn and perform. However, the teacher will set realistic goals that are still within the capability of the student. Sharing with your teacher the issues that you are facing while practicing could also help to strategize a specific solution for the student. All these would in turn strengthen the bond and trust between the teacher and the student.

Apart from achieving violin-playing goals, theoretical knowledge will be imparted as part of the learning process. The theory is essential as it enables you to further explore and helps in developing a deeper understanding of the musical notion of the piece.

What age should my kids learn the violin? How to learn it quickly?

Your kids can learn the violin as early as 3 years old. There are many different sizes of violin that caters to different age group.

Violin is one of the musical instruments that offer an eclectic variety of performance opportunities such as, solo, duet, quartet, and chamber or in an orchestra. There are many misconceptions that violin is one of the more difficult instruments to pick up therefore, it should start at a very young age. Honing a new skill, regardless of whichever instrument, requires strong determination and self-discipline. Hence, learning the violin is the same. Age does not define how quickly you will be able to adapt in picking up a new instrument. For example, it can be easier and faster for children to absorb new information, but
for adolescences, they have the added advantage of having strong interest/passion and they can be more discipline in practicing. With an extensive style of teaching from different educators in Aureus Academy, the needs of the student will be addressed and tailored to better suit you regardless of your age.

ABRSM Grade 1-8 examinations: information that you might want to take note. In Aureus Academy, instrumental lessons will equip the student with the necessary skills for examinations by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM). For the examination requirements, there are nine grades and candidates can signup for exam at any age. However, intermediate to advance such as grade 6 and above, candidates are required to complete grade 5 Music Theory. The components for grade 1-8 examination are standard; for violin examinations, it consists of the following: three pieces (List A, List B and List C), Scales and Arpeggios, Sight-reading and Aural test. Candidates are also required to have a piano accompanist for the three exam repertoires, except the ones that are published as studies or pieces that are unaccompanied. Hiring a Page-turner is optional as it depends on the pieces. If it is too fast or has awkward page turn for the piano accompanist, it is best to have a page-turner as the examiners are not able to help with page-turning. For the candidates, you can photocopy a few pages if there is a challenging page turn, but it is compulsory to bring along your original copy of the pieces for the examination.

For the younger candidates who may not know how to tune their instrument on the spot, they should tune their instrument before they attend the exam room. For candidates who are around the age of 11, it is advisable to learn to tune their own instrument. For the technical aspect of the exam consisting of scales and arpeggios, it is compulsory for all candidates to play by memory. In order to score well for the exam pieces, the candidates are encouraged to interpret the articulations and dynamics as printed in the music. The examiners will determine the scores by how the candidate controls the pitch, tone color, shape, speed, and performance. The Repeats in the pieces should not be played unless they are very short (such as few bars), other than that, all da capo and dal segno indication should be followed. For first-timer attending the examination, it is suggested to perform with the scores, even though the candidates may know the piece very well, as candidates might get nervous; but if they already decided to perform by memory (do take note that there will not be extra marks for memorizing the pieces); Candidates must provide a copy of the music for the examiner to refer.

How do I motivate my child to play the violin?

Setting achievable goals and challenges with a positive mindset will help them progress faster as they will work on accomplishing the exact task. Never hesitate to celebrate achievements even though the accomplishments may be small. Verbal praises are necessary and keeping a journal with the list of your child’s accomplishments might help. Celebrating little victories will help to provide positive attitude and encourage them to strive more.

Attending performance of any genre! In Singapore, from time to time the
Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) offers free outdoor performances around Singapore such as, Botanic Garden and selected neighborhoods. It is also a great opportunity to attend these performances with friends and families! Speaking of performances, Aureus Academy do offers student recital where parents can attend. It is also a great opportunity for students to overcome the fear of performing in public and this will help their musical examinations.

What is the right size for my child?

There is a wide range of violin sizes. The sizes vary from 1/16, 1/10,1/8,1/4,1/2,3/4,4/4 (full size). However, age may only give you a rough idea of the size but does not define what size that fits exactly for the individual. To have a more accurate measurement, you will need to try and seek assistance; the best is letting your teacher assist you. It is advisable for young child to not splurge on 3/4 size and below as child will grow up fast, renting or buying second-hand violin is a great alternative.

Types of violin?

There are 3 types of violin that we commonly see nowadays: Acoustic violin, Electric violin, Baroque Violin. The Acoustic violin is the typical violin that has a various size from 1/16 to 4/4. Alternately we also address it as fiddle when it is use to perform folk music. The Electric violin nowadays comes in many different shapes and designs. It is more likely suitable for intermediates to advance as it requires a bit of adjustment and/or touch that is different from the Acoustic violin. The Baroque violin is a little smaller than the usual full size Acoustic violin. It is less fancy than the Acoustic violin as it neither has chin nor shoulder rests. The sound is also not as bright and loud than the Acoustic violin it uses guts string.

In conclusion, picking up the violin doesn’t only make you feel happy and enjoyable, but it definitely makes you a more creative person. It is debatable whether playing or learning a piece of music may make individual feel therapeutic, well, it works for me. Although paying attention on coordination for both hands, while reading the challenging and complex passages may drain you out but it is definitely one of the most rewarding feeling from my experience as a performer and educator!

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