By Jack Chen
It is always a wonderful experience for someone to learn a musical instrument. Playing an instrument can improve one’s memory and attention span, improve posture, released stress and increase your sensory development. The physical, mental, and social benefits of playing a musical instrument are well-known, but the violin offers some rather surprising additions. You may be surprised to discover that there are many excellent, lifelong benefits of playing the violin; and learning to play it, like any undertaking, simply requires having the right tools and the right instruction. Here are some tips that will cover some basics of violin playing that we hope will help you in your learning!
Step 1: Get Essential Equipment
The first thing you need to get started as a violin beginner is to get a violin. The violin comes in various sizes, depending on the age of the student. Usually when you purchase a violin, it comes with a violin bow, violin case, and violin rosin. Other equipment such as the violin shoulder rest, music stand, violin mute will also come in handy.
Step 2: Basics of Violin Playing
Among all other instruments, violin has a steeper learning curve in the beginning, maybe even more for young children due to the physical demands of the instruments. Below are a few basic tips to look out for that needs to be mastered in the beginning to ensure a smooth learning journey on the violin.
Holding the instrument correctly is important when you learn the violin. It is very essential to have a good posture in holding the violin and the bow as it is the foundation of a good violin player. Make sure your shoulders are not raised and are relaxed. Tilt your head slightly to the left so that your violin will be resting on your left shoulder. For the right hand (bow hand), do check whether you right thumb is curved, pinkie is on the bow, and rest of the fingers are relaxed while holding the bow. If the weight is too heavy, you can practice the right-hand posture with a pencil.
Pizzicato and Arco
One of the basics of violin playing you would cover when learning will be the four strings. When you are practicing holding the violin, you can do a few exercise on pizzicato i.e. the plucking of the string with your right index finger, to familiarize yourself with the four open strings on the violin. The Open Strings on the violin are: G D A E (Left to Right). An easy way to memorize is to use a mnemonic: Great Danes Are Enormous.
Once you are used to holding the violin, it is time to play with the violin bow. The bow should be placed on the string in between the bridge and the finger board, for the violin to produce a nice sound. If you are too close to the bridge or the fingerboard the sound produced may be harder to control. When you are drawing the bow across the open strings, do make sure that the bow is parallel to the bridge, and your right wrist and shoulders are relaxed. Do the exercise slowly and listen closely to the sound produced, whether it is too light or too heavy.
After several lessons on the open strings (G, D, A, E), one of the next steps in violin playing will be some exercises to introduce the usage of fingers on the fingerboard. Your teacher will be marking your violin to help you identify the spot on the fingerboard where you place your fingers down. Placing your fingers wrongly may result in bad pitching so do check regularly, and try to memorize it by listening
Step 3: Practise, Practise, Practise!
Finally, a very important point that must be addressed when one learns how to play the violin: Develop good practice habits! Nurturing good practice habits will improve your learning process quickly. It is vital to practice daily, even for 20 – 30 mins a day if you are able to, rather than practice only once a week. Do your practices slowly, recognizing the exercise and patterns that your teacher has asked you to work on, before playing them at a quicker speed. Accuracy is always more important than speed. You will learn your violin technique faster, if you start with slow practice daily. Listen closely to what you are aiming for in practice, whether is sound, articulations, dynamics or phrasings.
It is also important to have a good and patient teacher who can guide and coach you in your quest to master the violin. Last but not least, remember to enjoy what you are doing! Explore more on violin lessons here, or sign up for your free trial!
“To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable.” – Ludwig van Beethoven