Hello! New adult player.

September 3, 2016 at 11:05 AM · Hello everyone!

I am a very new adult beginner (5 weeks of lessons once a week at 45 minutes). I have played other instruments in the past for a short while, but never touched a violin. They have always been a little out of my price range. I am currently in China though, and I got a decent enough beginner's violin. It stays in tune pretty well and the sound is tolerable to play.

I don't really know anything about violin, except I like the way it sounds and can be used in different types of music. I also don't know very much about music in general except that I can appreciate listening to it.

My first week of lessons, I was just given finger exercises to practice, and practice holding the bow and the violin, but not actually playing. Just getting used to the feel. I don't have a textbook, but I am given sheet music to work on. Anyway, it is now my 5th week, and I am working on Pachelbel's Canon and Ode to Joy. I know Ode to Joy is pretty standard for a beginner, but the Ode to Joy I am familiar with is a little simpler than what I was given. No problem though. I know the sound, I can kind of read sheet music, but it takes me a while to recognize what the notes are and where they might be in relation to the violin strings.

Right now, I have a difficult time getting up to or going past 30 minutes of practice at a time. I usually try to get in at least two practice sessions a day, but my second is always only 15 minutes or so. More than that, I start getting more sloppy and less focused, and my arm starts hurting from getting tense, which I am assuming would lead to bad practice and habits in the long term. I know I am supposed to stay relaxed but ti is difficult. Any tips or suggestions on improving the time and quality of my practice? (Besides the obvious of continue practicing and building endurance haha.)


Replies (7)

September 3, 2016 at 11:36 AM · This is normal and expected for a beginner. If you notice you are getting sloppy, immediately stop and take a break. At only 5 weeks of lessons, I would say you might not need more than half an hour a day anyway. If you want to increase your practice time, do so by only practicing 5/10 minutes longer than you are used to for a week at a time, and build up your practicing time slowly. Do not practice if you aren't focused, and make sure you warm up before practicing. That being said, welcome to the violin community! I am always happy to hear that someone is learning to play violin.

September 3, 2016 at 01:13 PM · Tension is the Trojan Horse of violin practice. Don't let it inside the gates. You actually have to spend some mental bandwidth to keep it at bay. That will be true for a long time, possibly forever. Chop your practice into short sections and have one main thing that you're going to focus on for each one. Bring up your tempos slowly.

September 3, 2016 at 01:23 PM · Thank you for the advice! I always try to warm up before practicing, but I don't really know what a proper warm-up would be. Right now, it consists of working on my bowing on the open strings, then working on finger dexterity by playing a set pattern on each string, then practicing bowing smoothly switching between A and E string, F# (on E string) and E (on A string), then continue down the fingerboard with 2nd, 3rd, and 4th fingers, then reverse direction. After that, I start practicing Canon, then Ode to Joy, and finish with more finger strength/dexterity exercises (quiet) by thumping the A string on the notes with each finger to make it play the correct note just from the thump and no bowing.

September 3, 2016 at 08:20 PM · Play for two to five minutes at a time. It's like exercise. You have to build musculature and endurance.

Having taken two very long breaks from the violin, I can tell you that each time I came back, I had to rebuild physical endurance. Your teacher will claim that playing requires no effort, shouldn't tire you, etc. That's true once you've built up the subtle violin athleticism, so to speak. It's not true when you haven't played before or haven't played for a long time.

September 4, 2016 at 06:38 PM · True, true! I have to rebuild physical endurance after just a week or two off practice; I am a beginner of 9 months.

When I started cello 20 years ago, I ignored my teacher's admonition not to practice more than 1/2 hour a day. I soon developed tendonitis and was forced to lay off for a whole month....

September 5, 2016 at 03:01 AM · Yes, you definitely need to build endurance! Physical is definitely one piece of it. When you are just starting out and trying to figure out fingerings, it is also mentally exhausting. I like the idea to just play for a few minutes at a time, maybe more times a day.

September 5, 2016 at 03:02 AM · I just finished my 6th lesson. I was given guidelines for practicing. Warm up exercises, length of time for each exercise, and then practicing the pieces I am learning. I have been judging the times for warm up exercises pretty well based on what my instructor put in writing today. I am noticing that my arms are starting to get used to the half hour practice sessions. Probably going to stay with that for another week or two before I start adding time to my practices, or increasing the number of practices from one 30 minute block.

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