Finding violin for adult beginner who is also a pianist

September 18, 2016 at 05:20 PM · I'm an adult interested in starting beginner violin lessons and not sure what type/maker of violin to purchase or how much to spend. I teach piano lessons and have a masters degree in piano performance, so I'm no stranger to music. I've read that beginners are fine with a student model- I would appreciate any suggestions that you all have!

Replies (13)

September 18, 2016 at 05:50 PM · Rent first. I would suggest renting the highest-quality instrument available, if you can afford it, since the incremental deltas in rent aren't huge -- usually something like a $10/month difference. I believe the highest-quality rentals are usually violins that would cost about $2,000 if you purchased them (though not every shop has the same levels of quality, and some shops' best rental model will be still a very cheap instrument).

If you can, rent from somewhere that will allow you to use what you're paying in rent towards the purchase of a violin from that shop. That way the rental money isn't "wasted".

Look both at your local shops and, if you don't live in a major city with a number of shops to choose from, also look online -- Shar, Potter's, etc.

September 18, 2016 at 06:51 PM · If you tell us where you live, someone may be able to recommend a few places you can visit. Renting is definitely the way to start out; the learning curve on violin evaluation is long. It is wise to postpone your first purchase until you have investigated all your options and tried as many instruments as you can. And bows! (and cases) (I am leaving out strings, chin rests, and shoulder rests, but they figure in, too)

September 18, 2016 at 10:44 PM · Yes -- rent for a while. Be forewarned. I know an excellent professional pianist who decided to try to learn the cello starting in her late 50s. She found it surprisingly difficult. But everyone is different. I wish you the best of luck. And skill.

September 19, 2016 at 03:02 AM · Rent!!! You will be a lamb walking into the lion's den if you try to buy a violin right now, with zero experience.

September 19, 2016 at 03:18 AM · Shar has a good rental program. If you can afford payments, I would suggest something that would retail in the $500 plus range at a minimum and more if you can afford it. Learning on a decent instrument will be more enjoyable and help you progress faster (all other things being equal). Also if you get a package deal (bow and case together) the better instruments also come with better bows which is also a benefit. They might call these instruments "intermediate" level. for a serious student who has a music background like yourself, rent the best you can afford, as a way of starting out and getting your bearings, you will not regret the decision.

September 19, 2016 at 03:25 AM · Since you plan to start lessons, get a teacher and the teacher's advice on where and what to rent. The motivation that comes from hearing yourself on a decent instrument is worth the extra cost, whatever your level. WHen I was teaching I would take my new students (to be) - the ones who had not been so foolish as to purchase an instrument before their first lesson - to Ifshin Violins (a half-hour away) to select a Jay-Haide to rent - they were so nice to play and to hear.

I know several people who trained as pianists but now play violin or viola or both. One is actually quite busy as a "ringer" who often performs (for pay) with local orchestras as a violinist or violist, whichever is needed for a particular dress rehearsal and performance.

Good luck to you!

September 19, 2016 at 07:18 PM · Thank you all for the great advice! That absolutely makes sense. I live in the Los Angeles area, but I will also see what the violin teacher recommends for shops.

September 19, 2016 at 08:24 PM · I recommend:

Benning Violins

11340 Ventura Blvd

Studio City

I must caution you that you need a trusted guide in the instrument business... :)

September 21, 2016 at 11:58 PM · I am surprised at all this "rent" advice.

An experienced musician who wants to learn violin will make a great go of it for at least a few years. The person is not learning music, has a tested and proven understanding of how to learn a musical instrument, and is interested in learning with a teacher an instrument on which we start children of three or four.

Buy, and pass on.

Buy a Stentor Student II for about $150.00, or a "decent, inexpensive fiddle" called a Yita Music T20 for about $400.00. Many people buy either of these for less than I am "quoting".

The Yita is a keeper, a second fiddle in years to come for garden quartet playing, or street playing.

I expect such an adult student to make excellent progress for some years, finding vibrato the only serious challenge. Adult finger joints are not the flexible little things children have, and some work will have to be done there.

PS Your second violin will be the challenge. Just how good do you go! (Or you will end up with a collection of instruments priced new between $3000 and $10,000 that all sound the same, very nearly.)

September 22, 2016 at 02:25 AM · Stentor? No way. Yita is not bad, BUT I would never advise a violin newbie to walk trustingly into the lion's den, as has been pointed out so kindly by Mary Ellen. It really is smarter to RENT and learn along the way how to select a violin. In either case, a teacher and a trusted luthier are your best advisors; buy nothing without having it examined by a violin maker first...too many pitfalls!

Bon Voyage!

September 22, 2016 at 08:20 AM · Instruments advertised as being of a student level are often very limited. I started on a £150 GBP kit, so certainly not the cheapest student instrument, but found it very limiting - the bow actually used to bounce off the strings on certain notes due to odd resonances in both, and others that I have tried were of far worse quality. Since you are already a serious musician, stay clear of these - it will quickly feel like wasted money.

The violin is a very individual instrument - there is a lot of variation in sound and feel across different instruments - and renting gives you the chance to gain sufficient expertise to make an informed choice as to what to buy.

September 22, 2016 at 11:15 PM · Take that Stentor II Student through six months of workout, then either pass it on, or take all the strings off, the bridge off, knock the sound post over, remove the pegs, and the end pug.

Now, carve a new bridge, put it all back together, set it up, and persist with this learning activity for at least four weeks (but much longer, please). And do it again.

If you get everything half right, that experience alone is worth the purchase price of the instrument. After you have done it three or four times you might consider yourself comfortable to go to work on basic set-up of your next instrument, or a student's.

You also will have much more confidence in sorting through all the "violin statements" you hear and read. And you will choose your next instrument better equipped for that task than most.

I trust a particular retailer who both plays and restores violins, and he is firm on his view that the Stentor II can be prepared nicely for first instrument duties. And I agree with him.

Of course, a shop keeper can throw anything out the door, under-prepared, and it will be a chore to play. The point here is that the Stentor instrument is basically tidy and strong, and ready for set-up. (Send it back if it has structural issues. Set it up, if it hasn't. What's new?)

(Stefan, I hope you feel inspired to hack into that fiddle you bought. Start with a string up-grade, then use a better bow for testing. What an opportunity!)

September 23, 2016 at 03:11 PM · I agree with renting even for someone who has knowledge of music first. Once someone has gotten a little skill, they may or may not desire something with better sound. Why invest in a decent beginner if you'll want an intermediate in 6 months or less? If it's not in the cards to play violin, then no one's out a ton of money. A serious teacher of music would be inclined to be a somewhat serious violinist as well, needing a more than beginner level violin, don't you think?

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