cellist here: how do I proceed to learn violin on my own?

October 17, 2017, 3:25 PM · I am cellist currently about to play dvorak concerto for my final exam. Now I want to learn violin or viola. I think violin is the better choice because the G clef is easier to read to me than the C clef (and I own a chinese made volin that is not bad, versus a chinese made viola I own which is of the cheapest kind).

I was dabbling at it and managed to play everything from suzuki volume one in one run, so to speak (piece 1 to 17). A violinist friend recommended Kaiser studies so I picked that from IMSLP and I am currently working on the study number one.

Anyway, I want to ask for some recommendation on how to set a more systematic and orderly approach, that I can do on my own. Something that can be worked daily, like scales, etudes, pieces, etc. Preferably material that is available on IMSLP.

Much appreciated

Replies (7)

Edited: October 17, 2017, 3:43 PM · Get thee a 1/8 cello. Tuck it under your chin, and saw away! Just watch that end pin. LOL That is how I used to tune my daughter's little 1/8 cello. I got a few laughs out of it.

Seriously the most important thing is to buy a few lessons at least so that you can get your instrument set up properly (chin rest, shoulder rest if you're using one, posture, arm and hand positions, etc.). You cannot optimize that by looking at youtube videos. Bow hold is probably easier to DIY. I recommend you don't start with Kayser but rather with Wohlfahrt. Watch yourself in the mirror and be mindful of aches and pains (this you undoubtedly know already).

Depending on where you live there may be more gigs in it for you if you teach yourself to play jazz bass. Get yourself an NS upright electric. And, of course, a few lessons.

Edited: October 18, 2017, 5:48 AM · Rob, I've been along that road (and got to the other end)! Although cello and violin have a lot in common in that the neuro-muscular coordination of the left hand and bowing arm are similarly developed, there are many important and not immediately obvious differences.

You will find before long when learning the violin on your own that the proverbial brick wall will loom into sight and your progress will slow down and very possibly halt. Accordingly, it is absolutely essential, before bad playing habits get into place that you have face-to-face lessons with a teacher, so that the teacher can view you from all angles, something that can't really be done online. Such a teacher should be pretty hot on teaching good posture and relaxation. In my view, teaching to exam grades may not always be the best way of teaching in all circumstances, although the Suzuki method is not in that category provided there is a useful mix of music from other sources.

October 17, 2017, 3:51 PM · Play the violin cello-style :D
Edited: October 17, 2017, 4:00 PM · I'm with John. Why not play the violin the cello way -- good enough for du Pre:
October 17, 2017, 9:59 PM · Is there a reason you must teach yourself? If so, that's okay. Online instruction and observing yourself in the mirror is better than nothing.
Edited: October 18, 2017, 6:00 AM · Your advancement on the violin will be badly frustrated if you do not get set up properly at the beginning. You cannot do that by yourself. Suppose a violinist said they were going to teach themselves cello ... you know exactly where they'll go wrong, don't you.
October 18, 2017, 6:17 AM · As a triple-threat guy (violin-viola-cello) I can say that there is a lot of good advice above. I started on violin and after 10 years added cello. My first viola ventures started 25 years after that.

1. You MUST get your body properly set up from the beginning and for that you need a teacher to advise you on proper left and right hand positions. It is not just a matter of thinking you look like the people playing on YouTube. A good teacher will be able to see if your muscles (under your skin) are holding things right for you.

2. Violin and viola are both awkward instruments to play.

3. As a cellist who can play the Dvorak concerto I would suggest you get hold of the viola version of the Elgar concerto and try to read through it (it is much easier technically on viola). The Schubert Arpeggione is another one that translates easily.

4. Finger spacing on a violin may seem tight, but the inter-finger distances on violin in first position are about the same as cello above the octave harmonic.

5. Be sure your chinrests fit YOU. If you need a shoulder rest to stabilize the chin instrument try a number of different ones at a violin shop. Since a viola is thicker than a violin, you should have a lower chinrest for your viola.

6. A 16-inch viola is a good match to a violin because the finger separations in viola 3rd position are about the same as violin 1st position and your hand is the same distance from your face in both situations.

I suspect that if you are embarking upon this journey you will be playing all three instruments before you are through.

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