Interested in learning Violin... Where should I start?

October 23, 2017, 4:24 AM · Hi all! I am a 31 year old guy and recently I have decided I would like to learn to play the Violin. The only other instrument I have ever played in drums, and that was when I was in my teens.
The closest classes I have nearby are about 45min-1hr away... so I was thinking about possibly taking lessons online. Is this a bad way to learn if I am brand new to this? Would I be better to just suck it up and take the 45min-1hr drive to lessons?
My other question is I was thinking about getting a Cremona off of musicians friend. Around $200-$300 violin. After reading reviews it seems these are a good bang for your buck for beginners. Is this true? Or am I better off renting one first? I was advised by someone that most "beginner" violins are junk and I should rent one first.
Thanks for your time!

Replies (8)

Edited: October 23, 2017, 4:54 AM · Renting for the first few months is a good plan. By then you might have some idea whether you're going to stick with it. If you do rent a violin, remember that you're not likely to be renting the kind of violin that a pro would play in an orchestra. It'll be a "student" instrument.

I suggest making the drive for your first couple of lessons at least. That way the teacher can see you up close and in three dimensions to help you set up your instrument (chin rest and shoulder rest recommendations and fitting) and to help you learn how to set your stance and your hands, so that you can see what looks right in a mirror.

Look for a teacher that uses Suzuki books. They're not just for kids. The advantage of Suzuki books is that they're the most transferable between teachers, so if you're going to go back and forth between online instruction and real-life teacher, Suzuki is most likely to work for that.

Skype lessons are okay but one reason I recommend getting a few IRL lessons is so that you can see the difference.

Edited: October 23, 2017, 7:29 AM · I would suggest

(1) taking lessons
(2) spending some $$ on an instrument! That would at some level commit you to the violin.
(3)enjoy

October 23, 2017, 7:31 AM · Rent a violin for at least the first 3 months to find out if you are going to stick with it for years. Lots of $200-$300 violins are around, so you can buy at any time when you know its worth it.

As Paul says, start with as many in person lessons as you can. Set up, proper stance, and relaxed holding of the violin require in person advice. If you mess those up, you won't enjoy or progress very far. And if you really mess up, you could cause yourself physical damage from sustained muscle tension. It happens.

October 23, 2017, 8:11 AM · Get the All for Strings book (there are 3 and a theory book). It will teach you every term along the way you need to know. I start students at the page where they actually have staff, not note names.
October 23, 2017, 8:48 AM · I started over a year ago with violinlab.com. Payed into a 3 month lesson plan to watch videos. The videos were OK, The lady seemed knowledgeable enough. The “community” that went along with it wasn’t very helpful. So something was missing in a big way. I ended up letting it run out as I started looking for an in-person teacher. It took me a year to find a teacher I could afford. I realized quickly what was missing with the online videos, it was the hands on, direct critique and correction, and communication, I think a new adult student needs. Perhaps after a while with live lessons, the video thing would be something to do, I don’t know. I don’t plan on giving up my teacher for quite a while.

Note: this isn’t to say violinlab can’t be beneficial for violin learning, perhaps in conjunction with a live lessons, perhaps after a month or so of live lessons

Edited: October 23, 2017, 9:27 AM · As a life-long violinist who taught (as an avocation) for about 40 years and am now securely into my 80s I would like to offer my advice.

Since your previous musical experience was rhythmic rather than melodic or harmonic I have the following suggestions:

1. Get an electronic keyboard at a local thrift shop and some simple piano music -- or even the first Suzuki Violin book and learn to read treble clef music. This should not take you much time at all but it will give you some security for embarking on violin.

2. Even though your teacher may be some miles away it is worthwhile to have a live teacher. It is also helpful to have your teacher's recommendation for the violin you select rather than buying a "pig in a poke" instrument that you may have to struggle with. At the very least, get your teacher's approval for the instrument before buying your friend's violin. (Also beware of a teacher who has an arrangement for getting a "commission" if you purchase an instrument from a particular dealer.)

3. Select a teacher who is willing (and happy) to accept adult beginners.

4. There are many ways to start learning violin, but in this day and age, for a beginning adult student, I recommend a teacher who starts you with the Suzuki books (not a "Suzuki teacher"). My personal lessons preceded Suzuki (FGS, they ended just a year after WW-II) and I had no experience with Suzuki until i was almost 40 years old and had been teaching violin for over 10 years. But I inherited some former Suzuki students and lived in a town with a marvelous Suzuki school (led by the violist in my string quartet (at the time) and the teacher who started violin virtuoso Anne Akiko Meyers on her career) and after seeing how successful that program was I switched to using the Suzuki books with all my students.

5. I think on-line lessons (especially those with no feedback) are better than nothing, but no comparison to face-to-face lessons with immediate feedback.

October 23, 2017, 9:46 AM · Hi John,

I'm also a beginner adult learner (started 6 months ago at age 27).

I recommend renting violin for the first 3 months because
a) in case you don't like playing the violin, then you just return and don't lose much compared to buying an instrument and b) most stores have different rental outfits that you can compare quality and decide which quality/price you want (those violins also tend to sound much better than really cheap "beginner" violins) and finally c) some stores allow you to use rental credit for future purchase.

I also recommend taking at least several private lessons. It's ok to use online lessons for a little bit -- taking notes of things you can't get or confused about. I used online tutorials for my first few months but the real breakthrough for me was having those in-person lessons. There are many things that seemed like I was doing correctly in comparison to the videos, but nopes I'm glad I was corrected! Looking back at my experiences, I would rather take 2 hour drive + 1 hour private lesson vs 3 hour online lessons.

Have fun!

Edited: October 23, 2017, 11:45 AM · I had the same dilemma as you at one time. My drive was an hour away. I did that for awhile. Even if you only have one lesson every month or once every two weeks, it's better than nothing.

Luckily I found someone closer. I would have continued to drive though if it had been necessary.

To me, it was a sacrifice I was willing to make over time to get better.

Renting a violin assures you a violin that is acceptable to learn on as a beginner, however they can also be bought. This is a tough thing for someone who might not know what to look for. My first violin was a Stentor 2. YouTube did sway me there. That violin was recommended by a pro violin teacher on YouTube. Now I would say the violin was "meh". Nothing special. OK to learn on though.


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