Should I Take Private Lessons

October 26, 2017, 7:29 PM · So my current conductor recommends that I take some private lessons to help further my knowledge in violin. I’ve been playing for 5 years already and have pretty much mastered all the basic techniques that you would need to know and have some knowledge in music theory. But now I’m wondering if I should take his advice, would it really help me improve or would I just be going over things I already know. I would like your guys opinions in this matter. Thanks ??

Replies (14)

October 26, 2017, 7:38 PM · Yes.

I can promise you that five years of playing without private instruction does not lead you to master all aspects of violin technique, and the odds are very high that you're doing quite a bit incorrectly.

October 26, 2017, 7:53 PM ·


What Mary Ellen Said, plus private lessons are worth their weight in sparkling precious stones if you are even remotely serious about improving your playing. Be prepared with a good dose of humility, but also make sure you road test a few different teachers to find one who gels with your personality. It might be tough going, losing some bad habits in the short term, but you will not regret the private lesson route.


October 26, 2017, 8:04 PM · If your conductor is 'recommending' you take lessons then I would immediately look at myself and ask 'why are they saying this'?

They appear to think there is something that either needs improvement or can be improved further through study.

Also, is that 5 years as a complete autodidact? Have you previously had private lessons?

October 26, 2017, 8:32 PM · Based on Justin's previous postings, he's learned in public school and considers himself to be playing at the grade 4/5 level or so. He also posted a recording of himself previously (LINK).

Based on listening to that, definitely take private lessons. You are nowhere near to mastery of even basic techniques, and a teacher could help you significantly. Where you live (you said Northern Virginia, so I assume your location of "PWC" means Prince William County), there should be plenty of violin teachers.

Edited: October 26, 2017, 8:40 PM · Yes, you should. When your conductor tells you to get some private lessons, that means you are in need of help. You said that you've been playing "for 5 years already and have pretty much mastered all the basic techniques". Well, you will learn a lot better if you start to entertain this idea that you probably don't know what you don't know about violin playing.

Edit: Just saw Lydia's post and I listened your sample playing. I completely agree with Lydia that you are no where near mastering all the basic techniques.

Edited: October 26, 2017, 8:42 PM · 4/5 level is nothing to sneeze at if it's solid and mostly self motivated. I can't look at the recording as I'm at work at the moment, but I am happy to trust Lydia's assessment. I would expect anyone playing at that level to be taking lessons, as you are still very far from mastery and only now approaching 'middle school'.

Basically what it comes down to is if your conductor is telling you to take private lessons then I would assume one of two scenarios:

1. He thinks you have great potential, and wants to nourish that (in which case take lessons).

2. You are not meeting his expectations for sound and performance in your section (in which case take lessons).

Either way, it's a good idea to do.

If you were able to get to an approximation of grade 4/5 with just public school instruction in 'about' how long it is 'expected' to take, then just imagine how much you can improve with someone who is specifically paid to foster your improvement to the best of both of your abilities.

Studying under someone is, in most cases, a more productive and customized experience than whatever most public schools will provide and will allow you to advance much much faster.

Editing in:

Take it from someone who self taught for a couple years before getting a teacher. You will make progress 200%+ faster with private lessons.I improved more in that first month than I did in the first year playing a stringed instrument.

October 26, 2017, 8:52 PM · I am not really sure what "Grade 4/5" means in this context, but I listened to the link. Yes, yes, yes, yes, you would benefit from private lessons. There are likely many excellent teachers near you.
Edited: October 26, 2017, 9:22 PM · I know in Canada grade 4/5 would refer to the Royal Conservatory system.

A student at grade 4 would be expected to have secure intonation in the first 4 positions, some vibrato starting, good shifting, and be decent at all the on-the-string strokes. Grade 5 should have a consistent vibrato and also colle and spicatto + 5th position.

I know some places in the states use our system, others use one of the English ones and they may be different.

October 27, 2017, 3:17 AM · Thanks for the opinions guys.
To Mr McGrath: the five years of playing have came from public lessons at school.
To Mrs Leong: Wow how’d you know that I live in the PWC area, the fact that know just from my previous posts are amazing!
I do agree about when I said mastering basic techniques that I used it in the wrong context, what I mean is that I understand it well enough to put me ahead of a beginner. Also I feel like public lessons at school are really slowing down the rate in which I learn since we have to go with the groups pace not just me. I’ll definitely try to start private violin lessons ASAP, and thanks for the honest opinions. If any of you guys have a private violin teacher that you can recommend me in the PWC area, please feel free to post it below.
October 27, 2017, 3:58 AM · The problem with public lessons is that the teacher cannot effectively notice everything that is going on. That means that poor technique is likely to slip under the radar, and sooner or later the student will come up against an insuperable brick wall. Perhaps your conductor was already noticing that?

The answer, as everyone has already said, is a private teacher. Such a teacher will take you right back to basics and completely rebuild your technique from the ground up. Fortunately you're still young enough to make the changes hopefully without too much trouble. I'd look for a teacher who walks around you when you're playing, observing your posture and technique from all angles. A violin teacher who sits or stands in one location all the time cannot really see everything that they should.

Edited: October 27, 2017, 4:15 AM · Here's my take. You got to a reasonable level on your own. What that means -- probably -- is that you have talent and motivation to practice. And that, in turn, means that you will benefit even more from private violin lessons than someone who hasn't got that far on their own. Even without listening to your recording I can guarantee that your first few lessons will be exhilarating and exhausting -- a combination of steps backward and steps forward. But that is what you want!

Since you are in Prince William County I strongly recommend that you contact June Huang at George Mason University. She is amazing. Even if that's too far or if she doesn't have a spot for you, she will likely know other teachers in your area that she can recommend.

October 27, 2017, 7:26 AM · Justin, your bio says PWC. :-)
Edited: October 27, 2017, 7:18 PM · OH lol I didn’t realize that I put that there
October 27, 2017, 1:21 PM · Thanks Paul I’ll keep her in mind


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