I've always realized that violin is tough, but lately, I've been pondering whether it is indeed the toughest instrument to learn and master. Compared to piano for example, there is so much more technique required to play violin. I am not saying that piano is easy, or any instrument for that matter, but just to learn basic technique and play a simple tune on violin requires so many fundamental skills.
My 7 year old who played piano for 2 years is now learning violin. He spent nearly a month just practicing how to hold the bow. Then he spent a few more weeks playing open strings, and now he is finally starting to use the fingers on his left hand. I think about all the challenges he has ahead, different bow strokes (legato, staccato, spiccato, sautille, richochet), then shifting, vibrato, double stops, and the lifelong, never ending quest for perfect intonation. I can't think of any other instrument that requires mastery of so many skills, each one so difficult to master.
I'll even go out on a limb and say that violin is the toughest of all the string instruments. Take cello for example. Yes, you do have the issues of intonation and bowing, etc, but the basic position of the instrument is much more natural than a violin. Gravity is your friend with cello, or it certainly does not work against you. The cello rests on the floor and you can naturally support it with minimal tension. But with violin, there is the issue of holding up the instrument with the left hand, or using a shoulder rest, but that results inall sorts of unwanted tension in your arms and shoulders. The bow arm for a cellist is much more natural than a violinist. Playing slow legato at the frog is much easier on cello than violin since you do not have the weight of your arm working against you. I think vibrato is also easier. The test of that is to compare the vibrato of a violinist playing cello, and a cellist playing violin. I'll bet the violinist will do a much better job.
I'm interested in getting other opinions on this topic. I'm sure that musicians on Trombonist.com or FrenchHorn.com (if those sites even exist), would disagree with some of our violinist viewpoints, but I'm interested to hear what others have to say about this. Especially those that have experience with other instruments.
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