My first violin lesson!!

February 20, 2010 at 06:09 AM ·

So! I took my violin down the stairs and was heading towards the bus stop. It was freezing, the wind was so strong that I thought ill fly away with the violin -- which once again, has added amazement to the fact how light the fiddle is.

I timed my trip exactly, so that I won't have to keep my violin in these kinds of circumstances. I quickly sat into the bus.. While I was half way to the school, I noticed lightning. There was no sound and no rain or snow whatsoever. I soon realized that it was just a trolley bus, riding through the frozen electric line.

I reached the school 30 minutes early, on purpose, to let the fiddle adjust -- I don't want my violin to crack suddenly. Once it was time, I was walking down the corridor towards the class, already from there was heard a fantastic violin sound. Although it was just twinkle twinkle little star, I was baffled how amazing the violin sounds live. Once the violinists stopped playing, I entered the class -- soon after she had to leave because it was my turn ;)

I took the violin out like my teacher told me, in fear that it will sound awful or the teacher won't like it at all..He compared the bridge to his, drew the corresponding lines on it and cut the holes. He did just well even without the proper instruments. The bridge was set and everything was alright and in tune. It did take some.. 'luthier' work for the gap between the fingerboard and strings to be correct on the G and D strings.

While he was doing that, it took me 15 minutes to apply the rosin to the bow. In the end result, I was amazed. The sound the violin emitted was awesome and the bow was also just perfect (aside from the fact that you cannot loosen it as much as it's supposed to be). My first lesson ended with me playing for an hour. I have to admit, it is hard to do all these many things simultaneously. Right now, I'm home and happy to have such a wonderful teacher, as well as the violin.

I just wanted to share my experiences with everybody :)

ps: I'm the luckiest guy on earth! :P
pps: He told me a story of a 5 year old violinist not wanting to learn violin anymore because my teacher didn't turn out to be Alexander Ryubak < however you spell that.


Replies (28)

February 20, 2010 at 06:59 AM ·

I'm so glad you enjoyed your first lesson so much.  I teach, and when I see a student get excited at the first lesson, I get excited, too.  I hope you continue to enjoy learning how to play the violin.

February 20, 2010 at 07:05 AM ·

It sounds like you had a wonderful lesson and that you're off to a good start...and your teacher sounds great too! 


February 20, 2010 at 09:41 AM ·

Congratulations on your first lesson!!  It is brilliant to hear that you enjoyed it so much, your teacher sounds great!

February 20, 2010 at 10:40 AM ·

Thank you!

Yes, my teacher.. I used to learn from him to play the guitar for two years, so we have a pretty good relationship :)
Right now.. I'm only allowed to have 15 minute practice uh, sessions. Otherwise ill inhabit something bad (considering I can do gazillion things wrong). I keep those 15 minutes sacred.. I'll put on a timer and practice nonstop! :)


February 20, 2010 at 12:01 PM ·

Hey, Theo!

I'm so happy to hear that you enjoyed your lesson so much!  It sounds like your teacher is starting you out VERY well.

Does he have any ideas on how to loosen your bow a little more (if it's getting stuck and not loosening enough)?  I started a thread a couple weeks ago about one of my bows being very hard to tighten and loosen.  I haven't had a chance to try what was suggested (actually, I think the best suggestion was to take it to my luthier -- I'm afraid I'll end up doing something lethal to the bow!), but there were some ideas from a few folks on how to lubricate it (and with what).  I can't remember how I titled the thread, but if you go back through the Discussion Board threads you shouldn't have any trouble finding it.  I keep stumbling over it while wandering around in the old threads.

Again, I'm really happy for you!



February 20, 2010 at 12:09 PM ·

Thanks Marsha!

I did read that thread a week ago actually :)
Looks like the hair did loosen just enough -- I don't know what my teacher did but it works fine for me :D
ps: Just had my 15 minute practice session. It flew by in an instant.

It is quite hard to concentrate on : Keeping my wrist in the end of up/down bows correctly, not raising my elbow or shoulder, keeping the bowing straight, only pulling one string, keeping fingers on the bow at the right angle/place/curvature, holding the violin correctly.


February 20, 2010 at 12:16 PM ·

Hi, Theo --

It's a lot to remember all at once when you're just starting out, but it'll gradually feel more natural without having to think about it all the time.

Glad the bow problem has been straightened out.

Happy practicing!!!  :)



February 20, 2010 at 01:45 PM ·

It's nice to hear that your teacher took time adjusting your violin, seems to have the skills to do that, and that you understood that that wasn't "wasting your lesson time."   You can make a little humidifier with a pill bottle and a piece of kitchen sponge. Extra humidity inside the case will help your violin & your bow, and could solve the too-tight bowhair issue. Sue

February 20, 2010 at 02:30 PM · Hi Theo! I'm so glad to hear that your first lesson went so well! Your teacher told you the exact same thing my teacher told me, about practicing in 15 minute sessions as first. My teacher always says, she'd rather me practice every single day for 15 minutes, then trying to cram in a week of practice in one day, one 3-4 hour session. Obviously now that I've learned a lot more, my practice equals more than 15 minutes a day, I still tend to practice in 15-30 minute chunks so I don't get frustrated or burnt out. You will probably find that there is a certain spot in your room or house that is most conducive to your practicing. I chose a nice, spacious, quiet corner in my room to practice, so I have my violin, sheet music, and music stand always in this area, that way it's ready to go and in one spot when I need to practice. I'll play until I feel like I've "gotten" something, then take a break...I've learned that if I keep going, sometimes you begin to overdo things and that can sometimes be frustrating (for example, once I played a song that I KNEW I could get through perfectly, but I began to dissect and dissect and dissect in one sitting/session, got overly picky, and began frustrating myself for no reason...within minutes, it sounded so bad it was like I'd never learned or played this particular piece in my life!). So I'll play like I said maybe 30 minutes, watch some tv, read, or eat or whatever, then come back to the violin fresh. I tend to do about 4-6 smaller practice sessions per day, totaling a couple hours. The 15 minute rule definitely goes a long way, at least for me. I also have a friend who plays guitar, and when she first started, she would try to practice four hours and hours on end per day to prepare for lessons, and then she'd get so frustrated that she'd basically bomb at her lesson and wonder why bc of all the time she had spent practicing. I suggested smaller sessions spread out to her, and not only did her teacher think it was a good idea for her, but she began to really improve! Anyhow, keep us posted with your progress, I know I personally am so excited to hear more!

February 20, 2010 at 04:57 PM ·

Jessica, that's a great, common-sense approach to practicing.  I think I might start making it a habit to break my sessions up a bit, too -- right now I'm averaging about an hour or so per session, but it doesn't take that long before I'm having a lot of shoulder pain in my right shoulder (old injury -- not violin-related -- lots of years of digging and tree-wrangling for a landscape company!).  I'm finding that if I stop for a while at about the 20-minute mark, I can resume a little later with my shoulder feeling less-stressed.  I just need to keep myself from getting carried away and ignoring the need to take a break.   

February 20, 2010 at 05:04 PM ·

DUDE!!!! Way to Go!!!!!

February 20, 2010 at 10:53 PM ·

Happy journey!!!!


February 21, 2010 at 09:12 PM ·

Thank you for all of your replies everyone!

A small humidifier.. I think it might be more of a dehumidifier unless I'll damp the sponge, am I right? Aside from that, 15 minute session limit T_T
Geez, 15 minutes is not nearly as much as I would want. I do have to agree that breaking it up into chunks is a good idea..

My current problems:  I'm not sure how to hold the violin properly (forgot) so my bowing hand position changes accordingly to the changes I make to the violin hold. It's quite a pain to clean the violin after every time I take out the violin -- but no problem, i'll manage :D
Under the strings, on the fingerboard, between the bridge, under the tailpiece and chinrest, under the fingerboard, between the strings. << yikes?
Oh and, the bow needs to be cleaned too (not the hair, obviously)

ps: I'm already getting hang of vibrato, lol. Oh, and I'm not using a shoulder rest.
pps: I should really play less as much as I don't want to.
EDIT: I've been looking up the humidity for a few days now and so far it tends to be 80% - 88%, do I need a dehumidifier?


February 22, 2010 at 12:13 AM ·

Hi, Theo --

Your 80-85% humidity -- is that an outdoor reading?  What you need to keep track of is the humidity inside your apartment -- particularly in the room where you keep your violin most of the time.  The majority of the advice I've seen is that a range between 40-60% is the best.  Can you pick up a hygrometer (instrument that registers the humidity in the air around it) at a local store -- is there a department store or maybe a hardware store near you?  Last week I saw one that was a combination thermometer/hygrometer (about the size of an alarm clock) at a local department store for somewhere around $6 or $7 (USD), so hopefully the price wouldn't be too high where you live, either.  You could just keep it on a shelf somewhere near where your violin is kept.  If your indoor humidity is really high, it would be a pretty expensive fix.  I haven't seen any budget-priced dehumidifiers (we had to buy a new one for our basement last year, so I've had to research pricing).  They're considered an electrical appliance -- something that works for an entire room and plugs into an electrical outlet in the wall.  I don't think I've seen anything for less than about $80 (USD).  That would handle a small room.  If the humidity is low (under 40%), in inside-the-case humidifier (like the pillbox-and-sponge idea, or you can buy humidifiers specifically made for instrument cases) will help a lot.  Just try to avoid the "Dampit" humidifiers -- those skinny green tubes that you soak in water and then put inside the violin through the f-hole.  My luthier says they're really bad for the wood of the violin -- too much direct contact with water, and too small to do much good anyway.  I really like my Oasis humidifer, and I've seen some other ones advertised that sounded pretty good.  Just be sure that if the humidity gets back into the 40-60% range you stop using the humidifier so the violin isn't getting TOO much moisture.

On your violin hold -- would it help to watch any of the videos you told me about?  **CAN ANYBODY ELSE READING THIS THREAD GIVE THEO SOME HELP ON THIS??**  Since I'm learning to play without benefit of a teacher, I hate to give you any advice on technical stuff like this in case I'm not doing it right.  Let me know if you don't get any help on this from anyone else, and I'll see if I can look anything up that might help.



February 22, 2010 at 12:43 AM ·

Theo, do you have a digital camera, or a camera on a cell phone?  If so, maybe your teacher could take pictures of your hand positions for you to have.  Then a quick look could tell you whether or not you have it right.  Your excitement and desire to do it all right is so refreshing!  Have fun and learn well.

February 22, 2010 at 02:35 AM ·

re:   I'm not sure how to hold the violin properly (forgot) 

Your teacher should show you how to hold the violin.  Always go to your teacher for such things.

February 22, 2010 at 05:12 AM ·


There are a number of pictures of violinists you can access on the web; practice in front of a mirror.

That said, hold the way your teacher instructs you to; there may be other ways to hold, but they may conflict with some part of training your teacher planning.

February 22, 2010 at 05:31 AM ·

Thank you,

I'll definitely look up a hygometer *something tells me I spelled it wrong* and.. yeah, ill deal with the humidity once I've done that. About the violin hold, I'm afraid I cannot ask my teacher to help me because he's busy and my next lesson is on next monday or at least that's when I should call him to make sure when the lesson should be held. Taking pictures of the hold is a wonderful idea, ill tell my teacher about this --

Marsha, I'll look up how other violinists hold their violins but it seems that everybody hold it differently.

ps: Going to school, can't wait to have my next practice session


February 22, 2010 at 03:29 PM ·

I absolutely LOVE the idea of having pictures taken to show how to get the hold exactly right!!  (Good one, Lisa!)  I know it won't help until your next lesson, but it's definitely something to follow up on.  Here's a thought.  Could you call your teacher.  (I know he's busy, but it seems like maybe he could clear a few minutes -- ???)  Ask if there's anyone who could take a cell phone picture of HIM demonstrating the right hold, and then e-mail it to you.  Think that might be possible?

February 22, 2010 at 08:25 PM ·

It would help me more than anything, Marsha, but unfortunately I don't want to disturb my teacher as I know how busy he is. But no problem, ill definitely let him do that for me (even if it's with a mobile I have) on the next week. Right now uh, the sound of the violin keeps getting worse each day. Probably out of tune and lack of rosin. My teacher told me not to apply any rosin because I'm only having 15 minute sessions but.. Yeah, I feel it would need some.. Or maybe my technique got worse? I'll figure this out tomorrow

Once again, thank you :)


February 22, 2010 at 08:51 PM ·

How old are the strings?

February 22, 2010 at 09:14 PM ·

I have no idea. It sounded okay -- to be frank, I didn't see a difference between my and my teachers violin. Is it possible to 'damage' strings by cleaning them?

February 22, 2010 at 10:32 PM ·


 I wanted to reply to your post earlier but did not have a chance to , but I wish you the best and may you always enjoy the violin ...Play Well

 Bill G.

February 23, 2010 at 08:55 PM ·

Thank you, Will or Bill (Did you mistype Bill?)

I will definitely keep enjoying the violin :)
I just checked and it my violin is awfully out of tune (if the online tuner is correct) but I won't do anything about it. I adjusted the bridge which was.. quite..uh, wrongly placed *it shifted*.
After that, I seemed to be able to make the violin make a correct sound again :P
... Can't wait for my next lesson, I really need it!


February 24, 2010 at 06:39 PM ·


I'm really happy that your enjoying your violin lessons. I've recently started my violin lessons and I'm really enjoying it, and I've also managed to pick up my first basic song, and I'm hoping to be able to play it from memory by the end of the week.

I'll give you a tip about the rosin. Apply the rosin every other day, and start at the frog of the bow, keeping your cake of rosin still in your hand, and apply the rosin by moving the bow towards you till you reach the tip of the bow, and bring it back down to the frog, and then repeat it (but only repeat it once). By doing this you'll have enough rosin on bow, without overloading the bow with rosin. If you do it more than this, they is a chance that the bow might slip across the strings, and not form a good grip on the strings. I hope this information helps you about the rosin issue, and don't worry if your lesson is only 15 minutes long, I'd still apply the rosin to the bow, but I'd do it the night before the lesson, as it'll still grip the strings, and produce the sound you want.

I'm also going to offer you another tip if that is okay. For cleaning your violin I'd recommend you to get two yellow soft cleaning cloths (the ones with the red stitched edge), one for giving your violin a quick clean after you've finished playing, and one for polishing the violin. For polishing the violin DO NOT USE FURNITURE POLISH, as it'll ruin your violin. I'd recommend the 1880 violin polish, but use it sparingly, and don't let it touch the violin strings. You'll need about three small drops on the cloth, and you'll be surprised at the shine you get from cleaning it, and I'd recommend you to do this either once a month, or once every other month just to keep it in good playing condition. A bottle of 1880 violin polish over here in the UK costs around £3.00, but I'm sure how much it is in the US. You should be able to get at least 12 - 18 months worth of violin cleaning out of one bottle. Also another little tip make sure you clean your violin case every two to three months as this prevents the build up of rosin in your case, and after you've cleaned it give it a quick spray with Fabreeze or something similar as this will help to keep your case smelling fresh and clean. Just make sure you take everything out of your case before cleaning, and leave both the violin and bow out of your case while the Fabreeze is evaporating into the air, just make sure that they are somewhere where they can't get damaged.

Sorry about the long essay

Loz x

August 30, 2010 at 11:48 AM ·

 hi Theo,

it sounds's good that you like to take violin lessons...haha as for me my first violin lesson was 12 years ago and i was 3 years i remember nothing about it except that i hated going to the violin school in cairo opera.......i began with twinkle also...some different variations on the same teacher is great...great teacher and violinist as well....he's like a father....

but i would like to give you some advice,try to practice every day...even if it is only 30 minutes....don't make the same fault that i did...don't hate the violin as i used to do because it's very harmful for a violinist to hate a you know what i mean?


August 30, 2010 at 12:57 PM ·


This is post is about 7.5 month's old but still, thanks for posting!
I don't hate or dislike my violin and .. I don't know if you somehow read my mind!
That's what I swore to do and still am (practicing at least 30 minutes) even when sometimes I'm dead exhausted or I have to leave early morning and will have no opportunity to play during the day whatsoever! I didn't quite set it as 30 minutes, sometimes I don't even get as much as 15 minutes but I try to breath, think and live the violin as much as possible :)

I was quite.. surprised seeing my old post pop up again!


August 31, 2010 at 04:36 AM ·

That is really remind me of the days when I started to learn violin. I was so excited as you...dicuss everyday, practice everyday... It is also because of the violin that makes the big tiger (a German Shepherd Dog)and me became friends. The story can be dated in a hot summer day, when I came back from my friends. I suddenly found that the big tiger is out wandering in the yard. I was terribly afraid of his biting on my leg for we just met for a short time. But to my surprise, he just followed me.  I think my practise everyday infront of him works! It is lucky for me that he did not fed up with my playing :-)

Keep learning and enjoy learning~


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