Learning on my own. It can be done right?

June 28, 2005 at 05:09 AM · Hello I'm new to the forum. I joined because I've enjoyed reading everyone's comments very much :) I just bought a violin and am just getting started at 21 years old. I've been playing guitar, bass and drums for about 6 years and am ready to start expanding my musical knowledge. The violin is so soulful and it felt like a natural step for me. I work full time and would have a difficult time getting an instructor. My question is this: is there anyone else on here that has learned the violin on their own? I'm pretty good about catching my mistakes and since I play stringed instruments I'm hoping the transition will be somewhat smooth. I'm welcome to any ideas/comments though :) Thanks in advance..

Replies (12)

June 28, 2005 at 08:40 AM · I've never seen anyone hold their guitar or bass under their chin to play so, while you may have a headstart in terms of understanding notation, rhythm, etc, you still need some help with the physical side of violin-playing.

I am an adult student and have other adult student friends. We all work full-time but also make time for lessons and practice as well as getting together to jam.

If you really can't organise lessons around your work hours, at least find a violin-playing friend to guide you.

Otherwise you could end up with injuries or, at the very least, some bad habits which can take months or years to break.

My daughter, who has been playing violin for 15 years, and I (playing for four years the first time and nine months so far this time around) have both tried playing guitar. It's not the same at all.

June 28, 2005 at 02:44 PM · short answer. No.

you need a teacher, you cant learn violin from a book or dvd :)

June 28, 2005 at 04:11 PM · I'm about 3 months into learning violin. So far, two decades of playing quitar has only helped me in two ways: left hand finger dexterity and being able to sight read music. That's it. Learning to bow, and I mean just basic straight bowing, is incredibly challenging. At this point, about two days out of the week when practicing the bow feels like a natural extension of my arm and my left hand is nailing all the first position notes perfectly. The other 5 days it's still a mess. But there is always improvement, and from week to week it is very noticeable.

The violin, for me, is the great humbler. I'm very good at what I do for a living, I was very good at playing guitar. I pick up the violin and it brings me to my knees.

To your original question, my personal opinion is I doubt very much I could make serious progress on the violin without external help (a teacher). If nothing else, having a teacher greatly accelerates the process. Like you, I work for a living and tend to work a lot. I have a good teacher though and she's happy to accomodate a one hour lesson every other week rather than 30 minutes each week. This hasn't posed a problem at all. Honestly at this point I think she's probably just thrilled to have an adult student who didn't quit after a few weeks and who does scratch up at least an hour a day to practice.

June 28, 2005 at 05:42 PM · In terms of probabilities you have maybe a 50% chance of getting a good teacher, and maybe a 5% of having the right DVD along with some right propensities. And you won't know where you sit for a long time.

June 28, 2005 at 06:14 PM · I started violin after more than 25 years of guitar playing (masters in classical guitar, lots of experience playing jazz, rock, etc. with a pick). I was self-taught for years on violin and have since had some stretches where I studied with a good teacher. I highly recommend you get as much instruction as possible. You can lay off of the lessons here and there, but the more regular the better.

BTW, I know an excellent violist who taught himself classical guitar, a much easier instrument than violin IMO...his technique and tone are absolutely miserable. Get a teacher, take the plunge, it's worth it.

June 28, 2005 at 09:31 PM · The problem is, we think we will be able to correct our own mistakes, but we cannot.

There's just to much to consider that you need an outside source to tell you what to do and how to do it.

The minute you hold your thumb in the wrong place and make a habit of it, your whole learning process will come crashing down with bad technique after bad technique.

An example of things you have to consider that are VERY important, is one that I forgot when I tried teaching myself for a while. Reading sheet music, one must pay attention to their bow upstroke and downstroke, according to how the music is written.

Now, if you tried teaching yourself this and overlooked certain specifics, you would find your self in an orchestra (provided you somehow got accepted without instruction) and standing out as the only person bowing in an opposite direction from everybody else.

June 29, 2005 at 12:46 AM · I agree with most posters above about the need of a teacher for the violin. I also played guitar before taking up the violin and it helped me in three ways (some already mentioned): left hand dexterity, strength and extension; left hand - right hand coordination; and a chordal approach. Let's not forget Paganini played the guitar too.

But what Eric said above about bowing is true. It's very hard in the beginning and I would recommend working a lot on the Sevcik bowing exercises. If violin playing is, as some say, 90% bowing, then you have an idea of what one still lacks, even as an advanced guitar player.

As far as the left hand is concerned, one still has to get accostumed to the tuning in 5ths, the scale patterns, the odd and even positions. The whole layout of the fingerboard is different.

Last but not least, there's the excruciating problem of finding a comfortable setup to play (shoulder rest or no, etc.).

But just the bowing is in itself so complicated that you cannot learn it alone.

June 29, 2005 at 06:31 AM · thanks for the comments. They are about what I thought they would be ;) I figured to myself and have always thought that violin is a much more difficult instrument to learn (especially on my own) and that guitar would only help me with dexterity, strength and musical understanding. I will be looking for a teacher here in the Denver area in that case. I definitely make time for an instrument and don't give up on something I plan to learn. Just looking for the best path to take. Sounds like a teacher is appropriate in that case :) Thanks

June 30, 2005 at 09:35 AM · how about Isaac Stern's quote saying about his considered true teacher, " teaching him how to learn by himself is the best lesson he learned",

June 30, 2005 at 02:47 PM · If you're a genius you can learn on your own. Otherwise, you'll need a teacher.

June 30, 2005 at 03:08 PM · That sounds like the way to go, David... I was actually originally self-taugh, learning what I could from hard-core fiddle (read NOT classical) players, and when I finally started studying under a teacher (a phD), I pretty much felt like I was relearning the instrument.

All is well now, and although you've already made the decision I thought I'd just echo the thoughts of everyone else.

June 30, 2005 at 03:38 PM · Abandon hope, all ye who enter here....

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