Starting From Scratch

January 10, 2018, 1:32 PM · Hello everyone!

I recently joined and wanted to stop in and give friendly hello!

I am starting to venture out into the world of violin and wanted to connect with others who share an appreciation and joy for this instrument!

I'm an adult beginner who has just started attempting to learn how to play.....and I do mean, just started. I've only been poking around for about a week or so.

I'm hoping by the year's end to be able to play scales properly with correct finger positioning and possible not have my violin sound like nails on a chalk board. XD

I mostly want a solid foundation to work from. I'm unable to take lessons at this time, which is why I'm going to try to not jump ahead and methodically take my time.... hopefully not screwing too much up in the process.

But overall, I just want to have fun and learn to play to the best of my ability, whatever that may be in the end. I have no expectations other than looking forward to learning an instrument I really appreciate!

Hope to speak with some of you all! :)

~S~

Replies (25)

January 10, 2018, 4:08 PM · Welcome to the world of violin! There are many like-minded people on this site. If you must teach yourself, search this site for threads on online lessons. They're plentiful. I'm just a guy who's here to share my voice on violin-related topic.
January 10, 2018, 5:55 PM · I’m and adult beginner as well! It’s definately worth it. The number one piece of advice is never give up. You will have days, maybe even weeks where you feel like you’re not making progress or even getting worse, but just persist and it will pay off. There are a lot of great resources on YouTube these days and websites like Violin Lab. One thing that’s helped me a lot is a mirror. Yes, a mirror. Especially if you don’t have a teacher, you really need to be able to see what you’re doing from all angles. Check your form against recordings of professionals. And the folks on this website are always helpful.
January 10, 2018, 6:47 PM · Congratulations on the start of your new journey!!!!! Wishing you all the best.
January 11, 2018, 10:33 AM · Thanks for the kind words everyone, and I'm appreciative of the recommendations.

Ella Yu, I will definitely be searching threads on here for advice. There are tons of resources on the Internet, I just want to make sure I'm focusing on the correct ones, which is one of the reasons I wanted to join this discussion forum. You all seem to have a plethora of experience and knowledge from all walks of life.

Christopher, thanks for the tips! I will be sure to check out ViolinLab. I've seen it a lot in my searches, but have not yet visited the site to inquire further. I have recently been looking at Alison Sparrow's website for some beginning tutorial information.

I also have Suzuki Book 1 and All For Strings Book 1. I'm hoping those will help set me on a positive path to success as well.

Kim, thank you! I appreciate the support!

~S~

January 11, 2018, 11:01 AM · You might check your local community college to see if they have a course for beginning string players.

It is really helpful to have a pro or at least an experienced violin player take a look at you to be sure you hare doing things in a manner that will allow for proper progress and not hurt you. I say this because it is difficult for one to judge from photos or videos and ones own impressions of even mirror images.

January 11, 2018, 3:02 PM · Hey Andrew! Thanks for the feedback, and I absolutely agree with your response. I had previously looked into community colleges that have extended education and life learning centers to see whether I could find a beginner string class. I have found piano classes, but none for String unless you are willing to sign up for a degree/certificate program, which while appealing - is not something I'm looking towards pursuing.

I'm sure there are opportunities in the right places, I just have to stumble upon them, possibly even reach out and start emailing people who would be able to point me in the right direction. I live in Los Angeles; so there are tons of music facilities - I need to figure out how to narrow it down to what's feasible for me (if possible).

But yes, in the end, being able to see someone on a consistent basis in person would be incredibly helpful to a productive learning experience, hands down.

Thank you again!

January 11, 2018, 7:37 PM · If you're a complete beginner I would recommend the book "Belwin String Builder for violin Book 1" It really does a nice job introducing the violin and showing techniques through short exercises. I started playing again fairly recently after a 25 year gap. I spent the first year just learning on my own, but started taking lessons again about one and half years ago. Hope this helps!
January 12, 2018, 2:31 PM · Hey George!

I'd say I'm definitely a complete beginner when it comes to violin. I'll look into String Builder! I appreciate the recommendation.

January 14, 2018, 2:46 PM · I’m also a beginner adult. Have you thought about taking a couple of classes to get yourself started with good technique? The place where I rented my violin offers 2 free classes with the rental.I already had a teacher lined up, but took the free classes anyway. Having help to hold the bow properly, how the violin should be placed on my body, left hand position, etc., made a huge difference for me.
January 14, 2018, 4:37 PM · Maybe try and get someone to tutor you, even if they're unqualified. Better than nothing. Take online lessons or teach yourself as last resorts.
January 15, 2018, 8:20 AM · Hey Sara. Thanks for the suggestion. Nice to meet another adult beginner! That's great that your rental included 2 free lessons!

I have always considered lessons, even possibly one a month just so someone can look over the things you've suggested. Simply put, I just cannot afford it. Lessons here generally run $40 - 50 / half hour, which, I'm not knocking the price - it's very reasonable for my location and understandable. It's just still a bit out of my range unfortunately. But I refuse to give up or be deterred by this.

I am continuing to search for a feasible option for me. When I can and when I find it, I most certainly will take lessons.

Hi there Ella! I may reach out to a local university and see if anything turns up! And ultimately, yes. I shall be teaching myself in the mean time utilizing multiple resources. Thank you.

This is meant to be a light-hearted journey for me. So, whatever I am able to accomplish, I'll be happy with, because in the end, I can say, I persevered and put the effort and time in to learn.

I have no expectations, just to have fun along the way and try and attack these challenges and overcome them. I'd like to believe I'm committed enough to succeed as long as I place reasonable goals in front of me. And then continue to grow them slowly as each one is met.

I am very appreciative of everyone's comments and feedback. It's incredibly insightful and helpful for someone who is not very knowledgeable in this area....yet! Maybe one day. ;)

Edited: January 15, 2018, 9:58 AM · You can do it, Sandra. About 32 months ago, I picked up a violin I had bought in 2008 but never really played. I've had only 3 lessons (though just last week I called the teacher and will start "occasional" lessons next month) and thus am virtually completely self-taught.

Although I do not yet sound good, there are a lot of pieces I play where I totally recognize the music in the composition and feel eventually it will come out nice --I've made great progress in these two and a half years.

I started by working through about 3 or 4 various "Book 1" method books and then just started buying sheet music (almost all baroque, which I've decided to stick with as my focus for at least a few years) and working through it.

Unlike a teacher-led student, nobody holds me back because I haven't mastered the technique at hand, so I practice by turning the pages and then picking up the next book. This has been great for my sight-reading and probably bad for my technique. Lately I've been giving more time and repetition to the Corelli and Handel sonatas because I enjoy them a lot and eventually I need to get almost-good at SOMETHING.

Point is, although I know so many ways I'm still weak, when I look back at less than 3 years ago, teaching myself the names of the notes on the staff and always having the tuner on to tell if I am playing the right note and in tune --WOW I have made tremendous progress on my own. I'm in it for the long run so frustrations that sometimes occur are put down with reflections on the progress already made and the beautiful road of more progress ahead.

January 16, 2018, 10:00 AM · $40-50 for a half hour lesson is super reasonable for what can be a very expensive activity (aka hobby). I'd recommend saving where you can to take a lesson to get you on your feet and get you set up technique wise, then return once every so often for a refresher - if you can :) Lessons.com might have more reasonably priced teachers in your area too. You submit your information and teachers who are interested respond.

I've seen videos on youtube from folks who are learning through Violin Lab and they do quiet well.

And! Welcome!

I returned to playing after a decade-plus break, and essentially restarted from scratch with my technique. I go for lessons every other week (which means my progress is a bit slower than if I could go every week, in my opinion), and I love it.

January 16, 2018, 10:26 AM · $40-$50 for a half-hour lesson is considered expensive where I live, but average lesson prices varies by region.
January 16, 2018, 10:29 AM · Hey Will!

Wow! Thanks for sharing! What an encouraging story you've shared! I appreciate the positive reinforcement that I can accomplish this. :) It's very inspiring to hear and read stories of other's journeys in their own success stories. It's definitely motivating and helpful to hear from others, so thank you for that! I do have a few Book 1 books myself. I'd like to try and few and see which teaching methodology works best.

Hey Pamela!

Thanks for the warm welcome! :) I'll probably check out ViolinLab this weekend some time. I just keep hearing pretty good things about that website. And I'll take a peek at Lessons.com! Haven't been there either, but it could be a worth while inquiry. Thanks for the heads up on that!

I do plan on saving for lessons. That is definitely a given, it's just a matter of when. I definitely concur that having a good set-up technique wise from the get-go is extremely important. I'm hoping in the interim time of learning on my own, I don't cause my future teacher any grief with potential bad habits, which is why I'm trying to go slowly in my learning to do things properly on my own right now.

In the meantime, as most of you have suggested, I'll be looking through my books and videos that have been recommended.

That's great that you've decided to pick up the violin again! :) I'm glad it's providing you much enjoyment! I'll hope for the same one day! HAHA.

I like playing....attempting to play the violin....hehehe.... to offset my busy and sometimes very stressful job. I consider it my decompression/mental health break to help relax and just enjoy the moment. And, I'm having such a good time, even if I sound horrible. I know one day it won't always be that way!

Thanks again all!

Edited: January 16, 2018, 12:01 PM · Welcome to the instrument Sandra, you are embarking on a long and rewarding journey. There are always things we wished we did differently when first learned (especially when learning on your own). Most of the work we do, it often seems, is undoing what we learned wrong, and everyone will agree that undoing wrong takes a lot more effort than learning it right the first time.

#1 on my list would be bowing parallel to the bridge. My recommendation, put that at the top of your priority list. The faster you master that skill the better off you will be (rest your elbow on a table, and move your forearm up and down. That’s the motion.)

#2 learn to practice efficiently. If you mastered let’s say the first 10 bars of a partition and stumble on the 11th, don’t repeat from the beginning. Repeating what you already know is time wasted and it adds up quickly in your practice time. Also, don’t repeat playing something’s wrong over and over, it won’t make it better, it will only reinforce the wrong way. Go back to where you were playing it right, slow it down one notch until you reach a tempo where you can play it right, repeat it playing it right 3 times in a row before moving on or increasing the tempo. If you make a mistake anytime in that succession of repeats, reset the count to 0 (it takes discipline. It’s easier said than done).

#3 If you can’t read music, start learning now, you’ll never regret it, but will the other way around.

#4 Have fun.

January 16, 2018, 3:20 PM · Sandra,

Welcome to the world of Late Starters on the violin. I started 40 years ago and now I'm 70.

As to finding a teacher: is there a community orchestra nearby? My guess is that somebody in the violin section might be interested in assisting you on our journey.

There are a lot of methods and books all of them have their supporters and detractors. My personal favorite is Doflien which is from the 1920's. It is a method that, from my perspective, is great for adults as it focuses on the mechanics of playing. it also has at least one duet for student and teacher on each page turn. Less emphasis on solo playing, more on groups. Also, the series contains all of the Bartok duets as the Doflien's commissioned, the then up-and-coming Bartok, to write them although they did have to insist that he make them easier and easier. (FWIW: The Bartok duets easiest is the last of the series and the hardest the first.)

If, perchance you live in northern NJ contact me.

January 16, 2018, 11:14 PM · $40-50 per half an hour is expensive just close to highly specialized course in my country, I think for beginners the price at €25-30 euros per hour is acceptable, by the way, you can look for near conservatory whether there is violin course available for whole year, you may pay the tuition by year but you save a lot of money.
January 17, 2018, 8:40 AM · Hey Roger.

Thanks for some many wonderful tips! I shall use them wisely. I especially like your suggestions for #2! For bowing, your #1, I've been backing myself up against a wall and practice bowing that way. Keeping my forearm moving and bow parallel to the bridge. Also trying to not bow close to the bridge, but more towards the fingerboard past the halfway mark between the two.

I have been teaching myself how to read music as well in this ongoing process. It's not too bad, but to be fair - I'm also not reading more difficult pieces. But music theory is on my list as an everyday venture. To learn a little but more everyday. #4 is always number 1 on my list. Got to have fun early on to get through the frustrating growing pains of learning how to play properly. :)

Hey George!

Thank you for the welcome and helpful information! I hadn't thought of reaching out to a community orchestra. I definitely have one or two near by! Thanks for the great idea!

I have heard of the Doflien book. I'll add it to my ever growing list of resources! :)

I don't live in NJ, but thank you for the offer! I'm all the way out in Los Angeles. Thanks again!

Hey Tutti,

Thanks for the feedback. I have looked into conservatory, but where I'm located it's all relatively the same the same price here. They are very competitive which has most place keeping their rates with $5 - 7 dollars between them all - whether you are looking for single lessons, monthly lessons, or yearly tuition. It all comes out to be roughly the same. I've done a lot of searching at this point. It's just something I'll have to ultimately save up for in the end. But thank you for this idea. I appreciate you throwing the idea out there!

January 17, 2018, 1:24 PM · Tutti - I'm in NYC, and $40/30mins is a VERY reasonable price for a lesson with a standard teacher. $50/30 mins (or $100/60 mins) is the standard. I would assume that another major city such as LA would also command similar prices. There is a drastic difference in teacher quality in that $10 price difference too... Depends on what you are looking for in a teacher.

Roger gives great advice for getting started! George's idea in reaching out to the community orchestras for possible lessons is great.

I'm a believer in that the right teacher will come along at the right moment in time amidst your search :)

Have fun!

Edited: January 18, 2018, 5:37 AM · Hello, another adult beginner too :) (I have a music school degree from jazzrock guitar :)).

It is great, welcome, enjoy this beautiful world I totally love. For me is playing meditation, relax, and I am looking forward for playing, even scales :).

My wife, violinist from childhood, cannot understand what the heck I feel cool and relaxing on playing scales and arpeggios and excercises, but I love to play anything :). When you will be playing few more years (so as I) you will be exploring more and more fantastic things to learn.

Enjoy

P.S. teacher prices scared me, I have 1 hour lesson for 10 usd in my country and this is average price in Prague

January 18, 2018, 8:59 AM · Hi Pamela, I am in Italy, where price for violin course is rather cheap if compared with most parts of the world, including United States, when I was about nine I entered local conservatorio in my town and began to start from scratch, my parents paid the tuition for my courses, in the first five years I have violin course once a week, a complementary piano course and solfeggiò course for three years, both once a week, I have been stayed in conservatorio for nine years and got a diploma. In the first five years (inferior course),I remembered the cost was about 400 euros per year, and in next four years which were combination of medium and superior courses, the fee was 600 or 800 euros per year, if counted by each course, it was surprisingly cheap, because in Italy there are too many conservatories open for children aged 9 to 15 (though some conservatories today also open to adults), every child can go to conservatory and start from scratch if s/he is interested in any instrument and his or her parents are willing to pay the bill, during the nine years I’ve learnt etudes of Curci, Crickboom, Kayser, Mazas, Dont, Kreutzer, Rode and some capirci of Paganini, because this syllabus was designed by Italian musicians or educators, as a result all students have similar route in violin pedagogy, however, only nine or ten years won’t help much because if you want to be excellent you have to continue your study in highly specialized courses such as private masterclasses both in home and abroad, which cost a lot of money, I only know that Maestro Accardo has been offering highly specialized courses free of charge for over 30 years in both Siena and Cremona institute, but his masterclasses always too competitive and every candidate must pass annual test in order to continue courses.
It is noticeable that it is the policy for entering at least nine that makes average Italian kids start quite late compared with other countries, unless born into musical families, when kids are nine, they can go to third or fourth year course directly, as a result these kids will get a diploma at merely 15.
In Italy today some conservatories open to adults regardless of age, if adults can pass exam, s/he will also get a diploma, also following traditional methods and syllabus. As an adult if you can’t find appropriate local conservatory that offering courses for adult beginners you can call for private teachers, be it student or professor, courses vary with prices, from 20 to 90 euros per hour depend on teacher as well as the demand of student, but for beginners will not be that expensive because you do not demand much on techniques, how can a teacher teaches you ricochet within ten courses? Impossible, hence teacher is unlikely to charge you with high price at beginning.
I think in United States there are three reasons for high cost in violin courses, first there are not enough public conservatories, while in many European countries conservatories are available everywhere, in Italy there are more than 60 and in Germany there are 90 plus, second, compared with population, violin teachers are not sufficient in US, we know that price is controlled by demand and supplies, if balance is lost, price heats, third, the average income in Italy is much lower than that of US, if courses are too expensive how many families can afford? Also, I know in France, conservatory will be cheaper, about 150 euros annually, and in Eastern Europe, cheaper indeed.
January 18, 2018, 9:02 AM · hi Sandra, welcome, and...starting from SCRATCH is easy to do on the violin :-)
January 18, 2018, 1:43 PM · T.V., My guess is that there are two root causes for the difference between Italy and the US. (1) As you mention yourself: the difference in overall income and price level; (2) In Italy and Europe in general, facilities, including education, are more often subsidized from tax money than in the US. In Europe you pay more tax. The difference in number of music schools and supply/demand are a result of the difference in funding structure.
January 19, 2018, 1:39 AM · @tutti violino it is the same in czech republic, but we have lower income than in Italy, so the prices are even lower

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