I Have Some Questions.

Edited: May 5, 2018, 7:25 PM · Hi I am a beginner violinist my name is Christopher Liu and have just turned 16 years old, my sister plays the piano and my brother plays the cello (I am a triplet so we are all 16) and I really felt that I would be cool if I learned how to play an instrument and play with them and since I already really liked listening to violin music that was the instrument I chose. So I asked my dad for a violin and he got me one but I still was a little unsure whether or not I truly wanted to play so I bought some Suzuki violin books and some other ones so I would not just be using one book to keep my learning balanced (my dad offered me lessons but its been taking awhile to find a teacher) , and have been teaching myself for almost a month now (on previous forum threads I have noticed how everyone advises not to do so and I just would like to acknowledge that before someone tells me it is a really bad idea). Because I don't feel like waiting is a good use of my time I just started playing in front of the mirror in my basement library and learning the basics, technique and all that fun stuff... and I had a few questions.

1. If I also wanted to play the viola is that possible (like how does the sheet music and technique differ???).
2. Idk how much I should be practicing (I like to do this thing where I set goals and write down my progress so my goal is playing 728 hours this year) but Every time I look up how much I should I get the answer "oh It just depends on the student" or "it is based on your previous progress" but l am sure that there is a minimum amount of time it took you guys to learn the violin.
3. I have two violin bows but I made the mistake of leaving one strung sooooo is there like a way to fix it??? if you could tell me how to fix this that would be GREAT.
4. What is a reputable website where I could buy another violin?
5. Has anyone EVER learned the violin by themselves I have been googling self taught violinists but nothing comes up and still have yet to find one that taught themselves successfully anywhere (its actually really discouraging) and it would be great to hear how they learned.
6. If you could answer any of my questions I would be very grateful THANKS!!

Replies (4)

May 5, 2018, 7:46 PM · Welcome Christopher! Nice to meet you! It's great to see you here! Answering your questions in order:

1. I recommend that you solidify your violin basics first before taking up viola because a different set of muscle memories are needed for the two instruments. Once you have the basics solid (can play in first position in tune reasonably well, good tone, good posture, etc), it's not too hard to add another similar muscle memory set. You'll have to learn alto clef, which'll take some practice and effort. Violists do use treble clef for extensive passages in the high register, though. Unlike violins and cellos, full size violas aren't standardized size wise. Instead, there's a range of sizes. I'll explain later if you want. The technique is basically the same with some small differences. The notes are spread a bit farther apart, so you might want to tweak your hand position a bit sometimes to help you reach all the notes. The response is slightly slower, and you'll need to work a bit more to get a big sound with the bow. The viola is bigger and heavier, so you'll want to pay lots of attention to posture (it's tempting to slouch or tense up!)

2. At the beginner stage, most students go for 20-30 minutes.

3. I don't quite understand this question. What do you mean by "strung"? Tight bow? If so, try loosening it.

4. Why do you need another violin? Buying online is not advisable unless there's no store near you. Think about where your Dad got your current violin and perhaps buy from there, or buy from a local store. Another option is to rent.

5. There are self-taught violinists who have done fairly well. There are definitely limits, but the learner must find their own limits and not have them pre-determined. Will Wilkin and Mariko Barra come to mind. They're members of this site. Have you searched youtube or this site for self-taught violinists? You might consider Skype/Facetime lessons or video exchanges. Search this site for online lesson options. Watching videos is a great way to teach yourself if a teacher isn't an option for you. These days, most self-taught learners learn via videos, books, and experimenting, I think.

May 6, 2018, 12:32 PM · I think Ella did a great job addressing your concerns. I just have a couple observations.

1. Yes! The viola has distinct differences which Ella has described for you. I would never discourage anyone from learning multiple instruments, but first get grounded on violin, as Ella says

2. Ella is correct. 20 to 30 minutes a day for beginners. This is primarily because beginners are just developing new holds and positions which can be a little painful at first. Expect some discomfort as you first start to learn. But practice EVERY day! It isn’t so much the total amount of time as the consistency and regularity of your practice.

3. If you have left your bow in tension (tight) for enough time that it has warped, you have ruined the bow. All you can do is replace it. So sorry.
4. Ella answered this for you very well.

5. When I first began violin I was on my own, except for a friend who gave me basic advice and how to avoid problems in the beginning. I did watch a few YouTube videos and they are *sometimes* helpful — not always. Be careful of online advice. Not all of it is sound. I have started private lessons and they have made an enormous difference for me. Worth EVERY penny.

I hope this is helpful. I wish I had begun violin earlier in my life. You have a great opportunity and blessing to begin at your age.

Ella, please correct me on anything I said. I hope I explained without stepping on any of your advise.

May 6, 2018, 12:43 PM · No, you're right. Just to add that if you're going to watch videos on YouTube to learn violin, the quality varies depending on who did the videos.
May 6, 2018, 12:54 PM · There's a reason that there aren't tons of brilliant self-taught violinist out there, and it's as much mental as physical.

Everybody who's spent any amount of time with the violin knows that typically progress is not a straight upward line. Most of the time it zigs and zags up and down like crazy. The only thing that matters is that the general trend continues upwards through all of the peaks and valleys a student will encounter.

I know I felt like throwing my violin out the window more than once. A lot more than once. A teacher isn't just there to teach you basic things and notes to pieces. They're also there to lift you up when you're down, to point you in new directions when you need it, to show you new avenues to explore you may not have even known existed. Their experience can (and should) help you when you feel like you've reached a dead end.

I would try to find someone you connect with for a shared journey that will almost surely take you to much higher places than you could have reached on your own.

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