Adult beginner

April 25, 2019, 4:43 PM · Good evening everyone,
I am awaiting the arrival of my very first violin (electro acoustic). I’ve been wanting to play for many many years and have very recently purchased one. I was wondering if you could possibly advise me as to the best learning materials / books for adult beginners? Also the best tuner to purchase?

Many thanks,
Have a lovely evening.
Stephanie :-)

Replies (16)

April 25, 2019, 5:34 PM · Welcome to the violin world! The best learning material - is a teacher!! I can't emphasize that enough. If you try to start by yourself you are inviting many years of frustrating re-learning. Even if you can only manage a lesson or two it is WELL worth it.

If you are on Facebook you might also think about joining the Adult Starters violin/fiddle. They are supportive and everybody has been through it themselves.

Edited: April 25, 2019, 6:48 PM · A lot of adult beginners recommend the Doflein method -- if you want method books. There are also lots of good videos on YouTube. Look for those by Todd Ehle ("Professor V"). I think the Harvey S. Whistler books are good too, and so is the American Fiddle Method (Brian Wicklund). The Wicklund book is probably not for a raw beginner but you should be able to do it in a year or so.
April 25, 2019, 7:37 PM · You may want to look on You Tube. There are a ton of lessons there and the visuals really enhance the learning experience over just a book. I sort of like the Fiddlerman series, but there are several to choose from. Try them all out and see which ones you like.
April 25, 2019, 7:37 PM · I used a mixture of Essential Elements (for learning the techniques) and Suzuki (for repertoire only) when starting out as a self-teaching late starter.

The Doflein method is good once you've gotten started, but it moves too quickly in the earliest stages -- I'd recommend learning from something else for a few months before jumping into Doflein. Which is to say, it's good for beginners, but not complete beginners.

I also highly recommend Simon Fischer's Basics and The Violin Lesson. Note that these are not method books, but are useful as supplements; they provide detailed explanations and exercises for virtually every technique used on the instrument.

As far as online resources go, Violin Lab (Beth Blackerby) and Violin Tutor Pro (Mike Sanchez) offer good structured video series for beginners. There are also good single-topic technique videos at Violin Master Class (Kurt Sassmanshaus) and Red Desert Violin (Lora Staples).

April 25, 2019, 7:41 PM · Warning that some of those online resources require subscriptions. Not to say they aren't worth it.
Edited: April 25, 2019, 7:49 PM · If you're truly a beginner without a private teacher, I can't agree with the Doflein method recommendation. It requires too much extrapolation for an absolute beginner (little to no prior music experience) to use it without private instruction. And if you're already getting private lessons, then the instructor is most likely already going to have a method series they use.

If you're self teaching, I recommend "string builder" by Samuel Applebaum. I also use this in my private lessons.

About halfway through volume 1 of String Builder, begin learning "I can read Music" by Joanne Martin (buy volumes 1 and 2). As you reach the end of book 1 of string builder, you should be getting about halfway through "I can read Music.". At this point, you will then continue on to book 2 of string builder.

Even the simplest method will require some supplemental info in lieu of an instructor, though, so be prepared for that. Most method books assume that you have a private instructor, so they don't tend to go into excruciating detail about *how* to do things.

Edited to add: obviously just having a good teacher would accelerate your learning speed by 5x-10x and take out all of the guesswork, but I think that's probably already obvious from the research you have (hopefully) done.

April 25, 2019, 10:53 PM · Are you also new to music theory? If so, I highly recommend "Edly's Music Theory for Practical People" by Ed Roseman. It is beyond a doubt the most entertaining book on exactly what music is. You might say It describes the physics of music. It is very entertaining and instructive.
Edited: April 26, 2019, 8:43 PM · Depending on your current music reading skills/theory, the Violin Lab has a nice stand-alone note reading course that goes far beyond what I had expected for a single one-time fee. There are videos, exams that test both understanding and hearing, etc. This is a good resource, for now or for the future depending on your starting point:

April 26, 2019, 9:43 AM · Try
this course takes you through the very first steps on the violin.
April 26, 2019, 11:20 AM · I know some teachers work via Skype, if having no local teachers is the problem then it might be worth considering. All I know is the value of my private teacher becomes ever more apparent on a weekly basis.
April 26, 2019, 3:30 PM · As one of the Doflein advocates (and students) I have to add to Erik's thoughts that Doflein is based in the bio-mechanics of the skills and the playing of duets - hence you need a teacher or at least a skilled partner to make it worthwhile.
April 26, 2019, 8:17 PM · Hello everyone!

Could someone recommend a good practice material?

I am an adult violin beginner and I had a teacher for 2 years. Now I am on my own and I need some structured practice material of 1h in duration (thats the max I have per day). Anything you guys could recommend? A book, notes, someone maybe condensed some exercises somewhere? And note that I am not a pro, my level is suzuki 3-like level (even though I dont follow suzuki method). Now, I am a bit lost. I dont have any structured material to practice, so I just lose motivation. I need something for my level or slightly higher, with variety of things. Also I dont practice scales, as I dont know how to (is it really just going up and down?). Any help is welcome!

I am attaching to this thread as I believe it would be useful for all adult violin beginners.
Thank you!

Edited: April 26, 2019, 9:16 PM · At the Suzuki Book 3 level you should be able to do Dont Op. 20 and Wohlfahrt. Those are good study books to play through. You should also be ready for American Fiddle Method which is fun even if fiddle is not totally your thing. Whistler's "Introducing the Positions" would be good for you too.

As for scales, a book of scale-studies is probably best (rather than a serious scale book like Flesch or Galamian) and a lot of people start with Hrimaly. Barbara Barber has a beginning scale book too and I'll bet it's good (but I am not familiar with it).

The thing about scales is that, yes, you go up and down. But you want to develop the following too:

(1) making sure the intervals -- the half steps and whole steps -- are extremely accurate, without having to adjust after you put your finger down.
(2) starting to adjust your pitches ever so slightly for the key that you're in (e.g., high thirds and 7ths in major scales).
(3) Making string changes and any shifts very smooth
(4) Playing evenly across all four strings with nice focused tone.
(5) Incorporating bowing exercises (different slur and articulation patterns) into your scale work so that you develop your right hand too.
(6) Good hand positions and posture with no tension anywhere.

If you are book 3 level then you should look for Wohlfahrt studies that will give you a workout among first, second, and third positions because that's probably where you are at the moment. You want to have those positions relatively well in hand before trying to do three-octave scales or double-stops.

April 27, 2019, 12:37 PM · Thank you Paul! I've ordered all the books you mentioned. Let's see how it goes. Thanks a lot, I really appreciate it. I will keep you updated.
April 28, 2019, 12:40 PM · Leopold Auer Grade Violin Course Book One

It starts with lots of open string work for learning bow control and tone production. The exercises as mostly musical snippets so the practice does not feel mechanical.

By the end of the book you are doing double stops, scales in first position and some bow embellishments like hammered strokes, staccato, crescendo and diminuendo.

After that, one of the more modern method books is likely a better choice than continuing with the Auer series.

For the mechanics of holding the violin and bow, and fingering notes, the youtube channel of Professor V (Todd Ehle) and the Violin Master Class web site (Kurt Sassmanshaus) are good starting points.

And a teacher who specializes in adult beginners is also a big help.

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