How to Play the Violin: A Detailed Guide

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Photo: niekverlaan

If you’ve been wondering whether or not to take up an instrument, now may be a great time.

No matter how old you are, learning an instrument can help your brain more than any other activity: musical training can enhance long-term memory and even lower your stress!

Of course, that doesn’t mean the journey will be easy, especially if you’ve settled on a complex—but rewarding—instrument like the violin. If you’ve decided to learn how to play the violin, you may be wondering where to start. How do you choose one, for example, or find the right way to hold it?

Luckily, we’ve got you covered! Here’s your detailed guide to learning the violin.

Get the Right Equipment

Before you get in too deep, it’s time to cover the fundamentals—like getting your hands on a violin and its accessories!

As a beginner, it’s important to buy or rent the right violin for you. In most cases, you may find it helpful to visit a violin store in your area to have the store experts help you find a violin of the right size and quality. However, many violin brands offer guides and helpful tips to allow you to make an online purchase if you prefer.

It’s also worth noting that there are several types of violins. You’ll want to start with a traditional acoustic violin, and many beginners find that the best violin style to start with is the modern style, rather than a classical or baroque option.

Whatever you do, make sure you’re actually getting a violin! There are many instruments in the string family that look similar to violins, most notably the fiddle. To make sure you know the difference, discover more here.

Once you’ve gotten a violin, you’ll need one additional accessory at a bare minimum: the violin bow, which allows you to play the instrument. Most beginner violins will include a bow, but you may find that you need to purchase one separately.

There are also a few extra helpful—but optional—accessories that you may want to consider:

  • Violin case
  • Violin shoulder rest
  • Extra bow strings
  • Metronome
  • Violin tuner
  • Violin practice mute
  • Music stand
  • Violin rosin
  • Violin sheet music book

If you prefer, you can buy these as you practice, or as you have need of them.

Learn How to Care for Your Violin

Once you have your violin, you may be excited to start practicing right away—but not so fast! It’s important to make sure you have good violin maintenance habits on the front end, rather than allowing your instrument to succumb to wear and tear. You’d be surprised by how easy it is to damage a violin!

If you’ve never handled a violin before, you may want to familiarize yourself with the basics of violin anatomy first. Once you understand what each part is called, you’ll have less trouble reading through the maintenance instructions.

The essential maintenance tips revolve around proper cleaning, though you’ll also want to pay attention to certain areas of the instrument before you play.

Study Beginner Handling and Playing Tips

Playing the violin is much more complicated than simply pressing your bow into the strings. You’ll need to understand how to hold the instrument, the positioning of the bow itself, and proper posture before you get started in earnest.

Luckily, this step isn’t difficult, though you will have to work on ingraining the postures and techniques as habits over time. Get started by checking out online YouTube videos and tutorials on holding and handling a violin. This way, you’ll be able to get a good visual idea of the proper placement and playing techniques.

Get Started With Sheet Music

Once you have the fundamentals down, it’s finally time to try your hand at your first songs!

If you aren’t already familiar with sheet music, you’ll need to understand the basics. You may need to practice reading sheet music without playing for a while before you can read and play at the same time.

When you’re comfortable, consider finding simple violin sheet music online, or invest in a beginner’s book of basic songs. When you’re just starting out, you may find it easier to start with songs you already know by ear. You’ll also find that songs with few sharps—ideally those in C, G, or D major—will be the easiest to play.

That said, don’t hesitate to branch out as you find your footing. Sometimes, playing songs just beyond your comfort level can be both fun and helpful when you’re passionate about the tune itself.

Take Lessons

If you haven’t already invested in lessons, this may be a good time to consider it. While teaching yourself to play the violin is certainly possible, it won’t always be the fastest way to learn an instrument.

Fortunately, there are many options available to help you learn the basics, whether you want online or offline tutoring.

  • Free online lessons: Many sites offer free lessons that cover basic songs for beginners
  • Full online training courses: These full courses offer training in beginner music from jazz to classical
  • Private teachers: Whether online or offline, you may be able to find private teachers for one-on-one assistance
  • Local music schools: If you don’t mind group lessons, many local music schools offer beginner classes for a range of instruments
  • Apps: Digital apps can help you learn to read and play music, though the efficacy may vary

At the end of the day, any or all of these solutions can help—but the choice is up to you. Decide what you can afford and what you feel comfortable with, and go from there.

Learn How to Play the Violin

No matter what age you are, learning how to play the violin can be a rewarding and fun hobby to take up. Don’t forget, of course, that whether you prefer to teach yourself or reach out for lessons, daily practice can help you learn fast. With regular work, you might look up one day to find yourself surprised by your own skill!

Looking for more of the key life tips you should know? Check out our other posts for more insights!