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Four Things I've Learned Playing Violin in Four Months

Updated on September 14, 2017
AlexisG profile image

Alexis is a special education teacher and a Jacklyn of all trades. She enjoys traveling, writing, and playing the violin.

What can you learn from four months of playing violin?

Musical instruments and I have a long history. You see, musical talent also runs in my family, with my great-grandmother, grandfather and mom being able to play 2+ instruments well enough to do public performances. It was fitting that I would be recruited into piano lessons at a young age. I took singing lessons, actively participated and took music classes starting in middle school and throughout my college years. After college, however, things happened and I gave less and less time to music. For someone so encompassed in music growing up, I still struggle to rationalize why music became so distant for me.


Something that you love can only be put on the back burner for so long before you wake up and realize something is missing in your life. That time came this past winter. I decided to learn violin and bought my own. Why then after so many years of musical absence? Maybe it was my mothers cancer becoming terminal and I sought it as a coping mechanism? Maybe it was wanting a change? Maybe it was watching Sherlock play his violin in Sherlock? Regardless, it’s here to stay as my violin has embedded itself into my soul in ways I didn’t think were possible.


One doesn’t incorporate something for at least an hour a day without learning quite a few lessons. Below are four things I’ve learned in my first four months with my violin. These are the things I feel are the most significant, but believe me, there are so many more things I have learned!



  1. The Violin-Relationship

When I started learning to play violin, my teacher told me I had to start slow and ‘learn’ my violin. “Just like a relationship,” he said, “you have to get to know each other.” You start simple at first, then the conversations get more complex over time.


Just like a significant other, I find myself missing my violin and longing to play it whenever we’re apart. I beam when I talk about him and take every opportunity to talk about it. I even named him, Alexander, as many violinists do. And just like a relationship, you have to talk (play) your violin, otherwise the relationship will weaken and the progress you’ve made will be lost.


2. Building technique takes longer than you initially thought

My first two lessons were based on having correct bow hold, how to hold my violin etc. These are critical to learn and every lesson I have, my violin teacher has me work on perfecting as aspect of technique. Violins are considered one of the hardest instruments to learn because there IS a lot going on. Some techniques can’t be tackled until you’ve been playing for at least two years (i.e vibrato). Every single small thing you do affects your sound and learning each and every one takes time.


Beginner sound is also a thing. There is a youtube video floating around that parodies how you sound after so many years with a particular instrument. Even at 5 years on violin, the violinists parodies the ‘beginner’ sound. Not everyone has it and some work through it quickly and lose the sound quicker than others. Others will take time, but hopefully not five years! That said, if you feel discouraged about your progress, record yourself every week. You’ll be surprised how much better you sound week to week with regular practice and a good violin teacher!


3. A violin is an investment

My knowledge of violins prior to starting my lessons was limited. How limited it was came to fruition within my first few lessons. Each lesson required me buying something extra for my violin. Thankfully it came with a case. Below are the accessories I use consistently. I ordered all of them from amazon.


Shoulder Rest

Bow right

Music stand (invest in a tall one)

Violin wipe

Violin stand

Note decals (NOT the ones with letters, but the ones that mark things with lines

Rosin (your bow will have no sound until its been rosined)


4. What instrument calls you?

I learned to play piano starting at the age of 8, but never really fell in love with it. I enjoyed playing it and even made up a few songs as I went along. However, when I started getting into more advanced techniques, I started to have issues. Eventually I would stop playing it regularly in high school, only to pick it up for two years in college again. I discovered I enjoyed hearing someone else play piano as opposed to playing it myself. With violin, it’s different. I enjoy hearing and seeing others play, but I want to play it even more.


In order to be good at an instrument, in order to make it ‘sing’, you have to love it. There’s a special sound that comes from truly being in-tune with an instrument. You can tell, just by listening, when someone is ‘in-sync’ with their musical instrument. Foreign languages function the same way, you have to be ‘in love’ with a language to truly grasp it.


I’m not there yet and nowhere close, but during those times when I can hear my violin sing, I only want to play more and grow with my violin. Someday that ‘sing’ will be heard everytime my bow touches the strings. Until then, we will keep growing together and I can’t wait to see what else I learn in the next four months and beyond.


© 2017 Alexis

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    • AlexisG profile image
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      Alexis 7 months ago

      @Ian

      Connecting with your instructor can be so important. Currently I'm doing a temporary work assignment two hours away from where my violin lessons are and I still make it work once every 1-2 weeks. A good music teacher and one you connect with can also make you get better and nail the basics much easier than the opposing scenario.

    • Ian Rideout profile image

      Ian Rideout 7 months ago from Alberta, Canada

      I took piano lessons from Grade 3 to 6. It was fun for a while, but the compositions I was learning to play started to get too complicated for me. My instructor was a nice lady, but at the same time, I don't think her and I ever really connected properly, and so eventually I just lost interest in piano.

      Many years later, I also took brief guitar lessons, but again it was too complicated for me and I didn't connect with my instructor. Although I think that was also the point where I realised that maybe I just didn't have the passion for learning how to play a musical instrument.

      I still love listening to music though. I never touched a violin, but I can see why it's considered one of the hardest instruments to play. I like your point about how learning to play an instrument is like a relationship, and how it's something you have to love.

    • AlexisG profile image
      Author

      Alexis 7 months ago

      @Marmeto

      Violin's are great for fixing unsteady hands, especially if you do the prescribed exercises. My hands were floppy for the first month or so with my bow, but now, it's almost like second nature.

    • Mamerto profile image

      Ed Kampilan 7 months ago from Cabuyao

      I love the sound of violins, they are like weeping voices. And now I love to learn how to play one though I have to fix my unsteady hands.

    • AlexisG profile image
      Author

      Alexis 8 months ago

      That's awesome! I've been seeing that some places have 'public use pianos' (I think there's a number in Europe now). I need to look into traveling with musical instruments--at some point I would like to travel with my violin, but I can only imagine the fees to take it on a plane!

    • GypsySarah profile image

      GypsyS 8 months ago from France

      This is great! I had the same thing with my piano. It really is like a relationship! My grandad and mom used to play so I grew up with it... then came university and moving abroad... so I just kind of stopped. I still miss it but unfortunately I had to choose... travel or piano (it's not the most portable of instruments!).

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