Tips From a Newbie Violinist
I've been playing the violin for almost four years now (wow!). To anyone considering playing an instrument for the first time - do it. I can't imagine my life without it any more. Like I said before, the violin is the one dream I can make come true for myself. So, today, I'm going to offer tips for my fellow learners, and once again tell anyone thinking about starting that they absolutely should.
Most of these tips will work with any instrument. Just remember they come from me, and not some life long professional. Still, I think I can help.
1) Find a Good Teacher.
Having someone who really knows what they’re doing with the instrument you want to learn is incredibly helpful. My current teacher is amazing. I have been with her for two years, and I know I'm a far better player thanks to her. I do well when I have set goals. And my teacher very graciously plays videogame duets with me when I ask ^_^ You want a supportive but firm teacher - one who can help you develop the necessary skills, pushes you when you need it (hello, double stops), and knows how to deliver good, constructive feedback.
I try to practice daily, although real life occasionally gets in the way. Sometimes I’ll only manage ten minutes, other times (weekends) I can play for over an hour. If you're worried about making to much noise, invest in a mute. I have one for my violin. Makes the poor thing sound like it has a cold, but now I can play without worrying about upsetting the neighbours.
3) Create a Good Routine
So, when I practice, I usually start with scales. I start with G Major, because I like it :P It's also a good way to make sure my violin is in tune. Then I add in whatever key the music I’m playing is in. Right now, that’s F# Major and Bb Major. I also use a tuning app (DaTuner) on my Kindle to make sure I’m getting each note in tune. It's incredibly helpful if you play an instrument, like the violin, where the note positions aren't obvious. Sometimes I'll throw in an exercise to work on bowing or positions. After all of that, I'll move onto the music assigned by my teacher.
4) Use a Metronome!
...I need to work on this... *cough* Maths is not my strength, so I need a really visual reminder of keeping time when I'm playing. I have a metronome app on my laptop, but I'm thinking of going old school with this. I'll let you know the results if I ever buy one of those beautiful wooden metronomes...
5) Always Pause For Tea
No, really. My teacher tells me to take a break and then go back to the piece I'm practicing to make sure I'm still playing it in tune. Intonation is my major weakness. It's something I will be working on forever. Foreeeeever. So tea :P
6) Have Fun!
After I'm doing practicing music set by my teacher, I play something I love. This tends to be videogame music (surprising, I know) :P It's a lot easier to play music I know really well, so it's a little bit of fun after lots of hard work.
7) Don't Watch Child Prodigies on Youtube
Just don't. They're amazing, but oh gosh I am like twenty-five years older than these kids and I suuuuuuuuuuuuck. That being said...
8) Youtube is a PHENOMENAL resource
Not only do I find violinists like Taylor Davis and Lindsey Stirling super inspiring, there are several tutorials I like to use to help develop things like my vibrato (that wobbly hand thing violinists do to make notes sound really pretty) or find ways to stop CLINGING onto my violin with my left hand which makes everything sound so awful. I particularly like Violin Lab. I also like to listen to performances of the classical pieces I'm playing. It can be very helpful, and very motivating when I have to go a few weeks between lessons.
9) Go At Your Own Pace
You are playing for you. Enjoy it! Push yourself, but don't worry if something is currently beyond you. It will come in time. I only just joined an orchestra after thinking about doing it for years. I had to wait until I felt confident enough in myself to go for it. I also wanted to be sure the level I'm at would make it worth while. I'm glad I waited. It's the push I needed to put in more practice, and now I know other violinists!
So, there you have it. A guide to becoming an adult learner. Any tips you'd like to add? Leave them in the comments!