beginner violin lessonIn this beginner violin lesson, I’m going to summarize playing the violin in a nutshell. This is a challenge since there are so many things to say, but you’ll understand the important things you need to learn in the first five weeks of playing. Here goes!

Find your Instrument

I’ve seen all the mindsets when it comes to obtaining an instrument. Most want to take the conservative route of “the cheaper the better” until they prove to themselves they deserve more. One thing I’ll tell you is that the cheaper the violin you get, the more likely you are to quit. That is a bold statement, but trust me, it is an accurate one.  9/10 of my students that purchased a nice violin are still with me after 3 years. Only 2/10 of the students that purchased a violin for under $200 are still around.

Let’s Establish Posture

Now that you have your violin, it’s time to learn how to hold it properly. With a proper shoulder rest, you should be able to hold the violin nicely without relying on your hands.  Keeping the violin level to the ground is one thing that will take practice. Use a music stand, and point the end of the violin to the left side of the music stand. Now you are ready for success!

Left-Hand Placement

Thumb placement is really important on the violin. You should be about one inch away from the end of the fingerboard, right where your first finger lines up. Next, make sure your hand is high enough in relation to the fingerboard. Position the neck in your left hand so it’s resting at the level of the large crease in your palm (near the base of your fingers). The crease where your index finger meets your palm should be just above the fingerboard. When resting on the strings, your first three fingers should form little mountains rising above the fingerboard—the middle bone of these fingers shouldn’t make a flat plain.

Right-Hand Technique

One of the most important parts of learning to play the violin is understanding right-hand technique. Make sure you keep your hand as relaxed as possible, and never tense up your muscles to move the bow. The goal would be to use the front of the hand (index finger), to guide the bow. If you use other muscles, you’ll struggle to get a clean sound out of the violin. In fact, using the index finger properly is probably the most important skill to learn as a violinist. It prevents those terrible squeaks from happening, and instead allows the violin player to create a more beautiful sound. This whole process is similar to brushing a feather across the strings. Be very delicate to move the index properly to guide the “feather” across the strings.

Reading Music

Learning how to read music is one of the most useful skills you can develop as a beginner. Without the skill of reading music, you’ll be as lost as a kid who wants to get a good grade in school but doesn’t know how to read/write. It really isn’t as difficult as you might think, and understanding how music notes relate is really the key to success. If you go up one spot from where the music dot is, that means you need to add a musical pitch raise on the violin (go from 1st to 2nd finger). If you think of this way, you will find yourself thinking of how music notes relate to each other, instead of feeling like you have to memorize every single musical letter. Knowing the letters is good too, so working with flash cards is key.

Putting it All Together

If I asked you to tap your head, rub your stomach, and juggle, you would have a hard time right? There are so many things to learn on the violin that the fact of the matter is, even if you know how to play other musical instruments, you are going to struggle. So, the key to this beginner violin lesson, is separating everything into practice segments. Practice the left-hand for about 5-10 minutes (with some drills that I’ll teach you on the site), and then work on right hand drills/technique for the next 5-10 minutes. Then think less about all those technical aspects of playing, and try envision playing on clouds. What I mean by that is don’t think about technique for the last 5-10 minutes, and just think about creating a beautiful sound with whatever your current skill-set is. If you always focus on the technical aspects of playing, you will find that you will become a robot type player, and never become a creative musician.

12 replies
  1. benchanviolin
    benchanviolin says:

    Nice summary – I especially appreciate the part about starting on an instrument in a price range that essentially “commits” you learning rather than provides an easy way out. On the same note, if you’re fearful about committing to the violin, you might consider renting a violin from a local school or store – this will give you the opportunity to try out a less-cheap violin and stick with it for a set evaluation period (the length of the rental) and then decide at the end if you want to go for it or not.

  2. Buxton56
    Buxton56 says:

    Thank you! This is the kind of information that I needed to know; where to begin. Of course I already knew about finding an instument, it was the other things that had me a little baffeled. I have a cheap violin at the moment, I’ve had it for about 3 years and i would take it out from time to time and play around with it. I hope to be purchasing a better one in a few months and of course I will get it from your sister site; but for now I’ll use the one I have. I put new strings on it and it sounds alot better, well not as skeechy since I don’t know how to play yet, lol. I’m hoping that we have a webinar on reading music. I’m trying to learn on my own but sometimes it helps when there is someone to explain things or if another person has found a different way to remember way to learn that could be also help. Well that’s enough rambling and lets get to learning!

    • Michael Sanchez
      Michael Sanchez says:

      Hey Buxton…when you are in the webinar classes next week, please ask me to give an explanation of reading music. I’ve gotten down a really great system for teaching it. I also recommend you check out my Fiddle for Dummies book which talks all about how to read music and count rhythms in a unique way. You can find that on my sister site if you are interested. Hope to see you in the webinars!

  3. Anteros
    Anteros says:

    Thank you for the nice summary. I’ve been playing now for almost three months and I’ve been working on all of these. I found the point about a cheap instrument especially apt. I originally bought a cheap one and had to quickly switch to a better one. To get the cheap one up to the quality where I needed it to be would have costed more than I paid for it in the first place.

  4. Usmanm1903
    Usmanm1903 says:

    Brilliant artivle! Cery useful, as I have just restarted learning to play the violin, not played in 8 years since I was a kid really! But this is definitely help get a solid base and framework!!

  5. Marlayum
    Marlayum says:

    I started on a decent $500 rent-to-own violin 4 months ago. When I decided to make a commitment and get a better violin at a higher price (a Chinese one, thanks for your download), now I am really enjoying playing my OWN violin and feel I have made a leap forward in trusting myself to the process. It was meaningful for me to say to myself that I was worthy of a violin at this point in my life. I spend at least a little time with it every day.

  6. MDP77
    MDP77 says:

    I’ve just joined the site and this was very helpful. I started playing in 2014 teaching my self from YouTube ( some of your stuff was a big help and lead me here now) then dropped it due to a new baby and home on top busy schedule .I’ve just picked it back up last week.After a few practice sessions I’m about back to were I was. ( happy birthday and twinkle twinkle little star LoL ) the tips on practicing the left and right hand forms are great I had forgotten that.I would love to put more effort in to learning to read music and can’t wait to dive into the site some more. I also read the fitness and music blog and found that very helpful for my mind set as I am a fitness enthusiast.

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply