April 9, 2016 at 4:21 pm #14766
Quick question – I’m an adult and am just starting to learn the violin. For the time being I’m going to be self taught. I want to nail down a good routine for learning/practicing, and I’m a little confused how to work it all together. There are lessons on this site, they also suggest a practice routine separate from the lessons, people also taught about the Suzuki method, etc. Can anyone give me an idea of what a good learning routine would look like? It would be nice to set up something specific so I can hold myself to it.
And I do play guitar, so I have a bit of music background. I can read music, but very slowly.
Any insights would be appreciated. Thanks!April 10, 2016 at 11:59 pm #14767
Hi Seth, welcome to the group. I am in my 5th year of violin (started at age 40). I spent the first few months on my own before getting my first instructor. For starters, I would scour youtube for how-to videos on the basics of how to hold everything and basic mechanics. Here is my list of online videos that have helped me:
Violin Tutor Pro (somewhat limited at this time)
Violinmasterclass (excellent website too)
Violin Lab Channel
Red Desert Violin
Next I highly recommend keeping a practice log – for starters the sheets on ViolinMasterClass.com are very good. I’ve created my own variants in Excel, but they are still based on the VMC versions. I also use slimtimer.com to track everything. I can tell you how many hours I’ve put into each particular book, skill, or instrument (I dabble in several others). It helps see where you haven’t practiced in awhile and what skills you should focus on.
3 minutes a day each for several technical skills (bowings, finger placement, other mechanics) is extremely helpful. It might be dull at first but 3 minutes goes by quickly, and when I’ve spent more doing these my overall playing has improved more rapidly. Again, the VMC timesheets will help this. Practice a minimum of 30 minutes a day – I recommend an hour. Skip a day if needed and play extra on the next. Try practicing occasionally for a 3 hour slot.
As for which method, Suzuki seems to be the most common on Youtube. The books are very well written and have a fair amount of technical information, but they are written to be used with an actual instructor who can fill in the gaps. There are also gaps in technique exercises and the books can become dull over time. My recommendation is to check out the Schirmer etudes and exercises books – there’s a zillion of them though, but most are freely online (I prefer printed books and I’ve purchased most of my copies from Sharmusic.com). I’d start with Wohlfahrt: 60 Studies, Op 45 (professorV has some great youtube videos for this book), and checkout the Hrimaly or Schradieck Scale Studies. Skip the Kreutzer book for a long while.
That should keep you busy for a few years. 😛 Good luck and have fun.April 11, 2016 at 10:44 pm #14783
Hi Seth, I’m not 100% sure what you mean by a ‘learning routine’, but I think for each person, this is probably going to be somewhat different. The important thing to remember is to set attainable goals and give yourself the time you need. In violin, the most important thing for starting out is not what you play but HOW you play it. There are many methods of learning out there, lots of music, but the goal is not to play lots of music. The goal is to play WELL. In violin, that starts with holding the bow and violin properly. Even scouring youtube on ‘bow grip’, you’ll get dozens of approaches and suggestions, often conflicting. Study them all until you find it making sense to you.
Personally I teach the Suzuki Method. One of the main precepts of this method is listening, because musicality, ear training, and tone production are critical to good musicianship and being a violinist. Especially with not having a teacher to answer to and guide you, it will be really important to find good examples of people playing the pieces you are trying to play well. I would advise the study of reading music to be approached as a parallel. One side of the brain (or different neural networks) read music, the other hears and play it. So right now, listening to music is your first, best teacher. Memorizing what you are playing will allow you to watch the bow and get the ears engaged in the process of playing. While simply playing from a sheet of music allows you to totally ignore technique.
You can also record yourself playing, ask questions or just request feedback and I will provide professional guidance.April 12, 2016 at 3:01 pm #14798
Hi Seth, nice to meet you. I’m also self taught, for 10 months now. The first months I watched lots of videos with beginner tips: how to hold the violin, how to hold the bow, how to get a decent tone etc. And I played all those easy songs that you can find on this website in Michaels book 1 and Suzuki book 1. It was fun but I was not really having a serious practice plan. I really want to have a nice tone and good intonation so I’m working a lot on this. I have now established a practice routine that works great for me:
– open strings exercises: play long slow bows, then play them soft, loud, staccato, in the different lanes (close to the fingerboard, close to the bridge, etc)
– scales: to work on intonation
– etudes: I don’t follow the order in the books. I use Wohlfahrt, Sitt, Pracht. I choose an etude based on the technique I want to learn. Or based on the scales I’m practicing
This is about 75% of my practice time. The last 25% of my practice time I dedicate to practicing songs or pieces I really like. So my focus is heavily on technique, but it helps to study my pieces faster. Hope there is something useful for you in this strategy too.April 12, 2016 at 6:51 pm #14813
Hello Seth… I also began teaching myself, but wasn’t disciplined enough, so hired a private tutor and have been taking lessons for almost 2 years. My practice sessions are 30 minimum. I start by playing all my major scales through 2-3 times each (10 minutes). Then I work on a few drills (recommended by Michael) and techniques (10 minutes). The last 10 minutes I focus on a particular song that I’ve been working on with my tutor. I spend 5 minutes on the tricky parts, then 5 minutes on long bows and intonation. By the time I’m ready to play through the whole piece, the 30 minutes is up, but I keep going. On the weekends, I’ll practice scales and techniques in the morning for 30-45 minutes, then my bowing and intonation in the afternoon for another 30-45 minutes.April 13, 2016 at 9:45 pm #14877
Hey everyone, thanks so much for the feedback, that all really does help. Thanks!
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