Contributed by Info Guru Lindsay Shugerman
There is nothing quite as haunting as a classic violin solo. And yet in other hands, there is nothing as exciting as a rock violin performance. Two ends of the spectrum, so what do they have in common beside the instrument? It’s simple. Both only work if the violin is in the hands of a skilled musician.
If your dream is to be one of the talented ones, what do you need to do? Are there ways to get better at violin and take your place on the stage? Yes! In fact, I came up with ten ways to go from “fingers-in-the-ears” to standing ovation. It’s not an easy path: the violin is a difficult instrument to master.
But if you stick with it, you can go from beginner to musician on the violin.
10. Use the right instrument
Not all violins are created equal. Obvious? Yes. But unless you’re a master, odds are you’re not going to be able to get a good sound from a so-so violin. And I won’t even talk about the so-called violins sold at big box stores.
All the ways to get better at violin are useless unless you have an instrument that fits your body and responds correctly to your bow and fingers. Buy the very best violin you can afford, no exceptions.
9. Attend concerts
Watching a musician who has mastered the violin is more than just inspiration. It’s a real-life lesson no practice book can match. Try attending performances by a variety of violinists, from rock violin to classical. Watch how they hold and move their bow. Watch their fingers. Pay attention to how they stand or sit, and how they move. Then go home and try it. Try it all. You’re learning, trust me.
8. Listen to recordings
Another way to learn when you’re not practicing is by listening to recordings of violin performances. By paying attention to timing, intensity and phrasing throughout a piece, you can discover better ways to perform the song, different timing, and other fine details that can make or break a recital.
Read? Really? Yes. Reading about the experiences of other violin students and performers can help you understand what to expect. It can also offer inspiration for sticking with lessons and practice when the going gets tough. Ideally, select books about violinists in different periods of history: the classical masters, 19th and 20th century performers like Maud Powell Bushnell, and contemporary musicians so you can understand what has always been part of being a violin player and what has changed.
6. Make it a priority
It’s so easy to get distracted. There are friends to visit, chores to do, probably even a job to go to. And then there is your favorite TV series and that new movie and… And before you know it, your violin is collecting dust in the corner. That won’t work if you really want to play.
Rearrange your schedule, say no to some of the distractions, and make practicing your violin a priority. It’s the only way to get from okay to good to great.
5. Work on your patience
I mentioned before that the violin wasn’t an easy instrument. It’s true. And that means you are going to run into times when you just can’t master that passage or your fingers won’t cooperate or your bow hairs break…again. And again.
If you’re going to succeed as a violinist, you need to develop patience with the set-backs and frustrations. Keep your eye on the goal, take a deep breath and try again. It’s the only way to mastery.
4. Watch videos
When you can’t attend violin concerts, watching videos is the next best thing. Look for videos with close ups of the instrument and the musician’s movements. It’s a great way to see and hear performers from all over the world.
3. Ask for help
The violin is not something you’re expected to master on your own. Whether you’re self-taught or are taking classes, there will be times when you come up against a passage that just won’t work. Or something you can’t get your fingers to do.
Make friends with other musicians and learn how to ask for help. They just might know the technique that will get you over the hump and past the frustration.
2. Take lessons
Lessons. Classes. With other violin students, with an orchestra class, or one-on-one with a teacher. Whatever form it takes, if you can, take lessons. Self taught works for a few, but it you really want to master your instrument, classes are probably the best path to your goal.
You could have the finest violin and the best teacher. You can watch all the performers and concerts in world. But if you don’t stick with a regular, intense and increasingly challenging practice schedule, someday you’ll realize that violin was something you wanted to play instead of something you do.
When it comes to learning violin, it’s not just about one thing. It’s about everything. The dream is out there…make it come true.