The important tips when playing violin

images (20)So what are the fundamental hallmarks of proper violin practice, and how can you use your practice time productively? In this article we’d like to shed some light in this area and take you through a few tips that are important for beginners to understand for improvement.

1. Private Violin Lessons

When learning to play the violin, the best place to start is by signing up for one-on-one violin lessons. Choosing a teacher is no easy task, but a few things to consider are the teacher’s:

  • Understanding of the violin’s mechanics

  • Knowledge of universal music and repertoire

  • Personal playing skills

  • Communication strength

Above all these characteristics, the most important thing to consider is the teacher’s understanding of the learning process – it must correlate with where you are as a student and your ability to learn. Naturally, private lessons are valued for their personal developmental qualities and progress, especially when it comes to younger students.

2. When and Where you Practice

Ideally, practicing the violin should be done in your personal “prime time,” when you feel most fresh and focused. For some this might be first thing in the morning; for others maybe it’s in the evening, right after school or work. Try following a routine that accommodates your natural energy peaks or dips. If, for example, you feel drained during a long practice session, try splitting your practicing into two shorter sessions. Whatever the case, make sure that you’re practicing consistently. Also, keep your environment –where you’re playing – in mind, as well. Make sure you’re in a quiet space that allows for minimal interruptions.

3. Practice Accessories

Take a few moments to gather all the materials you may need before starting your practice session. This doesn’t just mean your music and violin – you may also want to set up your stand according to your preferred position (sitting vs. standing), as well as sharp pencil to mark tricky passages and fingerings. If you prefer to play the violin while seated, use a chair with sufficient support to assist your posture – slouching only leads to poor violin tone!

4. Practice Length

When it comes to your violin practice sessions, it’s less about how long you’re practicing for and more about what you’re achieving in each session. Sure, repetition of exercises can be helpful, but be careful that it doesn’t become mindless! Mindless practice can lead to the reinforcement of mistakes. Keep your practice sessions at a length that you can maintain concentration at – this way, quality will trump quantity, and that’s what your aim should be.

5. Get Limber

Improved violin playing, solid practice sessions, and core disciplines all work together. While warming up with exercises or scales and trills can begin to feel like a chore after a while, they’re crucial to strengthening your fingers before any proper playing can begin. Practice holding your bow before even picking up your violin – and when you do start practicing, ensure that you relax your bow hand in between exercises by vigorously shaking out tension without the bow in your hand.

6. Practice More Scales

You have two options when learning a new scale: academic or physical. The academic approach relies on you being comfortable with looking at the music, learning the signature key, and then figuring out the relative minor and major keys. The physical approach can be a little more exciting – it relates to feeling the occurring tones and semitones by observing the spaces between fingers. Either way, you should practice all scales slowly and in detail until there is no clumsiness.

Many people tend to rush through areas of difficulty; instead, learn how to play a challenging scale or piece slowly until you get it right, and then speed it up. Another tip is to try practicing scales in front of a mirror – this will help you simultaneously develop a few other techniques, like the correct arm positioning during shifts or wrist flexibility.