15 First Steps on the Violin or Viola

by | Jan 17, 2014 | Start to Play | 0 comments

Your dream is to play the violin and/or viola… but where do you start? What are the first steps?

Taking the first steps in order to learn how to play the violin can be difficult. In this video, I guide you through the very first steps I take with beginner violinists and violists. I explain how to enjoy making music as soon as possible, by giving tips on how to create a beautiful tone (without scratching and squeaking!), how to play relaxed, and how to experience freedom on the violin and viola. Here, I explain which 15 first steps I always take with beginners. Do you want to know them as well?

1.Practice makes perfect

Before  starting to learn anything, you need to know what practicing is, and how to do it the right way. Put in another way: the technique of practicing is more important than practicing technique! if you have little time to practice, it is very important you use this time efficiently by practicing well. Thus, practicing should be effective, efficient and fun!

2. Body posture and balance

In music, your body and mind are the instruments of your instrument. The violin makes every tension, instability or movement hearable. Therefore , having a correct and relaxed body posture when playing is very iimportant: this is of great influence of the sound that you produce with your violin.

3.Coordination exercises

Coordination exercises help you to awaken the brain: these exercises activate the right and left hand motions that you will make. When playing you do very different things with your right hand compared to your left hand. Actually, when you play a violin, viola or cello you play two instruments at once: the instrument itself (so, the violin, viola or cello), and the bow. The technique on your left and right hand are both very complicated and different, and both are techniques that you need to learn properly. Doing coordination exercises will improve your ability to deal with this complexity!

4.Motor skill exercises for the right hand technique

Then, I do some exercises for practicing the right hand technique with a bowl and a stick, to prepare for the bowing.  I do not start with practicing on the violin yet, as it is not easy to relax when the instrument doesn’t sound good or squeaks. By preparing all these motions with specific exercises, most of by students can, once they begin playing for real, start with a nice tone right away. Of course, this is way more motivating than having to start off with a squeaky sound!

5. Motor skill exercises for the left hand technique

Step number five, doing motor skill exercises for the left hand technique, will help you a lot to produce a beautiful tone, ánd to play in tune.

6. How to hold the violin

Holding the violin in a correct and relaxed way also greatly influences your tone and whether you play in tune. Besides that, and more importantly, a correct way of holding your instrument prevents injury: a lot of people play with pain due to a wrong way of holding the violin, which is not necessary and thus very important to prevent.

7. How to hold the bow

Also, holding the bow in the right way is of high importance. To be able to learn further techniques and to prepare everything you will learn you need a good basic grip of your bow. Having a good. flexible and relaxed bow hold really gives your violin a voice: it makes it possible to create the most beautiful tone!

8. The Bowing Like a Pro exercises

Before the fingering, we first do some bowing exercises. Your bowing technique really determines which tone you produce, and therefore I always want my students to practice this first. This way, you will always practice with a nice tone!

9.Exercises on open strings

In these exercises, we already start playing by ear, and we begin to improvise.

10.Playing and improvising with the first finger.

Then, when having played without strings, we step up a little more by adding one finger. We practice on the ear, which is a really nice and relaxed way to get familiar with the instrument before adding another distraction: the notes.

11.Playing and improvising with the second finger

Based on the foundation we have created with the first finger, we not can work further by adding a second one. Later, all the other fingers., and finger play can be based on the exercises with the first finger.

12.Play and improvise with the third finger

Again, we add another finger in the exercises, further increasing the complexity step by step.

13.Play and improvise with the fourth finger

In this (and the exercises with the third finger, we also check with loose strings, so you can really produce a nice, rich and in tune tone.

14.Adding dynamics on the violin

If students are at this stage, they can already play some familiar songs and improvise. This step is there to learn them how to add some more expression to that! In this step you learn how to play loud and soft in four different ways with different sound colors. From this moment on, you can create your own sound!

15.Starting to play some scales

In this step, we aim to further improve your intonation, and you start to apply and combine all the bowing techniques you have learned so far.

After these 15 steps, you will start to learn how to actually read notes. In this stage, you are already able to really produce your own tone and play some songs, so then it is time to go to the sheet music and learn how to read fast. As you already know what the tones should sound like, and the notes do not seem abstract or theoretical to you, you will learn this step a lot faster! Reading and playing sheet music is now simply a matter of recognizing what you already can do, and can also help you to play new songs that you do not know yet.

So, in just 15 steps you can really learn a lot on how to play the violin, and how to create a beautiful sound. Would you like to learn more? I am happy to help you!

Love,

Zlata

P.S. Do you want to see YOUR question answered in a Violin Lounge TV episode? Post a comment below!’

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