You Can NOT Learn to Play the Violin from YouTube

by | Jan 18, 2019 | 10 comments

Yes, this is coming from a YouTube violin teacher…

Why I respectfully disagree with the Online Piano and Violin Tutor

If there is ONE thing I have my violin skills to thank for, it’s not talent… it’s not magic… no, it’s great teachers telling me exactly how to do stuff and to spot things I don’t see myself.

The sharpest knife can’t sharpen itself.

online piano and violin tutor thinks private lessons are outmoded and archaicIn one of her videos the Online Piano and Violin Tutor says:

“A teacher is necessary if you want to make a career out of music, however, if you just want to play an instrument, going down this route is an outmoded and archaic concept in todays society.”

Look, I’m all into using the internet to leverage the skills of great teachers out there and making it better accessible for a large audience to learn music. I love all teachers that put out free video lessons, just like I do, on YouTube and help violin players world wide.

In the future we’ll learn in new ways and I love researching the benefits it will bring. However I think we must stay honest and realistic if we don’t want to disappoint people.

With a lot of love I share my weekly free violin lessons and on a daily basis I get wonderful comments how useful they are to people.

HOWEVER… I don’t want to raise expectations I can’t meet and I don’t want you to get disappointed. I want the best results for you as I firmly believe that beautiful violin playing is a set of skills EVERYBODY (yes, including you) can learn.

Teaching is much more than sharing information

Teaching is also inspiring, giving gentle feedback, coaching, keeping your students accountable and guiding your students on their way

Yes, you can learn the violin by yourself with YouTube

You’ll be able to play some tunes. However, let’s not pretend that the results are the same as they are from private lessons.

With private lessons you can learn better, get faster progress and reach a higher level.

Is the level you reach by learning yourself the violin enough for you? Great! Is YouTube the only way for you to learn due to budget or location? Go for it.

But don’t have the audacity to call hard working honest teachers useless.

There are many hard working one on one violin teachers, offline or online, who sacrifice a lot to get their students the best possible results.

The Online Piano and Violin Tutor dismissies the qualities and results of ‘regular’ violin lessons by calling them ‘archaic’ and ‘outmoded’.

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Hi! I'm Zlata

Classical violinist helping you overcome technical struggles and play with feeling by improving your bow technique.

Every heard of the 10,000 hours it takes to master the violin?

That doesn’t mean just having a fiddle under your chin for 10,000 hours hoping you’ll magically learn it all. No, it means quality practice, correction yourself and… FEEDBACK! You don’t get feedback on YouTube.

You can get feedback in offline lessons, live one on one lessons via Skype or Zoom or online courses with video exchange.

I’m a big fan of online learning and the leverage it offers in lessons. Thanks to the internet I can specialize in bowing technique, tone creation and vibrato instead of doing ‘everything for everyone’.

Luckily we have the internet and you can find a teacher and a course that matches your learning style and personality.

How about you?

Do you think private lessons are outdated? Do you think you can learn yourself to play violin? What type of lessons do you take? Share your thoughts in the comments below!



  1. Chris

    Dear Zlata,
    Thank you for this differentiated view on teaching and lessons. For me it feels like online lessons are taking over and no one (especially beginners) wants to go to teachers anymore.
    I feel very different about that. Having picked up violin again after a very long break, I use a blended learning approach now. I have a teacher, I read books and blogs and magazines, I watch videos, I talk with others etc. I think it is the different sources of input and feedback that have helped me to learn much faster than in the past. Online resources and especially videos are great. If I have issues with a specific technique there is always something to be found online that gives a practical hint helping along the way. But then we’re talking about pretty advanced stuff in orchestral and solo playing and not on let’s say basics of bow hold. So I know pretty well what to look for. If I’d be a beginner I imagine it would be much harder to find the right place to start from.

    Also people who say that there are lots of bad private teachers conveniently forget to mention that this is regardless of the medium. You can easily find bad teachers online, too 😉

    Finally I want to say that I am always very much looking forward to my violin lesson. My teacher goes far beyond technical teaching. We talk repertoire, style etc. He helps me to set realistic goals and puts my focus on what I need to work on. He listens to my frustrations and applauds my successes and every once in a while he gives me a hug and tells me how great it is to be teaching me. It’s all of this together that makes a student teacher relationship special. Science shows that such relationships cannot be merely built online. Some face to face interaction every once in a while is needed to form a meaningful personal relationship. So my vote goes out for blended learning and I would propose online classes with at least yearly (but better quarterly or even monthly) in person check ups uniting the best of both worlds.

    • Violinist Zlata Brouwer

      Exactly right, Chris, however via Skype I experience the same relationship online as offline with my students.

  2. Elena

    I disagree with the commenter above that no one wants to go to teachers anymore. a LOT of people i know want to learn musical instruments and all of them WANT private lessons, but who can afford them? not very many young adults; most of us struggle even to pay rent and the basics. we would kill for one-on-one music instruction, but a regular weekly music lesson is a privilege that is out of reach. so what do you do? you can either be defeated and admit that music study is only for people whose families are well-off financially…or you can fight for what you want and do the best you can with what is available to you – which for most of us is youtube videos and other online instructional material. even seeing a teacher once a month would be better than not having lessons at all, but i’ve not found a teacher who is willing to work with a student so infrequently. so for most i think it’s not a lack of desire for in-person music lessons, but a lack of money to afford it.

    • Violinist Zlata Brouwer

      You’re right, Elena, I think a lot of people really can’t afford it, however they would want it, and 1 on 1 ‘offline’ lessons will stay. However, many times it’s also a matter of priority… what expenses are people willing to cut to invest in lessons? Some spend hundreds of dollars a month on smoking for instance…

      • J M

        I really disagree with the last part of your comment. Do you have any idea what it is like to grow up poor? My parents struggled to get propper food on the table and could not afford music lessons for me. I got my flute because my dad tought drumms to little childerd and learned the trade by books and eventually youtube and managed to pass 2 official exams. Please be a bit kinder to people how dont have the choice of a teacher and mabye be glad that through youtube and other free enterprises they have found love in music and instruments.

      • Zlata

        You are absolutely right and we just need to work with what we have. I published 500 free lessons on YouTube myself, so I’m definitely contributing as a teacher. However I thought the message from Online Violin Tutor was quite insensitive to hard working violin teachers who get great results for their students.

  3. Mark Romansky


  4. jamie

    i learnt piano via youtube and i can play grade 8 music from notes. it took me 4 years of practise and i managed too succseed.

    • Zlata

      Awesome, Jamie!


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