How long does it take to learn the violin | Violin Lounge TV #484

by | Jul 20, 2022 | Repertoire, Start to Play | 10 comments

How hard is it to learn to play the violin?

What pieces can you expect to play after the first year? What’s normal violin progress?

In this video I’ll give you the exact timeline of average violin progress with examples of pieces you’ll be able to play.

Whether you’re considering to start playing the violin or have been playing for a while and just wonder if your violin progress is ‘normal’, you’ll find this helpful.

Video Content

01:25 How to make fast progress on the violin
06:08 1 Month
07:31 2 Months
09:01 3-6 Months
09:45 7-12 Months (First Year)
10:29 13-18 Months
12:01 19-24 Months (2 Years)
14:53 3 Years
16:04 4 Years
18:07 5 Years

Timeline how long it takes to learn violin

Remember that this is only a rough guideline, so please don’t worry if you find yourself ahead or behind these suggestions.

Month One

Welcome to the violin world! In your first month of learning to play the violin, you should be getting familiar with the parts of the instrument, how to take care of it, how to hold the bow and the violin, and how to tune the violin. You may also be learning how to draw long, sustained bows on open strings. You may be discovering that the instrument is a lot more challenging than you think (who knew it took so much effort and knowledge to be able to maintain a perfectly straight bow?!) If you’re also learning how to read music for the first time, you’re getting familiar with the basics such as note values, key signatures, and time signatures.

Sample pieces: open string practice

Recommended practice time: 20-30 minutes per day.

Month Two

In month two, you have a clear idea of proper posture, but you most likely will still find yourself adjusting frequently (why won’t our pinkies just stay curved?!) You’re learning how to play on two strings (most likely A and E strings), learning how to switch between those strings, and learning how to use fingers one, two, and three, with a half step in between your second and third fingers. You’re also learning to read the notes of the tunes that you’re playing.

Sample pieces: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Three Blind Mice, Hot Cross Buns

Recommended practice time: 20-30 minutes per day.

Months Three through Six

In months three through six, you will learn how to play on all four strings, how to use your fourth finger, and work on slurs. You’ll expand your note-reading knowledge by learning where all of the notes in first position lie on the staff, but it might still take you a minute to figure out what each note is. At this point, you should be relatively comfortable with holding the bow, and may even start to work on loosening your bow hand up. You should be able to maintain a straight bow and solid contact point, thus producing a solid, pleasing sound.

Sample pieces: Amazing Grace, Ode to Joy, Happy Birthday

Recommended practice time: 30-45 minutes per day.

Months Seven through Twelve

You will be learning a lot of new finger positions, including the low second finger, low first finger, low fourth finger, and high third finger. These finger positions will allow you to play a much wider range of pieces. You may begin to learn about resonant intonation and start to peel away those finger tapes (if you were using them in the first place). At the end of month twelve, you should feel comfortable reading all of the notes in first position at sight, as well as all the basic rhythms such as quarter notes, half notes, whole notes, eighth notes, sixteenth notes, and their corresponding rests.

Sample pieces: Minuets 1, 2, 3, Canon in D

Recommended practice time: 45 minutes per day.

Months Thirteen through Eighteen

At this point, you are more than likely so pleased with the progress you’ve made in just a year. You remember thinking you’d never be able to sound decent, and now you’re discovering that not only is it possible, but you’ve done it! At this point, you feel comfortable playing and reading music in first position, and you may begin working with more complicated rhythms, such as dotted notes, ties, and syncopations. You will be working a lot on bow technique; specifically how to create dynamics, different bow strokes such as up-bow staccato, and lifting the bow off of the string.

Sample pieces: Boccherini Minuet, Swan Lake

Recommended practice time: 45 minutes-1 hour per day.

Months Nineteen to Twenty-Four

Now comes the fun part-shifting! When you begin learning this technique, you are officially out of the beginner stage and into the intermediate. Shifting can be a bit of a mind-bender as you’ll learn that you can play the same note in a couple of different ways on the violin. You’ll also discover that the spacing of the fingers is different in third position, so you’ll have to retrain your fingers to sit a little closer together than you’re used to. You’ll be getting used to reading notes in third position as well.
Sample pieces: Rieding Violin Concerto in B Minor, Kuchler Violin Concerto in G Major
Recommended practice time: 1 to 1.5 hours per day.

Year Three

In the first few months of year three, you’ll more than likely be learning vibrato. In my opinion, it only takes a few months to cultivate a basic vibrato but up to two years to develop a vibrato you love (so trust the process). You’ll be getting more comfortable with shifting and using it more frequently within your pieces. You’ll also be diving into double stops and chords, as well as beginning to learn three-octave scales. At this point, your note reading should be fluent through first and third positions, and you should begin familiarizing yourself with notes up through sixth position.

Sample pieces: Seitz Concerto in D Major, Vivaldi Concerto in A Minor, Bach Double

Recommended practice time: 1.5 hours per day

Year Four

Now the real fun begins! You’ve developed all of the foundational techniques you need, and now you’ll continue to refine them and dive into more advanced techniques. You’ll become comfortable with using vibrato in your pieces, work on off the string bow strokes such as spiccato and sautille, and learn to read notes higher than third position more fluently.

Sample pieces: Czardas, Schindler’s List

Recommended practice time: 1.5-2 hours per day

Year Five and beyond

Now that you have several years of experience under your belt, you can focus less on technique and more on artistry. You will begin to play major violin concertos, vary your vibrato to aid in expression, and hopefully perform with others.

Sample pieces: Accolay Violin Concerto, Mozart Violin Concerto, Beethoven Spring Sonata

Recommended practice time: 2+ hours per day

Was this helpful? 

Support my work by sharing it on Twitter:

Join my FREE beginner violin course

I take you from scratch step by step to your first violin concerto including 40 videos, sheet music and violin tabs.

Hi! I'm Zlata

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

More resources:

Are you a complete beginner and do you want to learn up to the Küchler and Rieding concertos I demonstrated in the video? Check out my free violin beginner course including video lessons and sheet music.

Looking for some great violin repertoire to play at your level? Check out my list with 107 student concertos and concertinos including free sheet music downloads.

Don’t worry!

It takes a lot of practice to learn to play the violin beautifully. Learning the violin can be frustrating sometimes. It might even be hard to practice on a regular basis.

Know that progress will come: it’s hard for all of us. Learning goes with ups and downs. Run your own race. If you’re not following the exact timeline of this article, perhaps it just means you’re very self-critical and you play relatively easy pieces with great quality of technique and musicality.

What violin piece are you practicing at the moment?

Let me know in the comments below.

10 Comments

  1. Elize Ferguson

    Dear Zlata
    At the moment I am the trinity grade 6 pieces but some of them are really don’t appeal to me. Can you suggest some other pieces that are on the same level ?
    I find it very difficult to spend so much time on a piece that I don’t really like.
    Thanks for all your efforts to encourage us.
    Kind regards
    Elize

    Reply
    • Zlata

      Hi Elize, how about some student concertos? I’ve got a comprehensive list right here.

      Reply
  2. Tony

    Hi Zlata, I’ve been learning for 3 years and 8 months and just passed grade 5 Abram. I already play the piano so this was a great help with scales etc. I’m now learning Finlandia second violin part as I have been given a trial in a local orchestra. Bit scary but hope I’ll make it. I’m a late starter aged 76!! Thanks for all your wonderful videos

    Reply
    • Zlata

      That’s wonderful, Tony, thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  3. Judith Sinninghe Damste

    Dear Zlata,

    when I was 10 years old, I started to play the violin. I had lessons during the next 10 years and I also played in a youth orchestra. Now 40 years later (I am 61 OMG!) I like to pick up the violin again. Where should I start? Do you have any suggestions, modern lesson books (instead of Mathieu Crickboom..) etc?

    Thank you for your help,

    Judith

    Reply
    • Zlata

      If you had lessons for 10 years, perhaps you were beyond the lesson books. You might want to look into some student concertos like these. Start below your last level and build it up from there. Starting over can seem like you lost it all, but you’ll notice it comes back quickly. Also etudes, like Mazas, might be a good idea.

      Reply
  4. Joseph Tramacchi

    Hello Zlata this video was really helpful. I am self taught for about 2 yrs and age 68. Most of that time has been spent practicing intonation and bowing and playing melodies by ear, playing scales in keys in 1st position and lately 3rd and higher positions. I have a somewhat tight vibrato and have begun practicing double stops in earnest. Only a few weeks. What a difference it makes to normal playing! Now I have come to realize it is time to concentrate more on timing and rhythmic patterns which I include in scale practice and developing muscle memory and fluency in reading music. At the moment I am also focusing on releasing left hand tension and smooth string changes, at the same time fine tuning bow pressure for nuance and dynamic range. More right hand pressure and articulation than left which is the reverse of what its been to date and quite a new feeling to me.I have begun attending a local orchestra but am not up to speed and often just following the music is difficult enough. I play where I can. I play and practice every day, most days for more than an hour. My first exercise always is having the violin optimally tuned. I have followed your channel over this time and have much to thank you for.

    Reply
    • Zlata

      Thank you for sharing, Joseph!

      Reply
  5. kathy housand schrieber

    I really liked this video. I am 69, and been playing for 2.3 years. I was glad to see a list of scores to play, as I have only played the minuet from Suzuki book 1 out of all your listings. I have been playing some Shubert though, and Reiding concerto,easy pieces by Pracht. I just joined Tomplay and it is wonderful, I have been learning a lot. Thank you also for the tutorials you do. I’m still struggling with tone, as I’m very critical of my sound. Thanks you for everything’

    Reply
    • Zlata

      You’re so welcome, Kathy!

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.