How to ReStart Playing the Violin or Viola and Get to Your Old Level as Fast as Possible

by | Jun 4, 2015 | Start to Play | 12 comments

When you just picked up the violin or viola again after a long time or you are planning to restart playing, this is the right video to watch!

In this video I will teach you how to get to your old level as fast as possible.

Perhaps you have played the violin or viola as a child or teenager and you stopped. Perhaps now you have the time and space to start playing again. Perhaps you are retired and haven’t played for decades or you just stopped for a couple of years.

You might have already picked up your violin or viola and think… What have I started? It can seem hopeless now, but you will be surprised how fast you can get back to your old level.

For the technique I teach in the video it doesn’t matter how long you haven’t played. The concept will be the same, although the exact execution will be individual. Here are the steps that work best:

1) Write down what you still can do on the violin and viola and know. Did you forget how to read notes and do you need to work on some theory too? Do you still know the basic technique of the violin or viola? Make a clear picture of where you are right now based on trying some things out and playing some things through.

2) Make a clear picture of where you were when you stopped… This is the level you would want to get at as soon as possible, so you can continue from there.

3) Check your violin or viola set. See if there aren’t any cracks in the soundboard. Check if the soundpost and the bridge are still standing up straight. Check if there is enough hair on your bow. Of course you can visit a violin shop to have an expert check this and perhaps do some maintenance or repairs for you.

4) Do the maintenance that you have to do anyway. When you haven’t played for some years or longer, these are the things you probably have to do: your bow needs a rehair, you need to soap your pegs (click here for a tutorial video), you need to replace your strings (click here for a tutorial video) and get yourself a new piece of rosin (buy here).

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 5) Take one or more private lessons to get you started quickly. 

6) Together with your teacher, make a package of scales, etudes and pieces of different levels that is logically put together. Set a realistic goal for the next year. Talk with your teacher about a realistic goal and the genres of music you would like to play. Adjust this practice package to it.

7) Find the time to practice daily. I understand that, certainly as an adult, you might be busy with so many things. However, when you picked up your instrument it’s important to make some time for it every day. Your practice session doesn’t have to take up a lot of time.

8) Practice in chunks of 10 to 20 minutes. You probably can find somewhere in your schedule 10 minutes to practice. When you manage to practice 10 minutes a day, you can make this practice session longer until you practice as long as you like.

9) You need to share your passion to stay passionate. When you don’t have connections to a teacher, other players or an orchestra playing the violin or viola can be very lonely. It can be hard to find the motivation. Find a teacher, practice partners, an ensemble or orchestra as soon as possible. Make time for this and make it a priority.

10) Be in the good practice circle. You can be in the circle where you practice a lot, meet music mates, get improvement and get back to your old level quickly. This is very motivating and keeps you going with ease. You can also be in the circle where you skip practicing a lot, are disappointed by your progress, don’t seem to get to your old level and eventually stop.

Please apply these tips and you will be surprised how fast you can get back to your old level.

I hope this video inspires and motivates you to restart playing the violin or viola.

Is this video helpful to you? Please let me know in the comments below! If you like it, share it with your friends!



PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to and I might dedicate a Violin Lounge TV episode to answering your question!


  1. Ann Cantrell

    Hello Zlata,

    Yes, I did like this video. I especially liked where you suggest that practicing for even ten minutes is an adequate amount of time to aim for. I homeschool my grandson and don’t necessarily have thirty minutes blocks of time that I can set aside for practice. I had been lead to believe that practice time HAD to be at least thirty minutes. But you have helped me to see that the thirty minutes could by broken up into two or three sessions, or if all I have in the day is ten minutes that would be better than none and I would have the option of increasing that if possible, as time goes on.
    Thank you, Zlata. This was very helpful for me.

    Ann Cantrell

    • Violinist Zlata

      Hi Ann,

      Thanks for your comment and good to hear that the video was useful to you.

      The hardest part is to start practicing daily. Even if it’s two minutes it will automate the things you practice and the result will be so much better than long sessions once in a while. There is interesting research done about adults being only able to focus for max 7 minutes and that it works so much better to practice things in little chunks.

      Wow, home schooling… that must be a LOT of work.

      Good luck with everything.

      All the best,


  2. serene

    i’m 16 and i havn’t played the violin for over 5 years. i’ve been wanting to start over for a while now… i still remember how to read notes and i can remember myself playing the violin. i studied some music sheet trying to prepare myself , and i cheked my violin .. it’s in a perfect condition. but as soon as i hold it i completely freeze. i think i know the places of every note but whatever i do doesn’t seem o work. i tried to play the easiest song on earth but even that doesn’t help. i can play the song by just using my fingers (which is not perfect but i can say that it’s ok) but as soon as i try with the bow the fear of messing up keeps me from trying. i’m completely disapointed and in the moment i m stuck with my dad (who is by the way a musicien) who’s making me listen to music thinking that it might help (which is not by the way , it’s just making it worst. and every song he plays makes my heart sink). i don’t know what to do, because i’ve been hoping to get back ever i quited.. i would be more that thankful if you give me som advice on how to get my confedent back on track

    yours serene

    • Violinist Zlata

      Hi Serene,

      I hope I can help you in this comment. Try this:
      Bow on open strings with whole bow very long good slow notes in front of the mirror and check if you are bowing straight.
      Try to play some very basic scales real slow (whole notes with whole bow).
      Pause every 15 minutes.
      Do this every day and let me know how it goes in a week.

      It might also be a good idea to go over the basics of violin playing again. You can do this in my program Master the Basics, which is part of the Violin Lounge Academy. Check it out here:

      Let me know how it goes!

      All the best,


  3. Rosemary Smith

    Hello Zlata. I’v been playing violin since I was 4 years old. Most people don’t believe this but my mother was a violinist and it was the norm in our house – my father played too. All I wanted was a violin and bow and a good quarter size was found for me. That was the start, I continued, studying with two teachers who were important in my musical life, playing in junior orchestras, chamber ensembles, and did the required exams in Royal Schools of Music and Trinity College. Theory and Harmony were not neglected.I was a good sight reader, which has helped enormously. I became the youngest member of a professional adult orchestra and discovered how much repertoire there was to learn before I could measure up to the professional colleagues who were wise and experienced beyond my dreams. I mention all this preamble to indicate that I reached a decent level of violin playing, had a good violin and bow. After some time in this professional orchestra my life took a different turn but I continued practising and playing in chamber groups and especially did violin sonatas with a pianist friend over 25 years or more. Two years ago I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. The initial intense pain was brought under control by medication. My main problem was that RA affected my vision, causing a cornea melt in my right eye. This led to infection which effectively took the sight from that eye. The other eye recovered. fortunately, and it is on this remaining eye I have just had a cataract removed. Result appears to be good. Now I want to pick up the violin after a break of two years. I can, at last, read sheet music, possibly even without specs. My violin is in good condition, bow too. Can you recommend some tips to get me back o n the horse, so to speak, as quickly as possible after this hiatus? I know I will need plenty of practice alone before I could contemplate inflicting myself on any chamber group. My sonata pianist is excellent but patient. Still hours will be required in solo practice. At this stage I don’t want to go to a teacher. My style and methods are ingrained in me. I need Sevck, Flesch etc, scales and studies with the occasional treat of Mozart Beethoven and Bach to keep me sane while I crawl up this abyss I’ve fallen into. Any special advice to help me get through the hellish fight back to something approaching my old technique would be welcomed. Thank you. Rose

  4. Lilian

    Hi Zlata,
    I have just bought a new violin, nothing fancy but my old one needs re-building :/ as I neglected it over 15years and my daughter played with it. *hnags head in shame* I am so pleased to have found this page. I did my grade 5 violin exam and after family illnesses, I gave up and lost the joy playing. I have started the piano again but the violin is what I love the most.
    I had a little go on my nieces violin last week and oh my goodness, I managed a couple of scales and screeched my way to a couple of Harry Potter and Starwars theme tunes guessing by ear oops.
    I am looking forward to following your tutorials to get back in the saddle as they say!



  5. John Kunz

    Hello zlata. I played viola quite well from the age of 7-21 and then moved away from classical style. And now am 39 years old and am really missing the viola. Is it unreasonable to hope to regain a high level of proficiency. Or even consider going back to school to get a performing arts degree in viola. Me and My Wife are considering a move to Germany in there hope to start playing again. I can slowly read but can’t say I could be performing Dvorak‘s carnival overture anytime soon. And advice would really help in this seemingly Mount Everest attempt.
    Thank you

    • Violinist Zlata

      Hi John,
      It’s certainly possible to get most of your old playing level back. Private lessons would certainly help giving you specific tips. If you want to improve your bowing, consider joining Bow like a Pro:
      Best regards,

  6. Kristina Abasi

    Hi Zlata,

    I have wanted to get back into violin for awhile now, and (though the situation is unfortunate) this is the best time to do so! However I have a few questions. I haven’t played in about 7 years, but even when trying to tune the violin, luckily I was able to do it easily with just a tuner! However,

    1. I do know I need to change the strings, but the peg’s move while I tune and don’t hold the string in place any longer. Do I need new pegs or just to draw the graphite for the strings?

    2. My violin is able 11 years old and doesn’t have any problems with it. But, do I need to change it? I think it’s currently an intermediate violin, but do I need an advanced since my level where I ended was approaching that?

    3. I have a synthetic bow and a authentic one. Bow live or mite – whatever they’re called – destroyed the real horse hair one, so should I get an entire new bow?

    4. I still have a lot of rosin left…can I keep it or do I need a new one as well?

    Thank you so much for your helpful guide,

    Kristina 🙂

    • Violinist Zlata Brouwer

      Hi Kristina, great that you’re getting back to the violin. I soon have an episode about how to get back.
      1 You might need peg soap:
      2 I can’t see or hear your violin and also can’t judge your playing level, so I have no idea, I’m sorry! If you find a violin that speaks to you more or plays better, I’d say go for it! If you’re happy with your current violin, that’s cool too. It’s not that you can’t learn on an intermediate violin.
      3 Depends on the value of the bow and how attached you are to it. A rehair is around $ 70 depending on where you live.
      4 The rule for rosin is it lasts a year, sometimes it can go longer.
      Happy practicing!


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