Book Tip: How to Find Time, Money and Energy for Playing the Violin or Viola

by | Aug 25, 2015 | 8 comments

This episode of Violin Lounge TV might be a bit different than you are used to, but I thought it’s essential to share this with you.

I will be frank with you… After ten years of violin teaching experience I can say that most people who start the violin or viola never end up playing very well. In the end they don’t really have progress, lose motivation and stop. I’m really sorry to say this and I wish it was different.

The Number ONE reason why most people fail to every learn to play the violin or viola decently is because they (think they) don’t have enough time to practice.

To learn to play the violin well, progress and get results all the time, you need to have:

  • Good quality violin lessons
  • A good instrument and bow
  • Daily practice time

Finding the time to practice and finding the resources to invest in your violin or viola adventure is SO essential! 

The violin is simply a difficult instrument and takes a lot of dedication, hard work, time, money and effort to learn.

Except from teaching you HOW to play the violin, this video talks about how to find the time, money and energy to play in the first place.

For me playing the violin is my job, as I’m a (more than) full-time violinist, teacher and entrepreneur. It might look like it’s easy for me to find practice time.

However, practicing for myself, can also be a challenge in between the busy teaching/rehearsal schedule and all the clutter that comes with owning and running a business.

I find the book ‘The 4-hour work week’ by Tim Ferriss very inspiring. Of course it won’t get you this 4 hour work week automatically in two weeks. Nope, I’m far away from that. You DO find some useful productivity tips in there like saying ‘no’ to things, being focussed, being productive and getting the most out of the time and money that you have on your hands right now.

By being more efficient and productive and getting the most of the resources you already have, you can free up time, money and energy to do the things you love.

It’s important to take your life and your work into your own hands and to not be a victim of your surroundings. I write this to you in the most loving way possible. I simply see lots of people getting in their own way and I am often guilty of this too.

Of course it’s not a magic wand or a ‘get rich quick’ scheme… I would never recommend scam to you. There are people really doing this (better than the workaholic that I am). I met lots of them in the Digital Nomad Conference I attended in Berlin.

I hope this will help you! I hope you will be able to free up some time, money and energy to play the violin or viola more, so you can enjoy making music on a deeper level for years to come.

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!

Specifications of the cheap violin in this video:

1. Brand: Glarry
2. Model: None
3. Size: 4/4. but available in all sizes
4. Back/Side/Face Material: Matte Spruce Wood
5. Top/Violin Bridge Material: Maple Wood
6. Violin Bow Material: Arbor
7. Tailpiece Material: Aluminum Alloy
8. Fingerboard Material: Ebony
9. Chin Rest/Tuning Peg/End Pin Material: Dark Wood
10. Violin Color: Dark Goldenrod
11. String Material: Steel String

Forget the old concept of retirement and the rest of the deferred-life plan – there is no need to wait and every reason not to, especially in unpredictable economic times. Whether your dream is escaping the rat race, experiencing high-end world travel, earning a monthly five-figure income with zero management, or just living more and working less, this book is the blueprint.

Most valued features:

  • Usefulness
  • Entertaining

Hi! I'm Zlata

Let me help you find a great bow for your violin, so you can improve your bowing technique and sound quality:


  1. Christine Robins

    Thanks, Zlata!

    This may be your most important video of all! I’ve just ordered the book.

    Too many teaches just assume that you’re practicing every day. But lessons are useless without sufficient practice time. I find that keeping a daily record of practice time, and posting a graph of my practice time on the wall, are very motivating.

    I need all the tips I can get on how to build practice time into my life. Although I’m retired, and have huge amounts of “free” time, I also suffer from fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, so after 10-15 minutes, I’m too tired to continue, and have to rest. I try to spread my practice time throughout the day, instead of trying to forcie myself to do it all at once. I also try to change my practice activities frequently. For example, after working on technically demanding exercises, I’ll take it easy for a while playing fiddle tunes at a moderate speed.

    • Violinist Zlata

      Hi Christine, thanks for sharing and I’m glad this video has been useful to you!

  2. Will

    Hi Zlata, Have you read “The 4 Hour Chef”!?

    It outlines Tim Ferriss’ – Accelerated Learning System – his method for learning any skill to proficiency and even mastery at a phenomenal rate. (eg. He uses this system to learn languages fluently in just weeks)

    I would love to apply his Accelerated Learning System to the Violin. I have Zero interest in learning to play professionally, and I am very busy, but I would LOVE to learn to play enough that I can just enjoy to play it casually.

    Imagine being able to teach people, and being able to learn the violin to proficiency in 1/4th the time.
    Have you ever considered applying his methods to the Violin?

    Looking forward to hearing from you!

    • Will

      If this interests you, check this article by Tim Ferriss out about learnign the guitar at an accelerated rate –

      And this TedTalk by a guy who applied this method to the Eukelaly – (watch this one till the very end)

      You could teach SO many students if you could make it that fast – I would sign up. Reach the wider audience who just wants to play and doesn’t every think they’ll be pro. (I think Bowing lessons is too focused for a complete beginner) – I’m not trying to be rude, just giving you my input so if there are more voices like mine, potential customers, you can help to meet our needs.

      • Violinist Zlata Brouwer

        Thanks for sharing the article, Will, I’ve read it with much interest. However, this is not a way to learn faster, but to learn exactly those things that will allow you to play songs very quickly and those are two different things. As the guitar is a chord instrument with frets, it’s very easy to learn the chords most used in popular music (and yes, a lot of popular music is very similar), so you can learn loads of songs with very little technique. In this way you don’t learn faster, but you learn the 20% of the technique (or even much less) that allows you to do lots of things. In classical guitar music you would still be a complete beginner using this method.

        The difference between the violin and the guitar, ukelele or piano is that for the last instruments it’s possible to impress people by playing a lot of pop songs decently with just very little technique. To make the violin sound even decent, you need quite some technique and also quite some time to really master it. Getting to a point on the violin that you sound good just takes more work.

        When playing and teaching over the last decades I’ve used any resources I got to make my own progress on the violin faster and that of my students. I use myself as a guinea pig in that and pour all my knowledge in my lessons. And yes, often my students progress four times as fast or learn stuff on which they get stuck at other teachers.

        With my program Bow like a Pro, I’ve made things like creating a professional sound, vibrato and bowing learnable skills, while a lot of teachers think you need to ‘have it or not’. But still: it requires more time and practice than learning to play four chords on a guitar using a capo and being able to play 80% of the pop songs.

        Interesting topic, Will!

    • Violinist Zlata Brouwer

      Hi Will, I’ve read and listened several things from Tim Ferriss and it’s really inspiring. As a teacher I’m always looking for ways to get faster progress in my students and there are many ways te shorten te learning curve.

      • Will

        Thanks for you reply Zlata. I understand what you mean, and that is disappointing. It is good to hear that you have deeply considered these topics… So, is there no 20% of technique with Violin that produces 80% of results? Or are you saying that, yes, bowing is that 20%?

        I don’t necessarily hope to impress people, I would just love to be able to play decently, and enjoy myself – yet without dedicating much time. It’s not that I am lazy, I just have many other activities calling my attention, and dedicating 1hr a day to violin doesn’t seem likely. But 20 minutes a day, or 1 hr every other day or 3x per week seems much more doable.

        It would be great to have some sort of competence in that time.

        How much time per session, how many sessions per week and for how many months would someone need to practice to attain minimum proficiency? Not that I would want to stop at minimum, but I feel like that is when the actual enjoyment would start.

        Thanks again for your time to respond!

      • Violinist Zlata Brouwer

        Hi Will, yes, there certainly is a 20% in violin playing, but it’s not just one topic. For example there are 24 scales, but if you study the 5 keys that are used in perhaps 80% of the music, that’s in a ways efficient. There are 24 bowing technqiues, but if you do 5 of them really well, you can play over 80% of the pieces.

        We require advanced techniques for the big classical repertoire, but with around 10% of that technique you can already play almost all pop tunes, easy concertino’s like these and loads of different styles of music.

        But… know that learning the violin, as it’s hard to get to it to sound decent, will cost you a lot of time and effort anyway. It’s not an instrument to learn quickly or to pick up once in a while. It really requires dedication and for me that’s also the beauty of it. If you don’t want to spend a lot of time with the violin, why do you want to play it anyway? 😉

        Choose 20 minutes a day, because practice daily is more important than practicing very long. Make your practice as efficient and focussed as possible. To get to a professional level takes at least 10.000 hours… let’s say you find the 5% to play most pieces, that’s still 500 hours…

        A minimum is hard to define, but think about several years of daily practice… what you now see as a minimum, will be a higher bar over a year. Yes, you can play some tunes after a year, but would you be satisfied with the sound quality? Hard to say as I don’t have your ears…

        If you love the violin, go for it. If you don’t want to spend time on it, choose an instrument (like guitar) with which you can play some fun tunes using just four chords. Let’s say that’s 10% of the effort that it costs to become ‘decent’ at the violin in simple tunes (talking about efficiency, the violin is very time consuming).

        Always hard to put down specific numbers here, because it also depends on the quality of your practice and your teacher. I hope this is helpful anyway!

        If you decide in favour of the violin, check out my free beginner course.

        All the best,


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