Is The Violin Hard to Learn?

As one of the most important musical instruments in history music, especially classical music, the violin is a magical-sounding bowed-string instrument. However, the violin is also known as one of the most complex instruments to learn, requiring a great deal of effort. 

How Hard Is It to Learn Violin?

The Violin is one of the hardest musical instruments to learn for several reasons. You need to put a lot of effort into practice to play the violin, as well as good knowledge of musical theory and harmony. Furthermore, the bowing action is also quite hard to get used to for beginners.

Fretless Design

One of the aspects that makes the violin a complex instrument to learn is that the violin does not have any frets or keys. The Fretless fingerboard makes it hard to find the exact spots for playing the notes. 

Another complexity is the short length of the violin strings and fingerboard. Because of that, the smallest change of finger positions will make you sound out of tune. Even small changes in finger positions like 0.01” change the note significantly. 

You have to be careful of your fingering technique and where the notes are. With the help of muscle memory, players get used to these positions after some playing experience.

Different Distance Between The Notes Across The Fingerboard

Another complex aspect of the violin is that the distance between the notes varies across the fingerboard. When you play closer to the instrument’s scroll, the notes are further away from each other. When you play closer to the bridge, the notes are quite close to each other.

On higher frets, the distance between the notes gets very small to even 0.1”, which requires the players to replace their fingers with each other to play the instrument properly. There are different processes to memorizing the fretboard when played closer to the bridge and the scroll. 

The Bowing Technique

In addition to the fretboard, another highly challenging part of violin playing is the bowing technique. Managing the bow properly is one of the hardest challenges when learning to play the violin. The bowing technique requires the player to balance the pressure and execute the action elegantly at a precise angle, which is pretty hard to do for most violin students.

Just holding the bow correctly is one of the challenges in the first lessons for most students. After holding it properly, students need to learn to balance the pressure applied with the bow to the violin strings, as when the pressure is too high, the violin produces a scratching sound. If the pressure is too little, then you get a squeaky sound.

Properly learning the bowing technique takes lots of effort and time. You get used to the fretboard at some point, but the bowing technique is a realm without an end. Even the maestro violinists still learn and increase their mastery of the bow.

The Tuning

Even tuning the violin is a complex process. Although it is not a part of playing the instrument, it is the preparation to be able to play it. When tuning a violin, the fine tuners and pegs work together.

You have to be very patient and gentle when tuning a violin. The strings can break very easily, and it is very hard to find the right pitch with the pegs. Only a quarter rotation may be too much for most situations.

Unlike tuning with pegs, tuning with fine tuners is similar to tuning a guitar. But for the perfect violin tuning process, you will need both.

How Long Does it Take to Learn the Violin?

As violin is one of the most complex instruments to learn, it takes longer for most musicians to progress with the instrument compared to other popular instruments like piano or guitar. On average, it takes at least three years for most players to play the violin confidently.

That being said, most violinists progress significantly after one year, as they learn how to play basic pieces and get used to the fretboard and the bowing technique. In the second year, they show much more progress getting more confident with the instrument and applying different techniques in their playing style.

After three years, most players can say without hesitation that they can play the violin. But of course, learning is an unending process, even the maestro players still learn and explore different aspects of the instrument.

I must say that these are only average times, and the progress speed of individuals heavily depends on many different paradigms such as the amount of time put into practice, natural musical abilities, physical conditions, resources, teachers, training, and many more.

Which Type of Violin Should You Get?

When purchasing a violin, going for a full-size modern (classical) violin as a beginner is the best way. However, many beginners choose to rent a violin as this way they can learn playing on a better quality instrument, and buy the violin when they have the budget or decide they are serious about playing the instrument.

There are different types of violins, but for starters, the modern violin or so-called classical violin is the ideal choice. The other violin types are the baroque violin, the fiddle, the electric violin, the semi-acoustic violin, the Hardanger fiddle, five-string violins, and the Stroh violin. After violinists acquire the skills to play the classical violin, they can explore the other types of violins.

Renting a violin is a great idea for entry-level violinists, as it allows you to learn and play with a higher-quality instrument. You can rent a violin to own, which is basically buying a violin with monthly installments. Also, you can send the violin back at any time if you decide to stop playing or purchase another instrument. That is why renting culture is big in the violin world.

Things to consider when buying a violin are the price, materials, size, and condition, as well as the store you are purchasing.

The Best Way to Learn Violin

As almost with all musical instruments, the golden rule when learning to play the violin is to practice, practice, and practice. You need to put many hours into training to play a simple song.

Having a violin teacher is also a great idea as teachers can notice the improper techniques while playing to create a solid ground for your violin learning process. As habits are hard to break later, it is important to get used to playing the instrument with the correct technique from the beginning. There are also many online violin lessons you can try.

Patience and dedication are highly important, especially when you play a complex-to-learn instrument like the violin. As small nuances can easily disturb the delicate sound of your melodies, you will have to be patient, practicing again and again without giving up.

5 Tips To Learn The Violin

  1. Create a routine for practicing the violin daily: Practicing the violin daily is highly important to get used to the note positions on the fretless fingerboard, bow action, technique, and any other aspect of the instrument. Creating a daily routine and practicing discipline are key to learning to play the violin.
  1. Always have your violin tuned properly: In addition to getting used to the note positions on the fingerboard, you should always play a properly tuned violin. Otherwise, the note positions will change, and you will not be able to learn the exact positions of the notes.
  1. Have a teacher’s feedback every now and then: One of the biggest mistakes made by entry-level instrument players is trying to learn to play the instrument all by themselves. Teachers can immediately notice the mistakes in your technique and help you correct them. As a result, beginners play the instrument with incorrect techniques, which become habits that are difficult to erase and re-learn.
  1. Remember that posture is crucial: When playing the violin, one of the most overlooked techniques is posture. The posture is crucial as it affects almost everything you do with a violin. From the bowing technique to the fretting technique, the right posture makes everything easier. You need to be relaxed and straight when playing.
  1. Rosin is very important for good sound: Rosin is an essential part of getting great sound from your violin since the horse hairs on the violin bow require the rosin to create the friction needed for the string to vibrate. However, if you put too much, you get a shrill sound which is highly disturbing. Also, do not forget to clean your instrument regularly as rosin leaves a lot of dust.

How Does a Violin Work?

Violins are bowed-string instruments, which means their sound is produced by vibrating strings. The vibrations from the strings are transmitted to the top and the bottom plate of the instruments, where they reverberate in the hollow body. This way, you get the rich sound of the violin.

Conclusion

Violin is one of the most majestic yet complex musical instruments to learn. It needs a good amount of practice put into the playing techniques as well as a good amount of time put into learning music theory and harmony. 

The bowing technique, getting used to the note positions on the fretless fingerboard, and posture are all quite hard techniques to learn. On average, 3 years of practice is required to play the violin properly. But, of course, this time period can be different for each individual as many other aspects play roles in the learning process of individuals.

Berk Öztuna is a handpan player, percussionist, and guitarist. He has been playing multiple instruments over the last 10 years. He started his music career as a guitarist, playing with several bands before putting his main focus into playing the handpan.

Leave a Comment

Leave a reply

Musician Wave
Logo