Accesibility: Violin Lesson 101
In the eyes of many, the violin is the most prestigious of all instruments. Provider of emotions par excellence, he fascinates as much as he intrigues. Yet many music lovers do not dare to embark on his apprenticeship. Too complex for some, long and ungrateful for others, it often does not go beyond the stage of fantasy. But is playing the violin really inaccessible?
Raised to the rank of king of instruments , considered in the collective imagination as the hardest, the most beautiful : the violin is the instrument that deserves. Many people do not take the plunge for fear of not being up to it. The violin owes this belief mainly to classical music. It is seen as an orchestral instrument, only handled by high-level musicians who play only scholarly music. In short, reserved for the elite.
This vision does not really need to be, since it is prized everywhere in the world, and absolutely not only by classical musicians. On the contrary, it is used in many cultures , particularly popular, being as indispensable in Scottish jigging and gypsy music as in American blockbusters and dancing balls.
The violin also owes this reputation to its cost . Prices are flying fast and easily reach several thousand euros. But like any other instrument, the range extends from very affordable to more expensive. Between a first prize at 100 euros and a Stradivarius at 2 million, the choice is vast. Not to mention the rental, very common among beginners and gives the chance to start on a good quality violin for a very reasonable cost.
Is the violin so difficult?
The violin is perceived as the most complicated instrument to master. This reputation is largely due to its neck that is devoid of frets, unlike other stringed instruments like the guitar . This is the first difficulty encountered in learning.
The frets are metal bars arranged along the handle to divide the sound field in semitones, and which correspond to the pitch of note commonly accepted by our system (do, fa …). Thanks to them, it is possible to create right sounds without any practice or knowledge. The same principle is found on most instruments, with for example the keys of the piano or the holes of the flute.
The absence of frets on the violin implies the need to place his fingers on the neck in very precise positions, under penalty of playing false. However, in this difficulty also lies an advantage. If getting a good sound on a fretted instrument is obvious, a one-millimeter offset in the wrong place on the fretboard may have the effect of triggering a staggered note of a semitone. Conversely, the configuration of the violin makes it almost impossible to play perfectly fair . This implies that once the positions on the handle under control, putting his finger slightly below the desired location will result in a minimal offset from the desired note.
It is true that the violin is not the easiest to handle. Taking violin lessons is sometimes a long and tedious journey. Only, unlike other instruments, the beginnings are the most difficult period. But once the usual blockages like the accuracy where the holding of the bow are exceeded, the progression becomes much faster and hearing you play to your liking will be a great relief. Whereas where the piano and the guitar offer the opportunity to quickly have fun, it is on the contrary with time that the progression will become more difficult and the moments of stagnation more frequent.
The violin at the conservatoire
Many conservatories impose a 2-year musical theory course before they can begin the practice of a classical instrument. This obligation is part of the elitist approach of the old-style conservatory: the pleasure comes after, not during the training. A great motivation is necessary to hang on, especially since the notions of solfège are more easily assimilated with an instrument in the hands. It is therefore necessary to think about his project before going back to the conservatory. If you are working on a long-term project with strong ambitions, you can consider this option for the rigor it will teach you. On the other hand, if your aim is to make you happy above all else, go your way. It is quite possible to play the violin very well without having learned it ” in the rules of art ”. Check with your conservatory anyway, as the teaching method may differ from one to the other and it is conceivable that you are offered to start directly with a violin teacher.
Children and the violin
The violin is a particularly demanding instrument that requires a lot of rigor and patience to be mastered. In appearance, not very child-friendly! It will be necessary to ensure that the practice remains a pleasure. Imposing an activity on a child is never productive: without envy, it will be difficult to make efforts. But the learning of an instrument, and especially the violin, is particularly enriching personally: a taste for effort, rigor, autonomy, perseverance, open-mindedness, sharpening of the senses, coordination, body awareness … capital points in the good development of the child!
It’s never too early to learn . Many violinists started very young, some children are even virtuosos! Violin teachers define 5 years as the ideal age to start . At this age, children have very high cognitive abilities that allow them to assimilate very quickly what would require a lot of time to an adult.
Learn the violin as an adult
There is a legend that it’s almost impossible to get into music once you’re past childhood. In other words, it would be absurd to want to start the violin as an adult. Many people forbid themselves to start because of this widespread belief, while it is based on erroneous facts. Under the pretext that children generally progress faster, it would be impossible to start in adulthood?
Starting the violin or any other instrument is possible at any age , provided you afford it. First of all because the key to success is motivation, and if you plan to go late, it’s because you really want it! There is no magic formula, to be good, you have to train . If you are determined to take the necessary time, there is no reason you can not do it.
Is solfeggio essential for playing the violin?
The question of music theory often comes up in the questions of those who wish to play the violin. Is it really necessary to be interested in theory in addition to the instrument ?
Methods have been developed to learn the violin without solfeggio. This type of solution, which makes many happy, places the pleasure at the center of the priorities and bases the progression around the reproduction of pieces. A system similar to that of guitar tablatures allows you to know where to place your fingers on the neck and therefore to replace partitions.
Learning to play the violin without solfeggio may allow you to have more fun, but when you deepen your practice, you will most likely regret missing knowledge on the subject. Indeed , solfège proves to be indispensable for all that is annexed to the pure technique . First of all since the ability to read a score is a huge asset. The majority of musicians use them to be able, almost instantly, to play together and in rhythm, an unknown piece. Knowing how to read a score is the guarantee of being able to play anything, subject of course to having the necessary level. Then, because the music theory makes it possible to understand the functioning of the music. How is it written? Why does this sequence ring while another does not ring? Understanding it makes it easier to compose, to know which precise note to use in which context to provoke the desired emotion … In the same way as the mathematics and their theorems, the music is governed by a number of rules that will allow you to navigate freely, with the technique only to limit your creativity.
The violin is certainly demanding, but keep in mind that the simplest instrument will always be the one that makes you want . Perseverance is essential, and be sure to evolve effectively if you take the trouble to play regularly. It’s all about staying motivated, moving at your own pace and setting progressive goals.