Who hasn’t clicked on one of those alluring videos: “Learn the violin in one week!” or, “5 Easy Steps to Learning the Violin!” It’s very easy to be tempted to jump into these quick-fix courses and videos promising to teach you to play an instrument in X amount of time. Especially in this day and age, when the standard for instant gratification has been set by social media and other sensory inputs, it has become difficult for many of us to have the patience to do anything that requires more than a 30-second attention span. Even though you may have some level of understanding that it takes time to learn the violin, the question still remains: “How long does it take to learn the violin?”
Can I learn violin in six months?
So, can you learn the violin in six months? There are two points here:
- What exactly does it mean to “learn the violin?”
- Learning never stops
What exactly does it mean to “learn the violin?”
Does “learning the violin” mean being able to play Jingle Bells for your family at the holidays? Does it mean being able to audition for the local orchestra? Or does it mean being able to perform a solo recital in Carnegie Hall?
The point here is that in learning anything new, only you can be the measure of your own success through the setting of realistic goals. Perhaps instead of asking, “Can I learn violin in six months?” you could ask, “What can I accomplish in studying violin for six months?”
For example, a beginner violinist might say, “In six months, I want to learn to play one song to play for my family at the holidays.” An advanced player might say, “In six months, I want to audition for the local orchestra.” And a professional player might say, “In six months, I want to perform a solo recital at my local concert hall.”
Learning Never Stops
Secondly, the best way to “learn” is to accept that learning never stops. There is never a finish line with learning anything, especially a craft such as playing the violin. Most violinists who have “learned” the violin, having played for over 20 years, will still say with complete sincerity, “No, no: I’m still learning the violin after all these years.” Accept that no matter how long you study violin, and how far you advance, you will always find something more that you can learn.
How long should I practice my violin each day?
This is an excellent question with an answer that can vary from person to person. A beginner will not have the mental and physical stamina that an advanced player would have, so a beginner is likely to need to practice for shorter periods of time and with more breaks. It is generally recommended that beginners practice at least 30 minutes a day, but if this is a challenge for one reason or another, even just playing the violin for a few minutes is better than nothing!
Typically, the further you advance in learning violin, the longer you will need (and want) to practice. Most advancing beginners will slowly work up to an hour a day of practice, with intermediate to advanced players practicing between 1-2 hours per day. College-level and professional violinists often practice anywhere between 3-5 hours a day in addition to whatever rehearsals or performances they have lined up.
Also, how long you should practice daily is relative to your goals, just as you would tailor your fitness goals differently if you were training for a marathon or merely just running for fun. If you are practicing towards an audition, you may find yourself practicing more frequently and for longer sessions than you would if you are just “playing for fun.”
HOW you practice is more important
One other important point to mention is that how you practice is much more important than how long you practice. If you have ambitious goals to advance in violin quickly, or to prepare for an audition, it is recommended that you keep violin practice consistent and focused on a clear goal for each practice session. Sometimes this means you’ve practiced for a longer period of time, but: one hour of focused practice will far outweigh three hours of unfocused, auto-pilot “practice.”
Can you teach yourself violin?
With so many printed and virtual tutorial resources available, it is tempting to want to teach yourself violin. While this is possible to accomplish a certain extent of understanding of how to play the violin, it’s not advisable for a variety of reasons.
One way to think of it is like learning to ride a bike. Could you teach yourself how to ride a bike? Sure – there are probably tutorials and books available – but wouldn’t it be much easier for someone to just show you? To be there to give you quick feedback when you lose balance? To help teach you tips and tricks to help avoid injury and have more success?
This is the same with learning an instrument such as the violin. You can find resources to help teach yourself the violin, but this will only get you but so far and may prove to be more difficult than having an actual teacher.
A teacher will be able to teach you aspects of posture and technique that we are often blind to as beginners. A teacher will share important techniques that will help create a good foundation and prevent injuries or bad habits that you’ll only have to undo later.
Most importantly, having a teacher will prove to be an important motivator at times when you may get discouraged when learning difficult concepts.
Why is violin so hard?
While there are many opinions on this, violin is argued to be one of the most difficult instruments to learn. There are numerous reasons for this, but three important ones come to mind:
One reason for this is that the violin is not a fretted instrument, meaning there are no “lines” on the fingerboard (like on guitar) to help establish intonation. This means that a violinist’s fingers need to be placed perfectly to be “in tune.”
Also, there is an extreme amount of coordination involved: your left and right hands have to be completely independent of each other while simultaneously working in harmony together. On top of that, you’re also expected to read music while translating what you read to what you play. Almost like patting your head and rubbing your stomach while also reading a book telling you how to pat your head and rub your stomach – all at the same time.
It’s also difficult to play violin because it’s simply not easy to achieve a pleasing sound in the beginning, unlike the piano, for instance. With the piano, any beginner can press a key and hear a pleasant, predictable sound. But with violin – the first few years of playing may have your family politely shutting the door and putting on headphones every time you practice.
How long does it take to learn the violin?
Oftentimes, the people who are “best” at what they do almost always maintain a “beginner’s mind.” Despite their expertise and extensive experience, they still remain humble and still believe in their heart that they have so much more to learn. This is the best attitude to have. The only plateau you reach when pursuing any goal is the one when you decide to stop growing. Instead of asking “How long does it take to learn the violin?” perhaps ask, “What can I learn in studying the violin?”