Learning how to play violin is a great way for children and adults alike to start a lifelong relationship with music. Violin is one of the first instruments children can start learning and while it is most commonly associated with classical music, it is now used in a wide variety of music, including pop, rock, jazz, and folk. Whatever genre you are interested in, Musika’s network of teachers work with students of all ages and experience levels to get you where you want to go.
The violin is played by drawing a bow over one or more of the four strings on the instrument. By holding down the strings with the hand not holding the bow, different pitches can be produced to play complex melodies. The strings can also be plucked with the fingers, a practice referred to as pizzicato. The violin is held by resting it on the left shoulder and holding it in place with the side of the cheek. For younger players, a foam pad called a shoulder rest is sometimes employed to help support the instrument and prevent strain on the player. The left hand can then move to different positions on the neck of the violin while the right hand holds the bow.
Students learn to play violin today on the form of the instrument developed during the 16th century. Prior to that, other stringed instruments played with a bow existed in various forms, including the lira da gamba and the lira da braccio. The violin developed primarily in Italy, and it was there that the master violin makers developed their trade and composers wrote the first pieces that prominently featured the instrument that would become the leader of the modern orchestra. The most famous of these violin makers was Antonio Stradivari, who lived and worked in the Italian town of Cremona from roughly 1644-1737. About 650 Stradivari instruments still exist and are highly prized among professional string players. A Stradivari can sell for millions of dollars and they have even been a target of theft due to their high profile. Today, some violins are still handmade, especially those used by professional musicians, although many violins are also mass produced, especially those made for younger children.
Most students are ready to start learning how to play violin as early as four, although if a student has a long enough attention span to actively participate in a 30 minute lesson it is possible to start even younger children. Besides attention span, children must also have enough dexterity to comfortably move their fingers over the strings on the neck of the instrument. Older students can of course learn to play violin as well and it is never too late to pick up a new skill!
One of the most important things about getting an instrument for younger students is making sure that it is not too big. Violins come in multiple sizes, down to 1/32, and small children will need to try different sizes to find the right fit. A full sized violin is 4/4 and this size is suitable for adults. This guide is a good resource on what to look for in a beginning violin. If you do not wish to purchase a violin outright, there are many affordable rental options available and it is an especially good idea to rent if the student will eventually need a larger instrument. Your Musika teacher will be able to help you find the best local options to fit your budget and needs.