The Basics of starting the Violin
Learning how to play the violin can be very frustrating at first, but incredibly satisfying when becoming used to the instrument. As you learn the violin, you’ll notice it’ll take a lot of skill to be good at it and you’ll need to practise regularly. But as a violinist, you will learn how to place your fingers on the correct string, how to tune your violin and a lot more!
The first important thing is to decide what violin size you’ll need. Adults and teenagers should be fine with a full sized (4/4) violin. However, if you are younger or have a short arm span, it may be necessary to have a smaller size; the violin sizes are measured in fractions (1/2 is bigger than 1/4 etc).
Where should I get my Violin from?
I thoroughly recommend that you look around for deals that consist of a case, bow and violin. Beginner sets are often sold with these pieces of equipment together (it may be called a “Violin Outfit”). Many large stores sell cheap violins at reasonable prices. Stores on the internet can be very good, or if you wouldn’t mind having a second hand violin, maybe check out Ebay. A good quality affordable brand is the “Stentor Violin”.
At some stage, you will need to purchase some violin accessories which will help the standard of your playing. For example, having a violin shoulder rest will make it a lot more comfortable and easier to hold the violin.
Tuning The Violin
If you have an instrument such as the piano or keyboard, use the 4 notes G, D, A, E, in turn to tune each of the violin strings (lowest to highest in the previous order). If not, I would suggest buying purchase a violin tuner as in time, your ears will become accustomed to each pitch that the string should be at, and before you know it, you will be able to tune the violin by “ear”!
The violin has two types of adjuster to modify the sound: the tuning pegs by the scroll and the fine tuners behind the bridge. The pegs should only be used if the violin is extremely out of tune. Twist the violin peg softly, yet firmly clockwise to make the string sound a lot higher(sharper) for the certain string. Whilst doing this: PUSH in. If not, too much tension may be applied on the violin string and it could snap. The other set of tuners by the bridge (fine tuners) make small changes in sound. These set of tuners will be used nearly all the time for getting the violin to be the right tone. Twist one of the adjusters for selected string clockwise to create a “sharper” sound or anti-clockwise to make a “flatter”(lower) noise.
What to do first
Firstly, open the case and take out the violin; leaving the violin bow behind for now. When holding your violin, I would really emphasise the fact that you need to hold the violin correctly; or serious implications could happen in the future (pain in shoulder etc). There is a chin rest on the violin but you don’t actually place it on the chin; it needs to be positioned slightly to the left of the chin. Stretch your left arm out and place the left hand at the neck of the violin. Now slightly tilt the elbow to the right so your fingers are leaning over the strings. Rest the thumb at the side of the neck. Get used to “plucking” the violin’s strings. The correct way is to use the index finger to pull and place the thumb at the side of the black fingerboard (the thumb should be right at the top edge).
Although you have all of this to contend with, ensure your head is pressed against the chin rest and that your left arm holds up the violin to about head level or just below. Your left hand’s wrist shouldn’t be cocked up to be touching the neck, let it fall down; dream there is a thorn tree and you don’t want prickles in your wrist! Check again that the left arm is out to the back of the neck of the violin. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing standing up or sitting down but keep your back straight; if sat on a chair, sit at the edge of it! A lot of information, I know, but that’s it, you have now learnt the basic principles of how to play the violin!
These will be used to tune the violin most of the time. Twist the fine tuner clockwise for making the sound “sharper” and anti-clockwise to be “flatter” (lower).
What to do first
Take the violin out of its case and leave the bow. What I would stress the most when having your violin is to hold it the correct way. Place the chin rest slightly to left of your chin, and place your left hand at the neck of the violin; pulling the elbow around so the fingers are tilted over the strings and thumb resting at the side of the neck. Become accustomed to “plucking” the violin’s strings; placing your right hand’s thumb to rest against the black part of the fingerboard and using index finger to pull the string.
Whilst doing all of this, make sure your chin rest stays intact with your head and keep the violin held up with your left arm. The wrist should not be cocked up to the neck, let it rest down; imagine there is a prickly bush and you don’t want your hand to get scratched! The left arm should be stretched out all the way to the back of the neck. Whether standing up or sitting down, make sure the scroll (the end) of the violin is at around head level; also keep your back straight! That’s it, you have now learn the basic principles of how to play the violin!