Hello! Today I’m going to share some tips for beginning musicians, and violinists in particular. Hope you learn from some of my mistakes. 🙂 Enjoy!
Know Your Goals (and complete them)
It is most helpful to set goals for yourself. I always like to make lists of goals I would like to achieve by the end of the year, month, or even week. It’s such a nice feeling to know what I need to work on and then when I’ve completed the goal, be able to cross it off the list.
Sometimes it’s good to make big goals. Like, “by the end of the year, I’m going to try out for my local orchestra.” In that case, it’s best to make a lot of little goals within the big one. And once you’ve completed all the little goals, you get a huge reward!
Don’t Give Up (ever)
Believe me, in the beginning, you might just want to give up, and drop it (whatever it is)! I know that I did, and one time it was a silly little thing like a dotted quarter note that made me feel that way. I remember I was just not getting the concept of a note having 1 1/2 beats. Like, crying, not getting it. Plus, I was having some issues with my bow hold. So, I went to my mom and told her I wanted to quit violin lessons. She just laughed at me and I guess that was the end of that! I ended up conquering those “dreaded” dotted quarter notes and now I have a good bow hold.
So, don’t give up! Look and listen to good musicians and aspire to meet their standards.
Be Confident (but not arrogant)
Act confident, play confident. Within this post, this phrase may be the most important. Confidence can do a lot. Now, an over-display of physical confidence (like walking with a swagger) is not what I’m talking about here; that is a very bad thing. However, playing with confidence makes worlds of difference!
Of all the mistakes made by a beginning violinist, I think the most common one is being afraid of the violin. Beginners tend to skim their bow across the strings and hold their violins in a tense, un-relaxed way. But please, the violin is not going to bite you (it doesn’t even have a fierce bark)! You are the one who can bite your strings with your bow and get a beautiful sound. 🙂
Practice Efficiently (from the very beginning)
Okay, I don’t want to sound “I-know-best” here, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. The truth is, if you want to be the best you can be, from the very beginning, practice right. For example, you should not have the attitude of “I will play each piece 5 times for a total of half an hour’s practice each day.” Instead, practice your piece efficiently. Isolate and practice only parts of the piece that really need to be practiced (and of course you can play the whole thing for fun too).
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (it’s not worth it)
Okay, I’m not going to lie to you. During the first few weeks of your studies, you probably won’t sound that great. In fact, you might sound like a screeching cat. But don’t worry, all the squeaks and scratches will go away in a couple months!
When you get discouraged, play your A string three times with a relaxed bow stroke – then do the same thing on your other strings. When you go back to whatever you were practicing, you will feel relaxed, and you should feel better.
Or, if you get mad at a section of a piece, and you feel like smashing your head against the wall – I do this sometimes – lay your violin gently in its case and go listen to Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, 1st movement, then listen to Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1. Beethoven will make you feel angrier but soon you’ll get caught up in the music and forget about it. And in the case of any remaining traces of anger, Bach will erase them.
Listen and Read (like a maniac)
If you want to be a great master or just want to be good, listening to good music is crucial. Listen to different versions of a piece, played by different virtuosos; compare the differences in their styles, and choose your favorite; develop your own style based on what appeals to you.
Reading about and researching music is one of the best ways to learn. Actually, your reading my posts on LaMusica is helping me learn more about music. You wouldn’t believe all the things I’ve learned just from researching posts for LaMusica. So, maybe you’d like to start a blog; or borrow some books on classical music from your library. With so many materials available online, and through books and videos, the possibilities are endless.
I hope you enjoyed the post, and the best of luck to you on your musical journeys!