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I need to know about the Violin.

  1. Jul 20, 2005 #1


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    I've decided to start playing the Violin after being well over a year since I wanted to start.

    I always thought Violins were too expensive, but apparently you can get one for a few hundred dollars.

    I'm just here to ask about what good brands should I start with. I don't want anything top notch, just a good beginner thing that will last awhile. I do not want to outgrow it with only 6 months of playing. I also want to spend a moderate amount on it, which is like $350CDN maximum.

    Also, I'd like to know how realistic is it to learn the basics on your own. The lessons don't start till September, so I don't whether or not I want to wait that long.

    Anyways, any help is appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 20, 2005 #2
    I would go to the local pawn shops and music shops, they sell good used violins at really good prices. I wouldn't buy one from e-bay, you need to feel it in person to know if its right for you.
    I personally like the Fender electric violins, new around 600 Canadian..a good used one for 250. I have played both electric and traditional, and find them both good.
  4. Jul 20, 2005 #3
    Ask your future teacher where he/she recommends getting starting instruments; ideally, he/she could also choose one for you (since you wouldn't know what to look for). Usually, it makes more sense to rent for about the first year - you'll have a somewhat better instrument, and you'll pay less overall (before you move on to a real instrument). And you shouldn't start by trying to teach yourself - it's counterproductive.

    You'll probably get much better advice at the forums at http://www.violinist.com/ (no offense, PF).
  5. Jul 20, 2005 #4


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    Well, you've got the right attitude.
    Top-notch violins won't sound top-notch in anyone else's hands than those of a professional, so there's no point of pauperizing yourself yet.

    Good luck, I'm sure you'll find a perfectly good violin in the price class you mentioned.
  6. Jul 20, 2005 #5


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    I agree, rent, (the music shop should help you too) and not an expensive one, especially if prone to dropping things(!), but some good strings do help a beginner sound a little better!
  7. Jul 20, 2005 #6


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    It must be atleast 7 year since I last played the violin. Here is some advice:

    1) Get a good shoulder rest. If you don't you'll strain your neck. My violin teacher recommended a wolf super flexibel.
    2) Get a bow with good hair or synthetic material.
    3) Listen to the violin before purchasing it. Listen to the more expensive violins and compare it to the cheaper ones. Different materials will give you different acoustics.

    I have a Glaesel V131 which retails for $500 or so. It came with a horse hair bow and a nice case with a felt interior.
  8. Jul 20, 2005 #7
    I don't really know too much about stringed instruments myself, but I do know a few things about buying musical instruments in general.

    First of all, always try out the instrument before buying. This is fairly self-explanatory, for obvious reasons. Check the tone, and if you are somewhat good at self-tuning, tune it if you can and find any inconsistencies that may reside with the instrument. Every instrument is different, and no instrument is ever tuned perfectly. Subtle differences in wood density, and even temperature and humidity will affect the instrument's tone. Find one that has a good balance of tone under different situations.

    I would stay with hypatia's observation on not buying it online. Musical instruments sold online may not have serial numbers on them. Without serial numbers, most music stores will refuse to repair the instrument.

    Remember that the instrument does not make the musician. It is the skill that is built up by the musician that makes a good tone. Even the crappiest of instruments can sound decent by a professional, or even an advanced player.

    After purchasing, take proper care of the instrument. Since violins are wooden, keep them away from damp places or places where the wood can rot. Keep it out of the rain (that one should be self-explanatory). Contrary to movies in popular culture, violins should not be used as blunt weapons. That will only ruin the instrument :tongue2:.

    Above all, once it is purchased, practice. A lot. Its the only way musicians ever get better. Learn scales. All 12 scales, Major, minor (natural, harmonic and melodic), so that you can shoot off 48 scales on a whim. It may not seem important, but scales make certain passages in music much easier to accomplish. Instead of fiddling with which note is sharp and which one is flat, it is instinctively known by the knowledge of scales.

    JasonRox: I'm sure you can manage learning on your own. You'll be having to do that anyway even with the lessons you will be taking. The scales are the first thing musicians learn anyway, so it would be best to learn the first twelve major scales before the lessons. This serves two purposes: One, you will be able to better benefit from the lessons because you aren't learning the basics, and two, learning the twelve basic scales lets you acquaint yourself with your instrument, becuase each instrument is a little bit different and it would be best to get used to how your particular instrument handles.

    Good luck with your musical endeavours.
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2005
  9. Jul 20, 2005 #8


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    Maybe Samuel L. Jackson can get you the Red Violin.
  10. Jul 20, 2005 #9
    I'll add a couple of things to motai's post (which was very good). If you don't yet play the violin, you'd benefit a lot more from having someone else play the instrument for you. This will let you hear what it's tone is really like; but more importantly, a good violinist will steer you towards an instrument that is "easier" to play as well as better sounding. Ideally, this will be a person other than the one who is selling the violin (say, your teacher).

    In addition to avoiding water (as motai pointed out), you definitely want to stay away from extreme temperatures, temperature changes, or sunlight. Also, loosen your bowhair before you store your bow, and wipe off any rosin that ends up on your instrument. And avoid touching the body of the instrument.
    (just some basic warnings in case no one else told you of them)
  11. Jul 20, 2005 #10


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    Wow, I'm happy I posted this stuff.

    I'll probably spend some time at that website before making a purchase or anything. Also, I'll probably go and just play a couple violins (or try to) at a music store.

    I will wait until my VISA bill comes in before actually purchasing. It will be in by the end of the month or something.

    Note: I will look for other available teachers instead of waiting until September, but I wouldn't mind learning the bare basics. Like, how the notes and stuff work.
  12. Jul 20, 2005 #11
    Motai mentioned scales. These are *very* important for your studies for any instrument as has already been said, but do always know to adapt your practise of scales appropriately to whatever piece you are playing.

    And secondly, although it may sound like cheating, don't be discouraged to listen to other CD music from instrumentalists to get used to the time sequence, rthym etc. In the case of strong instruments, there are many: cello (yoyoma, Julian Lloyd Webber) VIOLIN (Sara Chang). Your own distinct style of music will come in inevitably even if you do copy because, well, each and every one of us is different and especially in a expressive instrument such as the violin..you can imagine.

    And on purchasing the violin, GET YOURSELF AN EXPERT TO COME WITH YOU to the music shop/place of purchase/whatever to test it out. Let him play and hear it yourself, and then you'll be satisfied or not.

    Motai: A little exception to your scale practise comes with J.S.Bach. I mention him because he is a walll which every instrumentalist of any genre has to pass through to become a good musician. His relentless counterpoint in his pieces make good practise for finger flexibility increase, and they sound awesome as well. Along with the scales, you should 'Jumping' note excercises and bach pieces. His pieces are meant to drive you insane but it will be worth it in the end.

    Another little thing to add. In music, you have to actively seek the music yourself rather than just play whatever is given in lessons to play like a true virtuoso (i don't know whether you are seeking such status though). So feel free to PM me if you want some sheet music, i have nearly everything popular (only classical though) from gershwins RiB to toccata and fugue :biggrin:
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2005
  13. Jul 20, 2005 #12
    Thanks for pointing that out Bladibla. Bach isn't really in my repetouir for woodwind music, Mozart was one of the only few in his time period who wrote for woodwinds. I know little musically about the various runs that Bach uses (I hear them, but that doesn't really mean that I can interpret it without looking at it). The closest exercises I know of that may be suitable for a beginning musician are thirds, tonic intervals, and so forth. Oh, also learn the chromatic. Very important to know where all the notes are.

    If you get a chance, brush up on music theory. Basic music theory is all that is required for a musician. One needs to be fluent in the language of music, enharmonic notes, crescendos, decresendos, vibratos, sforzandos, the various levels of intensities (fortissimo, forte, mezzo forte, mezzo piano, piano, pianissimo), speeds (allegro, allegando, allegretto, largo, andante, presto, etc), qualifiers (dulce, cantabile, etc) and anything else that may crop up in your practices. Rhythm studies are also important, clap out rhythms that seem challenging, and know the time signatures that are often used (4/4, 3/4, 2/4, 6/8). Count in your head or out loud while doing these studies, moving from clapping the rhythm to playing it on the instrument. Remember that on the instrument the tone is extended, for instance the quarter note needs to be held for 1 beat (instead of a single impetuous clap). I remember my band director got onto us for that.

    As Bladibla mentioned, it is really important that, after getting the basics down, you try to work on your own tone. Listen to other musicians like rachmaninoff said, experiment and incorporate the qualities that you like in those musicians, and make your own style of music. It can make the difference in changing the beginner's tone of scratchy, heavily-stringy sound to a soft mellow tone that is heard in most orchestras.

    Experiment with it, and overall have fun.
  14. Jul 20, 2005 #13
    Are you joking?? Bach was one of the masters of woodwind writing - just look at the great Brandenburg concerti, or his numerous flute sonatas and triosonatas. And their are hundreds of other Baroque era composers who wrote works emphasizing woodwind instruments, esp. oboe, flute, 'recorder', bassoon.


    Issac Stern (greatest recorded violinist ever, imo)
    Itzhak Perlman
    Joshua Bell
    David Oistrakh
    Pinchas Zukerman
    Hilary Hahn
    Aaron Rosand

    It's not so much "don't be discouraged from listenting to..." as "be prepared to spend half your life listenting to..." the recordings of great violinists. Don't just listen to orchestral stuff - listen to soloists, like the ones listed, with their sonatas and virtuosic concerti.

    And re: scales and repertoire, don't be surprised if you're not working on anything substantial for a while. It could be a couple of years before you're doing real three-, four-octave scales, and much, much longer before you're doing contrapuntal Bach stuff. Don't get unreasonable expectations.

    Fine idea, just don't try to figure out the actual playing of the violin unsupervised, you'll kill yourself with bad posture and painful habits (same goes for most instruments).

    And of course, be prepared for a lot of, not just practicing, but thinking. If you stick to it, you'll find learning a string instrument is quite cerebral.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 20, 2005
  15. Jul 20, 2005 #14


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    I guess if I have to wait until September, I will.

    I can save up $50 a week, and have the money by then. I'll just read up on scales and stuff.
  16. Jul 20, 2005 #15
    If your good at math, it will be easy for you. I play several different types of instruments, but strings just touch me in a way the others don't. Perhaps its the way your mood, via your touch on the strings, enters the music.
  17. Jul 21, 2005 #16
    perlman is good but very overrated, imo. he's the yo-yo ma of the violin. i don't like menuhin much either but i like his recording of beethoven's piano/violin sonatas. i would add
    andrew manze
    john holloway
    james ehnes
    george enescu
    jean-jacques kantorow
    sigiswald kuijken
    schlomo mintz

    i don't play an instrument but i wonder if it would be a good idea to get unaccompanied solo violin stuff (some of my favourite music) too by the following ppl & others i haven't thought of:
    johann paul von westhoff
    guiseppe tartini (devil's trill played by manze)
    js bach
    niccolo paganini
    eugene ysaye (stunt violin, steve vai style!)
  18. Jul 21, 2005 #17
    To be fair to motai, Historically, the clarinet wasn't invented or was not developed enough as a instrument to be part of the standard repotoire compared to that of mozart. This means the 'wall' would have been replaced by that of Mozart.

    That is too much of generalisation.

    About not playing unsupervised, i disagree with this greatly. Personally i practise on my own until the side of my fingers go red and start to pain a lot, and THIS IS THE ONLY WAY you can improve greatly in a short time. Especially applies for violin, as string instrument tend to be hard to start with (but to master, all instruments are equal in difficulty, except maybe a triangle)

    Also, try to start with vibrato on the violin as soon a possible. It is a skill that takes a lifetime to truly master, and shows true individuality between instrumentalists.
  19. Jul 21, 2005 #18
    You missed the context of the thread - I said that the OP should not be practicing before ever having had a lesson. Obviously he should practice on his own, when he is taking lessons.
  20. Jul 21, 2005 #19
    Fair enough. I apologize for misinterpreting your post.
  21. Jul 21, 2005 #20


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    I have only the skill to make even a Stradivarius emit awful, squeaky noises..

    I played clarinetto once in the school-band, but I never learnt to blow it properly (it only produced some disgruntled squeaks), so I never advanced up in the ranks..:uhh:
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