# I need to know about the Violin.

#### JasonRox

Homework Helper
Gold Member
Hey,

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.

#### motai

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:

#### dduardo

Staff Emeritus
Maybe Samuel L. Jackson can get you the Red Violin.

#### rachmaninoff

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)

#### JasonRox

Homework Helper
Gold Member
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.

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

Last edited:

#### motai

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
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.

#### rachmaninoff

motai said:
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.
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.

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.
Seconded!

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).
Or:
Issac Stern (greatest recorded violinist ever, imo)
Heifetz
Itzhak Perlman
Joachim
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.

JasonRox said:
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.
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:

#### JasonRox

Homework Helper
Gold Member
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.

#### hypatia

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.

#### fourier jr

rachmaninoff said:
Or:
Issac Stern (greatest recorded violinist ever, imo)
Heifetz
Itzhak Perlman
Joachim
Joshua Bell
David Oistrakh
Pinchas Zukerman
Hilary Hahn
Aaron Rosand
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!)

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.

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.
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.

#### rachmaninoff

About not playing unsupervised, i disagree with this greatly. ..
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.

rachmaninoff said:
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.
Fair enough. I apologize for misinterpreting your post.

#### arildno

Homework Helper
Gold Member
Dearly Missed
motai said:
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.
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:

#### JasonRox

Homework Helper
Gold Member
I played the Clarinet in high school, for music class. Once I learned how to blow in it correctly, I caught on quick.

I got a 98%. :P

The information given so far is priceless.

#### motai

arildno said:
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:
A good start though. Awful, squeaky noises are better than no sound at all. I have been given the advice before "If you are going to screw up, might as well screw up so that everyone can hear it". Timidity isn't too useful in music, unless you're purposefully playing a pianissimo.

I've had more than my share of god-awful, screetchy, shrill, squaky noises come out of my instrument when I first started out. I still do if the instrument isn't warmed up or some other problem with the instrument.

#### JasonRox

Homework Helper
Gold Member
I have a question...

I kind of have no one to turn to on advice besides a teacher, which I haven't met yet.

I was thinking of taking one lesson, and see how things go... then decide to buy one. Maybe the teacher has a used one available.

Is that fine?

#### motai

JasonRox said:
I have a question...

I kind of have no one to turn to on advice besides a teacher, which I haven't met yet.

I was thinking of taking one lesson, and see how things go... then decide to buy one. Maybe the teacher has a used one available.

Is that fine?
I guess that could work... though you have to remember that you will not sound too great during the first lesson. No one ever does (unless they are some sort of progedy). The teacher will probably know more about whatever used instruments that he/she does have, and if he/she doesn't have any, you might be able to coax him/her into accompanying you to a music story to find a decent violin. While the teacher is there he/she might be able to give you recommendations over different supplies (resin and so forth).

If you really like the violin, don't get set back by the fact that you will sound less-than-perfect on the first try. In the music business persistence is rewarded.

It would be suitable for you to actually have your own violin, so taking lessons without an instrument that you own will be a little awkward (remember that you will be training on a different instrument and it will act differently than the one that you will likely buy).

It usually takes years to get accustomed to your own instrument. But once you have it down, it should fit like an old glove that doesn't smell so much. :tongue2: