A gorgeous instrument, the violin has been around for centuries and continues to be one of the most beguiling of classical instruments. Whether you’re five or 85, learning how to play the violin is a dream for many. In this blog, we’ll discuss the important elements that you will need to begin your musical education. For nearly a decade, Máiréad Nesbitt has inspired thousands of devoted fans with her beautiful blend of Irish and Classical music. Known best for her stunning solos on Celtic Woman’s albums, her exquisite talent continues to stun and astonish many fans. Don’t forget to download Máiréad’s newest album, Hibernia, from iTunes and Amazon today!
The most important element to your exciting new education, purchasing a violin is the first step to learning the art. While the instrument doesn’t have to be the best that money can buy, it is important to purchase a quality violin. Expect to spend at least a few hundred dollars on the instrument. Purchasing a cheap or manufactured violin means that it could possibly crack, slip out of tune, or even not be built correctly. Stop by a local music store to peruse violins and ask questions. Some people don’t know that violins come in many different sizes, but if you’re 10 or older, a full-size instrument will be the right choice for you. Try many violins and don’t settle on the first one that sounds good to you. If you’re completely unsure of where to begin, search for a local violin teacher who can give you some pointers and even accompany you to a violin shop to help you choose the right instrument for you.
The other vital part to learning violin, a bow is what creates sound when drawn across the violin’s strings. Often, a bow and violin come together as one package, but if you only have a violin, it’s important to purchase a bow. Horsehair is what is stretched across the bow stick, and like any type of hair, it’s important to maintain the strands carefully. That being said, don’t purchase a bow with yellowed or decaying hair, and make sure it’s the correct size to fit your violin. There is a huge range of prices, but you can purchase a good bow for about 100 dollars. Test it along with your violin, and make sure you can hold and manipulate it well. Serious violinists have several bows to use and change out, but don’t feel the pressure to buy three bows. Find a quality bow that you find fits your hand well and is easy to maneuver.
Like the chalk a rock climber uses for grip while climbing, rosin is the element that is gently spread across the bow hairs to add traction and resistance. Hair is normally quite slick, but the rosin gives just the right amount of grip to cause the violin strings to sing. Rosin is typically made from pine resin, which is why it sometimes is referred to as “resin.” Like anything, there is a definite scale for rosin, and it’s always best to purchase quality. Rosin will last you for years, especially if it’s maintained and kept in a cool, dry place.
Without a shoulder rest, it can be hard to grip the violin on your shoulder. Some violinists choose not to use a shoulder rest or a folded-up rag or piece of material. While it can be learned that way, it’s best for beginners to use a shoulder rest. Not using a shoulder rest can cause neck, shoulder, collar bone, or back pain, so it’s a good choice to extend your playing life and not incur muscle issues and tenderness over years of playing. Years ago, there were only one or two types of shoulder rests and musicians had to make do. Nowadays, there is a huge selection and plenty of shapes and designs to try out. Don’t be discouraged if you try a couple of different models and still aren’t 100 percent comfortable. Keep your options open and be willing to make adjustments. Some violinists affix a sponge or piece of material to one side of the rest so that it will fit their body’s proportions better. Ask musicians who have similar body types as you so you can try their suggestions. Make adjustments to your own shoulder rest to create the perfect fit for you and your needs.
A violin case is vital to the protection and transportation of your instrument. You don’t have to spend your entire life’s savings, but it is important to find a case that is strong and durable. Make sure that your case fits your instrument correctly, because too large or too small can cause your violin to shift around. Violin cases come in many different shapes and designs. There are hardshell cases with a strong plastic exterior, cases that have straps so they can be carried like a backpack, and even cases that have wheels, much like a suitcase. Whatever you would prefer, do your research and make sure you’re buying a quality case. No one wants a broken violin, so even if the case seems cool or fits your personal style, it’s not worth placing your instrument in danger. A serious no-no is a softshell case or to ever carry your violin unprotected.
Learning the violin will open your mind and heart to an incredible experience and skill that will stay with you forever. While it may seem like an intense commitment, it will be one that you’ll end up loving and devoting as much of your free time to as possible. If you’re interested in beginning violin, inspire yourself with Máiréad Nesbitt’s newest album, Hibernia. It will bring new ideas and inspiration and continue to deepen your love for both Irish and Celtic music. Download her album from iTunes and Amazon today!