The 3 Main Barriers to Learning Violin

May 12, 2021

When you are starting to learn the violin for the first time, or you have tried this before, I want to ensure your success by explaining why students fail at the violin (and any other subject they study). 

It could seem like there are a lot of reasons one could fail at a subject. The thing is, when we really boil it down to the basic, fundamental truth of the matter, it does happen to come down to these 3 points that I'm about to discuss.

Not to say that life is not a factor to consider. It is, for sure. No doubt about it. If there's anything we've learned over the past year and a half, it's that life can throw us some completely unexpected curve balls. Sometimes it's not even a ball. Sometimes it's a sharp smack in the face or sometimes it's just a bucket of "what the heck is happening" poured all over your life. But that's ok. The point I'm trying to make is that learning something doesn't have to add to that "what the heck is happening" feeling. There is a way to pull...

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Violin Lesson #1 for Absolute Beginners

Jan 26, 2021

 

Article By Marie Votapka, Video Lesson by Antoinette Ady

Your first violin lesson: what the parts of the violin are, how they work, and how to hold the instrument. 

An Orientation

For all you adult students out there who have ever wondered - is learning violin for children? Am I too old? Is it too late? I'm here to tell you that the answer is undoubtedly, 100%, most definitely NO. Learning the violin is NOT just for children, you are NOT too old, and it is NEVER ever, ever too late. Don't you ever let those thoughts stop you. 

I know it can be challenging to learn as an adult but guess what? It's challenging for kids too! And possibly even more so because music and violin playing involve concepts that young kids may not be able to grasp right away. At least not as quickly and directly as an adult student would be able to. Things like having an average adult level vocabulary, knowing basic math, having fine motor skills...these are all advantages more mature...

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Violin Lesson #2 for Absolute Beginners: How to Pluck & Learning the 4 Open Strings

Jan 19, 2021

Just starting out on violin? Watch Lesson #1 to learn how to properly hold the violin in playing position. Once you've gotten that down, it's time for the next step, learning how to pluck.

 

 Plucking, or, pizzicato, as it is formally known, is one of two ways to play the violin. The other way to play is to use the bow (formally termed arco.)

To pluck the violin, you are going to use your right index finger. Use the flesh (pad) of your finger, not the nail. Pluck about an inch and a half higher than the end of the fingerboard (meaning, in the direction closer to the scroll).

This is also a great time to learn your open strings. "Open" means you are not stopping the string with a finger from your left hand. It's just the sound of the string, as-is.

Practice this lesson to master the 4 strings on the violin. Spend about a week on it (or perhaps slightly less, if you get it down quicker), and then advance on to the next lesson!

Happy Practicing!

 

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Key Signatures and How to Read Them

Jan 13, 2021

By Marie Votapka

 

Since our last blog update broached the subject of music theory and the importance of knowing the notes, I thought I’d cover another aspect of music theory that I feel is commonly left out or under-taught. That topic is key signatures. Before I delve into all that, I want to define some key words, terms and symbols. 

Key: In music, the key is what note the song or piece is based around. From this, you will know what scale (series of 8 notes) the piece of written music includes by default. It is indicated by showing you a certain number of specific sharps and/or flats at the beginning of the song before the music starts. 

Sharp (#): This symbol (as much as I cringe to say it, the one that looks like a hashtag) indicates that a note should be played half a step higher than it is normally played. It is always placed on the staff line in front of (that is, to the left of) the note. The sharp symbol will sit on the line or space on the staff...

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Music Theory Step 1: Knowing the Notes

Jan 05, 2021

By Marie Votapka

 

Let’s talk about music theory. 

What is it, why is it...where even is it? Who came up with all of this stuff? How are you supposed to learn it? 

Music theory has unfortunately become known as a confusing, frustrating, even exasperating subject that at times can seem as though it is only understandable to those with some sort of special, beautiful mind. 

First of all, let me just say this: everyone has their own special and beautiful mind. That may be a bit cliche, but it’s true! No one sees the world exactly the way you do, and that in itself is something special. Being an individual and using your own personal expression is a HUGE part of music, so never take your own way of hearing, feeling or communicating things for granted. Hang onto that, and use it in sharing your music with others.  

Second of all, the idea that music theory is a dusty old subject meant only for composers or genius musicians is just not true. Music...

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Practice Makes Perfect - IF You Have the Right Tools

Dec 29, 2020

by Marie Votapka

     We’ve all heard that practice makes perfect, but, is that really true if you don’t a.) practice the right things and b.) practice using the right tools? 

     The answer might surprise you. Practice - IF you’re not practicing correctly - can actually lead to developing bad habits, poor form or shaky technique. So the key is not only to practice, but to practice correctly! And a large part of practicing correctly involves having the right tools and resources to work with. As a violin student this would of course include having a decent instrument and bow (click here for a video on how to go about purchasing a good beginner violin), good rosin, strings and other accessories, etc.

     But let’s start with talking about the good old musical education basics that apply to pretty much any instrument out there, and not just the violin:

  1. A good reliable tuner 
  2. Your trusty often...
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