3 Misnomers in Violin Playing
Violin playing is a dynamic and complex learning process that can be cumbersome when the syntax is not built upon existing concepts.
Learn 3 misnomers in violin teaching and how to upgrade your languaging for better results.
Down Bows & Up Bows:
Since the bow moves in lateral directions, left and right, the actual words "up" and "down" do not correlate with the motions and can confuse both young violinists and their parents during home practice.
For violin players having difficulty integrating the words "down" and "up" into their playing, consider substituting the words "open" for down bows and "close" for up bows. Open refers to the arm opening up straight for what is termed the down bow, and close refers to abducting the forearm in what is termed an up bow.
I always told my students that if I could go back in time, I would change the term "chinrest" to "jawrest" since it's a misnomer. In reality, the chin is not involved in violin placement, and it is the jaw that contacts the face of the violin. This terminology has befuddled more than one student in my career, and they tried defeatedly to place their chin there. It is useful to point out this discrepancy so that the violin posture is not inadvertently misinterpreted during home practice.
Learn about my favorite type of "chinrest" HERE.
High and Low Fingers:
Words like "high" & "low" are confusing to beginning violin students while still learning how to play the instrument because these words are associated literally and do not yet connect with pitch vibrations.
Consider altering your instruction to be a description location like "closer to the bridge (or nose)" and "closer to the scroll" instead for more efficient results in the initial stages of learning these distinctions.
Learn a neat trick for teaching "low" 1st fingers HERE.
Have a languaging teaching tip?
Please share in the comments below.
Warm-Up Routines for Violin (tutorial video & PDF chart) uses a simple but powerful open string exercise to learn 13 different technical exercises for beginning, intermediate, and advanced level violin.
This resource is for both teachers and students. Teachers can use this to help create a framework of goals to help their students advance the quality of their music-making while developing technique and tone production. This resource is also designed for students to identify what level they are at and take responsibility for ensuring they accomplish the expectations that should be studied at that level.
By the end of this tutorial you will learn:
1- Why it is so important to do this warm-up, holding on to the edge of the violin even if you are no longer a beginner.
2- Another reason why every violin teacher should purchase a roll of painter's tape (seriously, this stuff has no end of useful purposes & you will thank me later).
3- A weird but super cool way to use the violin to play the bow (yep, that's not a typo, you read that correctly).
Watch the tutorial video below and download the free accompanying PDF chart on the M4YY FREEBIES page.
Learn more about the "Violin Teaching Supplies - From a Hardware Store" video referenced in the Warm-Up Routines for Violin tutorial below.
Learn more about the "Tiger Paws & Table Corners" technicals also referenced in the Warm-Up Routines for Violin video below.
Guest author Adrian Martinez helps tackle one of the most popular questions - how long does it take to learn how to play the violin?
How long does it take to learn the violin? We’re going to start by responding to this question with what is perhaps the most frustrating answer: it depends.
First, it depends on what you mean by “learn.” Within a day, you might possibly be able to play a few notes - within a week, you might be able to play those notes in a way that kind-of-sort-of sounds like a song. You might then say you’ve “learned” the violin. On the other hand, if you’re asking how long it takes to master the violin, you might fall back on Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours, or you might be really impish and say that absolute mastery is impossible. After all, music is ever-growing and changing, and even micro-adjustments to technique can produce totally different sounding songs.
We might then look at the extraordinary variety inherent in humankind. There are so many different students, each with different levels of experience. Someone who has played the guitar before might find it easier to develop a left-hand technique than a total novice. On the other hand, another guitarist might find the lack of frets daunting and disorienting, which could curb their progress.
How you’re learning can also be a pretty important factor. Whether or not you’ve got a personal instructor, if you’re taking online music lessons, if you have access to sheet music, or you’re just trying to guess for yourself.
Other factors include:
Of course, you’re not here reading this blog post for the answer “it depends” - though elaborating on why it depends can help you narrow down what your goals and potential barriers might be.
We’re going to make some assumptions, then. We’re going to assume you’ve never played an instrument before, you don’t know any music theory - that you’re basically a complete beginner. We’re also going to assume you practice for around 5-6 hours a week (an hour a day with a day or two off or 45 minutes every day) and that you have a teacher.
The first month is all about the absolute basics. You’ll learn how to hold the violin and the bow (and yourself). You’ll also learn the basic anatomy of a violin. It’s unlikely that you’ll use the fingers on your left hand during the first month; instead, you’ll focus on your bow technique. You will do exercises like this & this (click on the links for some fun YouTube tutorial videos from M4YV).
You’ll also begin to learn the basics of music theory - mainly how to read sheet music. Learning about music theory is an ongoing discipline. There’s an incredible depth, diversity, and richness to theory, especially once you start going outside of the Western canon, so there’s a lot to learn here.
Hi! It's me, Heather. I absolutely love working on the Music for Young Violinists project and all the many facets: blogging, website, music, teaching materials, freebies, videos, newsletter and giveaway contests. The best part is connecting with you so feel free to drop me a line. You can learn more about me on the "ABOUT" page. Thanks!