Violin-playing is a skill that takes years to master. It’s also one of the most rewarding instruments for any young musician. But it can be hard work, especially at first! There are many things beginners do wrong in their early stages of study – and if you’re not careful these mistakes will cost you dearly later on when it comes time to play with other musicians. This article discusses some common errors made by violinists when learning how to play the instrument, and what they can do about them!
This is a good way to make your violin sound awful in the beginning, and it is certainly not a position that you want to stay in for very long. When learning to play and read violin sheet music, over-extending fingers can put unnecessary tension on them, which will also cause them to “lock up” when trying to play. This will lead to even more mistakes and frustration.
Overcoming this mistake: You should be able to easily balance your violin bow with only one finger while playing open strings at first. Once you have mastered this, add another finger until all four are being used for balance. Then add two full-fingered positions where the pads of your fingertips touch the string without any space between or half-positioned notes where part of your fingertip is touching and part isn’t (this usually sounds better than having no contact at all).
Once you are able to play the full-fingered positions, focus on producing sound evenly across all four strings. Keeping your fingers close to the fingerboard will help with this. As you play, have someone place their hand below yours so they can feel how much support is being applied. Any excess movement of your fingertips or arm should be eliminated for a solid connection with your violin that produces an even sound across all four strings.
This mistake gives many students an early dislike towards playing the violin because it makes playing difficult and frustrating by putting strain on the arms and wrists while also limiting bow control over where it is going in space (making vibrato very difficult). Oftentimes, this mistake is made worse when students are not given enough help or guidance with proper bow control, so it becomes even more difficult to remove the wrist drop once habits have become ingrained.
Overcoming this mistake: The first thing you can do is experiment with different shoulder heights while playing to see if there’s any difference in your ability to drop the wrist. If one shoulder height allows for a higher elbow without dropping the wrist, then try working on that new position. You may need to turn your violin neck slightly down until you are able to achieve an improved playing position.
Many beginner teachers tend to focus more on the left-hand technique rather than the right-hand technique when teaching beginners, which leaves some students struggling on their own by the time they reach later levels of study where things really need to come together for even sound and proper vibrato. The best way to approach an unbalanced violin or viola neck is with gradual, patient retraining of the wrist drop at a pace that will benefit you as a student (which may be slower than some teachers would like if they haven’t had experience teaching students with difficulties).
Gradual repetition of scales and arpeggios will help put everything into perspective because it’s hard to move the arm and wrist around while playing fast notes on single strings, which makes it easier to feel any tension creeping in. Use this method on all four strings and throughout different exercises/scales/arpeggios on both one string and several strings simultaneously. Once you establish an improved connection between your violin and your arm, this habit will start to feel more natural and eventually become second nature.
Using too much pressure
Pressure is necessary for some parts of the bow stroke, but it is easy for students to over-use their bow weight when playing because they are often told that they need to play with “pressure” without being given any indication about what that means or how it should feel. Pressing excessively hard will cause lots of tension throughout your body which can impact everything you do on the violin. It makes bowing very difficult due to the lack of friction between bow hair and string as well as creating harsh sound quality by putting excessive strain on your instrument’s bridge which may result in warping over time.
Overcoming this mistake: We often use a metronome to help students develop a sense of bow control which can be used here as well. Try setting your metronome to quarter or half notes with an even tempo and begin bowing with no pressure on the strings, completely relying on your weight to produce sound. Gradually increase bow pressure until you are able to play through the entire exercise without losing control over how much pressure you’re using at any point in time.
Only when you have achieved this goal should you add in metronome marking that indicates beat divisions (otherwise it’s just a waste of time). Eventually, try increasing the speed of your metronome while maintaining a steady bow before finally playing through all exercises/scales/arpeggios with metronome markings.
Only using one bow
You’ll get very tired if you play violin for an entire recital without changing your bow hand, and it will make things sound stale quickly. When playing any instrument in an orchestra, each section does their part before handing the performance off to the next section and that’s how we should approach learning to play the violin: by always making sure that we’re challenging ourselves and growing as musicians rather than putting too much focus on practicing only what we’re good at already.
Overcoming this mistake: The best thing you can do is to learn the musical piece(s) you want to play while making sure that you switch up your bowing frequently so that it doesn’t become monotonous. Switching bowing every few measures is a good way to start, and try not to use the same pattern of alternating bows more than twice in a row. There are also many ways you can color your music by using accents or changes in speed to give it added life!
If you want to learn how to play the violin, avoid these mistakes and make sure that you’re challenging yourself often. It’s not easy learning a new instrument of any kind, but it is important for your progress as well as enjoyment in playing. So do what works best for you and experiment with different bowing techniques until you find one that feels comfortable while also using metronomes on occasion so that your timing stays consistent throughout every measure. Violinists are always working towards mastering their instruments. However, there will be many opportunities along the way where we can all benefit from some extra guidance! We hope this article has helped provide some insight into common pitfalls when starting out on stringed instruments like violins or violas!