In order to start learning to play the violin, you will need a few things. These are just the very basics of what you need, of course. First, we’ll discuss how to evaluate your first violin. First of all, you’ll need…a violin! Hopefully, this isn’t a surprise. There is a wide variety of violins out there. So let’s check out all about playing violin for beginners!
Take also a look at the following video about a 24-year old beginner from Norway learned to play the violin. This violin was the first instrument she learned to play and the video includes footage since she started to record since she first began playing the violin.
If you have a used violin sitting in front of you that you are considering, check the following: Make sure that it has a bridge that is installed and upright under the strings. Make sure that the front, side, and back panels are not separating from each other.
The image below shows you the areas to especially check for this problem. If you find this problem, you should consult a violin repair shop if you are still interested in using the violin.
Make sure there are no significant cracks. My violin does have a crack, below, but it has been repaired. Make sure the violin itself does not rattle when moved. If it does, there is a possibility that a special wooden dowel inside the violin called the sound post has fallen. This requires repair by a professional.
Very occasionally you can find a good instrument for sale via Craigslist, eBay, or Amazon, but you definitely have to watch out for cheap instruments and unreasonable prices. In general, you should not be paying less than about $300 to have a chance of getting a quality instrument.
The easiest way to do that is to look up the instrument online and read reviews on it. To find information about the violin:
- Hold the violin with the side of the violin at eye-level, with the top of the violin upwards.
- Peer into the f-hole (one of the two identical holes cut out on the top of the violin) and tilt the top of the violin slowly towards you.
- Read the label that is on the inside back of the violin. Copy down that information and use it to search the Internet for more information about the instrument.
NOTE: Do NOT get excited if the violin label says something like “Copy of Stradivarius”. Many, many violin labels say that and some of them are horrible. No one truly knows exactly what Stradivarius did to create his amazing and VERY expensive violins. Most of these problems are repairable, although some are particularly expensive to repair.
Evaluating a Violin Bow for Beginning Violinists
If you have a bow, check if the bow is more or less straight. Sight down the stick itself.
- Wooden bows tend to warp especially badly, depending on humidity. Fiberglass bows, which tend to be used more by beginners, do not warp nearly so badly.
- Is the hair on the bow stained, greasy, or especially dirty?
- Are there any splits or cracks in the stick?
- Does the nut at the mechanism at the frog of the bow turn easily, but without feeling sloppy? Does it tighten and loosen the hair of the bow? This is not at the pointy end of the bow.
The violin may or may not come with a bow. If you try to play the violin with the bow and the bow makes no sound whatsoever, either the hair on the bow (which is easily replaceable) is ruined or it has never had violin rosin applied to it (which induces friction that makes the string make sound). To learn more about tuning your violin, check out this post.
You will also need some rosin, providing the instrument and its bow are both usable. Rosin comes in several varieties, depending on your taste and your level of ability on the violin. If the violin comes with a cake of rosin, you can more than likely simply use that for a good length of time. There are several kinds of violin rosin, depending on your needs.