10 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Playing The Violin

Violins are one of the most popular string instruments.  The smallest of all instruments in the string family, it is a popular choice for children.

Listening to a violin performance can be therapeutic to the listener.  Watching the ease in which the violinist is playing the violin may lead you to want to learn how to play.

Playing the violin can be easier if you have played another instrument.  The piano can be a great precursor.

Regardless of your musical background, you will need a certain level of discipline. Hard work, commitment and dedication and needed when learning any new skill.

Whether you are a youthful beginner or picking up your first instrument, there are some things you will need to learn.

Common mistakes can hinder your progress and your success.

Learning these simple mistakes to avoid when playing the violin can be quite useful.

1. Teaching yourself to play without knowing the craft

So often people make the decision to try something new and never investigate the craft.

It’s easy to pick up a manual or watch a video.  The question is, can you learn all you need to know?

When it comes to playing the violin, having prior experience playing an instrument can help.

Being familiar with the piano also goes a long way. It may help you to do-it-yourself.

If you try and find it is too hard, don’t quit.

Seek the help of a professional instructor.

Belief in yourself is a large part of learning.

2. Purchasing the wrong Violin

Violins come in eight main sizes so it is important to choose what is right for you.

The most common ways to measure is to begin at the neck and measure to the wrist or palm of the hand.  If measuring for a child, consider possible growth spurts.

Violins also come in different brands and knowledge levels.  Student, intermediate and professional are the three categories.

Know which one you fit into and don’t waste money on the wrong instrument.

Playing the violin, like playing tennis, needs equipment that is a perfect fit.

Try out several and buy the one you are most comfortable playing.

3. Playing the Violin with poor posture

There is more to playing the violin than having a strong shoulder and flexible wrist. All of the muscles in the neck, arms, shoulder back, and even core area are used when playing the violin [1].

Your upper arms will get a good work-out.

Sit-up straight and plant your feet firmly on the ground to control the core area.

In the beginning, you will have to remind yourself to pay attention to your posture.

Over time it as your muscles strengthen, good posture will be automatic.

4. Ignoring what the elbow is telling you

Our bodies always tell us when something is wrong.  As fatigue sets in the arms weaken and the elbow drops.

When you feel this happening it is time to take a break.

Stop playing the violin and focus on exercises to help develop your muscles.

Continuing to play when the muscles are strained will affect your ability to play. It can also lead to injury.

Ensure that you are pulling the bow with your elbow and not your shoulder.

5. Going down with the sinking Titanic

If your posture is bad and your muscles are tired, chances are the violin is sinking downward.

Poor body posture while playing the violin will cause the bow to slip into the fingerboard.

Leaning backward a bit and lifting your head upwards will cause the arms to raise the violin to the horizontal position.

6. Misuse of the bow

Being rough and reckless with the bow won’t work.

How the bow and strings connect determines the music you make.

Placing the bow on the string with the right amount of pressure will help you guide it across the strings with ease.  In return, the violin will produce a sweeter sound.

Some pieces require the full length of the bow.  Don’t be afraid to go from tip to heel.

Bowing exercises will also help you master your technique.

Here’s a video to show you how to hold a violin bow:

7. Failing to learn proper technique

Practice makes perfect, but only if you are doing it right.

In order to perfect the craft of playing the violin, a technique is important.

You haven’t mastered an application or sound until it’s confirmed by an independent party.

If you are teaching yourself, you still need someone to grade your performance.

Don’t have thin skin.  Be open to critiques.  Constructive criticism when received the right way, only serves to make you better.

8. Forgetting violin practice is a balancing act

We all have a thing we love and things we hate.  In practice, we tend to lean towards the things that come easy and avoid what is difficult.

As a general rule, divide your time practicing scales and études in the first half [2]. Focus on your solo repertoire the other half.

Following this simple step will undoubtedly improve your technique.

It will also lead to a more productive practice session.

9. Not properly maintaining your violin

Broken violins don’t make good music.

If you make the investment learn to care for your violin.

Two important tips:

The bow is curved. To maintain that curve you must be loosened when not in use.

Bowstrings require friction.  If that friction does not exist the strings are slippery and won’t create sound.

To solve this problem rosin is used on the strings.  It’s easy to apply and forget it. Rosin leaves a residue on the strings and it has to be cleaned off [3].

10. Giving up too easy

Playing the violin isn’t easy.  It requires commitment. Practice is a must and has to be consistent.

Seeking critiques is a necessity to perfect your performance.

Sharing your gift should be the motivator to keeping moving forward.

If you can avoid these common mistakes you are well on your way.

As you master the art of playing the violin, check back with the Music Advisor for more tips.  Check out what we think is the best of when it comes to the violin.

Stephanie Su

Started learning music when she was four years old, Stephanie is a music teacher and a music therapist who is highly proficient in Piano, Violin, Guitar, and Ukulele. She likes to learn, teach, and share her music playing experiences.

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