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How do you keep from getting overwhelmed?
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New member
October 4, 2017 - 11:20 am
Member Since: October 4, 2017
Forum Posts: 2
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As someone new to playing the violin, how do you keep from getting overwhelmed by all the fingering, notes, bow placement, tuning, proper technique etc?

Brora, North-east Scotland
October 4, 2017 - 12:20 pm
Member Since: March 22, 2014
Forum Posts: 2236
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Welcome @hollandmin !

Hard question.   If you have no earlier musical background and this is your "first instrument" - sure - there's a lot to come to terms with, and you/whoever will have to start from "basics" and take one step at a time, which I imagine could possibly be a slow process... ( depends on how YOU learn, and how you choose to learn, and what resources and/or tutor you have - if you go down that road - I suppose )

If you have some kind of background ( not even actual playing of an instrument, but a  simple understanding of music theory, like how scales are created - major, minor, or even "do re mi fa sol la ti do" kind of thing and you have an "ear" - sure - you can probably very quickly (once tuned properly) pick out a tune you know in your head.

It also IMO depends greatly on if you are learning as a youngster or an adult - we learn differently - and (again, just my opinion) an awful lot of stuff is targeted at "young starters" ( which is GREAT for them of course - and the paid tutors ! )

Anyway - in summary - I guess - work on only one or two aspects at a time.  If you ARE a raw newcomer to music and violin is your first instrument - make sure you can tune your instrument properly (with whatever technology you have to assist - an actual tuner or a 'phone app etc) - then - simply spend some time experimenting with the open strings - work to draw a consistent even tone while bowing the open strings.

Forget about, or, put to the back of your mind, suggested "limitations" which might suggest "use only the middle 1/3rd of the bow" - open your mind, experiment, see what works, what doesn't.   Observe how SENSITIVE the instrument is to changes on the bowing action.   Work hard to keep the bow (largely) straight and at 90 degrees to the string(s) ...   Observe how tilting the bow so that only the edge of the hair as distinct from the flat, can make such a huge difference both to volume and tonality.   Observe how "different" ( not just in volume ) your instrument sounds when played close to, or even slightly over the edge of the fingerboard compared to how it sounds when played really close to the bridge...

And that;s just for starters - to me, that's some of the "important things" to understand about the instrument.   

Being able to sight-read is at this point unimportant (as I see it) - learning to read music from sheet is really a separate issue (although, in beginners courses, it is almost always deemed highly important - personally, I don't know why!!!! )

Take your time, relax, don't feel overwhelmed - it will come to you !

All the best with your violin/fiddle journey !  thumbs-up

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

New member
October 4, 2017 - 12:36 pm
Member Since: October 4, 2017
Forum Posts: 2
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thanks Billy, I appreciate it!!


October 4, 2017 - 12:41 pm
Member Since: July 23, 2015
Forum Posts: 1466
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I ask myself this all the time, haha. 

In the very beginning when I would start to feel frustrated and overwhelmed, I would stop practicing whatever was driving me nuts, and play something I already had down, even something as simple as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

I guess I still do that, but I tough it out through whatever I am practicing at least once all the way through, then will just go back to a tune I know and enjoy playing. 

I always think, I know I must love the instrument with how much I let it torture me, haha.

On a journey to learn the fiddle since July 24, 2015
☆•*¨*•.¸¸¸.•*¨* •☆•*¨*¨*•¸¸¸.•*¨*•☆

Brora, North-east Scotland
October 4, 2017 - 12:47 pm
Member Since: March 22, 2014
Forum Posts: 2236
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ROFL @damfino !!!

Hahahaha....  nah - it's not torturing you, it is simply seeking a symbiotic relationship, where you depend on each other ! 

The "devil's instrument" does have a certain mind-of-its-own - be cautious !   LOL  roflolbunny_pole_dancerbunny_pole_dancerbunny_pole_dancer

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)


October 4, 2017 - 7:22 pm
Member Since: September 21, 2013
Forum Posts: 488
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I agree with a lot of the above. When I first started I had almost no music experience at all minus some piano lessons when I was a little kid so I was a fairly fresh slate. Since I lived where there were very few violin teachers at the time I used this site and I started with fiddlermans "finger on the g string" and I practiced and practiced and practiced until I was so frustrated that I began to play around a bit to just break it up . When I felt relaxed and calm again I would go back to the video re-watch it and try again and again. Slowly I found a system that worked for me.

I also invested in the essential elements books which allowed me some structure of how to proceed so I wasn't drowning in all the information and I think the first book does a great intro into bow holds, note reading, and slowly eases in the other symbols and embellishments and fingerings.

When you first start out find a teacher if you can....if there is no teacher find a book method (the three most popular are in order seem to be Suzuki, essential elements and O'Connor method. Some adults find Suzuki slow and painfully boring since it was designed more for the children, think twinkle twinkle little star,  but many people praise how it builds on itself.)  Then get a tuner or down load a tuner app and start playing.

Eventually you will find a system that works for you from learning new pieces, techniques, readings and such as well as practicing what you already know and just having fun in general.

I also find posting videos for critique as well as playing for Youtube/live is really a great incentive for me too 😀

Lead me, Follow me, or get out of my way!

             ~General George S. Patton

Honorary advisor

October 5, 2017 - 12:50 am
Member Since: September 30, 2014
Forum Posts: 375
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Welcome to the forum,

So much has been said and can be said about being overwhelmed playing the violin. 

Playing the violin requires us to be expert multitaskers, (which unfortunately I'm not good  at) but as we progress in our learning about the violin, be patient Rome was not built in a day. Work on getting comfortable holding the violin and bow, this in it self is an evolving process, at least it has been my experience. 

Don't short change just bowing open strings trying to make the absolute best sound you can make, making adjustments in bow speed, bow pressure and contact point. One thing I read and it made perfect since, "always make the best sound you can make" during practice, performance, anytime. Anyway isn't that what drew us to play the violin was it's voice? 

Take a deep breath, relax and enjoy the opportunity to learn to play the king of the melody instruments.


Master the Frog and you have mastered the bow.

Albert Sammons

Derry, NH
New member
November 16, 2017 - 11:47 pm
Member Since: October 10, 2017
Forum Posts: 1
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I realize this question is a bit old (and I've only been playing a couple weeks), but I learned something on my own the other day that no one can ever really teach you--you need to play the instrument as if you are its master, even if you aren't.  I've run through plenty of bowing exercises, fingering exercises, posture exercises, and all of the other exercises you can think of.  What I learned is that playing tentatively (as if you don't know what you're doing, which many of us don't) will make you sound terrible.  Whatever you're working on, play it like you own it, even if you know it sounds like a cat in a blender.  At least if you're putting your heart into it, if you still suck at something, it can be fixed.  Depending on your ear (can you hear your own mistakes?), you may be able to identify what you're doing wrong and fix it through repetition.  If you don't have that natural ear, your teacher certainly can tell you what you're doing wrong and advise how to fix it.

Advanced member
November 17, 2017 - 6:59 am
Member Since: July 13, 2017
Forum Posts: 61
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@wonderputz I think what you're finding is self-confidence 🙂 Keep it up and you'll make great progress, but don't be discouraged is there are those days that you have doubts. You have a good attitude.

Let us know how you're progressing.


Bob in Lone Oak, Texas

Fort Lauderdale
November 17, 2017 - 8:25 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 12740
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@wonderputz - Interesting take on learning and enjoying what you do. Sounds like your discovering how to enjoy your journey more which I LOVE to hear.
Thanks for your input. "play it like you own it" is right.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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