Forget everything you’ve ever heard about learning to play violin. It’s not true.

by Fiddle Chick

1) Violin is the most difficult instrument to learn. FALSE.

I’ve tried my hand at other instruments without much success, and gave them up in pretty short order. But the violin is different. It’s just easier. I’ve been playing a little over three years and I have no intention of giving it up. I’m not saying I’m good at it, but getting good at anything takes time and practice. I’m getting there. I’m better today than I was yesterday, and I’m certainly better than I was three years ago. I compare it to learning how to type back in high school — on a manual typewriter, no less. It wasn’t difficult to learn where all the keys were, but it was slow and sometimes frustrating tyring to build speed without errors. Now here I am 30 years later, typing for a living at nearly 100 words per minute. Somewhere along the way I became good at it. I’m not sure I have another 30 years to master the violin, but each day that I do have will be better than the day before.

2) You have to have a background in music to play violin. FALSE.

I didn’t know the first thing about music when I first picked up a violin. Of course, it would have been helpful, but the lack of it hasn’t stopped me. I’m learning a lot as I go.

3) You can’t learn on your own without taking lessons. FALSE.

I’ve never taken a formal lesson. I’m sure I would benefit greatly from a private teacher, but thanks to modern technology, I’m able to move along with the help of youtube and other online resources. Sometimes I really surprise myself.

4) To play violin, you must play by ear. FALSE.

I can’t just “play by ear.” I need to know what the notes are ahead of time. But I can’t read sheet music either. I can decipher it slowly, write down the notes, and then play the melody as I hear it. So even though I can’t truly play by ear or read sheet music, I can combine both methods to get the job done. It might not be ideal, but it works for me. Keep in mind that you DO  need to have a good ear to know if you’re hitting the notes too sharp or flat. So if that’s what they mean when they say “play by ear,” then yes, it’s true. But that, too, comes with practice. And learning to improvise is something you pick up along the way, without even realizing it.

5) You have to be really, really good to play fast fiddle tunes. FALSE.

Faster is easier. Much easier. It’s the slow, drawn out tunes that require a greater skill. Just take my word for it.

By Fiddle Chick

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