When someone asks ‘can I teach myself violin?’ what they’re really asking is, ‘do I really need to have proper lessons with a proper teacher, paying proper money?’.
It’s totally understandable to ask that. After all, lessons can be expensive and there’s no doubt that it has also never been easier to find all sorts of information online for free that can tell you what you need to know from basic music theory to video lessons that will pretty much cover all levels.
So why then would you need a violin teacher at all?
Much depends on your reasons for learning the violin in the first place. If you want to progress to any sort of serious level (to join a local orchestra for instance) with your instrument - any instrument for that matter - then it is certainly hugely beneficial to undertake a structured curriculum (such as ABRSM and many others offer) with a recognised musical qualification at the end of each grade or level. Those bits of paper will make it much easier to be thought of as a serious musician.
Again, you can easily acquire the grade books and work through them yourself, however, without the help of a teacher to explain and expound on some of the finer points it is very difficult.
Having a good teacher can be of huge benefit to anyone trying to learn any kind of instrument. Learning to play takes patience, diligence, perseverance and hard work. Even with a good teacher it is often difficult to maintain the right level of discipline with regards to practice and technique.
Just like a personal trainer at a gym, your teacher should provide encouragement, advice and keep you motivated when you need a little extra push. Let’s face it, even the most dedicated student has moments where they’re just not feeling it and would rather be doing something else. Having a regular lesson to turn up to, with someone whose time you have paid for and committed to, stops you from bunking off.
In any process of learning there will inevitably be times when you need extra explanation, demonstration or just need to know that you are doing it right. You can’t get that off the internet. Encouragement, advice and positive reinforcement are all things you will get from a good music teacher. It will spur you on when you’re struggling to grasp certain skills or concepts and help you on your (here’s that X Factor phrase) ‘musical journey’.
There’s something else. Learning correct technique and passing grades will give you authenticity as a musician. You will know that you are progressing at the right speed and reaching the right levels. In turn, that will make you take your playing a lot more seriously and help you reach a standard you may not have been able to reach on your own.
So, yes, it is possible to learn to play on your own. But to avoid adopting bad habits and progress quicker, a good violin teacher is worth their weight in gold.
If you’re not doing it through an educational establishment, your local music shop should be able to help find a good tutor. In fact, they might even have teaching facilities on offer in the store.
Here at Hidersine, we have worked with a set of professional musicians and the European String Teachers Association (ESTA) to produce a set of violin, cello and double bass technique videos that are useful in helping you to build upon what you’re learning with your teacher.
Hidersine are proud to fund education bursaries in association with the European String Teachers Association. Learn more here.