How much do I have to practice?

In order to learn any instrument, it is important to practice every day. Initially, you will only need to practice 5 -10 minutes a day and establish a good routine, like brushing your teeth. But it must be every day. If you miss one day, then practice twice the next day. As Dr. Shinichi Suzuki once said, “you do not have to practice on the days that you do not eat.”

Is it a hard instrument to play?

The violin, the viola or the cello are as hard or easy as any other instrument. You can play songs quite soon, and over time your sound become better. There is a learning curve involved in studying any instrument.

I don’t have an instrument. What should I do?

If you are speaking of a child, the most common approach is to rent an instrument. The child will grow out of their instrument anywhere from 3 months to 2 years. A rental will allow you to exchange to the next size without any penalties or extra costs. Child bowed instruments come in 1/32, 1/16, 1/10, 1/8. 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, 7/8, and 4/4 size. The child will need to be measured by either their teacher or by bringing the child into our store. If you are an adult, most likely you will require a 4/4 instrument. Maybe a friend or family members has one, or you could also rent or buy one from Spirited Music.

What is the difference between a Violin, a Viola or a Cello?

These instruments belong in the same family of bowed instruments. The double bass is the only one missing from the list. If you compare the instruments to the voice, the violin would be comparable to a Soprano singer. The Viola would be the lower female alto voice. The Cello would be representative of a high male voice known as a tenor and the double bass would be the lowest Bass male voice. A Violin reads music in treble clef and most often gets the melody line. The Viola reads the alto and treble clef and generally does harmony notes to compliment the violin. The Cello floats and depending on the arrangement can get the melody occasionally, harmony  lines or sometimes the bass line. The Cello, reads the treble clef, the alto and tenor as well as the bass clef. It has an incredibly wide range of tone that makes it very flexible. The double bass reads bass clef. It is called double bass because even when reading the bass clef, the instrument plays the notes and actually sounds an octave lower than written. Each instrument separately has a beautiful sound. Many like the Viola for it’s warmer tone compared to the Violin. Listen to recordings and do your research as to what instrument you think has a more pleasing tone to your ear. Ignore the composition and focus on the sound the instrument makes when making your decision. Every melody ever written can be played on almost any instrument.

Which is better for beginners, group or private lessons?

Strictly speaking in terms of efficiency, the private lessons are the way to go. They are faster, more conducive, less expensive and far more progressive. A student can ask any question, and get an answer immediately. Once a student understands a concept, they can move to the next idea. If the student is struggling with some part of their education,  then they can spend time devoting themselves towards the problem.  A private 30 minute lesson can be described as intense in comparison to a one hour group method. Theoretically, if you are in a class with 9 other students for one hour, your share of individual instruction is theoretically 6 minutes. Usually a one hour group class also costs about $10 per class which works out to about $1.67 for every private minute of instruction. A private class of 30 minutes costing you approximately $18 means you are only paying .60 cents a minute. If group classes were the model of efficiency, there would never be a need for tutors, private lessons, or assistants. In addition, a private class can be rescheduled, whereas, group lessons cannot. Everyone knows that smaller class size means more teacher attention and better instruction. What is better than one teacher and one student?

What’s the difference between playing a fiddle or a violin?

They are both the same instrument. It is the technique you apply and the style of music you are playing that differs. In either event, it is necessary to have proper technique and good posture. Those qualities are needed so that you are not impeded by your habits when you move to more advanced fiddle or violin music.

Can children learn instruments like Cello or Double Bass?

Definitely, in fact they can start as young as three years of age. There are a number of varying sizes of these instruments that are made to accommodate the child’s size. Spirited Music stocks all the necessary sizes to accommodate the musician’s size.

Do I, as well, need to learn the violin when my child begins lessons?

For very young children it is always good to have positive role models and because of their age, the more guidance the better. You do not need to become a virtuoso but the child will take the instrument more seriously, if they believe it is important to you as well. You may also discover a love for the instrument you never knew you had. Most young children, once they have passed two years of playing will not need your assistance as much as being a violinist will have become part of their personality. The parent playing increased the odds of success.

I already play an instrument, how much harder will it be to play the violin?

That will depend on your previous experience and knowledge. A mandolin player will already know the fingerboard, and how to read violin music and must now learn to utilize a bow. A cello player will already know how to  utilize the bow but must now learn to read a new clef and relearn a new fingerboard. A pianist understands music but has two hands essentially operating independently and must now use two hands to create one sound.  A sax player knows music notes and theory but now learn to play without wind, use a bow, learn the fingerboard. As i said before it will depend on your level of musicianship, and what instrument you had played before. I once knew a guitar player who was also a wonderful artist/painter. He decided to learn the violin and did it in a very very short time. He understood music well, had an athletic left hand, and his use of smooth right hand brush strokes helped him quickly develop a good tone.

I am left handed. Is there any hope for me?

Believe it or not, there are left handed violins that you can rent or buy from Spirited Music. The majority of violin players in the world, regardless of their orientation, play right handed and if you ever hold out a hope of joining an orchestra, you will have to play right handed. But if your interest is strictly relaxation and self interest, which side you play the instrument is totally up to you.

Some of my neighbours hate the sound of me practicing. What can I do?

There are a great number of mutes you can acquire to lower your volume. There is the practice mute which drops you volume down to about 25% of its’ previous volume. There is a wire mute which cuts down your volume to about 70% of its previous volume. There is the tourte mute which takes down your volume to about 85% of its’ previous volume. Then there is a electric practice violin which is almost silent, or the option of taking a cheap violin that is essentially worthless and filling it with spray foam. There are a great many ways to keep your friends and family happy.