I may know a bit why it’s hard to play the violin
I can always hear people ask why it’s hard to play the violin. I too think it’s hard to play. I do not have any scientific proof or research data to back my claim. I have the experience, and I happen to play a few other instruments.
By far, the violin is the hardest to learn. So why am I even teaching it in the first place? Because I love it. Here are the reasons why I think the violin is the hardest instrument to learn.
Awkward Instrument Handling
The first few lessons when you enroll in a violin class is not about music-making. It is all about proper handling.
For some students, it may take two to three sessions to get it right. Unlike the piano or the guitar, you need to hold the violin concerning your physique.
Not all my students have the same finger sizes and lengths. So you need to adjust and adapt for each student and every scenario.
Holding the violin is also very relative to your student’s body structure. Some students have long necks and thin while others are short and round.
You need to consider these differences, so you have the instrument adjusted for your students. Wrong handling causes discomfort and even injury.
When left unchecked, it may become a habit leading to poor techniques.
No fret boards require high accuracy for intonation.
The frets on a guitar can guide your students on where to place their fingers. Not the violin. Playing without frets is one technical hurdle that all students must overcome.
Beginners may find it frustrating to tune their playing.
It takes a hundred thousand proper repetitions to master something
When you press the keys on a piano, there is an internal mechanism that strikes the strings, and you have a sound – a precise sound.
The violin is not like that. You need to be accurate all the time. That is why it’s hard to play the violin.
Left Hand Vs. Right Hand
Another thing you need to keep a close watch is the coordination of your left hand with the right hand.
It is a problem enough to get your pitch right with the left hand; you also then need to mind your right hand.
The right-hand holds the bow, which is in charge of producing the sound. Beginners find it hard to control the bow at first. Hence, their shaky tonality.
When doing hard, fast passages, a violinist needs to have his hands working together or else the performance is a mess. One hand cannot be faster than the other; it should be both at the same time when required.
You are playing against gravity.
When you sit on a piano stool, you use gravity at your advantage to relax. Your fingers are placed nicely on top of the keys.
Gravity is a friend. The violin must be held parallel with the floor. Hence, the constant struggle to hold it in place.
Now, your fingers press the fingerboard pushing the violin down. Your job is to play on the fingerboard while keeping the violin from falling.
The horizontal motion of the fingers is against the downward pull of gravity. That horizontal finger movement must be kept precise and in tune at all times.
If keeping the violin parallel and in place is hard, then vibrato is something else. The most common approach for teaching vibrato is leaning your violin scroll on a wall.
Leaning keeps your instrument from shaking with your struggling finger. Vibrato for starters tends to make them play out of tune.
It also shakes their instrument out of place. Generally, vibrato takes time, and I mean years. That’s why it’s hard to play the violin.
It is a gradual growth with the music. You need to commit yourself to practice.
We sounded terrible at the beginning of it all.
Beginners always do not sound good at first.
As I said, a beginner piano student can make a good sound right off the bat because the instrument does it for them.
Meanwhile, you can get unwanted attention, and unsolicited door knocks from irritated people if you play the violin.
It sounds more like a scratch than music when beginners practice. If you hear your parents tell you that you are great when you only had a week’s lesson, then honey – you aren’t.
It takes patience and commitment to change a scratch to a soothing melody. Yes, your neighbors do not love hearing you practice when you are a beginner.
That is why there is an accessory for muting your instrument when practicing.
Regarding practice, you might want to read the 6 cringeworthy excuses of people late for rehearsals.
It needs to be tuned CONSTANTLY
In addition to the many things that makes the violin hard to learn, you also need to tune it. How often?
Every time you hold a violin, it always starts by tuning it. Temperature affects the wood that even if you don’t use it, I guarantee you it goes out of tune.
The slight drop or rise of the temperature puts your strings out of tune in addition to the requirement of tonal precision.
You need to learn how to tune your instrument yourself. For most, it does not come easy. You break many strings in the process. Additional reason why it’s hard to play the violin.
So why pick the hardest instrument to learn?
I may need to write another article for this, but here are a few reasons why we still want to learn the hardest instrument.
- First, it is the closest sound to a human voice.
- The dynamic interpretation that you can do with it is phenomenal.
- You can play it without a band to accompany you.
- Once mastered, it is one of the loveliest instruments to hear.
Most importantly, it is an instrument that doesn’t tire the ears fast. Once you have mastered it, audiences can tolerate hours of listening to the tune of a violin.