A New Beginning: Learning the Violin with Wisdom and Insight

learning violin


Imagine having the chance to start your violin journey anew, armed with the wisdom of decades of experience. The path to mastering the violin is intricate and filled with both beauty and challenges. As a seasoned violinist reflecting on a career that has brought both acclaim and learning opportunities, I often ponder how my journey with the violin might have unfolded differently had I known then what I know now.

Getting Started: The Foundation

Early Practice Habits

Starting out as a young violinist, my practice sessions were short and sporadic, lacking the discipline and focus that I now understand are crucial for foundational growth. The importance of structured practice, incorporating scales and etudes from the beginning, cannot be overstated. These elements are the building blocks of technique and musicality, preparing one for the complexities of advanced repertoire.

Embracing Performance Preparation

As a novice, I believed in the magic of ‘saving it for the performance,’ a notion that led to unpredictable outcomes. The reality, as I’ve learned, is that consistent, focused practice and thorough preparation are what ensure performance success. Approaching each practice session with the seriousness of a performance teaches resilience and readiness, eliminating reliance on the unpredictable variable of ‘feeling good’ on the day.

Musicality: Beyond the Notes

The Art of Phrasing

Understanding the ‘why’ behind musical decisions was a concept that eluded me until much later in my studies. Phrasing, the very heartbeat of musical expression, was a mystery for too long. Recognizing the importance of musical phrases and their impact on a piece’s emotional delivery was a turning point in my development as a musician.

Learning from Imitation

In my early years, I heavily relied on imitation, copying the nuances of my favourite recordings without truly understanding the musical decisions behind them. While imitation can be a useful learning tool, it’s crucial to move beyond mimicry to develop one’s own artistic voice. Understanding the reasons behind tempo changes, dynamics, and expression marks the transition from a technically proficient player to a true musician.

Knowledge of Composers and Historical Context

A deeper appreciation and understanding of the composers and their historical contexts would have enriched my interpretations and performances significantly. In the pre-internet era, accessing information about composers’ lives, their inspirations, and the historical backdrop of their works was challenging. Today, with resources readily available, I would delve into the stories behind the music, bringing a more informed and nuanced perspective to my performances.

Communication and Collaboration

Navigating Musical Relationships

Learning to communicate effectively with fellow musicians, conductors, and teachers is essential. Early in my career, I struggled to articulate my musical ideas and needs, often leading to misunderstandings and missed opportunities for collaboration. Recognizing the value of clear, respectful communication has been key to forming successful musical partnerships.

Adaptability and Empathy

Encountering differing musical interpretations and tempos can be a source of frustration. However, I’ve learned the importance of flexibility and empathy in these situations. Understanding that there is not always a single ‘correct’ way to approach a piece allows for more creative and collaborative music-making.


Looking back, there are numerous aspects of learning and playing the violin that I would approach differently with the benefit of hindsight. From practicing habits to musical interpretation and collaboration, each area offers opportunities for growth and improvement. For those embarking on their violin journey or reflecting on their own path, I hope my reflections provide insight and encouragement. The journey of a musician is a lifelong learning process, rich with the potential for discovery and joy at every turn.

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