Where do I find violin lessons?
January 2, 2006 12:36 PM   Subscribe

Violinfilter: I received a violin for Christmas...last year. I've either been too busy or too lazy to really investigate where I might receive lessons over the last year. I want to make up for it this year. Where should I begin?

I'm currently in my mid-20's and have had no music experience before in my life, short of those simple school recorders and a six week guitar class in middle school. Essentially, I'm ignorant of the music world and thus, don't know where to start to look for lessons. The yellow pages reveal one location, though, forty minutes away, and I'd prefer a much shorter commute. FYI, currently in Fayetteville, Arkansas, right next door to the University of Arkansas. Any suggestions, tips, etc, would be greatly appreciated.
posted by Atreides to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Many music stores (especially local ones) that sell/rent instruments will have practice rooms that they rent out to instructors. If not, they're sure to have a list of instructors in your area.
posted by devilsbrigade at 12:42 PM on January 2, 2006

U of Arkansas has a very active music program, if I recall, so I'd recommend calling the department secretary and asking what teachers are available. A really good (upper division!) music major would be effective, and inexpensive. They should also be able to point you toward private teachers in the community. If there is a youth orchestra in town, I guarantee they can point you to the private teachers in your area. Also, you might find out if there are suzuki programs near you--it might be easier to learn in that method, since you'll get quicker feedback w/r/t actually making sound. Living in Fayetteville, I don't think you'd have to leave town to find a teacher.

I'm a musician by profession, so I wanted to offer one perspective I believe is very important to keep in mind when one is learning music from the very beginning: you will be learning two different things. The first thing you'll learn, obviously, is the physical skill of playing the violin; the second thing is the language of music, which involves not only notation, but a whole world of concepts that are unique to that art form.

I stress this because many teachers of music, esp. at the beginning level, are not mindful enough of the very different nature of teaching these two separate elements, and try to combine them in ways that are frustrating to the student. A really terrific teacher will spend time teaching you to play the violin, and then spend time teaching you about music itself--fundamental concepts, notation, etc.

These two streams really only come together AFTER you've gained a little proficiency in both. (a couple of weeks if you're working hard)

(This was a huge epiphany to me as a young teacher, by the way, and yielded huge positive results when I changed my pedagogy while teaching middle school. I now teach music majors at a university, and find that it still simplifies things greatly to make this basic conceptual division for my students.)
posted by LooseFilter at 1:07 PM on January 2, 2006

Talk to someone in the dept. at the university. My little cousin, who is still in high school, is taking lessons from a professor and she is doing very well. She might even be playing with the Houston Symphony at some point very soon, which is incredible for someone of her age. Even if you don't take lessons from the professor at first, an advanced student can provide good teaching.
posted by mr.dan at 1:11 PM on January 2, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks so far for the feedback. It seems that the university should be my first stop.

Loosefilter, you mentioned suzuki. I know for a fact that there's a Suzuki Music building adjacent to the campus. What exactly is Suzuki?

Also, and thank you for continuing with me, has anyone here attempted to learn an instrument (and music, in general) in their mid-20's? Any unique difficulties?
posted by Atreides at 2:16 PM on January 2, 2006

There's a Suzuki method which eschews reading music (kinda) over playing "by ear." I started on that when I was 6 or so then switched over to Royal Conservatory (piano).

I also second checking with the University and interviewing some upper-level music majors (you'll probably have more luck with performance musicians, but you might get more mileage out of a music theory student [who might also be heading down the professional teaching route]).
posted by PurplePorpoise at 3:42 PM on January 2, 2006

I'm a violinist:

Please don't go down the suzuki route. Whilst it might enable you to "sound good" relatively quickly, in my experience suzuki-taught people are generally lacking in expression and general musicality, and playing with them can be extremely frustrating.

It definitely sounds like contacting the University will be a good move. The music department will have knowledge of local teachers and will be happy to give you their phone numbers etc.

Regarding learning an instrument later in life: Although I haven't had this experience myself (I started when I was 4), I do know that it can be harder to learn things generally when you're older. However don't be put off, especially if your teacher seems to use slightly condescending methods - it's in your best interest. I'll be happy to answer any more violin-learning queries you have either in this post or by email.
posted by Lotto at 5:05 PM on January 2, 2006

Is it a violin or a fiddle?

The difference between the two is that a violin's never had a beer spilled on it.

Keep that in mind. Do you want to play violin or fiddle? I'm partial to bluegrass, so I'd go the fiddle route, personally.
posted by wsg at 6:07 PM on January 2, 2006

I was schooled as a child on Suzuki, and it was difficult because there was no sense of fun to it. It was rote and difficult and emphasized mechanics and learning by the book. I was just talented enough to play pretty much any song I heard on the radio, and that made me the greatest underachiever in the history of Suzuki method, because all I would ever practice was "Come on Eileen", "99 Red Balloons", and "Thriller".

Try craigslist under services/lessons if you live in one of the cities they include, or if you live in Seattle I know a fledgling classically trained violinist who is looking to establish a client base...

posted by vito90 at 7:50 PM on January 2, 2006

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