I'd really like to learn the violin, however I'll just be able to muster up enough money to buy a cheap violin and a few lessons. How many lessons do you think I would need in order to avoid practicing bad habits and learn the basics, assuming I practice enough?
The basics for playing the violin on average takes about 8 years. This would give you with a lot of practise and ensemble experience about the standard for a community orchestra which you could continue to play in with no lessons and just regular practise to maintain your standard.
On the basis that you can learn an instrument as an adult with lessons once every month this, would mean 12 lessons a year for roughly 8 years.
A basic violin wouldn't be good enough for all of the 8 years, so after about 4 years you would probably need to upgrade. I would suggest that you start your lessons with a violin that you have hired.
The most important is to feel in your body if you have pain, tiredness somewhere. Buy the violin you afford and ask more specific questions here. Holding the bow can seem difficult in the beginning, finding the right position just having the bow in the hand (no violin) some minutes can be very good.
You can think about relaxing one arm with relaxing the other, very often if you are focused/tense in one arm, then the back, neck and other arm will also get stiff. I would recommend a shoulder-rest, easier to hold the violin in place.
And as a general principle, no strong grep anywhere, holding violin and bow should not require big muscle.
I usually tell my students they can record my violin classes, because often I say more things than they remember one week after. By doing that they can listen again, between lessons and remember what they had to work with. How many lessons depends on the teacher & you. There is no number.
Ask questions here as you go so we can help.
The question is really subjective, but if you go to an expert teacher that understands the violin physics and ergonomics, he will be able to teach you the basic dos and don'ts withing even a year or two or even less, then you'll be able to play songs and others, obviously depending on your prior knowledge of music theory, your ear and intonation resolution, your talent, your physical status, and many other parameters.
As others have mentioned, it's very subjective and dependent upon a lot of things. In any case, I would never really say that it takes X years to learn Y.
One variable would be the style of music you want to play. You didn't call it a fiddle, so I doubt you are talking about old time, bluegrass or country. Classical or Jazz might take some time, at least if you want to meet other people's standards (which you shouldn't).
However, I can tell you, from personal experience, it shouldn't take 8 or 10 years to get the basics of violin down.
It also depends on your definition of "the basics."
However, in my opinion, starting out with any skill, believing that it'll take a decade to get the basics is a recipe for failure.
Really it's all about knowing how you learn, considering how those before you learned and acting accordingly. A good teacher goes a long way as Shimmy mentioned too.
This question is way too open ended.So is the answer. How long is a piece of string? If one already has musical knowledge through playing another instrument or singing, the timescale will diminish greatly.If one has a lesson a month, one will most likely NEVER get there.If one has an investment in one's own instrument, one will feel more inclined to learn it. If one practises for 2 hrs a day, one will get far more efficient than the one who practises 1 hr a day,etc.,etc,
Playing the violin depends a lot on how good your ear is. If you can play a guitar(without having to read music), you will find violin a lot easier, to say it takes 8 years is laughable, it all depends on your ear, your ability to learn, how much you practice, you can learn to read music quite quickly if you are serious, practice , practice, practice, no substitute. Dont listen to àny other stupid advice, especially the first one, I am still laughing at that. 2 hours a day, 7 days a week, get some good books, within 8 weeks you will be playing tunes, dont be disheartened, keep practising, if it was easy it wouldnt be worth learning.