I have a violin at home and I would really like to learn. The only problem is, I cannot find a teacher in my area (India) and so I thought I could, maybe, learn just the basics online.
I completely understand the need for a teacher when it comes to subtle points and technique (developing a real feel for the instrument), but perhaps I could start off by myself. I taught myself to play the harmonium by ear.
Is learning online going to benefit/harm me in any way? Can I get past the novice stage by learning online?
Learning online is always a great start, but could never replace a teacher.
However, just a few things.
Beware of your posture. Buy a music stand, and play standing, at first. Spread your legs out so your feet are underneath your hips, and do some shoulder circles to loosen up your back. Stand straight, but make sure you are not stiff, either. It is normal to feel like you are about to drop everything, at first, because you are focusing on so many things. However, just keep trying.
How you hold your violin. Look at this diagram of the violin, and place your fingers on the belly of the violin and your thumb on the other side. Hold the violin at arm's length with the scroll closer to the ceiling and the chin rest towards the floor.
Now, turn the violin 180 degrees, still at arms length. The scroll should be facing the floor and the chin rest towards the ceiling.
Finally, slowly bring the violin towards your neck, and lightly place your chin on the violin. Your chin will not be on the chin rest but will be more between the chin rest and the tailpiece; it never should be fully on the chin rest.
Find some painters tape (different color than the violin) and cut two thin pieces, and find where the first and third fingers should go. Your thumb, in violin, does not count as a finger, so your pointer finger is the first, middle is the second, etc. Since you are already musically inclined, it should not be so difficult to do so.
The strings on the violin are G - D - A - E, so the first finger on the G string should be A and third should be C. It will take a few tries to get the tape exactly right, and it will slip even after you find the place, but in the beginning, this will help a lot.
Your hand will also be very tense, so a useful exercise I have found is called the siren, which is when you press a finger onto the finger board, run your hand (by bending your elbow) up and down the finger board, from the tip of the neck to the edge of the fingerboard. Eventually, pick a string, and do the siren on that string as well as bowing it, and it will sound like a siren.
Holding a bow is a very interesting, but this is a good starting position. You will feel like you are about to drop the bow, so there are a few exercises you can do. Start with windshield wipers, which is when you arm in a way that the bow will swing from flat left to vertical to flat right, and back. Do this 10 times, readjust, and repeat a few times.
If you do it on your own without someone listening and seeing your posture that might bring some dangers. You can take some online lessons maybe or try to find a teacher from time to time.
Be aware of your posture, so you don't heart yourself. Filming yourself can be a good tool to find problems with holding the violin or bow. When you are looking at yourself thru the video you might see things you didn't think of before.
You can ask here exercises for specific technique you want to achieve and method for studying/memorizing or organizing your study.
Keep an eye on the posture as said before and good luck!
Learning online is very difficult, but if you have graded pieces and take things slowly you can try. At least that way you will find out if you like playing the violin without spending too much money. You can look at many sites and they say EASY violin pieces, but they are often quite difficult. Self-learners in my experience tend to have a go, but then give up because it's simply too challenging. So finding the right material is always a good start and if something seems too difficult, just look elsewhere, don't give up. It's probably not you, its the material they are asking you to play. I have a background of music education and composing and writing for beginner players. Have a look at www.3dmusic.tv and you'll find some really easy pieces to get you started all for free. Although I know a bit about writing for strings, I'd never learnt to play the violin, but I'm giving it a go.
However, once you're past playing a few open string pizzicato notes and have pressed down your first finger you are probably going to need someone who can guide you. Having the correct posture (for you) and not carrying tension into your playing will not only make it more enjoyable, but you will also avoid repetitive strain injuries.