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I am an adult beginner violin student. I'm currently trying to teach myself.

I would like someone to help with a run down of everything they do when they practice, step by step.

  • I just got a book of tunes that had some stuff I liked and started working on it. Keeps it fun. Ok I forced myself to play some scales too. – Todd Wilcox Jun 12 '15 at 19:23
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    I would suggest that as well as getting advice on practice, it would be almost essential to get some lessons from a professional violin teacher. When it comes to instruments like piano and violin, there really are so many pitfalls waiting for you technique-wise, that at least a few weeks or months of proper lessons can help you avoid some of the more serious mistakes and bad habits. Practcing with bad technique in the early stages can be a real hindrance to progress at a later stage. – Old John Jun 12 '15 at 19:52
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    As OJ wrote: it's just not possible to play correctly or efficiently (i.e. avoid risk of stress injuries) without taking lessons. Now, fundamental practice techniques, such as passage repetition, long tones, finger pattern exercises, etc., can be recommended but if you hold the bow wrong or position your elbows wrong, bad things will happen. – Carl Witthoft Jun 13 '15 at 12:10
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    I would REALLY suggest lessons, especially with an instrument like the violin. You will develop bad habits and those are harder to lose once you've been playing that way for a while. It's easier to teach someone who knows nothing about an instrument than a person who thinks they know. – Jacob Swanson Jul 15 '15 at 4:15
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    Technique is a integral part of every instrument but in violin playing it is just simply doubly so. You are going to save yourself a lot of trouble by just simply employing a teacher. They are not that expensive. – Neil Meyer Sep 4 '15 at 11:31
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I would like someone to help with a run down of everything they do when they practice, step by step.

  • Start by doing some relaxing exercises, without the instrument. I don't know how it's called, but I really like to let my upper body fall down, like I was trying to touch my feet with my hands. I guess anything really would be great, from yoga to meditation, but remember to have some focus on your shoulders, wrists and lower back.

  • Then some long notes, without the left hand fingers (still holding the violin with your open left hand), very slowly, controlling very precisely the movement of my right arm. I think about the bow hair contact on the string, remembering to not force the sound.

  • Slowly I start using my left hand fingers, continuing with slow, long notes, then "beating" my finger on the board (say I'm playing on the D-string, the note will be D-E-D-E, something like one second each). Then I start to accelerate that motion, until I can feel some warmth in my fingers.

  • Then some exercises for speed, rapidly play from the first to the fourth finger on each string, thinking about the release of my fingers more the the downward movement. The reason is the downward movement will always be easier: we got gravity with ourselves. Where we can gain cleanliness and quickness is by having faster upward movement of our left hand fingers.

  • Then I start thinking about intonation. Always play double-stops with an open string before doing arpeggios or scales. This is very disputed, but I find that without an absolute hearing, to better improve my intonation I need to practice sounds in relation to another to have better intonation. In the same manner than with the long slow notes, play double-stops with one finger on the other string, thinking about intonation, and only that, in a slow manner.

  • after that, if I'm not tired of exercises, I do some arpeggios, and then scales, you can find plenty of examples on the internet about those, anything you can be comfortable with will help you.

  • then some repertoire. I love bach. I always start by some of it's pieces, maybe in the sonatas and partitas for solo violin if you can handle it, but you'd probably begin by easier pieces. google for bach beginner piece or something like that.

always keep in mind

  • you do not want to strain yourself. If you're tired or feel the smallest pain, stop right away, and start over again later on. 15 minutes of focused practice are worth way more than an hour of practicing thinking about your day and hurting your arms.

  • slow is beautiful. I feel like an imposter saying that, because I really have difficulty doing it, but the more you can wait before trying to play fast, the best your sound will be, more clean, more precise.

  • practice in stop motion. I've described it a bit in my other answer there

  • have a read of the art of practising from Robert Gerle. Reading that book, the concepts expressed therein and the hints expressed changed my mind greatly on the subject of practising, music itself, mostly towards a non-conventional way of thinking.

And more than anything

Have fun!!! The violin is a marvelous instrument, and don't let people make you think there is an age too old to start playing it. You're not doing it for them anyway. Practicing the violin is almost a meditating state of mind, and it relieves my mind of stress. Enjoy yourself and your sound!


all of that being said, @CarlWitthoft is absolutely right in his comment:

if you hold the bow wrong or position your elbows wrong, bad things will happen.

Someday down the road, you will need to take violin courses, no need to do it for years, but at least some months at a time, so that you don't injure yourself really bad.

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I would like someone to help with a run down of everything they do when they practice, step by step.

Uh, that's a bit like saying you are a beginning hiker and you want a run down of everything a hiker does when walking downtown, step by step.

The turns are different, the starting position is different, the gait is different, the training state is different.

At that level, experience and a practice regimen are not transferable. And if you want to get to a state where the training methods of others will be sort of relevant for planning your own, you'll need to start on a similar path first.

Which means taking lessons or starting with some self-learning material (if such exists) that is intended to teach the basics to someone without a teacher and thus is not assuming previous knowledge.

Violin is an awfully unanatomical instrument. If you are starting it out on your own, you'll likely end up quite technically limited with regard to being able to play in a relaxed manner, have a good control of positions, be able to play at various speeds and volumes and make full use of your bow.

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Before you start playing
Walk, shake hands, or open close fists to start blood circulation.
Open violin case.
Put resin in bow's hair. Shake bow.
Clear violin chords with a soft cloth.
Right hand. Pick up the bow without looking at it.
Left hand. Up and turn like you 're changing a lamp.
Left shoulder down and relaxed.
Neck. If neck height > violin then put a small pillow under violin or buy a bridge
Head. Relaxed looking in front.
Practise every day slowly open chord G, D, A, E. Left hand holds violin, right hand moves bow.
Find an easy song melody you like and try play it in the violin.
Try till you learn by heart.
Be happy always.
Always study stand up as long as you can. Sitting will make you lazy.
Practise in front of window, mirror, closed tv screen, or other screen.
Play little but everyday.
Make it habit.
See in 6 months again how you are doing.
Happy violining!

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Both the answers give you very thorough step-by-step advices. I will just add from my almost 20 year experience playing the violin - Otakar Ševčík. I am clearly biased, as he is from my country, but that's what I grew up on and I would recommend his study books to anybody learning how to play the violin. It gives you all the preparation to play any piece there is or was. It's not easy and it won't happen overnight, but if you give in the hours, you'll see the results. I myself warm up on Ševčík even nowadays.

  1. Technique
  2. Scales (especially Part 7)

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