First of, I know there are lots of similar questions here in Music Stack Exchange. My point here is not abstractly ask whether it is possible at all to learn violin by self study and get a "absolutely impossible, give up" or "if you work hard enough you can accomplish anything in the world" answer; rather, I want to ask those with more experience if I can - given my sets of skills, experiences and constraints - successfully self study violin - and which strategies should I adopt in order to optimize the process.

My music background So, I have studied classical piano for 2 years, but that was 4 years ago. In this time, I continued to play and to pick up some new pieces, but without all that rigorous practice (i.e., no metronome, no scales practice etc). I have a solid understanding of musical theory, I can read sheets effortlessly and I have a reasonably good ear.

Since I was a child, I have always taken a self study approach to many things, generally to my benefit. I'm quite comfortable with the idea of sitting in front of a desk for hours until I understand the topic I am studying. Nevertheless, it is generally a good strategy to give a "boost" in the beginning in order to get a solid base, and then continue by oneself.

So, as for violin, what would be a good strategy in this regard? More specifically, which specific topics (posture, arc holding etc) should I find a teacher to help me with, so that I can go on them and study for myself? (given my current musical knowledge)

I know that any teacher would have a different say about this. My point here is to ask for the advice of those who have either taught or learned violin as to which points they think are really "essential".


  • 1
    If you think you can, why ask. The violin is particularly complex, the entire fret-less string family is complex. Piano is an equal tempered instrument (keys define the only notes you have). The violin family can be played in Just or equal temperament. Unless you have that good an ear a teacher would be a good idea (you need to get the correct fingering etc). Bowing technique takes a lot of time to master as well. I would learn the technique from a master. i.m.o it is not advisable to try on your own, too much room for misunderstanding and bad habits.
    – user50691
    Nov 15, 2018 at 20:11
  • By the way, I learned classical violin at age 5, classical bass too for many decades. Now I am mainly a guitarist (but I use a bow when I play Dazed and Confused ;-)).
    – user50691
    Nov 15, 2018 at 20:13

2 Answers 2


Violin is one of the least anatomically suitable instruments, and a linear bow action does not only require counteracting different leverage but also counterbalancing the weight of the bow itself (vertical instruments like cello and double bass have a lot less problems in that regard and also larger pressure overall). As a consequence, violinists are very prone to taking shortcuts: locking some joints in finger, wrist, arm, shoulder belt, clenching some stuff, using only a limited amount of bow length and so on. Any strategically unused joint ends up as helpful as locked knees for running. Also many violinists suffer back problems.

There are lots of opportunities for shortcuts leading to faster successes at various separate endeavours at the price of longterm failure when needing to utilize all stuff together.

Good, healthy, and sustainable technique is an issue for basically all instruments. But it's rarely as pervasive a topic as when playing the violin.


I had piano lessons for many years and taught myself guitar, and now I'm working on violin and clarinet. The biggest difference I've found in violin and clarinet line up with the current comments and the other answer: just making a single note with the proper technique is extremely difficult. That is not true with piano or guitar. Certainly not piano. Press a key and you get the sound.

It is important to be ergonomic on piano and guitar to prevent injury. That's also true for the violin, but it's also a big challenge to use a technique that creates a solid note that is also ergonomic. If I spend 30 minutes practicing the violin, it's about 20 minutes of just bowing while thinking about my posture, arm position, hand position, grip on the bow, etc. etc. Each different string, note, volume level, and articulation requires extensive practice to make it sound correct. Again, this is very different from the piano where you can play staccato by just lifting your finger and play legato by holding it down. Pressing any key on the piano is pretty much like pressing any other.

I would get a children's violin book, like the first Suzuki method book or something like that, and I would also get a full-length mirror. Make sure you at least have a start on learning posture, position of the violin on your neck, head position, bow positions, grip, and bow technique before you start to try to learn any music. The mirror is so you can look at yourself and make sure you have everything in the right place. It's better to have a teacher who knows what you should look like and can watch and correct, otherwise you have to try to concentrate on being the teacher and student at the same time.

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