How can I learn the violin?
Learning the Violin is fun and students as young as 5 years of age are suitable to start learning. At Central Coast Conservatorium, you can start with an introduction to the violin, such as in our Summer School where we run a "Learn the Violin in 4 Days" class. This is a rewarding exercise and will indicate whether the student is interested and suited to playing the violin. During school term, we run a Beginner Violin Ensemble where 3-4 students of all ages can learn the basics over two terms before committing to lessons or to our Mini String Ensemble. If you're ready to start one-to-one lessons, you can start with half an hour a week, to 45 or 60 minutes a week, depending on your age and level of playing. You will need the following equipment to start to learn the violin:
- Violin: You may have a violin, purchase a violin or you can hire a violin from Central Coast Conservatorium. A beginner violin will cost around $100 to $300. To hire a violin is much more affordable, especially if you are still growing and you will need to upgrade to new sizes. If you spend too little on a violin, it will not stay in tune and could possibly crack. This would be a false economy for you. We recommend starting on a decent instrument as this will make learning easier and more enjoyable. As far as sizing, if you’re 10 years or older, you will probably need a full size instrument. There are also 1/8, 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 sizes in violins. You can purchase violins online, from music stores or second hand. String teachers at the Conservatorium can assess your instrument and we often have instrument valuation/assessment days.
- Bow: You would normally get a violin, bow and case as a package when you’re buying an instrument, but if you need to purchase a bow, the prices can vary as much for bows as it does for violins. Make sure the hair on the bow is clean or you might need to re-hair the bow. Bows generally need to be re-haired every 6 to 12 months, depending on their level of use.
- Rosin: Rosin is what helps the bow hairs grip the string. Rosin comes in a small block and looks like wax. It's quite cheap and will last a long time (if you remember to pack it into your case). Aim to purchase the best quality rosin you can afford.
- Shoulder Rest: We recommend shoulder rests for young players but as you progress, the use of a shoulder rest is a personal choice matter. If you don't have a shoulder rest, you can use a piece of sponge folded and attached with a rubber band to the violin. The shoulder rest helps the violin grip the body so it doesn't slip away. If you are experiencing any pain in that area, then you should try a sponge or shoulder rest, or you may need to adjust your posture.
- Case: The primary use here is to protect the instrument, the bow and to store any accoutrements (rosin, rest etc). Some cases have pockets for music on the outside. If you hire a violin from the Conservatorium, it will come with a case and an identification tag.
- Mute/Practice Mute: these come in different sizes and mostly used for different effects when playing in an orchestra. This is an optional purchase.
- Strings: You can talk to your teacher about what strings you should purchase. You can generally get them from music stores. This is an optional purchase but eventually you will need to re-purchase strings for your violin.
- Cloth: It's a good idea to carry a soft cloth in your violin case to wipe your strings and violin off after playing. If rosin builds up on the strings it can affect the sound quality and if it builds up on the body of the violin it could tarnish the wood of the instrument.
- Metronome: If you are practicing alot you might like to stay in time with the aid of a metronome but this is not required for beginner students.
- Music: When you start in an ensemble or with a violin teacher at the Conservatorium, the teacher will provide some sheet music and let you know what books to purchase. One-to-one students receive a diary at the beginning of the year (or on enrolment) where you can keep notes on music learned, homework, practice times, and learnings from your lessons.
We seek to inspire our Central Coast community to engage in and value music as an integral part of life through comprehensive music education and artistic endeavour.