The violin is one of the most graceful musical instruments. Its sound is unmatched in its unique resonance and emotional harmony. However, while it’s known for its beautiful sound, it’s also known for its difficult mastery.
You’re probably asking yourself, “Is playing the violin harder than other instruments?” The truth is that it can be, as getting used to it can be grueling work.
In contrast, surveys show that even though the violin is recognized as the most difficult stringed instrument to master, it’s still on the list of instruments that aspiring musicians strive to learn.
How hard is playing the violin, exactly? Stick around to find out!
The violin lacks frets, has an intricate design, and requires a lot of practice to be able to use the bow correctly. That said, it’s considered harder to play than most other stringed instruments, like the guitar. Learning the violin is especially arduous for adults.
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Why Is Playing the Violin So Hard?
Due to its lack of frets and the complexity of its techniques, the violin hasn’t been a fan favorite among adult players.
Other reasons why learning the violin can be an arduous task are:
- Small, incomprehensible design
- Having the strings too close together
- Difficulty creating the right intonations, especially with the bow hand
- Requires a great amount of concentration
- Requires multitasking
Even for professional Violinists, there are some incredibly difficult pieces of music. Often the difficulty extends beyond the technical challenges into the phrasing of the music. Combining technical difficulty with stylistic difficulties creates both extreme difficulty but also beautiful music.
Check out the 5 most difficult pieces of Violin music according to Virtuoso Violinist Maxim Venegrov:
How Long Does It Take to Learn to Play the Violin?
The amount of time it might take someone to learn the violin depends on many things. Some even say it’s infinite, and one doesn’t simply even fully learn it.
If you want to get the hang of the basics, then practicing three to four hours daily is a must. It takes one to two months for one to be able to hold the violin and its bow properly.
If you’re consistent with your practice, it can take you only three to six months to start playing simple violin tunes.
To master the more complex playing methods, it might take you three to five years—sometimes even more—of dedicated practice. Playing the instrument daily is essential if you want to reach an intermediate or advanced level.
Is Playing the Violin Harder Than Other Instruments?
The consensus is that the violin is a tough instrument to learn. Most violinists start studying it as toddlers, and even so, it takes an average of three to five years to merely grasp the basics.
However, like most skills, mastering the violin isn’t impossible. If you put your mind to it, it might be one of the most rewarding things you can accomplish.
Is Violin More Difficult Than Guitar?
The violin and the guitar are the most known string instruments out there. When compared to the popular amateur-favorite guitar, the violin has a reputation for being the more difficult one.
Below we’ll discuss the main differences between these two string instruments and why guitars are easier to play than violins.
Presence of Frets
The main reason behind the guitar’s favorability amongst beginners is its simple, cordial design. Every single component in a guitar’s build has an obvious purpose.
A guitar’s neck, for example, is designed to visually indicate which key you’re on. On a guitar’s neck, you’ll find spaces that are known as frets. Each fret represents one semitone, which is the smallest musical unit commonly used in Western music.
Frets are marked on each side of the guitar by fret bars or fret markers. “Fretting a string” is a musical expression that means placing the tip of your finger against the string that’s behind or after a fret bar.
The fret acts as the ‘stopper’ for the string and therefore provided the guitar is tuned correctly, the player can’t play out of tune.
Violins, on the other hand, don’t have any frets or fret bars. So, how can a violinist visually indicate the location of a note? The answer is, they can’t.
Whether they’re plucking the strings or using the bow, the way the violin is held and played doesn’t allow the player to visually see the violin’s neck. Playing the right notes comes with many hours of practice and trial and error.
Comprehensibility of Techniques
Both string instruments can be played using various advanced techniques that can be difficult. However, for beginners, the guitar is much more accessible.
While finding the right note on a violin can take months of practice, creating a group of them on a guitar can be made using various easy techniques. One of these techniques is strumming.
Strumming is done by brushing the thumb or the guitar pick across the strings. One can produce a group of notes—or chords—with only one strum. Such techniques can easily be learned in a month or less.
Even though violins can be played by plucking strings—an approach called pizzicato—methods like strumming don’t exist in the manual of playing it.
Generally, creating a proper intonation, with and without a bow, takes a notable amount of time, effort, and patience.
The Addition of the Bow
While notes can be easily identified on a guitar, thanks to the segmentation of its neck, the violin is much enigmatic in comparison.
Not only are the notes difficult to find when plucked, but the addition of the bow also makes it even more complex.
The bow is used to produce different tones. Each string on the violin requires a certain position, angle, and particular amount of pressure. Memorization of such movements is tough.
Is Violin More Difficult Than the Piano?
Unlike the guitar, both the violin and the piano belong to the classical assortment of instruments, and both are often taught young.
Both can be difficult to master, but the ultimate question remains: which is easier to play for? In the section below we’ll discuss their differences, along with all their pros and cons.
Comprehensibility of Techniques
The piano’s main advantage is that it doesn’t need much movement. While it requires a lot of finger movements, it’s mainly hand coordination, unlike the violin, which takes over the entire upper body.
The violin also requires a variety of different and specific maneuvers just to achieve simple tones, making it more physically and mentally demanding. Moreover, violins are much more difficult to hold than a piano, which simply sits on its own.
While both can produce equally rich music, the piano is much more versatile.
Due to belonging to the keyboard family, a pianist can play single notes using one hand, and rich chords and melodies with the other—all at the same time.
On the physical side, the piano can be more difficult to deal with. One reason is that the piano is a much bigger instrument. Its maintenance and cost of repair can be expensive as well.
The violin, on the other hand, is smaller and easier to carry around. It’s for this reason the violin wins this round as being more portable, smaller in size. It’s also more affordable.
Is It Hard to Learn the Violin Later in Life?
When we’re young, our brains are more like sponges. They absorb information and create new connections far more quickly than they do when we’re adults.
That said, it’s natural to expect that learning an instrument as intricate as the violin can be a bit more difficult for grown-ups than it is for youngsters.
Can You Learn to Play the Violin at Any Age?
Generally speaking, most violinists start early. Some even start at only three years old! Playing the violin craft isn’t limited to the young, though.
The question isn’t why most violin players start out young, but why most adults give up easily. The reason behind that is that learning the violin costs money, time, and patience; all of which are important currencies in our fast-paced modern life.
However, where there’s a will, there’s a way. And whether it’s through a teacher or self-learning, the mind always wins over matter.
Can You Learn to Play the Violin Online?
There are many ways to learn the violin. The traditional method is through a personal teacher, face to face. The advantage of real-time engagement is that it familiarizes you with the instrument much easier and helps the coach observe your progress better.
However, if you simply don’t have time to schedule private lessons, learning online could be the best option. Most online courses enable you to access their materials at any given time. This gives you the flexibility to enjoy taking lessons at your own pace.
Another advantage to learning online is that some courses give you lifetime access to top-notch instruction videos, sheet music, and exercises. This also contributes to self-paced learning.
Is It Possible to Self-Teach Playing the Violin?
If you haven’t tried online courses before and you don’t trust that they’ll give you your money’s worth, self-teaching can be a viable option.
The process of self-teaching won’t be as simple or as quick as having an instructor guide your every step, but it’s definitely doable.
Can I Learn the Violin From YouTube?
YouTube is one of the many websites that you can access at any time from anywhere, be it your phone, tablet, or computer.
There you can find many tutorials and channels that dedicate their time to instruct others, all for free.
One downside to YouTube tutorials is that they lack educational structure and flow. While they’re well-thought-of on their own, YouTube lessons can be scattered and unchronological.
Another problem is that because of the lack of an instructor that you can refer to, if you ever feel stuck or unable to do a certain technique, there’s no communication channel through which you can find a quick answer or a solution to your problem.
Learning the violin as an adult has its pros and cons. The learning curve can be challenging, but the results are extremely rewarding.
It’s also worth noting that violin players are a lot more scarce than guitar and piano players, and so they’re more in demand.
Granted, the violin is the hardest string instrument to play, but if you have the will, the patience, and the positive attitude, you’ll be playing this magical instrument in no time.