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How to Choose a Violin for Beginners

violin for beginners

It was the year 2004: I was 9 years old and my older sister was 13. We had both been playing piano for several years and now my sister wanted to try out the flute. I, being the stubborn little sister, also had to leave the music store with something of my own though of course. So I carefully inspected the store for something that resonated with me.

Spoiler alert - I play the violin to this day. So you can guess that I ended up going home with a violin that day ten years go. My grandfather bought me a half size violin for less than $100. The bow was so cheap they gave it away for free with the case.

By the time I “graduated” from that ½ size violin, I had given it countless scratches, spilled orange juice, and even thrown it out of frustration. Back then, I could barely play anything, nothing I played sounded acceptable. As a result, I did not have any appreciation for the instrument. I can definitely say that a $1000 violin during my first years of learning the violin would not have changed my experience, nor influenced the quality of musician I am today.

The honest truth is that learning how to play violin is hard. It sounds really bad until you stick with it for several years. And until you do, it's hard to enjoy it.  So the less you enjoy it, the less you appreciate it. Every year, more of friends quit playing violin. Based on all these factors, choosing a violin for beginners is not a difficult decision.

First, if you can obtain a violin through a family member or a friend, that is a great option. It will most likely be for free as well. This way you get to try it out with no financial investment before deciding if you want to pursue it. The only flaw in this method is that you would not be able to get a professional opinion before borrowing the instrument. However, since you borrowed it for free, even if it turns out you don’t have the right size, there's no loss!

The second option I recommend is to purchase a used violin - preferably a cheap one. There are many used violins on Ebay. Also, school districts’ music departments will often have a used instruments sale to raise money for their booster clubs. These are typically locally advertised and provide a reliable selection of instruments that get donated from local musicians. Plus, music teachers will be most likely be present at the event to assist you in getting the proper size violin.

The third and the last option is to rent a violin. Renting used instruments and even newer, beginner level instruments can be very cheap. Rental costs can add up though over time, so epending on your level of commitment this could be a more affordable or expensive option for you.

The only thing I would make sure is to check if the violin sounds natural, not like plastic. Some cheap violins sound like automatically generated violin sounds. That is not a positive step in the start of a hopefully long journey of violin playing. Essentially, a violin for beginners does not make a huge impact on progress or future potential. It is only your first step of many to come.

Ultimately, the decision to start playing the violin is much more important than the quality of the instrument. So, buy or rent - just get started on your violin lessons with the best, Nathan Cole, at ArtistWorks!

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