We live in a great age for learning instruments. Scary prospect it might be, but these days, it’s easier than you might think. In my teachers’ days, there was no Youtube and there were no such wide sources of information and help for learning methods and techniques.
In the future, I hope I can write a post on a few favorite websites for music information and teachings, but today I’ll be focusing mainly on the help Youtube offers. I began learning the piano through Youtube, working my way note-by-note through Moonlight Sonata and Clair de Lune. Naturally, as soon as I started violin, I did the same thing. I got past my original crises of rosining, bowing, and ever so many other things. With the help of Youtube (and Cammi) I learned not only how to play the violin, but also how to tune it, apply peg drops, fix a string, and lots of other good stuff. Today I’m sharing the best videos on Youtube that helped me, because not everyone has an experienced violinist available to help them.
So without further ado, here’s a compilation of my favorite violin tutorial videos.
Maintaining the Violin
The Youtube channel Red Desert Violin does a great number of videos. Here’s one on using the pegs to tune your violin. This includes tips and tricks on how to recognize a perfect fifth, how to use counter pressure while tuning, and information on peg drops and peg alignment.
Here’s a closely related video on how to fix peg misalignment and how to use peg drops to fix slipping pegs. The peg misalignment problem is minor, but it’s a hindrance when tuning, which is why I was super excited to find this solution.
The dreaded Restringing of the violin is a fearsome task. I remember the ball of my G string coming out the very first time I tuned my violin and how I dreaded restringing it. However, I watched at least a dozen different tutorials on how to change a string and it all went smoothly. Probably the most thorough of them all was this one, in which the video-er led me through the whole process, from the E string to the G string.
Here’s a video from the online violin tutor on how much to tighten the bow and a few guidelines on caring for the bow. Of course, as a beginner violinist, I was all over the dos and don’ts of violin, and this video was particularly specific and thus helpful.
As the beginner of beginners, I found this video on rosining the bow excellent. It’s due to Alison that I have never over-rosined the bow!
Playing the Violin
Basics of the basics: how to hold the bow. You wouldn’t think you need all 9 minutes of the video, but Beth Blackerby means business. It’s all packed with good information.
How to stop your left hand from squeezing – in this, Beth explores the root cause of squeezing in the left hand and how to fix it, plus the distinction between touching the neck of the violin and squeezing it.
In this video, 7 Ways to NOT Hit Other Strings, Alison goes through seven possible reasons why one could be hitting strings, plus why one’s tones might sound “scratchy”. Since hitting other strings is probably the most common problem when beginning violin, this is an excellent video to watch.
And now, here’s one on playing dynamics, along with a little information on “swelling” your dynamics to make your music sound a little more expressive. Playing dynamics is a difficult element to violin, I think, but Alison does a nice job of giving a few pointers to help with it.
Everyone wants to learn vibrato – it’s the most exciting part of any stringed instrument. Well, Beth at Violin Lab Channel has put together a basic vibrato tutorial, from the main left hand motion to a few common mistakes in her students’ vibrato.
This other video on vibrato, from Beth again, was also a huge help. This one has dos, don’ts, and vibrato in slow motion and different angles.
Here’s another video from Beth on vibrato: beyond the basics. She talks about checking for tension in the thumb and knuckles, a trick to find the motivation to speed up your vibrato, and what muscles come into play with a rapid vibrato.
There are a lot of people making videos and tutorials and much more. Really, I’ve barely touched on the many, many videos out there. Explore the world of Youtube and learn from everything there!
~ Maggie J.