Guidance for Beginners
If you are a beginner (through Suzuki Book 1), start here
If you are just starting out, or have been playing for only a few years, use this guide to learn the fundamentals. These lessons will get you set up with good technique, practice skills, and a repertoire of beginner pieces and etudes!
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Beginner Plan: Follow These Steps
Essential Elements for Strings is often used in schools and group classes for beginners, and it’s a great way to get started! The lessons start from the most basic things like naming the parts of the violin, and very gradually get more advanced. If you are studying this book at school or in a group, you will benefit from the video demonstrations and explanations of selected, critical lessons. (You will need to purchase the book, Essential Elements for Strings Violin Book 1, separately.) If you are not using this book in a group, it is still a great way to get started as a complete beginner.
Learning to hold the instrument correctly is vital! The Essential Elements lessons will teach you the right position, but it’s good to review the position in depth. On the “Position & Set-Up” page, start with the lesson on posture, then watch the lessons on left hand position and bow hold. Take the time to master these lessons, and keep them in mind as you progress. Many future bad habits can be avoided by following this important advice - this is literally the foundation for your future success as a violinist!
You will learn more advanced lessons later, but first master playing with a straight bow. Watch the lesson on playing with a straight bow, and practice it every day until it becomes second nature!
Scales teach many skills: note reading, intonation, sound quality, correct position, and more. On the “Scales” page, go through all seven lessons in the “Progression of Scale Studies from Beginner to Intermediate.” These lessons will teach you the music theory behind keys and key signatures, and will walk you through how to practice scales correctly. When you get to lessons four and five, be sure to print out the PDF to make flashcards and memorize the key signatures!
You should begin these lessons once you are comfortable holding the instrument, have gone through about half of the Essential Elements lessons, and have learned a few basic scales. These pieces are progressive, and should be practiced in order. Go through all 16 lessons, and always keep in mind the principles of beauty, correct position, and relaxation - the lessons will remind you of these things, and teach you many new skills, as you progress. You should start Kinsey Set 1 (below) around the same time you start Suzuki Book 1, or you can start Suzuki first and add the Kinsey a little later. (You will need to purchase the book, Suzuki Violin Book 1, separately.)
The 24 etudes in Kinsey Set 1 teach you much about note reading, rhythm, and technique. Go through the lessons in order, and print out the PDF’s to help you stay focused. Be especially attentive to the instructions about how to practice - practicing correctly saves time and leads to better results. You should work on these etudes at the same time as Suzuki Book 1. (You will need to purchase the book, Kinsey Elementary and Progressive Studies for Violin Set 1, separately.)
Watch the lessons on slow practice, repetition, scales, and general advice. Learning to practice more efficiently and more effectively makes all the work you do in your pieces and etudes possible - these are the “tools of the trade,” and are important to master!
After you have finished the Progression of Scale Studies from Beginner to Intermediate, and can play scales in third position, you can get a taste for shifting. Try the beginner vibrato lessons, and experiment with some of the other bow strokes and silent bow exercises.
Next Steps: Intermediate and Advanced Lessons
Once you have completed Kinsey Set 1, Suzuki Book 1, and all the scales/technique/practicing lessons above, give yourself a hearty congratulations! You have completed our beginner program and are now ready for more advanced lessons! You can continue your studies with Kinsey Set 2, then the other etude books. Explore the advanced technique and repertoire lessons, and the world is yours!
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