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Parent's Guide to children playing the Violin

AGE GROUP BOYS AND GIRLS 5 - ADULT

The violin is a member of the string instruments family.  It is a wonderful instrument for a child to learn at an early age.  The study of the violin develops pitch recognition and rhythmic skills.  It will also foster creativity and musical expression.

What age should my child start lessons?

The recommended age to start a child in Violin lessons is 5 years old depending on the interest and attention span of the child.  Your child must be able to attentively sit still for thirty minutes for their lesson.  The lessons will teach your child the proper position for holding the instrument and bow, bowing techniques, finger placement, and music reading.

Are there different size violins?

Violins come in a variety of sizes and children typically use smaller string instruments than adults.  It is important that you get the right size for your child to ensure that they will be able to comfortably play the instrument.   For more details on sizing see our Violin Size Section.
 

How to Register for Lessons?

Registration for music can be done at anytime, as long as space is available, and your session will be prorated.  Registration can be done in person, by phone, by mail or fax.  In addition, some organizations will allow you to register on line.   Normally these programs are very popular and space can be limited so don't delay registration or you may miss out!  Music programs are usually 16 -20 week sessions.

 

Required Commitment...

How much practice is necessary?

As with anything, improving in music takes practice.  One of the major problems with children and music is the drudgery of practicing.  There is no set time, however your child must spend quality time each day reviewing what they were taught.  Violin practice must be concentrated and focused.  Set the same time every day to practice so that it becomes part of a routine or habit. For young children 20 or 30 minutes seems like an eternity and they spend more time watching the clock  then practicing.  Instead of setting a time frame, use repetition as your gauge.  For example have your child play each piece 3  - 5 times per day.  The child does not pay attention to the amount of time they are practicing but knows that they are on the third time and almost finished.   Ideally, your child should have a place to practice without distractions and it should not disrupt the household.  If the home is small then you should consider the instrument chosen.  A very large instrument or a noisy instrument could be very disruptive and you may not have the room for it.

How long are sessions?

Depending on the instrument and the skill level of the child lessons will run either 30, 45 or 60 minutes per week. Lessons are scheduled on an individual basis.  Your registration reserves you a time slot for the duration of your instruction period.  It is imperative that you arrive promptly for your lesson.  They will normally give you only one make-up lesson per session and any other that the child misses will be a forfeiture of that lesson.

Recitals...

Formal and informal recitals are an important part of the music program. They will offer your child the opportunity to perform, listen and learn proper recital etiquette.  These recitals are not mandatory but it is to your child's advantage for them to participate. 

 

Cost of lessons?

The cost of music lessons has four components:

  • music lessons
  • cost of the instrument
  • cost of materials
  • competition or recital fees. 

Music Lessons...

The cost for lessons would depend on whether your child is taking private or group lessons, the length of the class and the qualifications of the instructor.

Music sessions will run for 16 -20 weeks.   As a general indication, most instruments will be $25 - $40 for a 30 minute lesson,  $35 -$50 for a 45 minute lesson and $50 - $60 for a 60 minute lesson.  Some organizations offer family discounts and group rates.  Many students enjoy taking lessons with their family or friends.

Instrument Cost...

The cost of the instrument would depend on whether you rent or purchase the instrument.  Initially, your best option is to rent a violin from your local music store.   If you rent the instrument it is usually done on a three month trial basis that will automatically turn into a year contract if the instrument is not returned.  Renting, at first, is a good idea to make sure your child is committed to the instrument and it will minimize your initial investment.  You can pay the cost all once at the beginning or they will automatically bill your credit card on a monthly basis. 

Long-term dedicated students should purchase a violin at some point in their development.  If you choose to purchase the instrument you have the option of purchasing a new or used instrument.  A used instrument will be substantially cheaper and many times are like new.

Many music stores will give you credit towards purchase from your rental and it can apply to the purchase of either that instrument or a better one. A student violin will cost between $200 - $300.  A fine sounding, small size intermediate violin can be purchased from between $750.00 and $1500.00. 

Other Required Materials...

Initially, the materials required will be a method book that will cost approximately $ 8- 10. Some music stores will include the book with the rental of the instrument. In addition, some musical accessories, like a stand, could be recommended depending on the instructor. 

Recital Cost...

Competitions and recitals are a wonderful way for your child to show their abilities to the world and it is extremely exciting for them.  However, many recitals and competitions often have entry fees.  You will need to discuss with child's instructor their philosophy on this subject.

 

Did you know....

Realize that the instrument that your child begins with may not necessarily be the one that they stay with forever.  They are however,  learning the basics of music theory and harmony that can be easily converted to another instrument.

You will know when your child is ready to enter competition when he/she feels extremely confident and is willing to play in front of people. This is the best sign that your child is ready to go out and be judged for their performance.

Rewards work very well for children. Be sure to grant an occasional simple reward to help encourage practice.  Stickers are a great way to show approval.  Praise also tends to be a great reward; there is no substitution for a pat on the back for a job well done.

The violin is played by using the right hand to draw the bow at a right angle across one of the strings, at the bridge, causing the string to vibrate.  Pitch is controlled by selecting the string the bow contacts and pressing it down with one of the fingers on the left hand.

Instruments are very delicate and should always be protected from heat, cold and quick changes in temperature. See Violin Maintenance for more information.

It is important to properly maintain your instrument at all times.

Before you purchase a violin you need to know the appropriate size for your child.  Consider the fact that your child's violin size will change in the future.  Check to make sure the store you purchase the violin from has a trade-in program so moving to a different size instrument will be at a minimal cost.