Lesson FAQs
Performance

Lesson FAQs

I've tried to answer some of the more common questions I am asked on this page. Please read through and if your question answer isn't here please drop me a line.

 

First lesson!

Why should I, or my child learn the violin?

Learning to play the violin is an incredibly rewarding undertaking. As well studying the instrument itself you or your child will

  • Learn self discipline through regular practice.

  • Increase attention span.
  • Gain in self confidence and self worth by achieving something difficult.
  • Gain respect from peers, friends, teachers or prospective employers. Most people see the dedication required to learn an instrument as a positive quality.
  • Make like minded friends by joining orchestras or bands.
  • Develop a bigger world view and open mind. Students, especially younger ones, can discover that there is more to life than popular culture and television. This has a huge knock on effect on their studies and achievements outside school.
  • Learn more than music. The violin has a history spanning at least 500 years and to truly understand it, studies must include, world history, art, the sciences, literature, architecture and engineering to name a few subjects. Where relevant, having such background information included in lessons enriches students in ways beyond the obvious.

These are just some of the benefits that come from studying the violin.

Am I too old, young, small etc. To learn the violin?

No, the violin is accessible to everyone. People of all ages and walks of life have learnt to play and love it.

Tim

What is your musical background?

I have been playing the violin for 29 years. As a young child I dreamt of being a violinist, like my father and grandfather were before me. Although it was not until the age of 10 that I started violin lessons, I soon developed a love for playing the instrument. Although my lessons were of traditional classical technique and methodology, in my teens I also learnt folk styles including Celtic and bluegrass fiddle playing, along with rock, heavy metal and messing with the avant garde. Quite a varied mix! I have also had lessons in the piano, vocal training and can play accordion, concertina, mandolin and claw-hammer banjo to name a few of instruments I have studied. Despite this, the violin is my main passion and where my true musical loyalties lie.

I have played first and second violin in orchestras, electric violin in rock and punk bands and toured nationally in an Ozzi Osbourne tribute act (yes really!). I currently play the traditional and electric violin/fiddle, gigging for folk punk band 'Eat the Rich' throughout the Southwest and as a session musician for well known artists like Nikki Swann and Traverso. Between this I play solo and in small ensembles for weddings and funerals. Please see my performance page for some examples of my playing.

Why should I choose you to teach me?

I am not your usual 'old fashioned' music teacher, instead I believe in combining a basis of sound technique with an open mind in order for my students to achieve. If you are put off by the traditional strict and 'musty' teacher stereotype then I am sure I can inspire you. I have a sense of humour and I am reasonable in my expectations of my students. Traditionalists needn't despair though! I tailor my lesson plans around the individual and have my own classical background to draw on, to ensure a rich and rounded education. I am used to children and animals (I have them both myself) and this helps me teach the younger ones on their level and I won't mind if your dog slobbers on me either....

I am thinking of learning the violin, but am unsure. What can I do?

I offer a free, no obligation 'assessment session' on request, where you can have an opportunity to try out a violin and where we can talk about the subject. Please contact me so we can arrange this.

Do I travel to you, or do you travel to me?

Sheet music

I offer both options for my lessons, depending on what is most convenient. I am willing to travel around my local area, although a travel expense surcharge may apply for locations further afield.

-- Please note that I am currently only teaching from home. Sorry for any inconvenience --

What do I charge for lessons?

The current lesson fee is £30 per hour or £15 for half an hour for private lessons.

How long and often should my lessons be?

I normally recommend that adults / late teens have one hour long lesson a week and younger children have one half hour lesson weekly, as learning a new skill is tiring both mentally and physically and lesson length should reflect the student's capabilities. Weekly lesson intervals are ideal for learning an instrument and longer intervals than that are counterproductive to both student and teacher.

How many lessons will I need?

Learning the violin takes many years of dedicated hard work. For this reason it is impossible to put a figure on the number of lessons required. One of the wonderful aspects of the violin is that you never finish learning to master it and, if you wish, it can become a passion that literally lasts a lifetime.


Do I need my own instrument?

Yes, you do. I do not lend or hire instruments under any circumstances. If, however, you do not currently own your own violin I can source one for you based on your budget and ability. In fact I prefer to do this, as I can offer my advice in making a suitable choice.

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How much does a violin cost?

There are some very good beginner packages available presently for under £100. On the other hand, professional quality instruments can cost many thousands! Even in the same price band, not all instruments are equal, I can advise you on what is best for you.

My Grandad played the violin and I found his old one in the attic. Can I use that?

Maybe. Some old violins are very fine and you might have struck the jackpot! Usually though, instruments like this are in terrible condition and were originally of poor quality. I love looking at old instruments, so I would be delighted to examine it for you. I can then advise you if it is a viable option for you, if it needs restoration work or if it is best just 'hung on the wall'.

Traditional acoustic violin or electric violin?

Normally, I recommend students begin to learn on a traditional acoustic violin. They are generally cheaper to buy for the same quality instrument (no amplifier required, some cheap packages are terrible) and some electrics are very heavy compared to a 'normal' one. If disturbing neighbours when you practise is an issue, however, many electric violins allow you to play through headphones so may be an option in certain situations. If you are a seasoned player looking to branch out in to the world of electric instruments, I say 'why not!', you'll have a ball!

Violin or fiddle?

A common question with a simple answer. They are both the same! The difference between a violin and a fiddle is primarily in how it is played, not the instrument itself. I chose to learn both styles and the choice is yours........

I am left handed, can I play the violin?

Yes, you can. I am left handed myself and had no trouble learning. I give the same advice to left handed players as my teacher gave to me: Learn to play on a 'normal' right handed violin. The violin is hard to learn how ever you hold it! Left handed violins are rare and expensive and if you ever want to play in an orchestra, you can't because you will elbow and poke everyone else in your section! Also, if you ever want to teach in the future it will be difficult for your students to follow you. I really see no reason to learn 'left handed' and people who talk about the “biases of the brain limiting your ability to play” obviously don't understand that the tiny nuances and subtleties that great violinists use when playing are present in both left and right sides of the body.

What about the bow?

The bow is a vital part of your kit. It is often overlooked but is incredibly important for successfully learning to play. Starter packages often include a low quality bow and whilst these may be adequate, an upgrade is sometimes necessary. Similarly, as you progress in skill your bow may need upgrading. I can advise you in this area.

What else do I need?

I can provide any books or other learning resources you may need (typical cost to you £10 a book) and help you with spare strings and the like. Items you also need to own include a music stand, tuner (pitch pipes, tuning fork or electric tuner), a supply of rosin for your bow, a shoulder rest, a hard case to keep it all in, stationery and a folder for your music. Many starter packages include these items.