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How to practise the violin: Tips from Violin Junior's Ros Stephen

Violin Junior is a new creative violin method for primary-age children. The books are fun and engaging with beautiful illustrations, a wide range of musical styles, lots of rhythm, composition and improvisation games and a thorough musical and technical approach that provides children with a strong foundation to their playing whilst encouraging their creativity.

"Meticulously crafted with close attention to detail on every page… I can wholeheartedly recommend Violin Junior.” Joanne Davies, Music Teacher Magazine.

Each volume includes a lesson book, a theory book, a concert book and a choice of violin or piano accompaniments for every piece. The books are packed full of engaging music from classical to rock, pop, folk and world music. Performance and backing tracks are available for every piece. Free video tutorials are available online, designed to help and encourage children with their practice between lessons.

"This well-thought-out, holistic series is precisely what self-described ‘non-musical’ parents have been demanding for years." Celia Cobb, The Strad Magazine.

Parental involvement in their children’s practice has been shown to significantly improve their progress. Here are a few tips to help you help your child learn in the best way.


How much practice should I do?

Learning an instrument is a bit like keeping fit - it’s better to play regularly for a shorter time than occasionally for a longer time. When you first start learning, 10 minutes practice a day is plenty but you should gradually increase this and by the time you reach around grade 5 level you should ideally aim to do at least 30-45 minutes of practice each day. It’s a good idea to practise on the same day as your lesson so that the things you have learnt stay fresh in your mind.


How to practise well

The more practice you do the faster you’ll learn, but it’s also important to do good quality practice. Practising badly can be worse than not practising at all as you’ll be reinforcing bad habits that you will have to unlearn later.

When you practise you’re learning new tricks and creating new connections between different parts of your brain. When you learn to walk, ride a bike or drive a car it feels really difficult at first because you’re doing lots of new things at the same time, but after a while the movements become automatic. Your brain reprogrammes itself so that you can do them without thinking - this is known as muscle memory. Learning the violin is just the same - every new technique needs to be repeated correctly over and over again until it feels easy. When you are practising you are literally training your brain!


Practising well means paying attention to technique, focusing on relaxation and always aiming for good intonation, a

ccurate rhythm and a clear tone. Practise difficult sections slowly and in isolation rather than always playing your pieces through from beginning to end. Remember that practise is not the same as performance. Good practice will eventually enable you to perform a piece automatically, leaving your mind free to focus on the musical expression rather than the technical challenges.

There’s also lots of practice you can do without the violin, for example listening to recordings of your pieces, singing your pieces to develop your ear and clapping the rhythm of the music along to a metronome.

Why is technique important?

The better your technique the easier it is to play the violin, so it’s really important to follow your teacher’s advice on bow hold, violin position and left-hand position. People have been playing the violin for around 500 years - players have figured out the best and easiest way to do it and passed that information down the generations. Your teacher is passing on 500 years’ worth of violin wisdom!

Tension is the biggest obstacle to good technique. Try to avoid holding the violin and bow too tightly - we need to be light and quick to play the violin well!

Why practise scales and arpeggios?

Scales and arpeggios are the building blocks of music. Learning scales and arpeggios in every key helps hugely with sight reading and significantly improves your facility around the instrument. You can work on different aspects of your playing when you practise scales and arpeggios: play them slowly to work on intonation and tone quality or quickly (ideally with a metronome) to work on shifting and coordination.


How do you play in tune on the violin?

The best way to play in tune is by listening and developing a good left hand technique so that accurate placing of the fingers becomes automatic. Markers on the fingerboard can be a quick fix but they don’t teach you the skills you really need. Slow practise, careful listening, singing and learning hand shapes for different fingering patterns is key to developing good intonation. If you’re not sure if you are playing in tune try recording yourself and listening back.



Violin Junior is written by violinist, violin teacher and composer, Ros Stephen. Ros performs in chamber groups, orchestras and in musical theatre shows in London's West End, composes and records music for film and TV and is the author of many best-selling publications on learning to play the violin. 


Visit the Violin Junior landing page to learn more about this creative approach to learning the violin!

Violin Junior landing page - Schott Music