Online Violin Lessons – How To Keep Your Progress (And Spirits) Up

Online Violin Lessons – How To Keep Your Progress (And Spirits) Up

Hi Guys and thanks for dropping by,

Today I wanted to talk about something that is pretty important at the moment, and that is keeping on track with your violin journey through online violin lessons.

With the COVID19 crisis in full swing, things have become pretty crazy over the last couple of months. What started as a lack of toilet paper and pasta in the major supermarkets has turned into a full on lockdown all over the world; it’s certainly not a situation that I predicted we’d be in!

In the following post, I’m going to give you some practical advice on how you can keep progressing, despite not being able to physically attend your violin lessons. Whether you’re a teacher or a student, this is no time to take a break from your teaching or learning; it’s a time of opportunity to get ahead and get prepared for your next exam, competition or scholarship audition!

Should I Have Lessons Online?

Online violin lessons are not suitable for all students, so although taking an extended break may not have been something you’d planned for, it may be the best option for your overall progress and musical development.

Age and Level Limitations:

I’ve found effective teaching of very young students near impossible online. My usual lessons for beginners and very young students will involve me physically moving their bows and adjusting their fingers and arms regularly. This is impossible online and means that I need to rely on a parent or an older sibling to do so in my stead.

Where an older sibling is mature and advanced enough to help effectively, we’ve had successful lessons but even parents who don’t play the violin themselves are unable to make the necessary adjustments.

For my very young beginners without an older, capable sibling I’ve insisted on a break and for those who are a bit older, I’ve recommended some time off. The last thing we want is for inaccurate and damaging technique to creep in over the time we are apart. It is a huge shame to have to interrupt our learning and progress, but the long term damage that could be introduced through online violin lessons is just not worth it.

Successful Online Violin Lessons:

If your basic violin technique has been well established and you’re old enough to hold your concentration without having your teacher in the room with you, online violin lessons are definitely the way to go over the lock down period.

Setting Up For Online Lessons:

There are so many different programs available for video conferencing and what works for me may or may not work for you. I’ve been using Zoom and have been happy with the overall sound and picture quality during my lessons.

Whatever program you use, choose a well lit room and make sure that before your lesson, your camera is set up so that your teacher can see your fingers and bow. Perhaps run a trial meeting, even with a friend or family member to make sure that you can each hear and see each other effectively before your first lesson.

I have been allocating an extra 10-15 minutes for each lesson in case of technical issues. I’ve also found it good to have a little extra time up my sleeve to explain concepts that take longer online

Be Prepared:

Online violin lessons are going to be far more difficult if you’re not organised. Often, during normal lessons, I will tighten a student’s bow for them or find a page of music that has been put into the wrong spot so that we can get on with the lesson quickly and effectively. While I don’t mind doing this, it is not possible when we’re not in the same room.

Before your lesson, have your books ready and ordered. If you’ve got a lot of different sheet music, perhaps stick it into a scrapbook or display folder so that it is neat and organized. Tighten and rosin your bow and have your shoulder rest placed such that it is comfortable and technically correct. Do all this BEFORE you log on for your lesson; there is absolutely no use spending ten minutes of your lesson getting these things prepared!

I’ve continued to write lesson goals for my students while in lock-down. I’ve been emailing these to the students at the end of their lesson and referring back to the previous week’s goals when we meet again. In this manner, we’ve been able to continue progressing well and have been building upon our skills from the previous lesson.

Making The Most Of Videos:

Now that I’ve got my own online violin lessons up and running effectively, I’ll be back to making more videos to help you all with your violin progress. Please do use my videos where appropriate.

For example, I’ve currently got a number of students learning G major scale in three octaves. While it is important for us to go through the scale during our lesson, I am relying upon my students to use the videos and articles to help them with their technique during the week.

Duets And Piano Parts:

One thing that hasn’t worked so well online is playing two instruments at once. Sometimes, there’s a small lag, so you’ll hear the piano or second violin part slightly later than when I am playing it. We have also experienced some instability in internet connection which has lead to the sound cutting out; clearly these things are not conducive of effective ensemble.

How I’ve overcome some of these difficulties is to send my students a recording of the second instrumental parts via email. They can then open the files and play the part from their computer or audio system. Of course this isn’t as good as if I were to play in real life but it does suffice and when there’s no other pianist or violinist in the house, it’s certainly better than nothing!

Tuning:

For students who aren’t yet ready to tune themselves, online violin lessons can be difficult. I was working with five year old Alan last week and could tell that his violin was incredibly out of tune. We did the best we could but even with the help of big brother Alvin, we couldn’t get the violin to be in tune.

I will be posting a video and article about tuning shortly, so please stay tuned (haha)! but have also told my students to drop their violins at my door for me to tune when necessary.

Beware:

I’ve seen A LOT of online music lessons popping up all over social media lately. Apparently, you can begin learning an instrument online during the lockdown period and come out at the end of it ready for a sell out recital at Carnegie Hall!

Unless you’re just looking for a bit of lockdown entertainment that you know won’t take you anywhere, beginning to learn any instrument online, let alone the technically intricate violin is a REALLY REALLY bad idea.

There are many skills you could learn effectively online over the lockdown period but unless you’ve developed your basic technique in real life and are learning from an experienced and capable teacher, violin isn’t one of them.  

Best Of Luck!

I usually end my posts with a Congratulations, but I feel that this one is more of a ‘good luck’ post! Intermediate and advanced students in particular can really benefit through online lessons and while you’re prevented from going to the movies or school, you can dedicate lots more time to your practice and improvement.

Always keep correct technique at the forefront of your mind and continue practicing as you know your teacher would want you to!

Please do let me know how you go and if there are any videos or techniques you’d like me to cover over the lockdown period, feel free to reach out via the comments section below and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible!

Best Wishes and Stay Safe

Marketa (founder of myviolinbff.com)

This Post Has 52 Comments

  1. Hi Marketa,
    This is such a lovely website and I totally adored the article on Violin lessons. Keeping your spirits up in everything that we do is so important. All those who have ever succeeded have put in backbreaking hours in attaining perfection.
    I have been working at learning the piano online and it is most effective. But I have done all the free lessons and not yet started the paid ones.
    Thanks for a lovely writeup.
    Aparna

    1. Hi Aparna and thanks so much for your comments,
      Best of luck with your piano learning and I’m so glad that you found value in my website even though it’s violin based
      Have a lovely week ahead
      marketa 🙂

  2. Marketa,

    I understand the frustration involved with online lessons. My daughter, who took Orchestra in 7th grade, chose the same instrument I played throughout my years in Orchestra. Since school is all online now, it’s more difficult for her to do things on her own after only 1 partial year of learning to play, and now it’s all up to her without her teacher present.
    I had forgotten most of what I even learned, even though I played for 4 years. I think that your article will help her though, in knowing that it’s not her fault that she’s forgotten so much over the course of 7 months.
    School being all online right now is definitely difficult for my two girls, and Orchestra is no different.

    Thanks for sharing your insights!

    Katrina

    1. Hi Katrina and thanks so much for sharing your thoughts,
      It’s so especially hard for students involved in orchestra to feel engaged and motivated. I know that some of my students have had small instrumental tuition groups with their orchestras but the fun and excitement of being part of that ‘something bigger’ is essentially lost.
      We’re getting there! Best of luck with your daughter and her violin journey, particularly during this difficult time
      marketa 🙂

  3. Hi, Marketa,

    I truly hope we can get rid of all the restrictions including the virus itself so that we can get back to normal life.

    It’s really upsetting seeing kids not going to the kindergartens and schools, and adults not able to work properly – it seems like our planet has stopped turning around.

    Like in this case with violin lessons, only those who are more advanced, can somehow move forward with the help of online lessons, while beginners are forced to postpone until better times.

    1. Hi Natalie,
      you’re so right and really, for beginner and even intermediate students, it is very difficult to progress as thoroughly or as quickly as we do when we have our face to face lessons. When lockdown first started, we thought it was a case of a few weeks at most that we’d be unable to meet for lessons; that was sometime in March. Now, it’s become more or less the ‘norm’ to be having our lessons online.
      In any case, like you I hope it’s all over sooner rather than later
      best wishes and thank you for reaching out,
      marketa 🙂

  4. I came across your Online Violin Lessons and was curious about the subject. After reading your article I must say I found it very educational, to say the least. I get what you are saying that it’s best for some to not practice at all if you don’t know enough to practice right.

    I tried to learn guitar lessons from a book on my own for a long time but just couldn’t get it. It was much later in life when I learned that to learn anything the right way you need someone by your side correcting all your faults. If not you will get perfect the wrong way.

    With an instructor that cares for their students as you do, your students are in good hands.
    Cheers

    1. Hi Rick and thanks for sharing your thoughts
      I firmly believe that it’s always much better to work with an experienced teacher face to face for any type of lesson. Unfortunately, at this time, we don’t have that luxury and online lessons are all we can do.
      Best of luck with your guitar and thanks for reaching out
      marketa 🙂

  5. I was looking for online instrument courses to buy as a gift for a relative during the lockdown but thanks for opening my eyes! Violin is at the top of her list. I’m an amateur bass and guitar player so I thought you could learn even the basics through online lessons but now I actually feel silly for thinking that. I know how important it is to learn the correct hand techniques and position right in the beginning when learning a new instrument. I just forgot that since it’s been two decades since I learned to play. And of course violin being fretless and probably the most technical of the string instruments, this is even more true. Thanks again for the insightful article!

    1. Hi Jukka and thanks for your input,
      I’d probably steer clear of the online lessons voucher. I’m guessing that your relative doesn’t play violin already so to learn the basic technique online really isn’t a good idea. If she’d been learning for a few years and had the basic technique covered, then it could be ok but I really find that I have to help my students a lot when they first start – physically move their hands and arms into the correct positions, adjust their violins. I can’t see all that online and I can’t move things.
      Have a great day and thanks for sharing 🙂

  6. I had a friend who was great playing violin and she made it seem so easy so I asked her to try and… OMG it was not as easy as professionals make it seem. Ever since then I haven’t been so interested in continuing, but I believe the techniqes you share will be so useful for people who really want to improve.

    1. Hi Delyana and thanks for sharing,
      You’re right that violin isn’t at all easy to play. To play properly, it’s essential to spend as much time as necessary on the basic technique before trying anything even vaguely difficult. Some parents wonder why their piano playing children seem to progress so much more quickly than those playing the violin; it’s because beginner violin technique is so difficult!
      Best wishes and thanks again for reaching out
      marketa 🙂

  7. Your article has perfect timing since the world is in the middle of a global pandemic. I know that there are martial arts being done online, teaching being done online, and of course ordering food and other items. I never thought about violin lessons though. But your article shows that it can be done. And I’m sure this will make a lot of the music/violin students happy.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks so much, John
      I think we’ve all had to adjust the way we do things over this pandemic. Here in Melbourne, there is word that outdoor dining won’t be allowed for a very long time. This has an absolutely devastating impact upon restaurant and cafe owners who have to revert to delivery of their food or face going bust. Teaching violin online is never something I thought I’d do but through being forced to do so, I’ve found that it can and does work for the large majority of my students. Of course I can’t wait to go back to face to face lessons, but in the meantime, we’re making do
      Have a great day and thanks for reaching out
      marketa 🙂

  8. Hey Marketa, great post for anyone interested in learning the violin.

    This is one instrument that I love to hear especially when it’s played the right way.

    I always wanted to learn the guitar although when I was at school I used to take the violin home.

    Obviously you have to have some sort of natural ability and obviously I had none.

    I think learning now I would give myself a better chance. It just takes so long to learn that I just don’t have the time.

    I can imagine trying to teach someone how to tune an instrument online extremely difficult.

    Thank you for sharing

    1. Hi Mick and thanks so much for sharing your experience,
      you know, many of the students I meet who believe that they have no natural ability actually just lack the solid technique to move forward in a meaningful way. So, perhaps you weren’t as bad as you thought 🙂
      Have a great day
      marketa 🙂

  9. Hi Marketa,

    Wow, I never knew there were so many things to consider. I was always a bit skeptical about learning online, but it’s good to know that if you have the core fundamentals, it’s something that people could progress over the lockdown. I didn’t take up the option of learning online with my teacher but now I’m thinking it might be a good idea

    Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Hi Sharon and thanks for your comment.
      If you’ve already got the fundamental skills then you probably should have some online lessons; even if it’s not every week.
      Best of luck
      marketa 🙂

  10. My kids are so over the online thing. Any suggestions how we can get through this without them wanting to give up alltogether?

    1. Hi AJ,
      I definitely feel your pain. My kids are really starting to get sick of it all; especially with their online school classes. I’ve suggested to some of my students that less regular lessons could be an idea. So, some students are doing once a fortnight. I’ve also got some of my students enrolled in online exams, something that I don’t necessarily like but at least it gives a goal.
      Good luck with it and please let me know if you have any other questions
      marketa 🙂

  11. Hi Marketa. I’m a yoga teacher and I face the same challenge as you to teach online. Yes, I know that there are many online yoga classes since long ago before the Covid-19 start. But I have to admit online classes are more suitable for people who has some background. For someone who is completely newbie first time learning, the best they go for a class so that they can be easily corrected and adjusted when they make mistake.

    Online is suitable for sharing information but to teach a skill will be a challenge. I find that it’s not only a stress to the trainer but to the learner too. Just for a short term solution is fine but to make it become permanent, don’t think is a best way.

    1. Hi Janet and thanks for sharing your experience,
      I think now that online learning is here to stay for a while, we just have to adjust and while I’m certainly not accepting any new students at the moment, the current students do benefit, not only in terms of continuing to progress but also in that they can continue to have structure in their lives.
      Best of luck with your yoga classes and I hope you’re surviving lockdown
      marketa 🙂

  12. Fantastic article, I love the idea of using a prerecorded video for duet/ accompaniment parts. The lag can be killer, and when one person tries to adjust it often just means more of a lag for the other person. I loved the story of poor Alan. I imagine the out of tune Violin was frustrating for him as well.

    1. Hi Sean and thanks for your comments,
      I have really had to adjust with my teaching strategies over lockdown but I must admit I’ve found some good things that I can take with me even once we finally resume normal life.
      Have a great weekend 🙂

  13. Hi there,

    Thank you for some great tips and ideas during the current situation. My daughter, that’s 11 have been practicing on her own, but taking online lessons is a great idea. Thanks for sharing great resources on this topic.

    1. Hi Veronica and thanks for reaching out,
      If your daughter was learning before lockdown, I’d definitely suggest an online lesson at least once a fortnight. She’ll lose her interest otherwise and it will be hard to go back. I’ve suggested to my very young or very new students to take a break but most are quite accustom to the online thing now
      Have a great day
      marketa 🙂

  14. This is a very useful post indeed! Thanks a lot for sharing your knowledge and expertise when it comes to starting online violin lessons. You’ve got some great tips and advice here and I’m sure others will find this post very helpful. Thanks again and keep up the good work!

    1. Hi Ivan and thanks so much for your comments,
      I’m quite taken aback by how many comments and shares this post has generated actually!
      Have a great day and thanks again for reaching out
      marketa 🙂

  15. What a wonderful article especially with a lot of us home right now. I didn’t realize you could get violin lessons online but this is definitely great for those who are interested. My daughter wants to learn so I have been looking into ways to keep my children entertained and make sure I give them a wide range of courses being that they will be learning virtually this school year. Thanks for the great info! I will be passing this info on!

    1. Thanks so much, Melissa
      I think if you’re just looking for an entertaining activity for your kids while in lockdown, then an online violin course could be ok. It will just be difficult if you don’t have a tuned violin – it will sound really bad and your daughter might get very discouraged. You can tune the violin yourself and as you’ve probably seen, I’ve included a video about this.
      Best of luck with it and hopefully we’re all back to normal soon!
      marketa 🙂

  16. Hi, very nice article. This kind of information needs to get out. Everyone is in the mindset that we are stuck at home and can’t craft our skills. Online training is a great way of using today’s technology and putting it to creative use. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I hope others will take not and take advantage of this creative option too!
    Stay Healthy!
    Jamie L.

    1. Hi Jamie,
      Your’e so right! It’s really depressing to just sit at home and do nothing. I feel very lucky that I can see all my violin and school students online at least and feel really sad for people who don’t have that. Continuing to work on your interests and skills in whatever way is possible is really important in these difficult times.
      Have a nice day
      marketa 🙂

  17. What a lovely site you have, I would have never thought that violin classes could have been online. I teach English online and I think that teaching music online is great even better now with COVID students will still be able to work on their talents too.

    1. Hi Kay and thanks for reaching out,
      It’s tricky to learn an instrument online but if it’s the only option we have, then I guess we have to just go with it. I hope your English classes are going well! One thing I’ve liked about lockdown is that I’ve discovered new ways to do things; so, for my advanced adult students who usually drive hours to see me, we’ll certainly be continuing online at least for some of our lessons!
      have a nice day
      marketa 🙂

  18. The Covid-19 makes everywhere mess around. I can see how difficult for you to adjust your teaching from offline to online, particularly for music instrument teacher. While your article brought a few very good tips for this teaching adjustment. Thank you for your informative post and I think i get some points on how to prepare my online teaching.

    1. Hi Daisy and thanks for reaching out,
      I’m so glad my article has helped you with your own online lessons! Please do let me know if I can give you any other help or advice
      Have a nice weekend
      marketa 🙂

  19. Hi Marketa,

    My daughter’s teacher offered lessons online over lockdown but we declined. Now that she is back to face to face lessons, she has lost a lot of her skills and motivation. What should I do?

    1. Hi Brian,
      This is just something that students and we, as teachers have to work with. Tell your daughter not to be too discouraged; it will all come back to her fairly quickly.
      Best of luck and please do let me know if you have any other questions
      marketa 🙂

  20. Thanks for the tips on what to expect when learning to play the violin by online instruction. You covered a lot of good info and what to expect. Bad habits are hard to break and it is wise to lay off until you get hands-on if you are just starting off or very young.

    The violin is my favorite instrument in classical music… and electric violins sound really cool in rock bands. I am in Kentucky and home to bluegrass music and they have created another cool sound with the violin.

    When I want to relax, nothing is more peaceful than a classical violin sound. It is such a beautiful instrument and I encourage more people to pick them up and put a stop to all of this computer-generated “music”.

    Many blessings, Brian

    1. Hi Brian,
      Electric violin is definitely pretty cool but I prefer my old fashioned violin. I certainly agree that violin music is good for relaxing. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to reach out
      Have a lovely weekend
      marketa 🙂

  21. Hello Marketa.

    A friend of mine has switched to teaching his guitar lessons virtually. He mentioned being challenged with the younger students, and that one of his 7 year old students has his father in the room during the lesson or the student loses his focus. He’s been grappling with the issue of whether the student should continue. Thanks for of your thoughts about online lessons during the pandemic.

    Denise

    1. Hi Denise,
      That’s tricky. I’ve found it really helpful having my students’ parents in the room while they are having their lessons online (and offline).
      Thanks for your comment and have a nice weekend
      marketa 🙂

  22. Hello Marketa,

    My daughter is really struggling to engage with the online lessons. She’s 8 and I just don’t see the value anymore. What do you suggest?

    1. Hi Graham,
      I think it’s just really difficult for everyone. It might be an idea to reduce her lessons to once a fortnight for the time being. Of course it would be best to keep a weekly lesson but if she’s losing interest then perhaps this would help.
      Best of luck
      marketa 🙂

  23. I have always wanted to learn the violin. I think that the sound is so magnificent, so beautiful. I have heard some old recordings of Paganini and I loved it. I also know that the violin is probably one of the most difficult instruments to play, isn’t it? So, I can understand why learning it online as a beginner can be a challenge. I am glad that intermediate and advanced players have the chance to continue lessons online.
    If an adult wanted to learn to play the violin now, would online lessons still be doable or what would you recommend?

    1. Hi Christine,
      Violin is very difficult to learn but once you have the basic technique, you’ll find it a lot easier. Online lessons are definitely doable, probably more so for an adult but I’d recommend starting face to face. If you’ve never played before, there are so many technical errors that you could introduce in the foundation stages.
      Best of luck and do let me know if you have any other questions
      marketa 🙂

  24. Hi Marketa!
    I’m after the tuning video! The link doesn’t seem to work and my sons violin is WAY out of tune!

    1. Hi Brendaliz,
      I’m not sure what’s going on with that video; a couple of people have mentioned this and I think I’m just going to have to rerecord. Thanks for pointing it out.
      Have a nice day
      marketa 🙂

  25. They Marketa

    thank you for this article> Me and my wife were looking to get some online lessons fro our child it has seemed impossible because all the instructors we had online required us to help the child, of which we can not since we do not know anything about violin.
    Thank you for highlighting this effect I thought It was just our problem but it seems like all parents will young babies will struggle online.
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Thabo and great to hear from you,
      You won’t need to be violinists to help so don’t worry. You’ll need to help put the violin higher or lower or move the shoulder rest into a more correct position etc. If your child is old enough then they can do these things themselves but for younger children, parental assistance is really important – especially online.
      Have a great day and thanks for reaching out
      marketa 🙂

  26. Although I don’t play the violin I can understand how Covid has affected learning, especially for my kids who are really losing interest in their violin playing. Online lessons sound great as long as the student can hold the bow and shoulder rest correctly and I worry that my two are starting to develp some bad habits.

    1. Hi Kathy,
      I’m definitely expecting some bad habits to have formed over the online lesson time, even for my advanced students. I think the most important thing in this time is to keep your kids engaged in their violin playing. They may develop a few errors but hopefully these won’t be too hard to fix.
      Thanks for your comment and please do let me know if you have any other questions
      marketa 🙂

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