The violin is a fine instrument! In pop culture, you usually see it being played by geniuses and virtuosos, but anyone can learn how to play the violin, especially with the guidance of Linda Day at Hitchcock! To learn more about the lessons she offers at Hitchcock click here, to learn more about the violin read on!

"The violin is probably the closest in sound and expressive capabilities to the human voice," explains Samantha Gillogly, a violinist from the area who currently resides in NYC. This familiarity leads many people to be captivated by the instrument. "Just about any melody that can be sung can be played on a violin. In that respect, it inspires a very immediate emotional response for many people." But there's more to the violin than simply an enchanting melody. Let's take a look at the history of the violin.

The word violin come from Medieval Latin vitula which means stringed instrument which could come from the name of the Roman Goddess of joy, or from Latin verb vitulari meaning to exult or be joyful. The instrument is also called the fiddle, especially in the context of folk music, but we'll just call it a violin in this post. The viola is a similar, but slightly larger instrument and has a deeper and lower sound. 

Apollo with lyre, Anglesey Abbey  photographed by Tony Smith

Apollo with lyre, Anglesey Abbey photographed by Tony Smith

The violin descended from many stringed instruments, including the Greek lyre, but the strings were plucked rather than having a bow drawn across. The first instruments that we would recognize as a modern violins emerged in the 16th century. From the 16th to the 18th century famous violin makers, also known as luthiers, began to emerge, with some names and violins from those times remaining famous to this day! The most famous of these is Antonio Stradivari, whose violins have sold at auction for millions of dollars. 

Lady_Blunt_top Violin.jpg

The Lady Blunt

This Stradivarius, named after one of its first owners, was sold at auction for $15.9 million. The proceeds benefited victims of the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

Photo by Tarisio Auctions. 

Purchasing a violin can be very costly, with student models costing up to $3,000, but renting a violin can be an affordable solution to this problem. You can find rentals in area music shops or even online with various rates to match the quality of the instrument and the length of your rental. 

It can be best to start playing when young because of a child's receptivity to learning new skills; however, anyone can start playing, even adults. Gillogly expounds on this, "Learning as an adult has its own unique advantages; adults are typically more conscientious of detailed instruction being given to them, and may be more disciplined and self-motivated in their practice." Some people who had experience playing when they were young may feel an urge to renew their previous work such as our violin instructor, Linda Day.

Linda first took an interest in violin at the age of 7, but did not devote herself to playing until 13. After marrying and raising four children, she did not pursue the violin further for more than 20 years. After attending school, she began a 22 year long career playing in the Austin Symphony Orchestra!

Gillogly offers this advice to those starting out, "Choose a song or two that is really special, really meaningful to you, as a goal to work towards learning. Scales and studies are helpful for learning technique, but without a piece of music to work up to that you really love, it can be hard to stay motivated in the long run." She offers this practical advice as well, "Don't feel self-conscious about using visual aids to help you find your way around the instrument in the beginning! Violins are fretless, which can be intimidating for many people, so ask your instructor to help you place some thin strips of colored electrical tape across the fingerboard to mark where your fingers should go. This will help make sense of where the notes are, and you can gradually wean yourself off them once you get more confident in your muscle memory."

I hope you learned a little more about this fine instrument. If you've had previous experience with the violin but would like to resume your studies, or if you're just starting out, now is a fantastic time to try your hand at it with a little expert guidance from Linda Day!


AuthorSusan Gregory