Because there aren’t any local violin tutors that I can find in my area, I’m having to rely heavily on YouTube and other means to stumble through learning this instrument. At first, I thought this wouldn’t be too hard. But after almost a full week of daily practice, I’m running upon questions I wish I had someone around to ask.
That being said, I’ve discovered a really great book/online learning tool that does all the right things for me: Essential Elements for Strings – Book 1 with EEi: Violin. This is not meant as an advertisement of any sort, but rather just to talk about what a self-learning adult student requires to get started.
To start with, for the price of a little over $5, you get a book that starts you at the very beginning of learning the instrument. Not only does it ease you into learning individual strings and notes, but it reinforces it with online materials at Essential Elements Interactive. This includes videos, PDFs and sound recordings to play along with.
I love the sound recordings section in particular. It has an optional metronome, a repeat toggle, and a Slow setting if you need to learn a tune at a slower pace than normal. Really, this is all I could have looked for in a learning experience.
I also like that the book focuses on teaching you the notes on the strings long before it introduces bowing at all. It wants to get you comfortable with the left hand (which I have tons of trouble with by itself) before making it more complicated with the right. For some people, this might seem too slow. For me, a person who used to play guitar, it’s just about right. I can wrap my head around notes on a fretboard, though adjusting to having no frets is really the shift I’m having to make.
I also picked up a much more expensive Fiddle Primer Book back in December. It came with both a music CD and a video DVD, which are rather dated in material, but look to have good content. This book tosses you straight into bowing before teaching any notes, and will probably focus on more folksy style music, which I’m interested in. However, I can see this as a supplement for once I’m further into the Essentials book. Something to provide a change of pace and a wider set of songs.