Learning to play the violin could be called as self-improvement in several ways. Not only are musical instruments a great creative outlet, but learning to play one engages your visual, auditory and motor cortexes… at the same time. Anita Collins explains in this TED-Ed video that playing a musical instrument is the brain equivalent of getting a full-body workout.
How does this improve your day-to-day life?
Well, by regularly exercising these parts of your brain, you can strengthen your fine-motor skills, linguistic and mathematical comprehension, and your ability to think creatively.
And, because playing an instrument activates all parts of the brain simultaneously, learning a musical instrument can help different parts of your brain communicate more effectively. According to Collins, this can allow musicians to be creative problem solvers in both social settings and in academia. Who wouldn’t want a faster, more creative brain?
However, learning a musical instrument also comes with some costs (i.e. time and money).
There’s no getting around the time commitment. Learning to do anything means taking the time to fully experience it and practice regularly. However, learning to play a musical instrument doesn’t have to be a costly venture. There are so many apps and tutorials available online that paying for professional lessons or even the instrument itself can be put off for a considerable period of time.
And if you’re worried about learning via an app? Don’t be: app learning is becoming more and more legitimate each year. In fact, over 30 million students of varying ages used apps for online learning in 2014.
Below are eight apps and online resources that can help you learn the violin for free. Or, if you’re interested in another instrument, check out our similar posts on learning to play the guitar or the piano.
Think of Classical Violinist as a violin-themed version of the popular video game Guitar Hero.
The app includes 15 violin pieces, such as “The Blue Danube” by Strauss and “Ave Maria” by Schubert, and allows you to mimic the movements needed to play each song by swiping your finger across the screen.
The game won’t teach you much in terms of how to properly hold a violin, but it’s a great way to work on other skills, such as the timing of bowing actions, before you commit to buying or renting a real violin.
Unfortunately, this app is only available for iOS, but there is a similar option available for Android called Violin: Magical Bow (Free with in-app purchases).
Download — Classical Violinist for iOS (Unlock the full version for $1.99)
From JSplash Apps, the free version of Music Tutor is a sight-reading coach that will help you learn to read sheet music swiftly. This is, of course, a skill valued by violinists but comes in handy for other instruments as well.
Users can choose to practice bass clef, treble clef, or both, all for durations of one, five, or 10 minutes.
Each mini-test gives you a score and an accuracy percentage, allowing you to view your strengths and weaknesses, and improve your music reading skills before you move on to advanced violin pieces.
Violin Tutor Pro is an online service launched by musician and instructor Michael Sanchez for aspiring violinists.
There are loads of free videos available for beginning and intermediate violinists, as well as a handful targeting those with more than four years of experience. Violin Tutor Pro emphasizes community, which is helpful for those who like to learn by talking to others with similar hobbies. The website includes forums for musicians with a variety of stringed instrument passions, and even has a section for beginner violin players.
It’s tough to learn to play violin if your instrument isn’t properly tuned. That’s where the nTune: Violin Free app comes in.
The app uses actual recorded violin notes as opposed to generated sound effects, including playback options for Arco (bowing) or Pizzicato (plucking).
It includes basic tuning for the G, D, A, and E notes, all with the simple touch of a button. The app also gives users the option to play notes on a loop so they can hear it continuously while they adjust their own violin.
For a free Android option, you can check out a similar app: Violin Tuner
Download — nTune: Violin Free for iOS
5. AMS Music
One of the best free online resources for learning both violin and piano is AMS Music, from musician and instructor Alison M. Sparrow.
The free violin lessons page on the site includes loads of information as well as links to video lessons on YouTube. There is a complete, 10-lesson session for those who have never picked up the violin.
And AMS doesn’t stop there. It also offers reviews on violins and related accessories, tips on reading music, song tutorials for both beginners and intermediates, and lessons on basic violin techniques.
As you can already see, there is no shortage of free online resources for learning to play the violin. However, much of what’s available gives users tips on how to play more classical compositions.
In comparison, the FiddlerMan gives you all you need to know about the basics. It also excels in other types of music, such as folk and blues. In fact, there are even videos available that give visitors tips on how to use the violin for jazz improvisation.
The site also includes a page to help brand new violinists figure out what size of violin to get, how to hold it, and a list of starting out tutorials.
One of the obvious drawbacks of learning to play violin online is that you’re all on your own. Originally created for children, the Let’s Play Concertos! app is just too helpful not to mention for adults. It allows you to play full-scale concertos with the help of a virtual orchestra.
The app includes violin concertos from the likes of Oskar Rieding, Ferdinand Küchler, Fritz Seitz, and Leo Portnoff, among others. It also has options for other instruments, including cello, viola, clarinet, and flute.
A digital cursor guides users swiftly through each piece of music. There’s also a handy flexible metronome that allows you to adjust the speed of a piece so you can play at your own pace. This is perfect for beginners.
Learning a new musical instrument is a challenge in its own right. But constantly playing the same handful of songs over and over again can make the process even more tedious.
Rather than physically teaching you to play violin, the Classical Music I: Master’s Collection Vol. 1 app gives you free access to more than 100 masterpieces. This allows you to easily sift through and select something you’d like to learn. The best instructors advise violinists to play along with recorded music, and this app makes it easy to do so.
The free version of the app gives you access to clipped selections of classical audio tracks. You can upgrade to the app’s Deluxe Version for full playback options if you like what you hear.
For a similar option on Android, check out Violin Music.
Download — Classical Music I: Master’s Collection Vol. 1 for iOS (Deluxe Version for $4.99)
How Will You Start Learning the Violin?
It may seem daunting to learn to play the violin, particularly if you’ve never held the instrument in your hands. However, with so many tutorials and virtual ways to try out the instrument, what’s to stop your learning? With no upfront costs, these apps can help you start learning the violin today. Or, they can help you decide if it’s the musical instrument you want to pursue.
How long have you wanted to play the violin? Do you know of any other helpful apps or tutorials not mentioned here? Tell us in the comments section below!