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Ideas on Learning

How long does it take to learn to play the violin?

People are interested in the cost of learning to play the violin. How much are lessons? How much does it cost to rent a violin?

A few people ask, “How many years will it take my child to learn to play the violin?”

The answer requires knowing 2 things:

  1. how much does your child play?

  2. what type of playing are you hoping to do?

Here’s my back of the envelope estimates.

First, determine how much your child plays.

Student 1 attends 30 min weekly lessons, but does not play music between lessons. They will play about 20 hours per year.

Student 2 attends 30 min lessons and practices 5 times a week for 20 min and attends a fiddle camp in the summer. They will play about 120 hours per year.

Student 3 attends 1 hour weekly lessons and practices 7 times a week for 1 hour and attends a few camps in the summer. They will play about 500 hours per year.

Second, think of the ways you'd like your child to play the violin. Here are some different ways violinists can enjoy playing music and a rough estimate of how many hours one needs for that activity.

It takes about 150 hours to learn to:

  • Play the violin on your own

  • Play the violin with friends and family

  • Play the violin in a jam session

500+ hours to:

  • Perform with a band for friends

  • Perform solo for friends

  • Play at a family/friend’s wedding

  • Perform for a community group

1000+ hours to:

  • Play in a community orchestra

  • Play fiddle in a Bluegrass Session

  • Play fiddle in an Irish session

  • Play fiddle in a Jazz Session

  • Perform with a band for a paying audience

2000 + hours

  • Begin an undergraduate degree in music performance

10,000+ hours

  • Performing solo for a paying audience

So, the answer the question "How long does it take to learn to play the violin?" can be answered so many ways. From 1 year to, well, lots of years.

Most FiddleQuest students play about 100 hours a year. After 5 years, they have the musical skills to play with others. But they need one more thing...

If parents, teachers and community do our jobs well, these students will be involved in a musical community during those 5 years and have the confidence and experience to make the jump to life-after-lessons playing and performing with friends.

I love the (unusual) students who joyfully play for thousands of hours. But, my focus is getting ALL of my students to at least 500 hours of playing, surround them with a musical community and, as a result, give them access to an abundance of activities available at that level when they head out into the world.


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