Beginner Violin Tips

Why Learn to Read Violin Sheet Music?

It’s always a good idea to learn to read sheet music. You will be at an advantage if you can do it, no matter what style of music you are playing. That said, it is a skill that is more important with some styles than others.

Classical Music

Classically trained musicians learn to read sheet music. Period. There is no getting around it. In order to play any of the great classical works you have to know how to read sheet music. That said, it may be helpful at the beginning to become familiar with your instrument by learning some pieces by ear. However, if you progress at all beyond the beginning stage, reading sheet music is a skill you cannot do without.

Fiddle Music

Many professional fiddle music players (both Irish and other) recommend learning to play by ear over learning to read sheet music. You can do this by buying a CD of fiddle music that you like, listening to the violin part, and learning to play it by ear. This is very helpful for passing down certain traditions of playing that written sheet music cannot easily convey. That said, once you have established a personal style (and even before that) it is very helpful to know how to read sheet music as one option for learning new tunes to play.

We understand fiddle teachers’ reservations about students learning from sheet music. Many beginner violinists tend to sound more robotic when they learn from sheet music because they are focused on exactly following what is written rather than emphasizing the musical style. But we feel that the solution is not to ignore sheet music, but simply to supplement that skill with making sure to also listen to recordings of great players in order to fully understand the feel and traditions of the piece.

Fiddle players who have a sense of traditional styles can sit down and get the tunes instantly from a book of sheet music and then supplement it with grace notes and stylistic choices. The alternative, learning by ear (while also a very good skill to have), is usually a much slower process for all but the most gifted or experienced players.

How to Read Sheet Music Notation

Confused about how to read music notes? What do all these wacky symbols mean? Why is everything written in Italian?

If you’re brand new to reading music, check out our article on How to Read Sheet Music for Beginner Violin.

Practical Tips for Learning to Read Sheet Music

Want to learn to read sheet music for violin faster than most people?

Many teachers will simply tell you that learning to read sheet music is a matter of how much time you spend practicing. It is true that it will take a while to learn, but some methods are much faster than others. For a great intro to violin in general, and especially for learning to read violin sheet music, take a look at Essential Elements 2000 for Violin. It comes with a practice CD to help you get started.


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