If you already play the violin or want to start, you may already be familiar with Fiddlershop.com's online Academy. The Fiddlershop Academy is a set of courses designed to take people who have never even held a violin all the way through violin mastery.
The Fiddlershop Academy site may not be as flashy as some violin sites, but we think it's the real deal. We like that they offer several courses completely free, but for the series learner, you can also purchase a premium membership that lets you get individual feedback from experienced instructors.
Things to Consider Before Investing in an Online Violin Course
There's a wealth of lesson sites that teach you how to play guitar online. We haven't found quite as many sites dedicated to helping you learn violin, but there's still something for just about every playing interest out there.
Before you decide, though, here are some things to ask yourself:
Features and Benefits
Now let's look into some of the features of this violin site. Thus far, we like their course options and their teachers, but we'll let you be the final judge.
Meet the Instructors
The violin is a very rewarding instrument to play, but your early days of learning are likely to have a few hurdles. Thus, you don't want just anyone teaching you to play.
If you're worried about what kind of violinist will be teaching you over at Fiddlershop, we hope we can help you put those worries to rest -- Fiddlershop has some of the most accomplished instructors around, including Fiddlerman, who is almost a kind of internet violin celebrity.
If you want to see what Michael is like as a teacher, check out this interesting video where he talks about (and demonstrates) the difference between playing with feeling and playing when you don't care.
Now that we've covered your two teachers, let's take a closer look at what courses Fiddlershop has to offer. It's important to mention here that Fiddlershop has a premium membership option, but that part of the site doesn't look like it's set up yet. (In fairness, Fiddlershop Academy does say "Coming Soon" above its site banner, so we're not surprised that all site features aren't done yet.)
However, the "free" section of the Academy is up and running, and we think it offers a pretty comprehensive course selection:
- 1Before Your Violin Arrives -- This short course is designed to prepare you to start playing as soon as your new instrument arrives. You'll go over the basics of physical movements when playing, preparing the bow hold, and the basics of rhythm and music theory. This way, once your violin is all set up and shipped to you along with its needed accessories, you'll have an idea of what you're doing.
- 2Getting Your Violin Ready -- This is a short course, but we like that it goes into a lot of detail. You'll learn about parts of the violin, accessories, tuning, rosining your bow, and more. You'll also learn how to use accessories like shoulder rests and tapes. These are things that an in-person instructor would usually cover on the first day of lessons, so we like that the Academy takes the time to introduce all of these topics in the beginning. If you want an inside look, check out this lesson on stance from the course.
- 3Beginner Level 1 -- This eight-module course is designed to help you feel comfortable with your new instrument. You'll get some review on how to hold the violin and the bow, and you'll also go through some theory basics. A lot of this course focuses on playing simple songs. We think this is a good idea -- after all, even as a new player, you'll have a sense of accomplishment.
- 4Troubleshooting and Maintenance -- If you buy your violin from the Fiddlershop, you can rest assured that it will be sent to you fully set up and ready to play. However, any musician knows that your violin or viola might start sounding "off" one day. This course takes you through important topics to fix issues as they arise and help your violin sound great, and it also teaches you about accessories:
- 5Beginner Level 2 -- This level builds on what you learned in Level 1. You'll learn about using bows on open strings, playing with the first and second fingers, music theory, and some rhythm.
- 6Beginner Level 3 -- This course will help you learn more about developing a great tone on the violin. You also will learn to play with first, second, and third fingers, and you'll learn to play Twinkle and its variations.
- 7Repertoire -- This section contains pieces of sheet music to various different songs. However, this section looks like it hasn't been expanded yet -- it's something to look for in the future.
Fiddlershop does sometimes have group projects through its YouTube channel. This can be a fun addition to taking online lessons. If you want to learn more about these group projects, check out this interesting YouTube video.
Pricing, Membership Levels, & a Note on the Shop
As mentioned earlier, Fiddlershop Academy's free courses are up and running. The site mentions that there is a premium option. This option means you get direct, personalized feedback from Michael and Pierre. You'll also get access to an online community of other students learning to play the violin.
However, when we click the site's link for premium pricing info, it just takes us to the top of the Academy page, where it does say "Coming Soon." We don't really think this is a bad thing -- you'll probably want to practice using the free lessons before you move on to a paid membership.
Lastly, we wanted to mention a little about Fiddlershop, which is both a website and a brick-and-mortar shop for violins. Fiddlershop was founded by Pierre Holstein (known more widely as Fiddlerman) as an offshoot of his website, Fiddlerman.com. Fiddlerman says his students kept asking about what violins and accessories to buy, and Fiddlershop was essentially an answer to that.Today, Fiddlershop has a physical shop in Pompano Beach, Florida, where they build and sell quality violins, violas, and other stringed instruments. The shop strives to connect with their customers and give the best learning experience possible to students of all levels, and they put an incredible amount of care into setting up all of their instruments. If you want to learn more about the shop, check out this beautifully-shot video where you can get a look at the shop and its impressive inventory of violins.
Social Proof of the Course
Usually, we do our best to dig up reviews of every course (or online music site) that we can find. We do this so you can see what other professional review sites think of a course. However, the Fiddlershop Academy appears to be new enough that we had trouble finding any reviews at all.
That said, we were able to find lots of reviews for Fiddlershop's family-run stringed instrument shop. We've done our best to choose customer reviews that might help you decide whether the Fiddlershop Academy is for you.
This snapshot comes from the Trustpilot site for Fiddlershop, where just about all Fiddlershop reviews we found are positive. We think it's worth mentioning that the store offers quality violin and bow options for affordable prices. While you don't have to purchase a violin or other instruments from Fiddlershop in order to attend Fiddlershop Academy, it's nice to know that the shop has a high-quality selection of instruments.
This review snapshot covers one family's experience with purchasing instruments and bows through Fiddlershop. We think purchasing your violin or violins through this shop can be advantageous. If something comes up when you're a beginner, it can be hard what to do. But the Fiddlershop staff members all have considerable experience and can help you resolve any issues you have. This one echoed the sentiment of many reviews we found -- that both Fiddlerman and his son, who run the shop, truly care about their customers and students.
This last one comes from a professional violinist who has been consistently impressed with the quality of Fiddlershop violins and carbon fiber bow options. In fact, we found that across most of the reviews we found, customers very frequently mentioned how pleased they were with the carbon fiber bow designs offered by the company.
In closing, while we wish we could find more reviews of Fiddlershop Academy, we think that this lesson program is worth trying. Namely, we like it because of the quality and experience level of the instructors. It would be difficult to find more qualified people to teach a beginning violin course.
We also love that many of the courses are free, so you can try them out before deciding whether you want to do a premium membership or not. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like Fiddlershop Academy's premium memberships are available yet, but we like that this membership comes with personalized feedback from the instructors. Check out Fiddlershop Academy today!