How to Assess Your Level of Violin Playing

What is Your Level of Violin Playing?Joke Sheet Music

So, you’re thinking about joining a group violin class. You used to play violin, but you’re not sure what your level of violin playing would be considered (in other words, how advanced you are) and thus which group class level is right for you.

The first question I usually ask a new student who has told me that used to play violin is: “Did you train with Suzuki Method?”

Because the books are laid out in a nice gradient (they gradually get harder and harder), it’s easy to assess what a student has already learned, even if they’re not perfect at everything they studied so far. Of course, students forget things after having taken a hiatus. However, in my 10 years of teaching violin, where at least half my students were adults who used to play violin, I have found that every single student remembered more than they thought they would, and that the muscle memory of knowing how to play (left hand and right hand) and remembering how to read music always came back much quicker than they imagined. The only cases where they didn’t was when the student thought they had previously gotten it, but they hadn’t. Whatever level you used to be at, you can be there again pretty easily.

The best part of taking violin lessons again is that once you get rolling, your skill level will well exceed your previous level. How exciting!

There is no standard, agreed-upon metric for assessing a person’s violin playing level, but here are some good guidelines based on the class terms I use in my studio. And by the way, if you are taking private lessons, it’s not vital that you do this assessment, but it can certainly help your teacher to understand where you’re at before you begin taking your first lesson. It can also show you what’s next for you to learn.

Which group class level is right for you?

We have Absolute Beginner Classes for adults trying out violin for the very first time, with a special 10-week program to take a student with absolutely no musical experience to being able to perform simple songs on two or more strings in a matter of weeks. We hold Beginner group classes for adults with some experience on the violin. We hold Late Beginner classes for more experienced players, and finally, Student Orchestra, which is continually working on and performing repertoire and more advanced technique. Which class you should join depends on what your level of playing ability is on the violin. Read below to locate yourself on the skill level chart.

Graduates From These Levels Can Play:
Absolute Beginner Beginner Late Beginner Student Orchestra – 2nd Violin Student Orchestra – 1st Violin
Core Basics How to hold a violin
How to hold a bow
Read and play open strings
Can read and play this many types of note and rest durations 6 (e.g. quarter note, quarter rest, half note, eighth note) 10 (e.g. whole note, ties, slurs, dotted half note, dotted quarter note,) 12 + (e.g. 16th note,)  18 – 20 (e.g. triplets, dotted 8th notes, 32nd notes 18 – 20
Strings learned Two
(e.g. D and A)
All Four
(G, D, A, E)
All Four
(G, D, A, E)
All Four
(G, D, A, E)
All Four + shifting 
Number of fingers used 3
(i.e. 0, 1, 2, 3)
3 – 4
(fourth finger optional)
3 – 4
(fourth finger optional)
Fourth finger optional but preferred Extended Four, Low 1
Scales 1
(e.g. D Major)
2 – 3
(e.g. G Major & A Major)
4+
(e.g. C Major, F Major)
Up to 3 per semester
(including Minor scales)
Up to 3 per semester (including several flats or sharps)
Keys D Major A Major, G Major, C Major 0 – 2 sharps &/or 1 flat Up to 3 flats or sharps Up to 3 flats or sharps (so far!)
Time Signatures 1 2 – 3 3 + 4 + 5 +
Bowing Techniques 1 2 – 3 (e.g. slurs, staccato) 3 – 5 (e.g. fast string crossing, slurred staccato) 6 + (e.g. tenuto, tremolo, retake, accents, double stops  6 + (spiccato, martele, hooked bowing, + )
Dynamics 2 + (e.g. forte, piano) 4 (e.g. pianissimo or mezzo forte) All (including crescendos & decrescendos) All (including crescendos & decrescendos)
Accidentals 2 + (e.g. C or F natural; L2 or H3) 4 + (e.g. Low 4 or Low 1) All (e.g. x4, finger substitution) All (e.g. x4, finger substitution)
Overall difficulty level (1/10) 1 – 2 3 – 4 4 – 5 4.75 – 6 6 – 7.5

I hope this chart was helpful and that you were able to get a better insight into how far along you’ve come in your violin journey. If you need more help deciding, reach out to us at any time here! We look forward to seeing you in the next class.

Ready to sign up? We’re accepting Early Bird Enrollments now.
(See the group class page for the details & current discount codes.)

All Access Pass to Group Violin Class   All Access Pass to Group Violin Class Financing Option

Still need more info to decide if group classes are right for you? Find out more here:

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