Everyone knows the violin is a difficult instrument to play.
Many consider it the most difficult.
We’ve already established that the violin is harder than the guitar.
Today we want to find out: is violin harder than piano?
Generally, things like this are subjective.
One person might find the violin harder, while another finds the piano more difficult.
But in this case, we can objectively say that one is more challenging to learn than the other.
Keep reading to find out which one. We will also cover the reasons it is the more difficult instrument, both to learn the basics and to master.
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Is The Violin Harder Than The Piano?
The violin is harder to learn and master than the piao, for a variety of reasons. Number one on the list is the fact that violinists need to pay close attention to the pitch they are trying to produce. Piano players technically cannot hit a ‘wrong’ note, since playing a key produces a fixed pitch.
Although a piano has many keys (up to 88, depending on the model), there actually are far more ‘sounds’ on a violin. Sliding your finger just a tiny bit up or down the board produces a different note.
Body position is another big reason the violin is harder to play. Pianists sit on a comfortable stool and the piano is immovable.
Violinists can decide to sit while playing, but they often feel the need to bob their heads or move their limbs, since the technique of playing the violin is far more dynamic.
Why The Violin Is Harder Than The Piano
Learning the violin takes more time than learning the piano. Or most other instruments. Of course, gauging how much time or effort someone needs to put into learning an instrument is objectively impossible.
However, I can safely say that a year on the piano will teach you how to play a few chords, while the average person probably won’t learn the basics in this same time spent playing the violin.
More importantly, ‘time’ is not such a big factor at all.
The mental fortitude to continue practicing as mistakes continue to mount, as you feel the pain of strings cutting deep into your skin, and as you are faced with the fact that the average person can’t produce a good-sounding tone for a long time are some of the main reasons the violin is objectively harder to learn than the piano.
In the following sections, we will take a closer look at the elements that are integral to the learning process of both instruments, to give you a better understanding why the violin is a more complex and more technically demanding instrument.
Finding The Perfect Pitch
There are many ways to define what ‘pitch’ is in music. The simplest one explains it as the subjective perception of sound.
It’s how people quantify tone in some regard and musicians that know how to locate and manipulate pitches on a violin always sound better than the ones who are simply pressing their fingers against the board.
Does pitch matter to pianists? Not in the slightest. The same pitch will always be there whenever you press the same key. This does not apply to keyboards and digital pianos that come equipped with a pitch-shifter feature, although this is more of a gimmick than an actual tool.
A master violinist will bend, slide, and manually force the string to vibrate at a specific frequency to produce the desired sound. A toddler can press a key on a piano.
Layout Of Notes
Visualization is very important for musicians, regardless of their skill level. Professional guitar players, for instance, never need to look at the notes they are playing, since they can clearly visualize the fretboard and where their fingers are.
This may be the case with violin players who’ve spent decades with their instruments, but it’s far more common for musicians to struggle with note visualization on the violin than other instruments, since there are barely any hints to help.
Pianos feature black and white keys that are identically positioned, or better said partitioned, along the octaves. Violins have position markers that may tell you where notes A or F are, but pinpointing the exact location of other notes takes both masterful visualization and a bit of math.
Need to go a semitone up? Press a black key on the piano. Need to go a full semitone down? Press the next white key. It may not be as simple as I just described, but this is the basic way to differentiate semitones on a piano.
On a violin, your fingers, eyes, and your sense of hearing lead the way, and there are far more semitones to worry about.
Both the violin and the piano require you to coordinate your hand movements with what you see. On a piano, you can decide to use only one hand, especially if you are playing a simple melody that doesn’t require complex chords or a firm, bassy foundation.
It is impossible to play the violin with a single hand. Furthermore, its extremely difficult to ensure that your fingers are moving at the same pace as your violin bow, especially since they aren’t meant to follow the same direction.
Piano playing styles involving two hands are much more difficult than using only one, especially if the hands are meant to play different notes at different times.
This may be a tie in the violin vs piano match, but I’m leaning toward dubbing the violin the harder instrument in this aspect as well.
If you have ever heard someone say “the fingers remember”, that person was referring to muscle memory. In short, it’s procedural memory based on repeating the same physical task hundreds or thousands of times.
Just like basketball players know how to shoot the perfect shot simply because they’ve done it numerous times, experienced musicians know what to do as soon as their fingers touch the strings or keys.
Muscle memory is easier to develop on a piano, since there are fewer variables to worry about and memorize. You can memorize all the finger positioning for any given chord on a violin, but if you’re off by just a tiny bit, your brain will instantly recognize the mistake and probably put you off balance.
Is It Easier To Learn The Violin If You Already Play The Piano?
To some degree, it may be easier, simply because someone who has a bit of experience on the piano probably knows a bit of music theory too.
You may not be a classically trained musician, but if you’ve played the piano for a month or two, you have probably already begun to understand the relationship between different tones. Plus, your hearing will probably be slightly sharper.
However, technique-wise, nothing you’ve learned on the piano will prepare you for the violin. It’s a completely different instrument in every respect. From the playing style to the sound and everything in between.
Is Violin Harder Than Piano: Final Thoughts
The violin is harder than the piano. It is more difficult to learn the basics on the violin and it is more difficult to master it. And there are a number of reasons it is harder.
Top of the list is the fact that playing an exact note is a huge challenge on the violin, while it takes a simple push on the appropriate key on the piano. Furthermore, the note you play on the piano will have the perfect pitch, while this is far from a given on the violin.
Both the piano and the violin are wonderful instruments and learning either one is a hugely rewarding experience. It is also a hugely challenging experience. Much more so when it comes to the violin, of course.
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