What will I achieve? What will I learn in the first 4 weeks? How long does it take to become 'good'?
Everybody picks things up at different speeds, and the amount of practice people manage to do from week to week varies. However, anyone can expect to be getting a good sound out of the instrument, using the bow, within a week or two. We can be playing simple familiar tunes not long after that. For those who wish to take graded examinations, the target of passing Grade 1 within a year of starting is often a suitable one, and anyone improving at the rate of a grade a year can pat themselves on the back.
In some ways, it takes a lifetime to become 'proficient' at the violin, and very few players would dare to claim that they've got nothing left to learn. Hopefully, you'll be able to get some satisfaction from the instrument right from the start, and other people at home will be able to hear progress almost straight away.
What will I need?
A suitable complete outfit (violin, bow and case) for a beginner is the 'Stentor Student 2'. I advise avoiding the very cheapest violins, as they can cause no end of problems. If you want to spend a bit more on something more fancy, contact a specialist shop such as Ayres Violins, in Didsbury. They may also have secondhand instruments available, which will have been fully checked over, so that you can be sure they're ready for use.
Children will need a smaller violin, and need to be measured for size, so it's best to consult a violin shop or wait until our first meeting before buying anything.
Other accessories that are a good idea are a music stand (£10-£15) and a shoulder rest (£15-£25), both of which I can advise you on once you've started. For the first few lessons, you'll be able to borrow music, after which you'll need to buy one or two books. Some of the ones I use most frequently are listed here.
Don't beginners sound terrible? What about my neighbours?
It won't be as bad as you might fear. There'll be a few awkward sounds to start with, but it should be recognisable as a violin from day one. It's probably a good idea to chat with any neighbours with whom you share a wall, explaining what you're doing, and asking if there's particular times that you should avoid practising. The sound of the violin doesn't carry through walls as much as many other instruments, though.