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The violin is one of the smallest member of the string family. It's sound is produced by either drawing the bow across one of the four strings or by plucking the string with a finger. All string instruments produce sound in the same manner. The main differences are the sizes of the instruments and how high or low each instrument can sound.

Is this an easy, intermediate or advanced instrument?
It's easy to learn how to hold a violin and use the bow to create your first notes on open strings (means you don't press any strings down to the fingerboard with your left hand fingers). Once the bowing the open strings becomes more natural it's easy to play your first notes by learning which fingers of the left hand press the strings to create new notes. It is this precise 'fingering' that makes learning to play the violin more challenging, but even very young students learn to do so with amazing just takes practice.

Famous Players
Albert Einstein - he studied the violin and credits music for revealing many great mathematical discoveries to him
Niccolo Paganini - 18th century violinist and composer and most famous virtuoso of his day.
Itzhak Perlman - Israeli violinist regarded as one of the greatest violinists of the late 20th century.
Jascha Heifetz - Lithuanian child prodigy who played difficult concertos publicly by the age of six.