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Yong Xin Yaw

An account of a musical newbie into his 30...

May 29, 2012 at 3:07 AM

Just read a blog from Rosita Hopper on 'The Life of the Adult Amateur Player'- http://www.violinist.com/blog/Rusalka/20125/13598/

She has articulated the experience and the psychological aspect of an adult amateur really well. It touches my heart.

Here I would like to share my personal experience when I first got started with this beautiful instrument. No longer am I seated on the sideline procrastinating...but I am playing it now!

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I have been learning the Violin for 7 months now since September last year. I have received enquiries from friends about the learning experience as an adult. I’ll try to answer some of the frequently asked questions.

Well, the Violin is a relative difficult instrument to play. It has been touted as one of the most difficult instruments to play. You may refer to this link of for some physics explanation - http://plus.maths.org/content/why-violin-so-hard-play

To me, Yes! Violin is very difficult to play initially. I still remember when my teacher first taught me how to hold it, I literally broke out in cold sweat. I am not joking. This is because maintaining the posture to hold the Violin is not something that our body is conditioned to do. Also, being an adult learner, our body is less flexible, more rigid. That’s one difficult thing.

The next obstacle to overcome is the bowing hand. Bowing requires the Violinist to use the wrist in sync with the movement of the elbow/forearm. How often to do you move your wrist and elbow at the same time? Almost none! Unless you are a Chinese dancer….doing all the hand gesture & etc…otherwise, we don’t at all. It feels retarded in the beginning. In addition, bowing hand has to maintain a firm grip of the bow and at the same time in a relax state. If not, tension will build up and it can extend all the way to your back after long hours of practice. I suffered upper back tension during the initial 2 months. Besides seeking help from my teacher, I also recorded myself playing and put it up on YouTube so that I can share with experienced Violinist on www.Violinist.com. I was given valuable feedback.

I will stop here for the time being; will continue when I have time to write…


From Vicki Bradley
Posted on May 31, 2012 at 12:49 AM
I can relate. I am 42 and just started taking lessons in January. I felt like a kid on Christmas at my first lesson! I wish now that had not waited so long to start.
From Rosita Hopper
Posted on May 31, 2012 at 6:53 PM
Dear Yong Xin Yaw and Vicki--it's such a blast, isn't it? Easy no, but incredibly rewarding yes. I frequently try to express my feelings about it to others but few get it like you two did. Thanks.
From Yong Xin Yaw
Posted on June 2, 2012 at 2:32 PM
Dear Vicki,

This coming Christmas, we shall no longer sit and watch others playing Christmas songs, nor are we a 'child' anymore!

We shall bow!!!!!


Dear Rosita,
You got the right word; rewarding! Bingo!!
Extremely rewarding.

ps: I am at my 8.5months now, and I am playing Canon (simplified version) :D

From Erica Thaler
Posted on June 3, 2012 at 1:17 AM
Facebook page for adult starters if you are interested:
http://www.facebook.com/groups/119127121451810/
From Yong Xin Yaw
Posted on June 3, 2012 at 11:16 AM
Thanks for sharing, Erica.
From Kim Vawter
Posted on June 4, 2012 at 4:00 AM
I am always sympathetic to the new violinist. If you are a young person or an adult beginner it is always a struggle and it still is for me. I started late in life with a torn rotator cuff. I was told that nothing "repairs" a tear in the rotator cuff except surgery. I did not want to stop my violin lessons for the 3 to 12 months of recovery time. So, I worked hard and practiced a little more each day as I could stand the pain. Now it has been about 6 years and I have full rotation in my arm. I think that the muscles that I used to hold the violin up-(left arm) developed to the point that I have overcome my problem for now until I give up practice--pain may return? Don't know. Just wanted to tell you that what is awkward and difficult soon smooths itself out after it becomes a habit. Be sure that you always check with your instructor to be sure that you are practicing correct repetitions at all times. Keep us posted. Glad you started with the violin.

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