Adult Beginner Advice
Hi everyone! I am looking for a little guidance as to where to start. A little history: I am 35 years old and have not played an instrument since my early 20’s. I played piano, violin and flute in elementary, flute and percussion in middle and percussion, flute and baritone in high school. I also had 2 years of music theory including AP in high school. I will be starting private lessons in the fall, however, I am purchasing a violin on Friday. I have all summer to play around, and I’m curious what the best books would be to purchase for an adult who is proficient in reading music. I plan on spending the summer working on the basics. I trust the teacher I’ve chosen and will follow his program of instruction in the fall, whatever that may be (I do not believe he uses Suzuki). Any advice of what to purchase would be greatly appreciated! I’ve read through a few years worth of forum posts but I still can not decide what would be right for me! Since I only spent a year and a half on violin in elementary school (age 10-11), I consider myself a complete beginner on the violin since I really have no recollection of anything that I was taught. Thank you so much to whomever replies!!
I would go through the first book of Suzuki if I were you.
I would not start with Suzuki Book one. I would go to a music store and look at the Suzuki books starting with Book one and look through the volumes until you get to the highest numbered one you think you can read and play. That's where to start!
Ryan, Thank you! I do plan on enlisting my friend’s high school kid to guide me a bit until I start lessons. I really don’t remember anything from playing. I’m the type that can pick up an instrument and learn it but not master it. Jack of all trades if you will. I do suspect I will need the most help in technique and probably someone to keep my hands/wrists in check haha! What, in your opinion, would be the pros of going through Suzuki 1 as opposed to a different book? Thanks again!
Andrew, thank you for your response as well! Is there a reason I should start in a later book? I do still need to learn fingerings over the summer. Even though I’m proficient at reading music, it will take some time to learn fingerings, especially coming from percussion and woodwind. I feel I would progress quicker than a complete beginner who has never touched an instrument, however strings are a whole other ballpark from typical band instruments. I tried to get some advice from my sister who is a music teacher, but she is also woodwind and choral and only took a basic strings class in college so she doesn’t have a solid opinion on anything strings. Thanks again!
Angela - what reason is there to rush things? The pieces at the end of bk 1 (etude, the minuets, Gossec Gavotte) are not easy to play well. I've had plenty of older beginners successfully get on track learning what bk 1 has to offer.
Just trying to save her a few bucks! She will know right away whether or not Book one is the right one to start with. If it is fine.
Thanks guys! I will definitely take both of your thoughts into consideration on Friday! Unfortunately, Andrew, I live in a town in the middle of nowhere that literally has one violin in stock at the moment. I’m perfectly okay with that one to start while I do some research and save up enough to purchase a nicer setup. At this time, I can not make the 4 hour drive to Lincoln or Denver, nor do I have the funds to purchase one over the $500 that this one costs. In a year I do hope to upgrade. Baby steps on the small fortune! It does sound very nice, and I believe it will get me through for awhile. Hopefully by then one of my boys will want to learn and I can give it to them when I upgrade. (Currently they are both hooked on the ukulele.)
I really enjoy Wolfahrt Etudes, they really break up the monotony of things like Sevcik and Schradiek.
Consider getting a Smart Music subscription -- it includes all the Suzuki books, and lets you play with accompaniment at your own pace. Playing with accompaniment is a bit harder / troublesome than playing without, but there's the challenge -- to match pitch, rhythm, and to read it correctly. It's also nice to play the baroque pieces with period accompaniment where available. Of course it's not the same as playing with a person, but it is a good start / preparation for that; teachers often accompany as well for similar reasons.
J, yes, unfortunately I live in a small town. I’m hoping to possibly be able to start lessons in August if he has availability, until then I am on my own with only a high schooler to potentially guide me(?). I will definitely look into your suggestions! I also agree that the violin is more challenging although I believe it to be more challenging in all aspects. Thank you!!
As an adult beginner, I strongly prefer Doflein over Suzuki. As Christopher mentions, the Wolfahrt Etude books are nice, but if you are looking for something even more basic, Whistler's "First Etude Album" is a good place to start. They're progressive, and even if the early ones are too simple, the later ones are good for a more advanced beginner. Once you're at the later ones, you can start working on Wolfahrt Op. 45. All the time while working on Doflein. Wohlfahrt Op. 54 is nice, but more specialized and advanced than Op. 45. There is a Wohlfahrt method too, but I prefer Doflein. Good luck. Have fun!
Suzuki, without a teacher, does not show how bowing works or how the left hand works.
I think you're better off waiting until you have a real teacher to start again. You likely didn't have a totally correct set-up as a beginner all those years ago, and trying to vaguely remember what you did then will almost certainly result in problems. Your teacher would then have to undo all those problems when you start. It will actually slow your learning down, not speed it up.
With all due respect, I cannot agree with telling her to wait.
Since you are doing this for fun, my advice is to skip the tedious etudes, Suzuki this and Wolfahrt that. Get a book of fiddle music--choose whichever fiddling tradition inspires you most--American, Irish, Scottish, etc. There are tons of books. Listen to recordings of good fiddlers doing the tunes you want to do, to get the tune in your head. Then play. Fiddle music offers you the quickest path to making music on the violin with the least amount of effort. My two cents...
Not irreversible damage, but why establish bad habits that then have to be undone, at the cost of more time?
Thanks everyone!! Yes, I intend this to be more for fun. My goals are not to go pro or even play in a local pit orchestra. I understand what some are saying about lessons, but I’d honestly rather get my hands on it and start learning asap even if that means I have to study myself in a mirror and attempt self-correction before I begin lessons. My ultimate goal is just to enjoy the beauty of playing my favorite instrument and make some music with my kids as they grow up. So, basically I would like to become adept but my aspirations are not to be up on stage. Maybe an open mic at a local coffee shop.
Wait a minute...
im buying one because I’d rather not pay more in the long run by renting. Also, I do know quite a bit about how to pick out instruments including violins. Just because I don’t play doesn’t mean I’m incompetent in choosing an instrument ;-) Also, great advice on the music. That thought honestly didn’t even cross my mind.
Angela I don't want to dampen your enthusiasm. You seem very confident like I was/am. I play multiple instruments. Many here do. Many will tell you the same thing. Violin can be more of a challenge than was expected.
The Suzuki books are inexpensive. Wohlfahrt Etudes are not for pure beginners. You might start those toward the middle of Suzuki Book 2. If you hire a teacher you will want to consider using whatever method books the teacher prefers because that will further optimize your instruction.