Will I be able to learn Violin at age 54? For my personal enjoyment of course!

July 23, 2017, 4:57 PM ·
Hello All,

I'm Sharon Weber looking for any advise on learning Violin at an older age, I have always wanted to learn Violin for my personal enjoyment, so I decided to purchase a Violin and do a Tutorial on YouTube which is very helpful to a point. My Daughter plays Cello and she helped me with learning how to hold the Bow, and she even knows how to hold the Violin and helped me with that, but, I think I really need a Violin Teacher at my age, to really show me what I am doing correctly and incorrectly, Is it possible for me to learn Violin at such an older age? How do I go about looking for a good personal Violin Teacher any suggestions? Or should I go with an Online Tutorial for Violin?

Regards,
Sharon Weber

Replies (28)

Edited: July 23, 2017, 5:34 PM · Of course you can learn to play violin at 54. I would get a face to face local teacher then I would find a group of people to play with once you have gotten some basics under your belt.

There are a few ways to find teachers and small ensembles...
1) Ask your daughter to set you up with her teacher to help you find somebody in the area.
2) Is there a violin shop around your area where somebody could point you in the right direction
3) Is there a college with a music school where a nice administrator can point you in the right direction.

I'm sure there are other ways to find a teacher, but that may get you started.

PS Old violinists are 90. You are just a youngster

July 23, 2017, 7:35 PM · I am sure that a descendant of Carl Maria von Weber can get started with violin at any age!
Getting to learn it may take a some time....
July 23, 2017, 8:28 PM · Of course, go ahead. You should "Test" various personal teachers and find one that you like. Good luck!
July 23, 2017, 10:03 PM · Yes, of course you can learn violin at 54. I know a couple of women in town started learning violin or cello after their retirement and are doing well. The most important thing is to have a teacher who will get you start a good beginning so that you don't build habits that needed to be corrected later on, or worse, get injury due to improper setup.
Edited: July 24, 2017, 12:47 AM · Yes ofcourse you can! I first started at 37 in 2009! Admittedly, I've never had a lesson so when it came to 2nd, 3rd positions ect it got tricky. So for that reason (and ofcourse a passion for Folk), i chose to play mainly Folk Fiddle, as nearly all Folk Fiddle is in 1st position. But, i still very much enjoy playing Classical Violin too. So really, it is up to you which direction you want to take and how far you want to go with it. I'm a good Fiddle player as i play in public, but an alright Classical player wich is purely for my own enjoyment. To sum it up, go for it!
July 24, 2017, 4:48 AM · Sharon,

Please let me know if it's possible to start at age 54. I started just a couple of months ago at 59, and I'd hate to think I've been wasting my time...

July 24, 2017, 5:13 AM · Anyone can start violin as long as you have the basic physical capabilities. It's critical to have an in-person teacher who is not only a great violinist himself/herself but also experienced with teaching beginners AND teaching adult students.

Most teachers will offer a trial lesson, sometimes even for free. You say your daughter studies cello. Ask the cello teacher to recommend violinists in your area you could approach for lessons. Directory services like "musicteachersdirectory.org" are not generally too useful. You need to talk to people.

Your first few lessons will invariably be concerned with holding the violin and bow, learning how to make a pleasant sound, and where to put your left hand and fingers so that you can make the stops for a simple tune.

Progress ebbs and flows. You need to be patient with yourself. If you're not going to enjoy the journey, but only expecting some kind of result within a specific time frame, then violin is the wrong hobby. Also be prepared for the reality that learning the violin is relatively expensive as hobbies go.

July 24, 2017, 6:44 AM · Hi! You can definitely learn violin at that age with time and practice. :)

Here's a very helpful tutorial channel called Professor V on youtube that goes over all the basics for violin and technique. Hope this helps!

Youtube Channel:
https://www.youtube.com/user/professorV

Website: http://www.toddehle.com/

Good luck with your endeavors and be sure to keep us posted! :)

July 24, 2017, 7:20 AM · You may want to read about this article on "Learning the violin as a child, teen, or adult" : https://goo.gl/7zv16K
July 24, 2017, 7:31 AM · Learning the violin is not rocket science. If you have a good teacher that will give you a method and you apply that method conscientiously you can play the violin. The biggest problem I find with adult students is their pre-conceived and often unshakeable notion that they are too old to learn.
July 24, 2017, 7:37 AM · I started learning the violin in my late 60s, but this was after a lifetime of cello playing, and a little bit of Irish fiddle. I took advice about a suitable teacher from my local violin shop. The proprietor came back to me with a 4-page printout of teachers in my area, with details of their qualifications, specialities, and the levels they taught. Four names were highlighted for my attention, and, as it happened, the first one lived only 10 minutes walk from my house, and I had 7 years of teaching from her.

The effect of cello experience on learning the violin? I think for perhaps the first six months it helped technically a bit (knowing what the fingers and bow were for!), but then rapidly became irrelevant as my violin tuition progressed.

Edited: July 24, 2017, 8:12 AM · Trevor probably it is fair to say that you applied deep knowledge of how to organize your practice effort based on your cello experience. That prompts me to suggest to the OP that she make sure to reserve some of each lesson time talking about how to practice for maximum progress and enjoyment.
July 24, 2017, 8:51 AM · Sharon - I started older than you and am loving the experience.

Given that we hope to play into old-age, my tip would be to pay a good deal of attention to ergonomics - work toward a safe, tension-free playing method.

For almost everyone, this means finding a good personal teacher. As well as the teacher-selection tips above, look for someone who seems to play with ease and is injury free.

July 24, 2017, 10:04 AM · Learning a good setup (how to hold the violin and bow comfortably) is essential to making progress in the long run, in part because you can't practice for any length of time or with deep concentration if you're always uncomfortably while holding the violin, and in part because you'll hurt yourself eventually if you force yourself to play through the pain anyway.

I had a pretty bad setup with a mal-adjusted shoulder rest as a kid and it definitely hampered my progress--since I started playing again a few years ago I've played shoulder-restless after spending the first few months really working on finding the proper setup, and now I can play for several hours with no pain or physical fatigue (mental fatigue is another story;) I am also much, much better than I was as a kid too, but that's also because I practice more now too.

Rafael Klayman, one of the professionals who posts here, has some great articles on both setup and finding a good teacher that would probably be helpful as you begin this journey. Here's his website URL and you can find the relevant articles there:

https://rkviolin.com/

His advice in those articles would be helpful as you start looking for a teacher; don't try learning without one, you will waste a lot of time and won't make nearly the progress you could otherwise. If you get a teacher, in two years of good study you could probably be playing in a community orchestra, so a level of competency isn't a distant dream as long as you begin the right way.

Good luck!

July 24, 2017, 10:51 AM · I started out at a later age.I started at 53 and a half. I outright asked my teacher if I was wasting my time. To that she answered a resounding no.

I'm glad I took her advice and kept at it. I can play decent already at a little less than two years into it.I went to a session yesterday as the only fiddle player and managed to get through it ok. I would call it passable but not wonderfully passable.Maybe marginally acceptable. No one left who was sitting by me or told me to stop playing. That's always a good sign :)

A good teacher who really cares is important. A few other things can help. I have worked with my hands all my life and I played other instruments. To play violin requires a decent ear and some dexterity. If you haven't done those things it is still possible to learn,so don't loose heart. Maybe I falsely think it has helped me. It seem it has helped. Still a long way to go, but I'm enjoying the journey as I hope you do!!

Edited: July 24, 2017, 1:55 PM · Tong Keat Goh, thank you for your link! Great article. A couple of points are particular helpful:

Most adult students are stymied by a strong self-awareness of their own limitations. While young children have no problem bulldozing through a piece of music even when it sounded very bad, the fear of being judged in adult students often prevent them from pushing their own limits.

I just came out of a three-week string boot camp in our community conservatory. I was the only adult among 40+ young students, age from 7 to mid-20s. I learned so much by watching how carefree the young players are. They are not perfect no matter how good they are, but they are not afraid of making mistakes or showing technical deficiencies in general.

Adult students can deal very well with complicated concepts, but may find it hard to “unlearn” some bad habits.

As an adult student, even at a relatively advanced level, the toughest part of learning could still be dealing with one’s bad habits in playing and in practicing. This is what I’m dealing with now, after a long (20+ years) hiatus from violin, I returned to violin, on and off, for the past 10 years. I’m now , now in my late 50s, playing at a much higher level than I did when I was a teen. Recently I made several public performances of the Mendelssohn violin concerto, mvt 1. The biggest issue for me is performance anxiety, which is directly associated with all sorts of bad habits in playing and practicing. The good news is that my teacher and coaches in masterclasses that I attended all told me that I can play anything (after Mendelssohn, my teacher wants me to learn Bach's Chaconne and Sibelius violin concerto), but I have to overcome a whole bunch of bad habits to be a really solid violinist. I wish I had been much more vigilant at an earlier stage to fix bad habits, and this is nearly impossible without a good in-person teacher.

Edited: July 24, 2017, 11:37 AM · OF COURSE you can learn violin starting at age 54! It's EASY!

I started about 810 days ago at the age of 49. I've already taken 3 lessons and practiced probably around 600 hours. No, I don't yet make real music, but I am roughing out some real baroque pieces and feel confident that eventually it will become real music.

Its a lot of fun, I find comfort in the focus and in becoming intimate with real baroque music. I take satisfaction in the real progress I've made, and gain purpose by continuously redefining my learning goals to take on the next step in my lifelong journey towards eventual musicianship.

So I agree with Timothy in that its a very enjoyable journey!

Edited: July 24, 2017, 1:45 PM · Life is short but the road is long, which is what makes our life meaningful, even if it's not always enjoyable.
July 24, 2017, 5:13 PM · Thank You everyone for being very helpful! I really enjoy this Music Community, I have already taken a step towards getting a music teacher, and I feel more confident on learning something I have a passion for.

Hoping for an enjoyable journey...

Edited: July 25, 2017, 9:37 PM · Sharon, learning to play the violin is a long, hard and enjoyable process. Your commitment to the instrument is more important than age! When I first took up the instrument as a child, my commitment was not there and I was not practicing as much as I should. I did not get very far after 10 years. This time around, I am much more committed as an adult and I am making progress at a rate I didn't think was possible.
July 25, 2017, 11:08 AM · Sharon, the most important thing once you get a teacher is to practice every day. Even if some days you can only play scales for fifteen minutes, that's better than nothing. If you can do that along with practicing most days for 1-2 hours, you'll end up pretty good eventually and can look forward to that day as motivation to keep doing the hard work to get there. There is no magic, just consistent, thoughtful practice guided by a good teacher.
Edited: July 25, 2017, 1:06 PM · I absolutely echo the bit about every day. Really, it's pretty simple, if you find yourself picking up your fiddle every day, if you enjoy it and don't think of practicing as a chore, then you have a good chance of success.

The problem with adult beginners isn't that they can't learn. It's that they're by and large too busy and too impatient. They want to learn the Bach Chaconne in a year -- which is just not happening.

I think it is important to NOT set goals -- such as learn X piece or "complete" X etude book. If there's a goal it should be to learn to love the violin and want it to be a daily part of your life.

Don't set any expectations on how fast you'll progress. Just know it will take a long time, probably 3 years at least, before you're really playing the kind of music you want to be playing.

Enjoy the PROCESS and let the destination take care of itself. Even though you're 54, there is no deadline, you have plenty of time.

But if after 12 months you find you are not picking up the violin regularly, that practicing feels like a chore, just give it up, don't feel guilty, move on to something you love. You really can't know if violin is for you until you try it.

Edited: July 25, 2017, 8:06 PM · I agree with Thomas that we should enjoy "the PROCESS and let the destination take care of itself", but I don't understand why it's important to "NOT set goals". Why can one treat goals as part of the process -- as means to motivate us to practice regularly in a more focused way. Personally, I find it's been extremely rewarding to set very specific goals each day, week, month and during each practice session, as I can see how I progress (or not) in a concrete way and get a clear sense of accomplishment at every step. This approach leads me to not only having fun play for myself, but also meet and play with other musicians in town, in workshops/boot camps, and work with amazing musicians around the world. Violin is not just a music instrument but it's also a tool for connecting people. I firmly believe that people at 50+ can reach such proficiency that will enable us to do whatever we want with the violin, if we use our energy and efforts wisely.
July 26, 2017, 5:23 AM · Hi Sharon, of course You can do this! Let's do it! I started at my 31 (seriously, I had a few tries earlier). I have music school on guitar (jazzrock - electric guitar), it helped me a little bit. But there is a lots of work. But it is passion. And if Your passion is too strong to force You to start, it is strong enough to hold and feel the joy a few weeks/months later :)

I am looking forward for my violin to play. I have small daughter (1yo) and she loves when I play, it is great time. I cannot play hard songs and sometimes I sound very awful, but who cares?

My recommendation is to find a teacher, its important for every instrument. I was teaching guitar for 10 years and it is for the beginner absolutely necessary thing.

I have my violin teacher (she lives at same street), she is perfect, great musician with same genre of passion (klezmer and balkan) and classics too. And I love to play new things now.

Enjoy your beautiful violin way

July 30, 2017, 1:20 PM · You will understand fast, and have high expectations. Connecting the left hand's brain cells and loosening its joints will take noticeably longer than for a child, and both you and your teacher must plan accordingly.

But go for it!

August 5, 2017, 7:41 PM · I most certainly hope so. I'm 60 and picked up violin classes about two months ago. It is going well. In a way I think it is taking a lot, but everything I read and videos I've watched say it is no easy task, and patience is a virtue (young or not so young). I'm really enjoying this journey.

I do suggest finding a teacher. I tried online at first but found it to have limitations. I did find an affordable, wonderful teacher near by. She has made all the difference in the world (thank you Susan!).

Yeah, I'm sticking with it. I hope you find as much enjoyment in this magnificent instrument.

Edited: August 6, 2017, 10:55 AM · I am 60 and have just begun viola over the last couple of months. This comes after performing as a semi-professional trumpet player for lots of years and then converting to acoustic and classical guitar about 15 years ago. I have always wanted to play a bowed instrument, and I see this as a hobby (challenge) that will carry me into retirement in a few years. For me, I had to think seriously about my goals: I really have no intent to rejoin a symphony and no designs on string quartets. If, after a couple of years, I can successfully execute a melody, then I will be satisfied. Anything beyond that will be "gravy."

I would echo that there is no substitute for a face to face teacher. The bowed instruments remind me of learning a golf swing--it is a lot about position and a lot of moving parts.

Good luck

Jon

August 19, 2017, 4:56 AM · Simple answer

Yes

:)

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