Adult-beginner of Violin

August 13, 2017, 6:38 AM · I'm an adult-beginner of violin (21 yrs). I'll be taking weekly lessons for an hour each. I was wondering how long should I practice on a daily basis to be able to finish grade 1 in 6 months? Is that a realistic goal? I have no theoretical background in music and I don't know how to read music either. I'll be learning everything from scratch. I'm willing to take this at a slow pace but I'm just curious. How much time does it usually require to become an intermediate? Is it possible to learn vibrato by the end of the 1st year itself? Could you please suggest me some free online resources or sites where I can learn more about violin techniques? Also recommendations of any easy-to-read books on theory or a short history regarding music will be most welcome... Thanks in advance!

Replies (13)

August 13, 2017, 7:08 AM · Welcome to Violinist.com Shiruma!

The more you practice under a good teacher the faster you will progress but the violin is physically hard to learn to play in a completecompletely relaxed state. My advice to you since you asked is to slowly ease into your practice routine and take frequent breaks to stretch and reinforce playing without tightness in your body. Over a period of time work up to two or three hours of practice if you are able to for maximum advancement.

There us so many great YouTube videos for All levels out there. You could look at some by Todd Ehle for a start.

Good luck with your new music making.

Edited: August 13, 2017, 9:17 AM · I would go with the flow and see where you're at.
1. Your teacher will teach you violin technique and perhaps a little theory. If you really want to, you can google violin instruction and music theory and see what you get. Also, you might want to look at violinlounge.com.
2. Search this site for similar threads.
3. Everyone studies differently, so practice as much as you feel is necessary. Use your teacher's assignments to decide on practice time. 10-30 minutes at the beginning is sufficient, and you can adjust that as you advance.
4. Yes, you can become an intermediate player with a few years worth of lessons. Learning vibrato within the first year is, unfortunately, virtually impossible because you would need to demonstrate a good sound, good intonation and perhaps some basic shifting and double stop skills.
August 13, 2017, 9:34 AM · All of those questions would be well asked of your teacher during your first few lessons.
August 13, 2017, 10:52 AM · I made a big mistake when i startet out approx 9 months ago. I played and played and played... until i had an injury, i still suffer from this from time to time. You are 13 years younger than me, but anyways; take care of yourself and your body.

Good luck

Edited: August 13, 2017, 12:25 PM · If you are gonna do it without a teacher the chances of you becoming good with the violin or sticking with it is close to 0. The situation I can imagine you can do it on your own, is if you already play viola very well. To become intermediate.. Definitely think in Years. Seriously get a teacher if your serious about it. Not only is it incredibly difficult. It's very demotivatie too by yourself. (I'm a adult beginner too who first thought I could do this on my own I wasted many years thinking that)
August 13, 2017, 12:54 PM · I value the importance of having an in-person teacher. However, there are self-taught players who learn a lot and progress well as they look at all kinds of online resources. Please keep in mind that if you have a good teacher, be fortunate about it. Some people are forced to teach themselves for personal reasons (e.g location). This OP already seems like s/he's going to take lessons, so don't worry.
August 13, 2017, 4:01 PM · She said she was going to have weekly lessons.
Edited: August 16, 2017, 4:15 AM · There are huge variations in the rate of progress between students. Your teacher may be able to give you an indication of how you are progressing. I would say that on average, people your age may play for about 30-45 minutes a day, and progress is usually good with that sort of practice time. However, progress is much more about deliberate practice than playing many pieces. Deliberate practice is where someone sets out to achieve the exact objective the teacher has stated, such as for instance certain bow exercises, or an exercise for the left hand, so follow instructions very carefully and you will be achieving the most in the shortest time possible. Be aware with online materials that you do not know the source of. Try www.proamstrings.com for good quality instruction videos. Good luck!
Edited: August 16, 2017, 6:47 AM · What is GRADE ONE? Is this SUSUKI or some other course of study.

I found it fairly common for my students to progress through the Suzuki book at one piece per week plus supplemental material as appropriate. One exceptional young couple in their mid-20s were able to go really fast. Both had never played string instruments before but had had previous wind-instrument musical experience. In the 10 moths they took weekly lessons from me he made it to the Vivaldi A minor concerto in Violin Book 4, she (who as also a "sight-singer") got to Cello Book 7. Unfortunately they moved away after that.

Key factors in progress are:
1. How quickly you can adapt to using the bow properly and for the basic strokes.
2. How well you can develop proper left hand use and comfortable positioning of the violin - and how well you can adjust your left-hand finger positions "by ear."

August 16, 2017, 7:18 AM · Assuming you are talking about Suzuki book 1, I think covering it in six months is a very realistic goal for an adult beginner.

On the other hand, doing a presentable vibrato may be more variable. Some people pick it up fairly quickly while others struggle with it well into otherwise intermediate repertoire. Take it easy and good luck!

Edited: August 16, 2017, 11:33 AM · I'm an adult beginner violinist too, I've now practiced seriously for about 13 months or so, it's hard to tell.

I'm a professional musician who has worked with lots of non-classical violinists (most of them classically trained), so back in the day, in between concerts, my colleagues would sometimes show me little things on the violin.

I think I picked it up for the first time about 10 years ago. I got a teacher and practiced 1-6 hours a day for about 2 months, but then because at the time I was touring quite a bit, it became difficult to practice and I stopped.

I picked it up again a few years later, and realized that I hadn't lost what I had practiced in the first 2 months. So I got another teacher, and stuck with it for maybe another 4-5 months. Practiced very hard again, and made good progress. Once again though, the work schedule made it difficult for me to be consistent, and I stopped again. Fast forward to 2017 ( a few years later)

This past March, I had a violinist friend stay with me for 2 weeks, and he encouraged me to start again and said that I had really good potential. I found out that I hadn't lost anything that I had practiced til then. This time around, because of my career situation, I am in a situation where I can be consisten with my practice routine, and I've been going at it far more intensely than ever. I've been practicing 2-6 hours a day. So it's now been 6 months since I've been going at it really hard.

I'd say I've been practicing for a year now (very seriously). Here's what I can say:

-It is brutally difficult, but I've reached a level where when I play it doesn't sound "bad". The intonation is decent, the tone is not scratchy anymore. I've reached a level where I can say that I can play the violin without making people run away, but I'm still very much a beginner.
-It is insanely difficult but now that I've reached a certain level, I feel so much more motivated and inspired to go on, and am not discouraged. I am actually having a lot of fun practicing.
-Vibrato is still a work in progress, and I'm not in any particular hurry to get it down. I know that great violinists have spent years developing a solid vibrato. So me having only practiced for a year , shouldn't expect fast results. I've been watching youtube videos of child prodigies, and it seems that it takes them a few years before they get a decent vibrato. Youtube is great because parents or violinists are posting videos of their progress from when they first picked up the violin to a few years down the road. While it's not healthy to compare ourselves to other people (espcially prodigies), it's interesting to see what is possible to develop in X number of years. It seems that it took most prodigies 2-4 years before they could do a somehwat presentable vibrato.

However, having worked with lots of non-classically trained violinists, there are other kinds of vibrato that exist that would probably make most classically trained violinists frown, they have a sound of their own, and lots of folk/country fiddlers use it and are unable to do the classical vibrato, yet they sound great (to my ears) and have had very successful careers. That vibrato isn't easy either but it's significantly easier than the standard classical vibrato, and you can achieve it within about 6-8 months if you practice hard. You can watch videos of Jay Ungar for instance. His vibrato is far from being the classical vibrato, but it is quite charming.

Anyway, you should check out the youtube channel of a Norwegian girl named Violin Noobie. She picked it up in her mid 20s I believe, and I think she's been playing for about 4-5 years. While I am fortunate to be able to practice 2-6 hours a day, she practices for less and has reached a decent level and has only taken a few lessons. She plays with more than decent intonation, she can't really do vibrato, but she can carry a tune in a presentable way. The tone is decent. Her videos are quite inspirational because she has no musical background.

September 3, 2017, 7:37 AM · Thanks a lot everyone for all your responses!

Fortunately, I have found myself a teacher and I will be having my first class on 7th Sept. I'm so excited! I can't stop staring at my new violin lying on the table right now across the room. Yes, I will be learning the Suzuki method and it's going to be a weekly lesson of an hour for the next ten months.

I'm a little wary of online sources, especially being a beginner myself, I'm not quite able to differentiate between the good and bad videos of violin techniques and such... that's why your suggestions are so much more valuable to me!

I know it's going to be tough but I'm ready to try my best. I'm learning it simply because I love how the violin sounds and I wish to be able to make the violin sing similar beautiful notes in my hand someday!

I read the personal narratives and experiences shared by other adult-beginner violinists here and it's really encouraging to know about the different situations that you all have faced and overcome. I'm so glad I came upon this forum. Even though I'm new here, this feels like a nice open space where people with the same passion can talk and get help freely.

I don't know how to tag each of you who commented or else I would have done that. Thanks again!

Edited: September 13, 2017, 6:01 AM · When I turned 30, my birthday present to myself was a violin. I always wanted to play so I started. Best advice I can give you is to really focus on the fundamentals of the Suzuki method (also how I learned) and not so much on hurrying to progress through the first book and learn a new song each week. The first book gives you a firm foundation for all your future playing, so it's important to give yourself the time you need to form a good bow hold and the proper left hand position. After you have the basics mastered, you'll be able to play whatever you want.

I forgot to add...be sure to listen to the CD that comes with the Suzuki book. That will help to train your ear and in a few months, you'll find playing without having to read music much easier.

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