Should I take online lessons or quit?

Edited: October 24, 2017, 10:00 PM · Hi everyone, I started playing violin at 11 years old, and took lessons for about 7 years. I am 24 now, and am still playing at a grade 4 level. I quit taking lessons and playing when my close friend died. Her mom asked me to play at her funeral, but I couldn't even walk to stand on the stage. I felt so terrible afterward, because I knew my friend would have wanted me to play, I didn't pick up my violin for another 3 years.

I feel as if I can't improve now no matter what I do, and I struggle with shifting still. I could never grasp onto vibrato right. I am a very slow moving person, so playing through quick passages is impossible for me. I can't afford to take lessons as the closest person is 2 hours away. My friends and family all think I am amazing at violin, when in truth I want to smash my head into a wall when they say it haha.

I love playing, but I get frustrated after just a little time. Are lessons not worth it for me now that I've developed too many bad habits, or should I try to find an online teacher? I know I will regret selling my violins, but I feel this is the end.

Replies (10)

Edited: October 15, 2017, 12:49 PM · Sometimes when I have to make big decisions, I try imagining myself in the future and see if I will regret it. In your case, do you want to see yourself still playing in the future? Try taking online lessons first and see how that goes :) Would never hurt to try. Either ways if it works then great but if not and it makes you decide to quit, at least you won't look back and think, "ah I should have tried online lessons!"

I understand it's a mix of love playing and also frustration of not improving. I'm fairly new to violin so I'm speaking with my 10 years experience playing tennis (looks easy but very difficult to master just like violin). There are many things I still could not do properly. Sometimes there's long periods where I just slump for strange reasons and tell myself I'm quitting. I'd stop playing for a while out of frustration though I would eventually feel like something's missing in my life. I go back and play, understand and accept my limitations, and just enjoy playing.

October 15, 2017, 12:58 PM · I'm an artist, a painter. When my brother died, I can just about swear it took every artistic notion I had in my body. I set my canvas down for a long time. It was hard to continue because I couldn't find anything to say once part of my life died with my brother. It was a struggle at first and for a while. Eventually I found my artistic notions again. I'm sorry you lost your friend. I'm sure that friend, as you mentioned, would be happy for you to continue on with your music. After all, music hits heaven pleasantly.

You love playing, then find a way. Violin is a hard instrument to learn, everything about it takes practice as I'm sure you know. Practice until "impossible" becomes possible and beyond- you can do it. Online is way better than not at all. Give it a try, what could it hurt.

Edited: October 15, 2017, 1:29 PM · I returned to the violin after 25 years away from it. I regret that I did not continue with it during that time, but I cannot turn back the clock. My childhood lessons were of low quality. I discovered this by attending my daughter's first couple of years of lessons and seeing how much better she was being taught. I studied as a child for 12 years with the same teacher, but I did not reach anywhere near the level that one should in that amount of time. But, with my teacher now (who is also still my daughter's teacher), things are much better. I get lessons every three weeks or so during the school year, more frequently during the summer. Probably I will never become a really good violinist, but I am enjoying myself tremendously anyway. Unless you're going to be a pro, which you're not, you have to learn to deal with it on your own terms. And I have to say that it's partly the limitless challenge and the daily struggle of violin playing that is attractive to me. If you do not like that part of it, run away, because the struggles are as relentless as they are difficult. You will overcome some of them but not others. That's just how it is. One thing about a musical instrument like the violin (or the piano) is that it is capable of absorbing a great deal of human emotion including many of the negative emotions that sometimes need outlets. Practicing the violin for an hour is better in that regard than drinking a six-pack.
October 15, 2017, 6:54 PM · I only started last September and only was able to complete 2 months of playing before I had to go without an instrument until this September (long story). Every day in that year without a violin was torture. I would listen to my favorite pieces each day and stew over the fact that I didn't have my violin to play. There really is no substitute for a teacher, but if you have no other option, ProfessorV on youtube (Todd Ehle) and ViolinLab are great resources in the meantime.
October 15, 2017, 7:04 PM · Music is a great way to cope with emotion, especially the emotions that result from a loss of a loved one. I recommend continuing to take lessons now that enough time has passed.

My story - within the past year I lost my step father, my father and my mother all within a four month period. The emotional roller coaster I was on took away the drive to play and for a few months I stoped taking lessons and almost stopped playing on my own. Practice was too difficult and I felt like I was wasting my time. On day I took out my violin and found that playing helped me to cope. It was exactly the distraction I needed. So go and play, you will likely regret it if you give it up now...

October 15, 2017, 7:13 PM · Jalin,

You are still young and if you love violin, then I don't see much of a problem with keep going, unless you have a serious physical limitation. You can enjoy this highly additive activity for the next sixty years at least. In this forum at least one regular poster is in his late eighties and still plays cello.

Online instruction is not ideal, but it is much better than going "solo". Also check out tons of quality instruction videos on YouTube. I highly recommend professorV's lesson videos at https://www.youtube.com/user/professorV/playlists

Good luck.

Edited: October 16, 2017, 12:18 PM · I'm guessing that you have all sorts of habitual stresses in your playing, left hand pressing too hard, bow grip too tight and bow arm not articulating correctly, stress in your neck and shoulder from holding the violin too tight or awkwardly, etc. Those are the kinds of things that will stop progress and can be very difficult to self analyze. You need a good teacher who can evaluate and correct those things. You just have to find a way to make it happen. Don't give up!

Note: Nathan Cole has great videos about a lot of these issues. He's often around v.com, look him up.

October 16, 2017, 6:14 PM · Jalin, playing at a loved one's funeral is a very difficult thing for most of us. I thought about playing at my Mom's funeral a few months ago. I ran the idea by my wife and she gave me sound advice and reminded me how difficult the day will be even without the stress and anxiety of playing. I decided to not play and it was a struggle getting through the day. Overall it was a sound decision to not play.

Because of the loss of your friend, you were in pain. It can be a crippling pain that can overcome you physically. It shows how close you were. You should not be disappointed or upset with your self. It is completely understandable and human.

Obviously you have an interest in continuing with violin. So why not? Perhaps you can work through logistics and arrive to a plan for lessons. Online lessons could very well help. Maybe a once a month in person lesson with the nearest teacher you can find could help as well. You should see if that teacher will be able to help you online as well or work with an online teacher so both are on the same page.

Shifting is an intimidating thing to learn, at first. But it will allow you to expand your repertoire significantly and change the tone and feeling of your music. I have found Yost and Dounis exercises to be very helpful. You may need to see an online demo to get a feel of how they work. Whenever I encounter a new technique to learn, I say to myself- Just Do It! Don't think to much about it and practice the heck out of it. Eventually it becomes natural and comfortable.

Once you feel good about your playing perhaps you can put bow to string for some friends and family again. You could do so in remembrance of your friend. It may provide some closure and bring you some peace!

Edited: October 16, 2017, 6:50 PM · You can check out Zlata Brouwer at violinlounge.com as well as her youtube channel at youtube.com/user/zmabrouwer. There's not a lot of structure, but there is a structured paid oqine curriculum at bowlikeapro.com. There's also proamstrings.com, though you'll have to spend some bucks. Fiddlerman.com might also be helpful. You can also practice in the mirror and get a better idea of your posture/position.
October 17, 2017, 4:20 AM · I feel with you! I played and my grandmothers funeral because my dad wished me to do so at the time. I decided to never do this again, because the stress was so hard to overcome. Then my grandfather in law died and his wife asked me to play at the funeral. I couldn't say no and played there. It was so sad again, but meant a lot to her. Also it helped me to understand what was going on.
But when a best friend or parents dies, I would not play at the funeral! It is just not healthy!
I initially clicked on this thread because the idea of giving online lessons is in my mind.
I find it funny that there is a website called bowlikeapro.com, because I used that term a year ago for my YouTube series on basic bow technique. Maybe someone liked the name and was smart enough to get the domain. Maybe it is just a coincidence.
I think you can get good information on YouTube, but a structured course will always cost some money, since it is a lot of work to put together.
I hate to selfpromote, but it seems to be on topic, so i will link you my video about vibrato from me and my series called "bowlikeapro"

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