I'm an adult beginner and was hoping to hear from those of you who have started as adults.
I've always loved the violin and took a few lessons as a child. Unfortunately, my family didn't have the means for me to pursue further lessons.
I am now taking lessons as an adult (at the age of 35 - for about a year now). Progress is slow, but steady. I don't have any dreams of being a professional violinist, but my goals are to be able to play Czsardas, Brahms, and Schindler's List well, and to pass level 6 or 7 of the ABRSM.
Are there any late starters out there who have been playing for a while? How did you overcome the feelings of discouragement that sometimes creep up? Have any of you passed advance level exams (i.e ABRSM, RCM, etc)?
Welcome to the violin world and this website! There are lots of adult beginners on this forum. I'm just muckin' around here to share my voice on violin-related topics.
Not an adult starter but I know someone who started in their 40s and has passed the equivalent of ABRSM grade 7.
V.com is a terrific website for adult starters. In Australia, I’m aiming for ABRSM grade 7 equivalent as well (we could generally aim for higher I think - maybe grade 8). I started at 32 and I’m satisfied with my progress.
I've been taking lessons for almost a year. I have felt discouraged a couple of times about aspects of technique that seemed hopelessly difficult, but I seem to have passed those hurdles. It did require deliberate practice, though! One of the bigger hurdles was independent finger positioning along the strings, in particular a low second finger. That one got solved with the help of other people here on the forum.
I've taught a dozen or so adult beginners in the past ten years.
One person's idea of fun music is not necessarily another person's. ;-)
Han N. Depending on what your goal is but I suggest stop being so mechanical. I play by music but I also play hundreds of pieces by ear. Playing by ear is much more fun and less stressful.
I am a adult returner. I played violin when I was in fourth and fifth grade. I started back up when I was 34. I have had a couple of times that I have not played for a month since then. The best thing I can say is to love the process love playing scales, love practicing a shift over and over. It is my meditation.
Heyyy! Happy New Year Everyone!!!!
I started the violin at 32, close to 9 years ago. The thing that keeps me motivated is my lessons. No matter how busy life got, or how much i did not practise, i always turned up for lessons, and thus kept playing because there was a goal - to be prepared for lessons otherwise it’s pretty easy to slip off and end up quitting. The other thing is to be prepared for the long haul, it’s hard to do in the first couple of years as you constantly wonder when you will be able to play xxx repertoire, but after a while the feeling does get old and you just plod on.
Jessy Ringquist Aww did I hurt your little feelings? Stop being such a bore and get a life. I'm sure that you could dazzle us all with your great accomplishments in life. I know I could.
Hi Phil, I started playing violin about 31 months ago, at age 49. Just over a year ago I even had 3 lessons! Like you, I do not intend to become professional, which takes all the pressure off and leaves it for what I want it to be: love of music and joy in making music. My goals include making music on the front porch and in local venues with my son and brother and whatever friends I can make in other adult-learner musicians. I have occasionally felt discouraged, as you mention, but I have a friend who is a graduate of the Yale School of Music and a very excellent piano teacher and he says EVERY musician passes through periods of better and worse playing, and better and worse feelings about their playing. I play almost every day, and "play" is my concept of what I'm doing, as it is so much more fun than "practicing," though I do often take apart difficult sections repeatedly so technically it could be called practicing. To me, the best way to deal with frustrations is to recall how much worse I used to be, and to remember there was a time not so long ago when I was still teaching myself the names of the notes on paper and using a tuner the whole time to tell me if I was hitting the right note. Like growth of a child, you might not notice progress day-by-day, but after a period goes by, you'll be able to say "I really did come a long way already!"
And Jessy, I agree very much that playing can function like meditation: clear the mind of all distractions and even of ego awareness, then concentrate for extended periods on sound and joining the body with that sound. There are definitely mental and spiritual benefits from such escapes from the cares of daily life and from the focus of the attention span on such an ethereal thing as sound and becoming one with sound.
Thank you everyone for your comments. It's definitely something that I enjoy and am glad I started! Also good to know that level 8 is achievable : )
I started five years ago and was taking lessons until just last month. There have been periods of discouragement, but I just kept going until they stopped. What works best for me is to find ways to play with other people. I started with duets with my teacher. After a couple of years I joined an beginning adult chamber ensemble, and now opportunities keep falling in my lap.
Hi Phil, welcome to the adult beginners club ! I started about 16 years ago at the age of 39. Never was in the same room with a violin in my life, never mind actually touching one, but a friend had one sitting around and she offered it to me....I said no, but then...one of the teachers at the local elementary school started giving lessons, so I changed my mind. I've been playing ever since.
One useful thing about exams, juries, and the like, is that you get an outsider's view of your playing -- an assessment by someone other than your teacher, which helps you get a set of neutral observations that can be helpful for figuring out how well you're really doing. And they can give you a structured goal to work towards.
Someone already mentioned the Yamaha “silent” line of violins. I thought I’d mention the YEV line. They are extremely quiet as well. They can be played unplugged if needed, or you can plug in electronics and use headphones. I have the YEV-104 in the natural finish, and I love it,
Eileen's advice is unerring - you are likely to face some physical challenges that could be avoided, or at least alleviated, by starting when young. For example, I find it hard for my little finger to reach its spot in first position of G, D, A strings, due to my little finger's length, and the limitation in stretching of the skin at the base between little and ring fingers. Had I started playing violin at 5, that stretching limit could be lifted to a degree.
Little finger in 1st position should not be a stretch. The fact that it feels like a stretch strongly suggests that your left hand is incorrectly placed.
Hi Lydia, thank you! I meant when playing. Maybe my hand was in the wrong position like you said. I was practicing Suzuki book 1 Minuet 1, and I use little finger in where there is instruction/option to use little finger in the piece.
The lady in your video locks her fourth finger whenever she uses it, which is incorrect technique.
Hi Mary Ellen, thank you for this!
Welcome to the world of the adult learner! I started violin aged 40 and I'd strongly endorse the advice to practice every day (or 6 out of 7) for brief periods. It builds confidence and skills and keeps parts of the mind on the process even when you're not actually practising. I joined a learner orchestra which was a powerful and enjoyable learning experience and developed skills in ways I had not anticipated. Discouragement is part of the process of developing any complex set of skills, and adults in particular my be subject to expectations which are unrealistic. Stick with it through the discouraging and despairing moments and don't force yourself to persist at times when you really feel you can't. Putting the instrument down or away for a while at such times can free you up to return to it refreshed.
I started when I was 60 and can now play a bunch of tunes from memory in a range from baroque to folk. I have gotten good enough so that my wife no longer tells me to close the door to the practice room when I play. >grin<
The lady in the finger with the locked 4th finger also has her thumb placed too far back, behind the index finger, causing her whole hand to be canted and her left hand very tense. This is effectively a big cautionary warning on online videos -- and teachers in general, since the woman in that video appears to have an offline Suzuki studio as well -- since not everyone who is demonstrating has good technique themselves.
I am a beginner starting at age 64 and currently am enjoying the journey. I don't really care where I end up as the process itself fully sustains me.
Hi, Toby, another MCYO alumna here! I was in the Junior Youth Orchestra grades 6 - 8, and the Youth Symphony grades 9 - 12 (1974-1978). What a great experience!
Hi Mary Ellen.
A cellist friend of mine in MCYO also went to Springbrook and is now in the Baltimore Symphony. Of course this was some years after your time. My high school, Seneca Valley, did not exist in the 1960s.
I'm older than dirt. My problem with playing the violin/fiddle -- which I VERY much want to do -- is the pain involved. I can only play for a few minutes before my bow arm, neck, left elbow and more just really hurt. This is a problem going back 50 years (!!!). I've had lessons, watch the wonderful teachers on youtube but jeez, it's really painful to practice. And, FWIW, I've played a variety of instruments -- for $$$ -- including the pedal steel guitar which is no walk in the park. I'm retired now so I'm giving the violin another shot... :- )
I'm an adult returner in my 30s. When I restarted I remembered how to shift, and all of the basic components of playing but it sure felt like I was starting over... 13 months after "returning", I will be starting the second movement of the Bruch concerto next week.
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Thank you Lydia. Got it done.
Thomas Quinn, didn't you come in for an intro lesson several years back with me? Are you one located in Sacramento?
I am an adult beginner as well. Starting out (lesson #2 is tomorrow) at 42. While not ignorant to music in general, I've never played an instrument before, so naturally I chose this one because, you know, it's so easy ;-;
Nice, Thomas! Mendocino is where I'd move if there were students to be had there.
John O. there are a lot of fiddle teachers on youtube. You can find all that you need there for sure. I do think though that the technique you must learn to play so-called Classical music will serve you very well, even if it is just getting a good tone from the instrument. Good luck!
Cold and damp here Erik. The music scene is nothing like it was 33 years ago when I left. You need to be self contained if you don't want to go a bit bonkers... -L-
I'm late to the party, but would like to give my thoughts on a few things.
John Olley, get the first O'Connor book. Be prepared for some sticker shock, though.
John Olley, I don't know what the "thing"about "Twinkle" is - I've heard it before. I remember it as the piece my first violin teacher led me to in 1939 (long before Suzuki (in any form) came to America). I also have used it teaching violin and cello beginners from age 6 to 60.The things it does for the student are: