June 2014

An Adult Starter's Response

June 7, 2014 16:12

I started to write this as a comment to another blog post, but it got long so I'm putting it here.

* * *

No, not everyone will learn to play well. How many children begin and then quit before they reach their potential? I'll bet there is a greater rate of attrition with children who start, than with adults based on sheer numbers.

Some children learn faster than others. It will be the same with adults. Not everyone can or will have the same facility with the instrument. But to assume that it is a hopeless or more difficult task for adults is to do them (us) a grave disservice.

I think that sometimes our detractors are assuming that adult learners are all seeking to become professional musicians. Perhaps they have dealt with the occasional individual who thinks that a couple of lessons here and there will be the magic pill that transforms them into a violin star. While that may be the case sometimes, it is not always.

How does my (or anyone's) desire to play chamber music or in a community orchestra, or fiddle the night away in a bar detract from a teacher's goal of knowledge-sharing? Sure, I'm not going to win any competitions (because there aren't any for middle-aged violin beginners), or bring glory to his name by winning a coveted seat, but my teacher will always have my respect, gratitude, and hard work. If that's not enough to expect from a student, then don't take him/her on; but don't insult their intelligence while you're at it. We all come into this knowing that it is a challenging endeavor.

For those of you to whom this advice does not apply, thank you for your guidance, openness, and mutual respect. We are grateful for the time you sink into our education and for the willingness to take a chance on us. Thanks for helping us grow as musicians. It means so much.

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