Printer-friendly version

How Hard is it to Start Playing the Violin, Viola or Cello as an Adult

Zlata Brouwer

Written by
Published: September 4, 2014 at 2:02 PM [UTC]

In this episode of Violin Lounge TV I answer a question from a viewer:
Hi Zlata,

I just found your YouTube channel and I’ve got a couple of questions about the electric cello. Quite some years ago I have had one year of cello lessons. I think I was about ten years old. Unfortunately at the time I lost my motivation and and stopped. Now, years later, I regret that I stopped and didn’t push through at the time.

My question: Is it possible as a nineteen years old to start playing the (electric) cello? How hard/difficult is it going to be?

I know one learns faster as a child, so I’m afraid I’m not going to succeed.

I hope you could share some tips with me how I can succeed ‘against the odds’ in learning to play the cello.

Best regards,


First I would like to recommend my video ‘Is it too late to start playing the violin’ (or viola or cello), which is all about starting to play the violin, viola or cello being an adult.

Myrthe is afraid that she can never learn as fast as a child learns. This is not entirely true. While music is not a language, learning music can be compared to learning a language. The process is kind of the same. The Suzuki school/method is based on this principle: learn music like you learn your mother tongue.

Let’s take this comparison a bit further: What if you are an adult and you want to learn French or another foreign language you are not familiar with yet. When you put in a lot of effort for two years, you can probably speak French better than a French two years old born and raised in France.

This is because as an adult you are used to learning things. Your memory works better, you analyze things better and you can comprehend things. You are far more developed than a child in many areas. Besides that you have already learned another language being your mother tongue.

The same way you can learn to speak a language, you can learn to play music. 

Myrthe is afraid she will not succeed... before I can answer that I need to know: in what exactly do you expect to succeed or not?

Are you planning to have weekly private lessons for the next five years and practice daily? Would you like to play in an amateur orchestra, have fun making music, being able to play some tunes you like and share your music with friends? Sure, this is perfectly possible! Start today!

When your goal is to play on stage and be a professional in three years with little effort, I recommend to adjust these goals to more realistic ones.

Will it be hard or difficult? Yes, absolutely! Bowed instruments are difficult to learn. They are very complex and sensitive instruments, so it takes a lot of good quality lessons and good quality practice to be able to play some simple tunes beautifully and achieve the realistic goal described above.

Are you committed to do what it takes? Is your goal realistic? Is the time path to achieve this goal realistic? If so, you will be able to succeed!

Learning to play the violin, viola or cello takes a lot of time, energy and money. Sorry, I’d like to be honest and I don’t want to make it any prettier than it is.

If you like practicing, playing around with your instrument and sorting things out, than it won’t be hard or difficult. You will have fun along the way. That’s the most important thing.

If you don’t like practicing, reconsider playing a musical instrument like the violin, viola or cello. Practicing is what you will do 90% or more of the time you spend with your instrument.

Even if you are a professional, you still need to maintain your skill set and still need to practice and prepare for your performances.

I’m sure you can have lots of fun with the violin, viola and cello (electric or acoustic) and I can tell from my own experience it’s worth all the effort. It’s worth doing what it takes.

I hope I have shared some valuable information and motivated you to start anyway.

Is this useful to you? Please let me know in the comments below!



PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to and I might dedicate a Violin Lounge TV episode to answering your question!

This entry has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop


Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine