Written by Dottie Case
Published: January 4, 2014 at 5:36 AM [UTC]
I certainly had no problems with that, but it started me thinking about the sort of 'moving goalposts' phenomenon that must have taken place at some point. I began to wonder, at what point in time had I crossed some invisible line that would disqualify me from describing myself as an adult beginner? I suppose some of it is semantics...I had been thinking of 'adult beginner' as describing 'one who began violin as an adult', and the group may have been thinking of itself as more along the line of 'adults who are at a beginner level'. Still, it was a surpise to realize that somehow, it's become a bit illegitimate to describe myself as an 'adult beginner'.
It just happens that I'm thinking about this for another reason as well. I find myself in the position of having more time in my schedule this year than I've had for several years in the past, and for the first time in maybe 10 years, I'm able to structure my time to allow for the sort of violin focus that I had when I was truly an 'adult beginner'. As I've been sorting through old music and thinking about how to approach my new focus, I realize that in some ways, I don't really know how to set goals for violin. While it's true that I worked hard when I took up violin, it's also true that in many ways, my progress always ran way ahead of my goal setting. By the time I'd been playing 2 1/2 years, I was already far more accomplished than I had ever dreamed of becoming when I started, and then everything after that point has just been a surprise, to me as much as anyone else.
I haven't 'studied' for the last 10 years or so...I've been caught up in the busyness of teaching and playing in orchestras, sometimes on a sort of auto-pilot, while finishing my graduate work, etc. But just lately, I've thought back and asked myself what I was doing when I was still 'studying', and why. I knew that I was not really ever going to perform most of what I worked on (though I did do Mozart 3 in juries one year),but the point was to be able to have the experience of playing great music, while learning how to play with more skill. As I think about how to make a plan to progress this year, for the first time ever, I find myself asking if perhaps I've not reached quite high enough.
That scares me to write it...not because I think I have any particular 'gifts' but maybe because there is a certain security in having a role and an identity. It discomfits me to think about reaching higher in a way that may take me to ......where?
I suppose that when one has no real goals, then it's impossible to 'not' meet them. Since I always knew, by dint of my late start, what WASN'T possible, I'm not sure I've ever really thought too hard about what IS possible. And it feels almost greedy and self-indulgent to grab for more.
One thing that was true for me, beginning as an adult, is that there's a great deal of the standard repertoire that I'd never done, due to lack of time. My formal studies stopped after Mozart 3 and Bach am and I've never played some things that 'everyone' plays, like the Bruch, etc.
So for now, I'm going backwards, in reviving and reviewing 'old' works while getting in the study groove again. I find that I have many more tools to bring to the process than I had back then. And then, after that...we'll see. I think that the road ahead will crystallize some during the reviewing section. And I think at some point I need to jump in with both feet and set a goal or two, even if that feels scary to start.
Also, which beginner violin group on fb is this? I was looking for something similar. It would be great to find a community like that! I am an adult beginner as well. Thanks!
I belong to that facebook group you mention, and I'm sorry you have not been allowed to join. I think some of us would love to hear the input and perspective of a former "adult beginner" who is now no longer that much of a beginner. In the meantime, I hope you keep posting here.
Thanks for your comments.
i used to moderate a Yahoo Group called BAVS, Beginning Adult Violin Students, that's adult beginners and returnees. Teachers were welcome and present. I believe it's still in existence, but it's no longer the dozens-of-messages-a-day that it used to be.
Jennifer, here is the FB page: Adult Starters - Violin/Fiddle
Tina...I suppose you would have a perspective that no one else reading this would, since not only have we played together in orchestra a few times, but you shared a stand with my student James for the Beethoven 9 concert. (Note... Christina is an excellent violinist who is, on occasion brought it in help flesh out our strings). Maybe you'll note some improvement in my playing the next time you come. :)
Improvement's always good, but you've come a long way in a short time.
I also didn't see you previous blog until now.... so returning a belated "Hi". We're hoping for a visit in March.
I am sympathetic to the idea that people like Dottie, who turned a "late" interest in music into a career may have useful and interesting things to say to, for example, a librarian who barely manages four practice sessions a week - and those divided between baroque and bluegrass. I am also very grateful to the teachers who have asked to join the FB group who wanted to share their wisdom.
There are, however, many opportunities for the transmission of this sort of information. There is substantial overlap between v.com and the FB group - I'm guessing more than 60% of the FB group members are members here as well. Dottie is sharing her experience on a blog, and we see from the comments that several members of the group have already read it. Many of our members read this group, post here, and ask questions here, to which they receive responses from professional musicians. There are blogs, online learning communities, maestronet, many teachers spread all over the world, an abundance of expertise. We are all on the web; we know how to find these resources, or we can ask how to, here, on FB, or in many other places.
I think it is all right to have a discussion group which does not duplicate the other venues, but concentrates on doing one thing well - letting people talk to others like themselves, who are fitting music into busy lives. As I told one teacher who asked to join the group, we have abundant resources for information, but not so many for sympathy.
I've been giving some thoughts to doing some blog posts on the 'adult starter' journey, both as reflected in my path as well as through the eyes of my adult students. Thanks for the feedback, all.
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