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The Weekend Vote weekend vote: In what setting did you begin your violin studies?

October 16, 2009 at 9:39 PM

I remember the day well: a little girl visited our fourth-grade public school classroom, along with the school music teacher, and she played for us. Watching my friend play, I knew I needed to play the violin, too. It was like finding an old friend, I almost "recognized" the violin as something that was an undeniable part of my life, even though I'd never seen one before. So I started playing in the public school, and as soon as my parents and teachers noticed my freakish devotion to the instrument, they found me a private teacher.

But without that start in the public school, I'm not sure if I would have found the fiddle!

In what setting did you start your violin studies? Was it a school program, or a private lesson program? Or, did you begin with the help of another family member? Please vote, and tell us your story below.


From Michael Divino
Posted on October 16, 2009 at 10:09 PM

Fifth grade public school @ age 10!

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on October 16, 2009 at 11:11 PM

I always loved music and was suppose to have good ears, rythm etc according to my kindergarden teacher who told my parents it would be fun for me to have music lessons. But they didn't listen to her because they knew a family where everyone was in intensive violin musical activities (they though it was slavery for a kid...) At 12, I started fooling around, taking flute and guitar lessons. (I've got told all my childhood that violin pushed one to slavery and that it was a non sense to start old...)  At 14, I got sick of my two instruments that didn't suit my personality.  (classical guitar was too "matcho" and flute too "girly" Violin was just between the two lol) I realized that if I would sell them, I could rent a cheap violin for a very long time and give it a try... I did it and started self-taught for two months (silly me!!!) After I took lessons... I became totally addictive to violin since day one and it was true love. (much more than with the other instruments) 


From Annette Brower
Posted on October 16, 2009 at 11:43 PM

In 1977, Detroit,  a new program for 5th graders started called Suzuki violin.  Everyone was required to take free group lessons for 10 weeks unless you had a note from your parent stating you were not allowed to participate.  The teacher had trained with Dr. Suzuki and we were the pilot program.  After the initial 10 weeks, if you wanted to continue you had to pay $5/month for the violin rental. 

From Anne Horvath
Posted on October 17, 2009 at 12:30 AM

Like Michael, I started in 5th grade in my school's string orchestra program.  I did start private lessons at the same time, but it was the school program that got me fired up!


From Mendy Smith
Posted on October 17, 2009 at 12:52 AM

1978 in 3rd grade.  By the time the teacher got to me to choose an instrument, all the violins were taken.  She held a viola out to me and said "It's just like a violin".  I fell for it.  It wasn't until several years later (and an upgrade to a 15" viola) that I realized it WAS'T just like a violin.  By that time though, I was hooked.

From Tess Z
Posted on October 17, 2009 at 1:25 AM

I started private violin lessons as an over-forty adult.  It's a terrific challenge and people can't believe I have music lessons at my age!  I always get the response, "I could never do that" to which I say why not?!!

From Royce Faina
Posted on October 17, 2009 at 2:07 AM

5th grade, public school.

From Sue Buttram
Posted on October 17, 2009 at 5:01 AM

 I began in public school - fourth grade.  My teacher was Mrs. Bargelt who went to several schools in the district on different days.  When we lined up to choose an instrument, she looked at my left arm and said that I was made to play the violin.  I found out later that my parents put her up to that.  I wanted to play flute but my dad wanted a violinist in the family.  I didn't fight it, practiced as much as I was supposed to, kept going... that's life.

From Gail Tivendale
Posted on October 17, 2009 at 11:13 AM

I started out on piano but my teacher wanted me to practise too much (to my way of thinking at the all-knowing age of 9).  So, after a term on that I switched to violin (full size mind you!) and loved it! I still remember my first lesson. I had to hold the bow and hover over each string.

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on October 17, 2009 at 11:38 AM

 4th grade, public school.  Mrs. Chioto and Mr. Coppola.  I had read the Laura Ingalls Wilder series, and wanted to play fiddle like Pa.

From Dottie Case
Posted on October 17, 2009 at 12:33 PM

 As an adult in a group lesson of adult beginners.  I had decided I wanted to learn the violin, persuaded a bunch of my friends that they also wanted to learn, then persuaded a friend of mine from church to teach us as a group.  It was a blast...  we laughed as much as we played and it felt very fun from the beginning.

From Elinor Estepa
Posted on October 17, 2009 at 2:50 PM

I run my first marathon at 35, start violin at 36 and start viola at 40. Never look back ever since! Private music lesson are great!

From Patricia Baser
Posted on October 17, 2009 at 2:54 PM

4th grade.  My dad talked me out of the clarinet (which my friend was going to play) because he wanted me to play fiddle.

From Francesca Rizzardi
Posted on October 17, 2009 at 3:41 PM

I wasn't going to respond until I saw what Tess Z. wrote.  I started private lessons at age over 50.  People have told me, "I always wanted to learn how to play the violin."  Like Tess, I answer, "You can."  But unless they studied an instrument (including voice) earlier in their lives, there are at least two extra hurdles: 1) learning to read music and 2) wrapping their heads around the idea of playing ANY instrument.



From Tara S.
Posted on October 18, 2009 at 11:24 PM

9 years old, 5th grade, public school. I quit going in to 7th grade, but the orchestra director came and dragged me back. I quit again at age 22, and picked it up again 3 years ago at age 36 and finally started taking lessons for the first time. :-)

From Larry Deming
Posted on October 19, 2009 at 3:57 AM

 I started learning violin at age 10 in the Summer Strings program at the Danbury Music Centre (CT), a non-profit organization.  My first recital piece was "March of Company G"!

From Margaux Matz
Posted on October 19, 2009 at 6:19 AM

 My mother enjoys listening to classical music and while listening to a recording one day, I told her that I wanted to learn how to play the violin.  I was 9 at the time and the following school year, I started learning how to play violin, as well as clarinet because my school district did not have a string program.  

I continued studying privately with violin, while playing clarinet on the side in my high school's marching band and concert band.  The nicest thing, though, was that my band directors gave me performance opportunities, such as playing a solo piece at a band concert and allowing me to attend PMEA events (PMEA stands for Pennsylvania Music Educators Association).

I'm currently studying violin performance at my university, but am considering switching to viola full time after I finish.  Either way, I will still have my violin to hold onto and everything that it has given to me.

From Kay Pech
Posted on October 19, 2009 at 2:55 PM

My mother "signed up" my older sister (then 7) for group lessons at a "conservatory" in Los Angeles. At the last minute my older sister was too afraid to go, so to shame her into going my mother said "Kay will go!".... We both ended up taking lessons and I continued. I don't remember holding my violin the first time at age 4, but we've been inseparable ever since. Shortly afterward I began private lessons.

From Heather Meisner
Posted on October 19, 2009 at 10:05 PM

Had a computer blip, hope I'm not posting this twice.

I remember clearly a trip up North with my daughter to visit friends for a weekend.  We always have music of all kinds on during trips, and often Cape Breton fiddle music is going quite loud for 'energy' on long hauls (this one 8 1/2 hours).  On this trip in particular, we were laughing about trying to keep the toe quiet...a couple kms down the road and it would start up again - I'd try again.

It was quite funny and, although I’ve loved music all of my life, it never even occurred to me that I could actually learn to play it until that moment.  I don't know why that is exactly – for another topic I think.


So, although I wish it was at 6, it was at 39, and my daughter 10 - we both firmly decided to learn the violin on that trip.  Got back to town, contacted a violin teacher and set up formal lessons for us both, also went to the Old Time Fiddle group jam and talked a lot with them.  They lent my daughter a 3/4 violin and I rented from violin shop a couple of hours away to start us off - and that was that.


Ps. Karen – ah, Pa’s fiddle...I know it played some small part in my daughter’s spark to learn too.

From Peter Kent
Posted on October 21, 2009 at 12:34 PM

While many private teachers have successful students, the public school program or a teaching studio that presents numerous public appearances does have an advantage. There are dozens of guitar, piano and other music store lesson programs that don't have flourishing students for a couple reasons:

1) They don't have a quality teacher at the helm....someone who has college training  in child development, psychology and methods.

2) There's seldom the healthy peer pressure of a group lesson/rehearsal/performance.

3) The reason for at home practice is perhaps obscure without a concert date, trip, in-school or other type of performance...and those of us that perform regularly know the addiction of audience applause, and parental praise.

4) School lessons and ensemble participation usually produce a boost to your academic average.

Of course, school programs combined with private lessons are the best road.

From kenneth barry
Posted on October 22, 2009 at 3:48 PM

During the depression a man came door to door recruiting  violin students,  The lessons were private , half hour, and  a n instrument was provided,  Cost--50 cents per lesson, and at the end of 2 years you got to keep the violin (nice Czek  instrument which I still have}.  I became a music teacher in the public school s and enjoyed it for 40 years.  The best bargain I was ever offered.

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