I’m 54 years old and I’ve been a classical music listener and lover since age 4. (I also like jazz, folk, bluegrass, show and popular music). My wife is an accomplished amateur chamber pianist and very active in the greater Boston amateur chamber music community.
For years I’ve been saying I would eventually learn an instrument. My plan was to wait until my eyes started to go - a common occurrence in my family - since I’m also a painter and photographer (www.pnArt.com). But if I wait any longer I won’t have time to develop my skills well enough to play with good amateur musicians. So the time is now.
Here’s my problem. Violin or piano? I like them both. They’re each versatile in their own way:
The violin is portable so I can quickly take it to people’s houses to work on a piece. It lends itself well to chamber, orchestral, folk, and bluegrass. My wife likes the idea that eventually we could play pieces together. Also string chamber players seem to have a very tight sense of community and social network, because of all the ensemble playing, I suppose, whereas the piano is less so. There’s no equivalent to that in my other hobbies.
The piano is versatile in different ways – it has a huge range of octaves and can play complex chords with interesting stuff going on in both the left and right hands. If I master the keyboard I can apply the skill to harpsichord, which we own, and electronic keyboard/sampled synthesizer, which we also own. Our regular piano is a Steinway “A”, but we may replace it with a “B”. I think the piano might be more enjoyable if I’m just home alone playing solo or improvising.
1. For an adult beginner starting from scratch with disciplined practice, which instrument am I likely to get best at in the long run? My long-range goal is to be able to play with my wife’s chamber-music crowd, who are very serious amateurs (regular practice, lots of coaching sessions and workshops, ACMP play-ins, etc) – some of them are part-time pro’s.
2. How long would it take me to achieve that (again, assuming disciplined practice)? (I'm guessing 8-10 years)
3. Given my age and what I’ve seen with other musicians, is either instrument more likely than the other to produce repetitive strain injuries?
Thanks in advance for any insights!
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