Yet another adult beginners thread

February 14, 2008 at 07:05 AM · If I'm not mistaken, the other late beginners/adult beginners thread has been "dead". Can we start a new one? I find it extremely helpful to hear other adult beginners' journey! What are some of the challenges you faced when you started late? What was frustrating to you as a beginner?

From reading the old threads, it's kind of weird that alot of late beginners start when they are 36, and that's exactly when i started a month ago!!

Share with us your experience! Teachers, share with us your experience teaching adults!!

Replies (100)

February 14, 2008 at 08:37 AM · I started violin lessons at 35. My teacher began me on a Suzuki program, but very soon after I started lessons I also began playing in church where I was given pieces in various keys. Three years later, and with only 12 lessons since the start, I can play in various keys - but I have never finished Suzuki Book I. I say practice is the best teacher, but I still need a teacher to get me through the Suzuki lessons. Although I can play now, I still feel there's something lacking and definitely a lot of room for improvement.

I start with a new teacher this Sunday after Mass. Hopefully, I will get better.

February 14, 2008 at 12:49 PM · Hi,I started 1.5 year ago, had started a bit before but it did not work well.

I find one of the frustration I get is that people find that it's a loss of time, because we are old! Even teacher do not always take you seriously. Most of the comments I get :"Well you will never play at Carnegie Hall, or make a living out of it, so what's the point?"

But getting to play well enough to be in an adult orchestra is nice. It is not for others, but for myself that I do it, for the love of music, and this seems very difficult to understand. and we never know I may be good enough one day to teach it! Anyway to be able to play with others to make a beautiful sound is very rewarding.


February 14, 2008 at 04:42 PM · P Brabant, I'm not an adult beginner, but I've taught them, and I agree with you. Pessimism in all its forms disguised as "brutal honesty" or whatever is so counterproductive. It does no good for the adult who is learning, and it does no good for the violin community as a whole. The truth, from my perspective, is adult beginners are vital to the perpetuation of this artform. They energize the art of violin playing with their dreams, goals, ambitions, frustrations and work. It is inspiring to watch a beginner at any age work to overcome the challenges of playing the violin, and I may say it is especially so with adults who have countless other pursuits to take them away from their study of the violin. The adults who faithfully practice and work at this are incredibly motivated individuals who LOVE the violin. That love (totally appropriate dialogue for Valentine's Day), is one of the most energizing things I can think of to rouse a sometimes dying art.

I ran into a man the other day who is in his late 40's and has been studying the violin on and off again for several years. He is now working on Suzuki Book 4 level material. He shocks me sometimes because he's totally bought into this "I can't do anything with the violin because I'm an adult" argument. When I questioned him on that and made the point that Vivaldi probably didn't view his A minor concerto as a "nothing" concerto, he said, "yeah, but some things I'm just never really going to get because I didn't learn them as a child such as my fourth finger vibrato or trills." I reminded him there are quite a few professionals I know who avoid the fourth finger like the plague and he shouldn't expect himself to play a great fourth finger vibrato after only a few years' study. That muscle/reflex is built over time to the extent one's inherited traits and effort will allow. Though I appreciate the fact that studying the violin involves learning how high the top is (and that's a gradual process), there is nothing wrong with continually trying to reach it. If there is anything that gives your rank and file kid an edge over adults, it is their unbridled optimism. They're always pushing hard to compete and play the tough stuff (whether or not they're truly ready to make music out of it). For some reason, society accepts that from kids and not from adults.

I salute the adult beginners and I say dream big as you continue to practice, hone your skills and appreciate this marvelous instrument. You energize the violin community as a whole and your efforts are important and vital. I don't know if it's possible for one of you to make it into the New York Philharmonic, but if that's your dream, there's nobility in the fight to find out! So, go get 'em and shoot for the moon. My mind is open. I've seen the hubble photographs and I know I'm too small to put limits on anything.

February 14, 2008 at 02:17 PM · whenever kimberlee shows up, there is something positive and sensible in the air...:)

February 14, 2008 at 03:14 PM · Kimberlee D, I wish you were my teacher, or that I could find a teacher like you (i.e., encouraging of adult beginners)! I didn't find one yet... but I keep hoping they are not as rare as the late beginners who made it or would make it into the NYPh!

February 14, 2008 at 02:18 PM · I started just under a year ago, at the age of 37. My only regret is in not beginning at a much earlier age, but I am enjoying it nonetheless and am finding a joy unspeakable in my pursuit of excellence with the violin. It leaves me truly inspired and despite what so many others would have to say, I believe an adult beginner is capable of what is broadly considered unobtainable within our ranks, that is a high level of ability, the "summit of art" as Auer had put it. Incidentally, my teacher believes so as well. I’d love to be one to prove her correct. In my opinion, the biggest problems that face an adult beginner are:

1. Physical limitations, mainly a lack of flexibility. This can be overcome, but it takes more effort than it would were one younger (and more pliable).

2. A higher risk of injury (related to #1 above), something I experienced from the start.

3. FAR less time to devote to the instrument (truly the most limiting factor).

The biggest advantages for the adult beginner are:

1. An increased sensitivity regarding life in general due to a rich tapestry of life experiences from which to draw upon in interpretation. Having children adds an immeasurable quality to this experience as when a child enters your life your heart is changed forevermore.

2. A higher level of understanding and a more thoughtful approach toward learning the violin.

3. True motivation as let’s face it, to undertake learning as varied and complex a skill as playing the violin at the stage of adulthood, with so many other competing factors, one needs to be motivated down to their very core. Nobody is telling us we need to do it, nobody is telling us we should do it, our own hearts are telling us we must do it and what greater motivation could there be than this?

I guess the moral of the story is to not let others tell you what you cannot do, rather listen to your heart and let it tell you what you must do. The physical world is a box and the human body, being subject to such, is trapped within. However, the heart knows the way out, indeed it lives on the outside all the while. It can and will show the way. It is in so many ways the very hand of God, who IS love, who created us and for whom a miracle is an everyday event. Think about it!

February 14, 2008 at 04:29 PM · My frustration is dealing with peoples unrealistic expectations. There is a serious learning curve with the instrument much more difficult than any other (aside from maybe the bagpipes which my neighbor is taking up oh nelly that is a TOUGH learning curve, sounded like a slaughter house of geese) especially with intonation and it can be frustrating for other people (family members) to expect you to sound like Joshua Bell after one year of playing.

Oh and I started at 29 so I feel a bit ahead of the learning curve...

February 14, 2008 at 04:51 PM ·

February 14, 2008 at 05:00 PM · Michael,

The learning curve is definitely steep (more so for some than others), but I do sincerely believe that a late starter can realize a very high level of skill, even to the point of becoming a competent professional. My teacher has told me the same thing, that the possibility exists, and in a very real sense. She herself plays as a professional in an orchestra, so to my thinking she should know what it takes to make it happen, to what level one must ascend. Regardless, I am not so sure it should be the goal for most late starters as, ability aside, once you have gotten to this stage in life, with a family to look after and all, there are many other, overriding considerations. Regardless of the love we may have for music and the violin, our families must come first. Also, there's nothing wrong with being an amateur, a word derived from the French, meaning "lover of". This is an apt and complimentary description for each of us late starters, and one I'll wear with a smile!


February 14, 2008 at 05:30 PM · Oh I agree Chris, I think my frustration lies in people are more apt to deal with a childs development than an adult. There is something about an adult screaching out a rendition of Minuet III that puts people off where as an 8 year does it and you're the proud papa and it's impressive even if the adult performed it better but still with poor intonation. People just assume an adult should sound better than he does no matter where he is simply because well he's an adult.

February 14, 2008 at 07:24 PM · Michael,

True, the expectation is higher from an adult, and right from the start. To some extent it should be so. We should gain ground at a quicker pace than a child (excepting of course the genuine prodigies of the world, who defy the norm). The problem is basic (and prevalent), the age-old adage of judging a book by its cover. An adult is expected to be more proficient, because in most areas of life an adult is obviously much more experienced than a child, but in some pursuits (such as learning the violin) this is not always the case. In the end we have to look beyond the thoughts of others and remain true to ourselves, true to our calling, which is a good lesson for life in general.


February 14, 2008 at 09:23 PM · Kimberlee D, I also which you were my teacher! Thanks for those encouragment, I'm running to practice. For the love of music and violin.

Thanks a bunch!

February 14, 2008 at 09:40 PM · PM Chu, thanks for starting this thread up again. Some of us (like me!) started at the age of 45, so all you under 30's and under 40's have years to get super proficient by the time you're my age!!!

I do love to hear how others are getting on, especially those who've been doing some serious work for 2, 3 or 4 years. I guess I want a glimpse of what is possible if you slog your guts out. That there's a promise of progress out there.

Frustrations are endless, not least, as others have said, other people's expectations that you will stand up and play like a virtuoso, or stop wasting your (and maybe their) time, hearing your kid being praised no end for far lesser progress in the same space of time and 'projections' of where they will be/how they will play, whereas your own efforts (by sheer time spent practising) leading to greater skill is trashed. You absolutely have to develop a thick hide, generate your own motivation and often slog it out alone (some of us don't have a community orchestra we can aspire to joining!).

So it can be a lone road to travel. It's almost like picking up the crumbs that drop from the children's table:

I have to find joy in the little things:

1) Having a teacher who is capable of playing the piano accompaniament as well, gives me endless joy. Hearing the combined harmonies is sheer heaven.

2) Playing a duet with my son, whether I accompany him on the piano or the violin is also a joy (when he is willing to play together - I'll drop (almost) anything for this treat

3) Hearing sympathetic vibrations on my instrument which tell me I've hit the right note, learning a longish piece off by heart, even to play by myself, grappling with some difficulty and overcoming it

4) Last but not least, the sheer pleasure I get just by taking my instrument out and seeing it, handling it. Knowing I'm making progress in becoming a little more proficient at it.

These have to suffice. Sometimes someone will say they like my playing. That's nice to hear. Even if the folk saying it are not musicians :)

If ever a musician tells me he/she likes my playing that'll really make my day! Ha Ha

February 14, 2008 at 10:57 PM · I'm 36 and I just took my first lesson last week. Like many other adult beginners I've read on the discussion boards, I simply love the violin and the beautiful music it can create. Learning to play has been a life long dream. I was never allowed to do anything like this as a child. As an adult, I was in the service for almost 9 years so I was too busy being deployed. Now I am a stay at home mom and decided to pursue this dream. I feel like the only time wasted is is the time we spend NOT doing something. You are only a loser if you never try. I don't know where my lessons will lead me but I do know that I have a teacher who doesn't mind teaching adults, a supportive husband and child, a love and respect for the art of playing, and a great deal of determination. I am just finishing up my BA in Business (accounting) and I started that late too so I see no reason why I can't learn something I've loved since I was a little girl. If there is one thing I learned in the service it's that you can do more than you think you can and you would be surprised at what you can really accomplish if you set your mind to it. I think Vivaldi would encourage any one to learn to play if he were alive today...he frequently taught adults to play the concertos he would write. He also wrote a lot of his work for his female students at the Pieta so it is no surprise that many youngsters can play it. I'm not discouraged by this at all and I can't wait till I can play some of his music. IMO people who are nay sayers are either bitter about their own life or just plain music snobs.

February 14, 2008 at 11:12 PM · Bernadette,

I have been playing less than a year so my perspective regarding your question is very obviously limited. In fact, teachers would be the ones best suited to provide you a good answer. However, there is one thing that holds universal, that being the situational aspect we adult beginners must confront, which pretty much dominates all else and directly impacts what we can expect with respect to our progress. The main issue is of course time, or lack thereof. The bottom line is that some things in life are simply non-negotiable (or at least should be, even though some compromise the most important areas of their lives in an unrelenting pursuit of their selfish desires). Basically, we’ve got to care for our families (assuming of course that this situation applies to a particular adult beginner). As a child we are the ones cared for and as such are free from the encumbrances that so ensnare, free from having to determine our survival in a sometimes less-than-accommodating world. This is as it should be, as children should enjoy a time of innocent living before the world closes in, before they must defend their own against the onslaught as they carve out a life for themselves and their family. When we are old, if we are one of the fortunate ones, we will again know the freedom we once experienced in our youth, when we retire from the toil, but our striving cannot wait and so we must find a way to fold our love of music and the violin into the fabric of our lives, in with the other and greater loves of our life. The truth is that we do have some things going against us, but at the same time we have even more going for us, and our desire spans the divide. It can tip the balance in one direction or the other. It is up to us to decide which will win the day. The truth is, you are capable of more than you likely realize if you’ll just get the thought of being less off your back. Think about this for a moment as well. The truth will become readily apparent, given time.

Take care,


February 14, 2008 at 11:19 PM · Considering time, I've turned off the television set. It is amazing how much time I have for my violin now! I am having the time of my life playing this instrument.

By all accounts I've been told I'm progressing very well. I attribute this to the amount of time I play. I play during my lunch break at work, usually 40 minutes. I play in the evenings when I get home, usually an hour. During the week I have one half hour lesson on Wednesdays and on the weekends I get in another several hours sat/sun. I haven't noticed that I've sacrificed anything other than reorganization of my priorities.

Granted, I don't have children so I can't comment on that. I'm just amazed how much time I had spent a week watching the Televison! I still watch an occasional show, but now I watch, then turn it off!

I don't want to wax poetic as none of us play because it's a chore. But, It has changed my life for the better.

February 14, 2008 at 11:50 PM · John,

You'll find that having children will reduce the amount of time you have by a very large measure, but for a good cause. Case in point, I got home from work and had my dinner. After I finish writing this my daughter wants to play "store", after which my son wants to play legos together. So, my evening is largely spoken for, but I don't mind. I may sacrifice some sleep in order to practice later tonight, however I have to be careful in doing so because my health is important as well, and I am recovering from the respiratory flu.

Anyway, we all seem to spend a lot of time doing things that are largely unproductive. However, we all need some down time as well, but a simple restructuring of our time will pay great dividends, for sure.


February 15, 2008 at 01:08 AM · I am an adult learner. Even with a day job, I practice day and night, and even wee hours in the morning (with a mute, of course).

I had a teacher who was so much impressed by my love for the violin, that she gave me extra lesson hours every time for free. I paid for an hour and then lesson lasted 5-6 hours, which included free food and booze.

She was impressed by my dedication to the violin and told me she will do anything to help me achieve whatever I wish for in the violin.

Unfortunately, I had to leave the teacher as my wife started to complain....

February 15, 2008 at 01:22 AM · Hi, I just started violin about a month ago, I am 41. I got my daughter who is 11 and my son who is 8 also into violin and I took it to keep them involved and inspired. I did not have the opportunity when I was young to take it. I am 3/4 of the way done with the suziki 1 book but I also try other books as well. I am lucky to have the teacher we got, she is great and very encouraging. I use my daughter as a challange to us both by me trying to catch up to where she is and her to keep advancing, she had piano for five years and already could read music, reading music was the hard part for me now that I am getting proficient it is so much nicer and rewarding. No matter what time keeps passing by and its not to late to start something which can only enhance your life and yourself as a person.

February 15, 2008 at 01:43 AM · steven, that was a very enjoyable post:)

February 15, 2008 at 12:28 AM · I am somewhat surprised at all this talk of "too old, can't do" when it comes to learning the violin. It has never ever crossed my mind that one could be too old to learn and reach an accomplished level, given sufficient determination, patience and regular practise.

Compared to the task of memorising thousands of sino-japanese characters and learn to draw them with a brush pen so they don't look like a five year old child drew them, learning to play the violin seems like a walk in the park to me, certainly far more enjoyable. I am sure others will have accomplished other difficult things in their lives which upon reflection will make learning the violin seem a far less daunting thing to do.

The only thing I found to be frustrating was the utter arrogance of certain luthiers (too many of them) when I made enquiries and revealed that I was an adult beginner looking for an instrument for myself. Anything else I found to be inspiring, exciting and uplifting, even if challenging at times, but that's part of the fun.

Maybe it helps to set your expectations a little low and then thrive on the excitement you get when you make progress faster than you expected. At the age of 9 or 10 I had a classmate who learned the violin and after taking lessons and practising daily for a whole year he still was unable to hit a single straight note in a taped recital he brought to school for the class to listen to -anybody else would bring their instrument (usually recorders) but his parents didn't allow him to bring the violin to school. Anyway, our music teacher excused the out of tune performance with a brief lecture on how difficult it was to learn the violin and that for only one year of practise his level was rather good.

So, when I started to learn the violin as an adult beginner I expected that it would take me at least a year to play a simple nursery rhyme in tune. After reading up on violin methodologies I also expected several months of nothing but bowing exercises on open strings.

As a result of this I was and still am excited about the progress I am making. Yes, there are always new techniques to learn which are challenging at first but through regular practise I found that I am making progress from day to day, even if only in small steps. I have complete confidence that regular practise will further develop the muscle memory I need to improve and as a result I am not worried at all when my body at first doesn't seem to want to do things the way I want it to. I also trust in my teacher to spot and tell me when I am doing something wrong to prevent me from forming any bad habits.

Whether I will ever reach a proficiency similar to that of a professional violinist, I don't know and I don't care. For me this is a hobby, it's supposed to be fun. Yes, at some point I would love to find three other like minded amateurs and be able to play string quartet music, but for fun, not as a profession, I have already got a profession.

Yet, even if I decided I wanted to have a career change and become a professional violinist, I still wouldn't allow myself to be worried about whether I can achieve that simply because I didn't start as a child.

In my mind the only real handicaps you might have as an adult learner are 1) inability to invest the necessary time and 2) a significant age related physical impairment. If you can dedicate the time to regular practise and if you are reasonably healthy, then you should be able to learn as well if not better than you could have learned as a child.

As a child I could have never mustered the dedication and patience required to learn the violin. I was interested in just too many new things to keep up regular practise and not get bored. As an adult, I don't practise because I have to, but because I want to, it brings spice into my daily routine, its fun. Also as an adult, I have developed a taste for music, I have listened to many recordings and performances or a large variety of different music, I have learned to appreciate music. Furthermore, as an adult I have learned how to study more efficiently, how to set goals, how to recognise small steps of progress. All in all I tend to believe that the advantages I have as an adult learner outweigh the disadvantages.

So, my advice to other adult beginners would be "don't worry so much, be patient and trust in yourself".

As for the notion that as adult learners we must be wasting our time simply because we couldn't possibly expect to become very accomplished players, I would like to mention that using your hands/fingers for complex tasks on a regular basis is the very best way to keep yourself from becoming senile at an advanced age. So even if you will never manage to play in tune, your time will be just as well spent as time spent in a gym ;-)

February 15, 2008 at 02:24 AM · I believe that an adult can achieve a very high level of skill. Of course, there is something inherent in children that may make the mind-physical ability easier, but it does not make it impossible for adults. It really is a question of breaking patterns and relearning. The challenge often becomes time and as a result it becomes frustrating which leads to quitting.

The violin is a very difficult instrument and producing an adequate sound just to play a simple tune all the way through can take many months. If that is clearly an expectation of an adult learner who can overcome impatience, I see no reason why an adult cannot achieve the goal of being able to play the violin very well.

February 15, 2008 at 02:40 AM · 30 years old here, and started to learn the violin, ( which is my 1st intrument :o ) Practice around 2-3 hours a day. guilty of more hours on the weekends.

Been learning for a couple of months now.and Absolutely enjoy learning it. I'm also lucky to have a excellent teacher !

Block Fingering, putting down all 3 at once, is a bit of pain at the momment, cause sometimes the intonation will be out. anyways ill stop my ramble now :)

February 15, 2008 at 03:43 AM · Hi everyone. Although I've been lurking for some months, I just registered today. I started violin three years ago at the age of 46 and 1/2 with the goal in mind to learn to play by the time I turned 50. What a joy and challenge it has been. In regard to the original post, I think my two biggest challenges so far are:

Learning patience, because I somehow expected to make beautiful sounds a lot earlier in the journey. Also, I had for the longest time a 'pass or fail' mentality at my lessons. If I didn't move on to the next exercise, song or etude during a lesson, I considered that a failure. It took many months for me to get over that and realize that progress is continual, and as it gets exponentially more difficult, pieces can take many weeks before I am ready to move on.

Also, and this has been touched upon to a certain extent, another challenge for me is from the reaction of family and loved ones. In the beginning, you receive enthusiastic feedback for scratching out something that vaguely resembles Old MacDonald, where as later on, whilst practicing something much more difficult, their enthusiasm has waned, and you are on your own with very little feedback. It is hard to tell how you sound, and to gauge what progress you are making.

I am happy that I have a teacher with several adult beginners who seems supportive of my endeavor.

My biggest joy so far was when, instead of doing this to reach a goal, or to please others, I came to truly love playing for the sake of playing. That only happened a couple of months ago while practicing one evening. I was in the 'zone', so to speak, and my own playing (for a few moments) sounded beautiful to me. I seem to have crossed a threshold that evening and am now more motivated than ever.

Thanks for all the great comments and inspiration, fellow adult beginners. Keep up the good play!

February 15, 2008 at 05:49 AM · I started at 35 and am now playing in a church orchestra. A friend of mine started at 33 and is already playing in a professional chamber orchestra. I say the limitations we've been told to believe are only believable if we choose to believe them. But if we don't stop trying, there is no limit to what we could become.

February 15, 2008 at 09:22 AM · I started playing at the beginning of the year, and while I've only had four or five lessons, I'm not (yet) of the conviction that it's going to be more difficult because I'm an adult. I turned 30 earlier this week, and this was one of those things I really wanted to do - do something different.

I may be fairly lucky in that my teacher thinks it's great that I've decided to do this. Although it may be that it's my defection from the clarinet that's excited her more!

My motivation is just to be able to make music. I lost the passion for it for a long time while I was quite ill (hence the defection from the clarinet as it no longer feels the same to me) and have only in the last two or three years rediscovered the joy that music brings to my life. It doesn't matter to me that I may never make a living out of it because that's not why I'm learning. I'm learning because I love it, because my lessons give me that one hour a week I allow myself to get things wrong. My violin is actually the one thing in my life that allows me to really feel the music - even singing doesn't quite do the same for me.

Maybe it IS more difficult for adults than children. Maybe it's not. Perhaps that's down to both the student and the teacher. If either one believes it's going to be more difficult, then that's putting a barrier there anyway. I'm not saying I'm finding it easy, but I don't think I'm finding it any more difficult than a child would do after half a dozen lessons.

February 15, 2008 at 01:43 PM · I started when I was eight and played consistently until I was about 14 or so. Then a 25 year break. I re-started 5 years ago, very seriously. Although I have a time-consuming day job, I still manage to get a significant amount of practice time somehow. I bring my viola with me on all my business trips (see my most recent blog on this).

I thought at first that this would only be a passing hobby to keep me sane 5 years ago. Since then I joined a community orchestra, an ensemble group, played my first "paying gig" for a local high school musical (pit orchestra), and now my ensemble is playing for a art gallery grand opening. Who would have thought?!?!?!?!

I attribute most of this to the great teachers I've had since I re-started. They've gone along with me on this wild ride while I push myself beyond my limits to learn new techniques and pieces, while still bringing back to earth to "master" the basics.

February 15, 2008 at 07:12 PM · This is a truly inspiring and exciting thread. I'm learning more about the violin from you beginners than I've learned for a while from anyone, and I'm NOT a beginner. I've played since I was young and studied it in college on scholarship. Julie, you obviously have such a great attitude about life and learning. I'm sure you'll do marvelous things with the violin.

As far as unsupportive family members? Don't worry, it never really goes away. They always hate to hear you practice, even if you're playing Ysaye and Bach Partitas. Ask my family how much they HATE it when I get that old thing out. Practicing's not always pretty--a lot of repetition. I have to practice when they're not around too. It has nothing to do with ability, I assure you. Never look to family members for objective opinions. Unless they're Al Ku--he's a violin fan, so he's okay :-). My Dad likes to listen to me practice too--maybe it's a Dad thing.

If they give you too many opinions, that's when you hand them the violin and kindly ask them to show you how it's done. :)

February 15, 2008 at 02:54 PM · playing a little on the side along with my kid, on and off, when needed, gives me some personal perspective which may or may not apply to others.

first of all, i, being an adult, am more conscious or aware of others' opinions, not that i am actively seeking any or even have received any, really. but you do get shy or a little reserved when chances to perform come up. my kid, like many other kids, on the other hand, really doesn't care. good or bad, she doesn't care! just march on. good, fine, where is my treat; bad, ok, where is my treat. i think adults tend to be more judgemental and thus may be too critical, too impatient,,,we hang onto the memories of the "bad times" a little too long and too tight. we don't feel comfortable being spontaneous because it feels like we are too naked. traits like these allow us adults function and survive in the society, but it may pose as an obstable entering the music world. how many kids reflect and dwelve on how they have played on a daily basis,,,and how many adults? when the adult mind is capable of remembering 27 things to correct and work on, it may become too mechanical...

lets say i go around to recruit randomly 10 kids and 10 adults to showcase whatever they are playing on youtube. i think i can manage to find 10 kids in couple days if i have a list to coldcall. but, i doubt i can convince even one adult in the same time frame. why? i don't know. other adults may share similar feelings like i do, or other "excuses" such as... well, i am playing just for fun, just for myself, you know,,,:). yes, i do.:) ok, so be it. but that distinction that i have just mentioned imo is the biggest difference between adults and kids and in some ways it may hinder the development of adult players. imo, it is not easy to develop musically if you are emotionally guarded. i think it will be too much to call it an inferiority complex. rather, the free-spiritedness is suppressed by the prim and proper being that we adults think we have been expected to come to.

there are many other observations but i think it is prudent to poke the beehive just once this morning,,,:)

February 15, 2008 at 02:59 PM · You're definetly on to something, Al . . .

February 15, 2008 at 03:08 PM · i wish there is no "edit" function on this site because i love to read kimberlee's first draft.:):):)

that, our tendency to correct and edit, as compared to kids' take-it-or-leave-it attitude, falls into what i am saying.:):):)

kimberlee, when you have adult players that you think are too rigid and guarded, how do you attempt to melt the ice? do you open it up as a discussion or do you try to diplomatically lead them out of it?

February 15, 2008 at 07:14 PM · Okay, ha ha ha. Point well taken. For anyone who missed it, I was just saying that to find an adult who is willing to let it all hang out, play whenever they're asked, not care what anyone else thinks and concern themselves only with the task at hand is RARE, but that I thought maybe there were some of those kind of adults on this thread and that if they continued to love the violin and keep playing, they would lead the way for a few of us experienced players to follow.

Do you really think I know what I'm doing Al? My life is basically guesswork at best :). Ha ha ha. Usually I try to be pretty disarming (which isn't difficult when you're as foolish as I am), and I tell my students lots of stories about how nervous I get and how many mistakes I've made, and it makes them feel, at least, like they've got company in their sorrows. And, I'm a decent violinist, so I think it gives my students something to look forward to (more of the same--tee hee hee).

In all seriousness, from a teaching perspective, I notice my students can be very nervous to play in front of me--they've worked so hard all week to please me and it all boils down to two minutes of glory! That's pressure, but that's what gets them ready to perform--doing it. If they really can't manage to get it out there, I will usually say something like, "Can you play a bit of the Minuet for me? No big deal, just give me a few measures, give it your best shot and let's see what happens" That attitude generally tends to relax them up a bit, because it sets the parameters differently. Instead of a test, it becomes a discovery, and that's the way it should be every time you perform.

February 15, 2008 at 03:30 PM · actually, when all the dust settles, people really appreciate the true characters of a person/teacher, that no one is perfect and all knowing, that learning violin, like anything else, is an on-going learning process for anyone. i think it is very difficult for a teacher to teach a person if the teacher fails to learn from the student how the student is like, so it is a 2 way street.

lets say i am a nervous type and if i know my teacher is also one (not talking about you:) and shares with me how he/she deals with it, that can be very convincing/ helpful.

on the other hand, if the teacher is like, i am perfect, you are not, how can i help...i will be like, hmmmm,,really not sure.

i appreciate your candor kimberlee because there are too many dog and pony shows in this world:)

February 15, 2008 at 03:32 PM · Hi,If you hang out here, you already know I taught PS/kids for 35 years, and now have a private studio 2/3 kids, 1/3 adults. You may also know I good to understand how the arm-wrist-hand-fingers etc.,etc. are "supposed" to go for good bowing, but then you just have to try something. iserable? Try something else.

2)Adults want to get ahead of themselves. Because their minds get it, they tend to believe it ought to just happen. One of my students has a wonderful ear, can pick through fiddle tunes so easily. But this month she finally realized that she doesn't get tone production the way she wants, doesn't understand conventional fingering. So is happily on to a regimen of scales in scale order,3rds, 4ths,5ths,extended arpeggios, bow-weight exercises.Which I kept coming back to but only make sense to her now.

3)Adults tend to be more insecure than many kids. It sounds nasty, they know it, so instructions from teachers, cheerful humor from family/friends are interpreted differently than intended. A good watchword is, "Enjoy the journey." If I say,"Your intonation was better that time, but your sound was pretty crusty, let's look at what's making that happen", that is a simple statement from the perspective of how I heard you. Yesterday,a student described an adult group class where the teacher asked each player to show how his/her vibrato, and told them "wrist", "arm" or "mix". Probably an OK lesson. When she got to my student, it was "Yours is none of the above." Apparently left it, and my student didn't (dare?) follow up. Yesterday after a few lessons together, she choked this all out. Turns out she has a finger-vibrato, sounds fine. Unusual but not unheard-of technique, and perfectly acceptable. She's been playing vibrato-less a yr.or more because she heard "wrong" or "lousy".

As to luthiers who treat you poorly, RUN the other way. An adult beginner is no more likely to fail than a kid, and probably more likely to persist. And adults tend to understand quickly about putting enough money into equipment to help them succeed. It can be difficult convincing parents of this until the kid is already a success, but at what cost of time & struggle. A convoluted error in thinking, that. My preferred shop, which is been very classically-oriented, has picked right up on the needs of fiddlers, in part to my serious study of same, and that I bring folks in looking for "real" violins and bows to fiddle on. Luthiers who do well in business have figured out which side the bread is buttered on, and treat all musical pursuits with dignity.

Love you adult novices, one & all! Take up my term if you want; novice sounds so convincing compared to beginner. Sue

February 15, 2008 at 05:34 PM · My two cents...Playing with the kids really helps adult beginners/intermediates. They are very helpful to adults and love the role reversal. Playing with adults slightly more advanced is also very fun. I recommend it for learning and for fun. They love helping and look at things differently than adults. The best teachers can be kids who are playing just ahead of you. Adults bring the notion of delayed gratifaction to the party which can help the children. They also have a broader view of life (prior knowledge) and in my opinion are more comfortable with the notion that systems are patterns as in scales etc. Many adults I know like scales for this reason, where as kids see them as necessary but not as interesting.

February 15, 2008 at 05:31 PM · SCALE LENGTH!!!!!!!!!

BOW CONTROL!!!!!!!!!!

Oh,did I mention SCALE LENGTH!!!!!!!!!

Is there such a thing as a 8/4 size violin?

Do I really need to be playing the Viola?

and then let's talk about the upside down and backwards tuning.............

February 15, 2008 at 06:56 PM · What a great discussion this has been lately! I definitely fall into some of the adult novice pitfalls mentioned above, particularly the lack of spontaneity.

I’m about five months into my violin adventure here and am doing the minuets in Suzuki I. I thought they were really coming along well since I was getting them up to nearly right tempo and working really hard at my intonation.

My teacher OTOH said something like: “Your intonation is really great, you’re obviously practicing a lot, but..” my playing sounds like hard work instead of a dance, too carefully controlled, unspontaneous, etc.

But, it really is hard work! My brain is 100% occupied while playing these pieces trying to keep it all together. When I try to play with all that turned off I’m always sharp or flat or my string crossings get sloppy or I miss the dynamics altogether. It’s jarring to me. So I guess my playing must sound mechanical because I’m trying so hard to get everything right all at once.

I think that this awareness of more nuances going on at the same time and the drive to get them all right is another part of why some have observed that adult novices play less freely than kids. In the rest of life I’m an outgoing show-offy sort of person that really likes to be at the center of attention, whether people laugh with me or at me.

I think for many of us who take up violin late in life it’s probably the most physically complicated and unfamiliar thing we’ve ever tried, very different from anything else including other non-string instruments. I know for me the sheer difficulty of it and my desire to get it as ‘right’ as I can gives me that hard-work sound.

February 15, 2008 at 08:11 PM · on intonation,,,here is my 2 cents...

i have always thought that my intonation is ok, even though i am not a musician. when i listen to someone sing, couple lines later i know what is on and off.

but, when i look back at my kid's video, from say about 3 years ago, i realize now, how many MORE notes that she was off, when back then, i truly did not pick up. i guess you will miss it if you do not know what to look for. ignorance is bliss:)

i find this revelation interesting because what it means is that the concept of the correct pitch and almost correct pitch has been blurry in my head for some time. with time, listening to more playing by different people, good and not so good, my brain learns the acoustic map and is sorting things out better.

when my kid plays at home, now it is easier for me to listen and comment, especially from a distance,,,the farther the more clear it is to me (i guess it is similar to you guys tuning the violin,,,you don't play the 2 strings as loud as you can,,you play them soft and can hear better)

with adult players, especially in the beginning, i can imagine this brain recognition of the correct pitch may be a big challenge because there is no PRECISE roadmap, no immediate feedback (will this line invite a discussion on electronic tuners?:) and no one is there to tell you that you are off (with few exceptions). or show you what is right when you are wrong.

i think it will be interesting for teachers to purposely play some notes in class, some right on, some way off, some slightly off, and then ask the adult student to imitate the same pitch and comment.

the journey in the dark alley, if better lit, is a little more tolerable:)

PS: of course, the intonation technique with fingers is another ball game, but i still think even though the finger intonation issue is more obvious (where to land the fingertips), the cerebral intonation is where the money is at. i have heard some teachers referring privately to some very good players (to me) that they have intonation problems, bad ears, etc, i think that is what they mean. when intonation is mentioned i think adult players will be better off thinking less about where to put the finger and more on the brain's perception of where the finger should land on its own. before you put the finger down, you should hear it first.

February 15, 2008 at 07:55 PM · My teacher said the exact same thing. "I can tell you worked hard on intonation and quality of sound. You just need to remember that this was a dance". I have worked hard at imparting life into them and from what she finally said "you've got it, let's move on to Suzuki 2".

It felt great!

February 15, 2008 at 07:50 PM · Is this a growing trend, anyway, being an adult beginner on the violin? When I started learning how to play I thought I must be the only adult doing it! Then I found this website and the rest is history :0 Seriously, without this website I would never have looked for a teacher. I like to think I would not have given up, but I probably would have... Also, thanks to those cheap ebay violins that sooner or later everyone hates, I am sure that many adults felt encouraged: they could even own a violin in less than a week from first thinking it(for themselves or for their kids or both), and then why not give it a try? I know that as a child I did not even dare to go "there", even though I played piano. I knew, I felt, it was for the "chosen" ones... but later on I realized that the music I had in my head in the most special moments of my life was violin music, that my head and my heart were always with the violin, but that it took me so many years to even acknowledge it! I just regret that only as an adult I made the jump over the wall. But as many of the people here already stated, there are advantages, too, to being an adult when you start and to learning the violin (of all instruments), beside all the frustrations! I wish we could all live in the beginner's village somewhere in the world:), have our own orchestra, support each other...

February 15, 2008 at 10:38 PM · Al says: "lets say i go around to recruit randomly 10 kids and 10 adults to showcase whatever they are playing on youtube. i think i can manage to find 10 kids in couple days if i have a list to coldcall. but, i doubt i can convince even one adult in the same time frame."

I agree Al. Its that frontal lobe thing again. We start anticipating and preparing for criticism. If you look at most of the kids who are showcased on you tube, its the parents doing the showcasing. they may knwo they are being taped, but 'so what'. We adults have to organise this stuff ourselves: we play, we review, and then we analyse and edit and reconsider, and leave the recording on our hardrive for another day and then ... naaah, I think I'll do a better one ....

On a tangent , one of my things in my day life is looking at people's use of time, and one of the things that's so important for retaining health as we mature is that we incorporate a 'serious leisure' role into our lives - serious in that there is a development of skill and technique, a community which shares similar knowledge and aspiration, a shared terminology, but where the our degree of participation is our own choice (as opposed to say paid work, where you might love your job, but ultimately someone else decides how much and for how long you'll produce. You are meeting others' expectations).

Some research has shown that a person's serious leisure means more to their self concept and identity than their paid or productivity roles. Its true of the violin for me, and something that makes me glad that I'm NOT a professional musician. But then it inturdes into my paid work life. Learnt to do some quick thinking when my supervisor asks who the kid called Kavakos is, that has had to be video'd five times and stored on my hard drive. ...very serious ahmm sensory and motor coordination deficits, needed to review the behaviour.. a lot. gulp.

February 15, 2008 at 10:31 PM · Tim and al,

In my humble opinion (that of a beginner), the worst thing you can do as you work on intonation is to watch finger placement, or to be worried about finger placement. At least this has been my experience. I can get it close by watching, but I only nail it dead on when listening (with my eyes looking elsewhere, or closed altogether). Also, I do use an electronic tuner from time to time, when I am having one of those days where my mind's ear isn't in the game. However, after a minute or two (after my internal tuner has been re-calibrated), I am back to doing it freestyle, sans tuner. For me this has worked very well, that and listening to a lot of really good violinists a lot of the time!


February 15, 2008 at 10:58 PM · Another comment regarding intonation...having a piano around helps (it helps a lot with learning theory as well). The piano is not so much for intonation per say, but to learn each note as distinct, regardless of the octave within which the note resides. In other words, to learn that an A has its own distinct sound, regardless of the octave. The same is true for each note, as well as the accidentals. When I was younger I used to be able to tell one note (naturals and accidentals) from another easily on the piano. A C# was very distinct from a C natural, regardless of the octave, and so on. I have since lost the ability to some extent, perhaps due to years of neglect and lack of exposure, but slowly it is returning and having a piano around does help. I guess it is more concrete, being less ambiguous than an instrument such as the violin, which has the ability to produce an infinite range of pitches, not to mention having some pretty complex, sympathetic overtones.

February 16, 2008 at 08:33 AM · @Maria

I really like your idea of a "beginner's village". Though I'd envisage some sort of violin adult-learners' get-together (local interest group in internet parlance) or some sort of event like a seminar/workshop, not for aspiring talents who go on to become professionals but simply for paying amateurs, in other words admission would be first-sign-up first-in, rather than best-talent-admitted-via-audition.

February 16, 2008 at 08:41 AM · @Chris

At the very beginning, before you worry about the right pitch, you need to learn finger placement perpendicular to the strings. You want your finger tips to cover a string well centered, not with the edges and you want them to stay clear of neighbouring strings. You also don't want to bend your wrist.

In order to develop the muscle memory to do that, it is actually helpful to watch what your fingers are doing, where they come down and what angle your wrist is at.

Once you have taken this hurdle, then you want your fingers to learn about pitch, that is judging distances along the string.

In order to do that, yes, indeed it is helpful not to watch and judge those distances by ear.

In other words, there is a time for visual checks and there is a time for practising blindly.

February 16, 2008 at 01:30 PM · benjamin, here is my understanding which may or may not be advisable.

1. "fingertip" may be one way to say it, but i would like to think of it more as the pad on the tip "area", and not exactly the tip which is rather close to the nail edge, but a little closer to the palmer side. i think there is more "room" with the pad than with the tip, more underlying soft tissue, allowing a meatier sound, even with ebay specials.

2. "perpendicular": if we go with the "tip", then i can picture it as a "perpendicular" landing. imo, the landing should be at an angle (the exact angle is another topic and possibly dictated by physiology of individual hands and wrist angle, etc). even though being "perpendicular" helps avoid hitting the neighboring strings, even with landing at an angle, there is still room for clearance if the entire hand is relaxed and supple enough. further, this landing at an angle goes along with landing on the "pad" mentioned above.

3. in terms of finger mechanics and mental cognition of intonation, people may find different initial approaches with the interplay, but imo, in order to progress solidly FASTER (a dream action word for adult players?:), the mental cognition needs to be in place sooner than later. it should play the leader. i dare to exclaim that for most beginners, they've initially got it backward because it is intuitive to be concerned about something that is blatantly in front of our eyes,,,the menacing, frozen crab claws in action. but if we close our eyes, just once in a while, and force us to listen, the shift of priority may naturally follow.

February 16, 2008 at 02:33 PM · al, don't get me wrong, I am not saying you need to constantly watch your hand, in fact I like to do part of my practise with my eyes closed, however, if you are still at a stage where your fingers can't even find the strings and land right in between them, then you will probably have to do some practise while watching what your fingers do.

February 16, 2008 at 02:53 PM · Benjamin,

I know what you are talking about, the need for well-centered finger placement. When I first started playing, this took some effort due the overall clumsy feel of playing the violin, that and the peculiar traits of my hand size/shape. Actually, my overall build has made playing the violin more cumbersome than it must be for many others. I've got a build that is more in place snapping a football from the center position than navigating the tiny fingerboard of a violin. For this reason, flexibility (and injury) has been a hurdle as well. It seems strange that for all my life I have done all sorts of heavy work and heavy lifting and never suffered injury (save for one time I separated my right AC joint). Now, I have taken up this tiny violin and within a few months I am nursing a couple of injuries, ones that plague me to this day. Go figure...

With respect to the "Village for Adult Beginners of the Violin", I am envisioning a small community nestled deep within the confines of an isolated mountain valley, surrounded (and protected) by fierce, towering spires and treacherous mountain passes. That, or a tiny and unknown island in the South Pacific. We'll choose one to accompany us, a gifted teacher who knows and understands our plight, who is patient and sympathetic, with nerves of steel. One from whom we can learn much before our triumphant return to civilization, when our ability finally meets the expectation others hold for an adult who plays the violin. Only then will we will no longer come under their judgement, and will rather find ourselves basking in their praise, as the less-accomplished youth do now.


February 16, 2008 at 03:22 PM · Haha, I like the idea with the island in the south pacific, although I say I'd settle for an annual holiday seminar in an air conditioned convention centre at the Australian gold coast, or maybe Hawaii.

February 16, 2008 at 05:31 PM · This is a long thresd, nad maybe somebody already said this: as an adult bginner, I have fornd that the most important thing for me is the teacher (probably at any age too!). My previous teacher did not enjoy teaching me, she would get irritated and I'd have to suck it up, I don't know if it was because I am an adult ot whatever. i recently switched to a new teacher and she is wonderful. She has one day a week of teaching as she works in the Philaharmonic, and I get one hour of that day. She's interested and positive. She thinks I can become a good violinist. I really like her.

February 16, 2008 at 06:18 PM · As far as village location...the island/mountain valley/shangri-la needs a good local pub,then I'm right with you.

February 16, 2008 at 06:40 PM · I think I'm lucky too to have a teacher that enjoys teaching adults. The biggest challenge I have from the two months of lessons are:

1. As adults, we have rather sophisticated taste for difficult to play pieces.. I have to suppress the urge to try to play them! (not that it will work anyways)

2. Time: Many people here can practice hours and hours a day. I don't have the endurance or patience for that. I do put in at least an hour a day though. I was the laziest piano student ever, I hardly practice more than an hour a week. (usually right before my lessons!)

3. Keep thinking that getting a better violin will improve my tone. I've tried many, this just doesn't happen.

4. Embarrased about performing. I know we should be proud, but I just have a hard time getting up on stage with twenty 5-year-olds. Like someone earlier said, a 5 year old get up, plays the entire piece out of tune, everyone will smile, awww.... so cute.... The adults turn, maybe plays half of the piece out of tune, audience will start whispering "I told you starting as an adult won't work". This really frustrates me.

I also remembered a friend's comment while I was practicing. She said I recognize that piece! But you really don't sound good. Almost as if she's implying that I'm wasting my time. I don't think she fully understands what 2 months of playing means.

February 16, 2008 at 07:09 PM · O boy, do I like the sound of an island getaway, village or not! I'm in Wisconsin. Any warm escape would suit me. Returning to violin/fiddle after 50 years, I doubt a short tropical escape would render me fit for a public airing, but I love my practice time each day, open bowing, scales and then the books. Hearing that wonderful sound rise up from under my chin again! At my age, an orchestra is probably not in my future, but the women of my family live and function well into indecently old ages, so fiddle playing seems to me to be a reasonable goal. Friends back home (sunny WARM California) play and I'll be heading there when I retire, so maybe they'll let me sit in...

I haven't found a teacher yet, I don't like going out more than I absolutely need to in this incredible weather, but by March, I'll be looking. Can anyone reccommend a teacher in the Milwaukee area?


February 17, 2008 at 12:02 AM · I'm 61 and started 9 months ago. I'm halfway through Suzuki Book 2. I have played guitar, steel guitar, dobro and bass guitar for years (55 on guitar and more than 30 on the others). I tried to teach myself violin twice before and was unsuccessful. This time I decided to find a teacher. I got very lucky with my first telephone call. I found a 25 year old who graduated with a degree in violin a couple years ago, teaches, plays in a symphony and likes to go to fiddle contests. She has the formal classical background that I want and she likes a variety of music. At our first lesson she reached for my fiddle and said she was going to tune it and tape the initial finger positions. I took it back and said no, explaining that I would tune it myself and would do without markers unless I drove her up the wall with bad intonation. 30 years of steel guitar and dobro has provided me with a lot of intonation training. She has constantly complemented my intonation and says it is a delight to teach someone who recognizes when they are 20 cents off and corrects it. Most kids have trouble knowing when they are a complete semi-tone flat or sharp. When I was 8 years old I had trouble tuning my guitar, and I certainly couldn't have adjusted my finger pressure 20 cents on a violin, or even heard the problem. Another advantage is that I can practice several hours a day without getting bored. When I was a kid, I might practice an hour, but I was watching the clock for the last 20 minutes. Today I am goal oriented, not time oriented. I resent it when I have to get to bed before I have accomplished what I want to from a practice session. One of the great things is that my teacher loves the experience that I bring to our lessons. Her background is in classical and bluegrass. I bring jazz, western swing, mariachi, klezmer, gypsy and Indian music to our lessons and it broadens her horizons. A 10 year old does not bring a Stefan Grappelli or Johnny Gimbal cd in, say "Listen to track 12", then show her the sheet music printed off the internet and say, "I want to learn this piece." I will never play in a symphony because I don't do well in large organizations, but I will be playing in bluegrass, jazz, country and/or rock bands soon. And best of all, when I play "Satin Doll" for my wife she loves it.

February 17, 2008 at 01:40 AM · I think I need to find a student who trade me for guitar lessons. That's the instrument I'm trying to pick up as an adult beginner.

February 17, 2008 at 02:06 AM · @Tim

yes, indeed, there will need to be an Irish pub with live fiddle music and come to think of it, a Viennese cafe with live string quartet music, too.

February 17, 2008 at 02:18 AM · @PM Chu

Don't worry about how long you practise, it's far more important to practise frequently, even if only for 10 or 15 mins at a time.

February 17, 2008 at 03:05 AM · Kimberlee,

I played classical guitar for a spell, and know some good teachers in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. The best I had was Scott...crap, I just forgot his last name! Anyway, check with The Podium in Dinkytown, they'll be able to steer you toward one of the instructors who rents pratice rooms from them, or to Scott (who no longer teaches out of The Podium, but they should know where to find him).

The classical guitar is a wonderful instrument when used as intended, that is for quiet and intimate settings. You see, the classical guitar simply does not have the carrying power of a violin, and despite the efforts of some to bring it to the same stage (namely Segovia), it is just not made for this sort of life. Some will amplify the classical guitar, but I've never been a fan of doing so as it steals from the beauty of the instrument, being an instrument for when one wants to get really close with their audience, be it an audience of one or a handful of friends. The beautiful effect some of these pieces may have when played on this wonderful instrument is compromised when played on a large stage, as the performer's intimate connection with their audience has been lost. Anyway, my words fail me (as they so often do), so here's a clip of Segovia from Youtube, one of him playing Leyenda (or Asturias, as some call it), which was always one of my favorite pieces to play, and I still do from time to time when the mood strikes.

The effect, the mood you get with a classical guitar when playing such a piece simply cannot be had with a violin. The guitar is far too intimate, which is why it does not belong on a large stage, but rather in a small setting with close family or friends. This is the beauty of the classical guitar, and it's unique niche in the wonderful world of music.


February 17, 2008 at 03:39 AM · Kimberlee,

I just remembered, it was Scott Fraser! He moved to a studio in St. Paul, however The Podium should still know how he can be contacted, should you be interested.

Take care,


February 17, 2008 at 04:19 PM · Kimberlee,

Here's some more interesting information from Segovia, and in fact there are many videos on Youtube (which becomes all the more true with the passing of days).

Segovia was a wonderful, poetic man with the true heart of an artist. He was seldom capricious, always seeming deliberate in his ways, and held with fierce determination to his ideals, which carried him until the end. In short, he alone paved the way for many who followed, through sometimes treacherous lands as he fought to gain acceptance for what was largely considered a lowly instrument of the common people. When Segovia played Bach (and especially the Chaconne) on his guitar for the first time, he shattered a past in which his beloved was held hostage and gave her wings to soar to the heights, heights violins had known for centuries. Doing so required that he have an unwavering vision of his goal.

The classical guitar (or Spanish guitar, really, as it was known prior to Segovia) is such a wonderful instrument and such a wonderful compliment to the violin. By this I mean, it is a wonderful compliment as a second instrument for the one who already plays the violin, being a stringed instrument as well, but with very different qualities.


February 18, 2008 at 03:05 PM · responding to pm since she raised couple points...

most people out there do not fully understand how difficult violin playing is, but they know a good/bad sound when they hear it. even perlman acknowledges that it is very difficult to sound decent in the first couple years (not months). your friend was probably correct that you did not sound good, but whether your friend had the proper perspective to say that is really not up to you. in this society, everyone has an opinion. i expect my friend to tell me the cold hard truth and it is up to me to consider that and their perspectives. it is a bell curve, most people are rather indifferent as a whole, some look down at you no matter what, a few love what you do no matter what. so, others' opinions are other people's business,,,it is their right to be wrong:). your problem/concern is about doing the best you can, hopefully something you love. and that is all.

i have put my kid's playing on youtube for some time now. we knew perfectly well that some will like it, or even inspired by it, and some will diss it, use it as an outlet to vent their frustration, jealousy or even anger. we are fine with it because to us it is a recital, to get reflection and feedback, not a venue to please everyone every time. in fact, it is a great lesson for my kid to read some of the negative comments to get an earlier taste what this society is about. we can't control people's reaction to how she played, whether she is asian, whether she wears glasses, whether she uses a compaq computer, whether she is too young to play, whether her parents are nutballs,,, one person made a comment like... i am psychologically abnormal because my parents forced me to play at a very young age and my suggestion is,,,

to start playing violin as an adult is your own decision. with every decision there should come some planning and anticipation of both sides of the coin and we cannot pick and choose. sounding bad is the rite of passage and there is really no shortcut to bypass that. if sounding bad (now) with 2 months of playing is a negative, turn it into a positive. use it as a bigger stimulus to get better even faster. at least you have the courage to be staying on the course, unlike many many others,,,such as me:)

February 18, 2008 at 03:35 PM · Al, Thank you for your response. It helps me look at things with a different perspectives.

And again, about telling people they sound bad, it really all depends on the person. I was raised not to make comments like that no matter how horrible that person sound. But some might be taught to provide honest feedback to others. I will probably laugh about this a few years from now and realize how horrible I actually sound right now!!

February 18, 2008 at 04:01 PM · al

That was a wonderful reply and a wonderful perspective on the learning process, which sometimes takes longer than we would care to acknowledge within.

Thanks for taking the time to write.

Take care,


February 18, 2008 at 05:31 PM · pm and chris, i think it is fun talking about stuff like this because what it comes down to is something that is applicable to everything else in life. and we all search our whole life for it,,,:) where is the beef?!

in terms of providing feedback, i can understand different cultures/households have different "norms". no one instinctively loves to be suck. part of us looooooooooves to be praised each and every time. it gets the juices flowing.

imo, the feedback/criticism should be balanced. a little spice with a little sweet--there is a child in everyone of us that digs that. trust me, even small kids know if you sugarcoat too much, treating them like happy dummies.

before each practice, violin or golf, i quickly review the 2 sides:

i really appreacite you giving full attention to the bow hold that the teacher mentioned,,,but at times i still see bla bla bla. i believe you can make a better effort today. (i know she can't, but i say it anyway because i know one day i may be pleasantly surprised, that one day there may come initiative on her own).

the other thing i find is that no one wants to be overwhelmed and feels hopeless. i work with my kid closely on her golf swing. currently there are 20 majors issues to work on. couple years ago, may be 50. but everyday, if i beat her up with all 20 issues, with all t's crossed and i's dotted, she will be overwhelmed and then it will not be productive. so, every day, we have something specific to work on, knowing full well other things are sliding. interestingly, with focal attention on one part, other parts may "spontaneously" and "simultaneously" improve,,,much to our surprise. actually, it is not surprising because we tend to underestimate our brain/body power when working against it. we simply do not believe common sense works because,,,,because we are too smart! (note, i said,,,too smart instead of smart:)

with violin adult players, it may follow the same thinking, that some of you know too much!:) and end up overwhelmed with doing it all, right now! you ingest so much that you cannot digest it and you are in pain...why does buri swear by prunes night and day?!

back off and take it easier and smarter. listen to me,,,i know impractically everything:):):)

here is clip for all adult players:

February 18, 2008 at 06:44 PM · Thanks for the info, Chris. What about the MacPhail crew? There was a kid playing guitar there one day. He must have been 13 or so. I joked "Do you know any Kottke?" To my surprise, he said "Yeah, what do you like?" I thought I'd make him sweat and said "Vaseline Machine Gun." But, apparently that prodigious piece didn't give him any issues--he threw it down right then and there on his acoustic without a slide. I was amazed.

February 18, 2008 at 05:52 PM · Kimberlee,

I have never worked with the folks as MacPhail, but am aware of their program. The reason I mentioned Scott is that he is well-versed in all styles (which we all want to play some day), but starts with building a solid foundation in the classical (Segovian) approach. Learn this well and you will be able to apply your skills to whatever you choose, with the best of results. I am certain you could do well at MacPhail, but I have no direct experience, hence my lack of inclusion. I should mention that I had teachers other than Scott as well, but I learned the most from Scott and he would be the one to whom I would send someone of interest. He helped me build a really solid foundation and while I do not play the classical guitar as much as I once did, thanks to the foundation set with the help of Scott I can return to it and be playing well in pretty short order.


February 18, 2008 at 06:49 PM · Folks here do know about the BAVS, right? I'm not a member so I can't vouch for the quality of the discussion, but it does seem to be currently active... maybe worth checking out.

February 18, 2008 at 06:47 PM · It's important to realize and embrace the fact that you sound terrible - this is an important step toward sounding better. Accept it as a fact of life that it can take years to produce beautiful sounds on the violin, then congratulate yourself for your willingness to suck at something without letting it deter you or nuke your self-esteem (one reason why many adults are afraid to start something new, especially something difficult like the violin). Even at the simplest levels of play, constantly focus and experiment to produce something closer to a beautiful sound. Then pat yourself on the back for any progress you detect, and for your stubborn determination. But most of all, enjoy the process.

February 18, 2008 at 10:48 PM · Greetings,

>most people out there do not fully understand how difficult violin playing is, but they know a good/bad sound when they hear it. even perlman acknowledges that it is very difficult to sound decent in the first couple years (not months).

I respectfully completely disagree with al and anyone else on this subjetc who belives an adult beginner will sound bad in the early stages. There are only two reasons for this a) the instrument and bos is junk and /or b) the teacher is not particlalrly knowledgeable about who to begin somebody on the instrument IE incompetent at thislevel.

I find this myth very depressing and it goes along with the other bit ofnonsens about people having `bad intonation` to start with that is gradually improved until they have `good intonation` I`m afraid too many teahcers are not willing learn how to systematically teach creaitng a beautiful sound form the word go while ear training. Perhaps the efofrt of explaining this clealry and meaningfully toan intelligent adult with a depe emotional need to play tunes from the beginning is too much for teachers. I don`t knoe.

But like Paulk Rolland used to say` teache the violin, not songs (pieces).`

Now hilary Clinton is going to accuse mne of plaigarism.



February 19, 2008 at 02:55 AM · regarding the BAVS mailing list,

please note that this list is set up such that you cannot suppress your plain email address and address harvesters subscribe to such lists to use harvested addresses for sending out spam.

so if you do sign up there, make sure you first get a disposable free email address.

February 19, 2008 at 02:55 AM · If any of the beginners here also used/are using any books/methods: which and why? Also, what etudes do you play? Do you play scales? I do try to use, as time allows... some of the books that Buri recommended, more than once, in some of the threads. I found an interesting book recently, it's called "Violin Pedagogy" by Lyman Bodman. It gave me an idea of what to expect from a teacher and also of which direction to go when teacher-less.

February 19, 2008 at 03:08 AM · For adult beginners who feel as though their tone suffers, and find it difficult to break things down and focus on the essentials, I would very highly recommend Auer's series. The first book is devoted entirely to work on open strings, and is a GREAT way to work on tone development, and of the proper use of the bow arm. In my opinion, this is the so utterly important in working toward true musicianship. The second book introduces notes in the first position, but does so in a manner that is most beneficial toward the development of good intonation. Again, the approach simplifies the process by doing a good job of focusing (or isolating) one particular aspect of the learning process. Just my 2 cents...

February 19, 2008 at 03:19 AM · Maria,

I also use a couple of etude books (which I cannot recall at this moment), the Suzuki series (which is very good as well as it allows one to realize a measure enjoyment early in the learning process by making real music happen) and a scale book by Whistler. I also have a lot of other material that is simply too advanced for the present moment. Therefore, it awaits my becoming a more accomplished player. I gobbled up quite a bit in the feeding frenzy that took hold when I first began the violin, and now I have enough to keep me busy for some time. It can become a bit of an addiction, with each trip to the music store yielding yet another piece of tempting fruit.


February 19, 2008 at 02:37 PM · buri, sounding bad (for simplicity sake, we will stick with this politically insensitive dark notion) imo is part of the process, just like beginner basketball players throwing more air balls, beginner painters drawing more blunt corners,,,

i will not argue over its presence in the learning process, but am interested in exploring the transition from bad sounding to decent sounding in the learning process. why some take shorter, some take longer...

there may be some cookie cutter answers in a broad sense to summarize a person's progress at a certain point, but, imo, to really understand the dynamics governing a person's musical progress takes much deeper understanding,,,personal, familial, environmental, etc. not sure if you can cover it in one book:)

some take longer to open up, warm up or crack up (in nut cases:). a teacher who truly understands a student and his or her need can do wonders in a short time span, assuming the student is ready to take up the challenge. however, unfortunately, this combo is not seen often, not unlike solid, lasting marriages/relationships. the worst case scenario may be like the wrong doctor giving the wrong medicine to the wrong patient. from a distance, the doctor is indeed working with the patient. but in reality, the outcome tells the tale.

February 19, 2008 at 02:41 PM · al,

I would guess that one begins to sound good when one learns to play with a supple wrist and with bow speed, not bow pressure. At least this has been my experience, and it came quite early on in the process. In some ways it seems counter-intuitive, until one learns and then it becomes obvious. Again, just my 2 cents...


February 19, 2008 at 10:30 PM · Greetings,

>buri, sounding bad (for simplicity sake, we will stick with this politically insensitive dark notion) imo is part of the process, just like beginner basketball players throwing more air balls, beginner painters drawing more blunt corners,,,

al, I do make a distinction between sounding bad and making an error which causes a bad sound , somehting that happens to all of us , even Heifetz....

You quite rightly note that learning is transitional and I would emphasis your point by statng the rathe robvious notion that a player at any level is continuing to learn by working relentlessly on their art, at levels a lesser mortal such a smyself cannot even begin to appreicate. In this snese there is only transition.

My point though is that a beginner will be improvong something that is essentially correct from the word go. For example one can work on pizzicato from the beginning and strat the proces sof sensitizing the ears to a true ringing sound. At the same time familiarity witrh the bow and how it balances so beautifully can be worked on without plaicng it on the strings. With care the first bowed open string then has no need to be pressed or scratched or farted even if it not glued into the stirng , sustained on a SP or or whatever. IT is abolsutely uneccesary to be uygly- IE produce a bad sound because the intila mechanism is fundametally flawed. The reaosn such fundamental eoor making occurs is because the teahcer has rushed into things without the stuidnet hearing and feeling the first few steps on the road to their ultimate goal which is a beauriful verison of their initial imperfectness.

If the -bad sound- is notes constantly out of tune then the studnet has been advanced much to quickly. The intiial stage is to have the sound in the ear so the studnet can experiemnt with their errors, perhaps only woth one finger. BUt no ugly sound is allowed from the still imperfetc owing and the student will only leanr to play out of tune because they have not had to cocnept of intonation , feedback and error reinforcmeent epxlained to them by the teahcer.

Things can be wrong, they can be patiently coorected and worked onbut there is no need for the scratchy out of tune caricature which causes Aunt Gertrude to roll her eyes and tell one to leave it to someone younger. Every stage in the learning process can be beautiful.:)

Prunes remain the apotheosis


February 19, 2008 at 11:09 PM · now i see your point buri and concur that with your regimen and pace, it is likely that bad sounding may not be an issue.

however, as you earlier acknowledged, we are not seeing that because of many factors and the driving force, as you also said earlier, is indeed the teacher. is it like an army of penguins marching toward the cliff...ready or not, lets jump?:)

what you have said is indeed quite neat. is this the Zen approach or shall we credit the prunes!

February 20, 2008 at 01:03 PM · I started lessons four years ago, and that makes me an adult beginner. My intent was to begin many years ago, 1974, in fact. That's when I bought my first violin. I had by then been studying organ for fourteen years, wanted to learn another instrument, and really loved the violin sound. Two problems; i was just starting dental school and time for lessons wasn't merely at a premium, it was nonexistent. Second; I couldn't find a teacher.

Then came marriage, graduation, a move to another state and children, as well as starting a dental practice. Desire remained to learn to play this instrument languishing in the corner, but still no teacher could be found. At least not for several years. Then one day my wife announced she'd located a teacher. Great! A teacher that would swap lessons for dental care. Even better!

So, naturally, we shortly after moved to Malawi, Africa, where we lived for nine years. Guess what? No violin teachers. In fact, while guitars were fairly common, violins were looked on as being very exotic. there were two violinists where we were, but neither felt confident to teach.

It wasn't until we moved back to the states that I finally found a teacher, and it was partly due to my grumbling to the right person. Someone who happened to be on the board of the local symphony. The symphony was in the process of exploring the possibility of starting a conservatory to teach lessons for several instruments, violin among them. I signed up immediately and here we are four years later.

I was started on Suzuki book 2 and moved on after book five, and have two teachers so far. They've been great, and never once in any way suggested it was odd for an adult to want to begin to learn to play the violin. It wasn't until the second or third year that I heard the line about the violin being the hardest instrument to learn, and I don't recall who said it. At that point I thought it a strange thing to say. As I've said on another thread, hard compared to what? Playing a Bach fugue on the organ? No comparison, the violin is easier.

I guess my biggest frustration is the speed at which I progress. So I have to pause now and then and look at the other students I stared with, all children. I left Suzuki two years ago, and the kids are still there, mostly in books three and four. Probably the of amount of time they devote to practice, versus the amount I do, is a factor there. I had one mother ask me after a recital how much time I practiced, and when I said two to three hours a day she about fainted. She said it was a struggle to get her son to practice half an hour three times a week. Another factor at the very start was that I was already able the read music, but that advantage ought to have been short-lived.

A better point of comparison of my progress, I've found, is a young man who plays in the small ensemble I play with. He started about four years before I did, and is very good. We've been playing together for the past three years, and when I look at what he is able to play and what I can take on, I'm generally about that far behind him. That is, what he found challenging three years ago, and I found impossible, I can now play without problem.

One point of comparison that I try to avoid is another member of our ensemble. he's also very good, but plays almost exclusively by ear. He'll hear something once, maybe twice, and then play it, often flawlessly. Now that is just not right! On the other hand, he's limited to the melody line, and has finally seen the need to learn to read music.

February 20, 2008 at 02:20 PM · gary, that was a delightful read,,,:)

couple things:

1. when drilling the molars, what music is in the background in the office?:)

2. you are not really much of a beginner anymore, more like an intermediate. what pieces are you working on? this may give true beginners some perspective in terms of what to look for in time.

3. looking back at your violin experience, what would you have done differently (or better) if you could start violin all over again?

4. do you think your dexterity with your hands (allowing you to go into dentistry) may have helped your violin learning?


February 20, 2008 at 03:19 PM · I've been playing for about a month now and my left hand fingertips are getting thick calluses and actually feeling a little numb. I've learned that I don't need to press nearly as hard as I remember doing as a kid, but still wondering if I'm pressing too much. The calluses are annoying and I have to make myself not pick at them. Will the calluses go away at all or do I just have to get used to it? My other problem is that my right elbow aches a lot (I'm definately feeling old here!)

February 20, 2008 at 03:33 PM · I do get those calluses too!!! I don't think I ws pressing too hard. My calluses are these small round thing on my fingertip, not a line.

February 20, 2008 at 02:57 PM · Al,

To answer your first question, the radio in the office is always tuned to Mississippi Public Radio, which plays classical music most of the day. If not that, there's always CD's of much the same thing playing.

I'm currently working on Meditation from Thais, Adoration, La Bella Cubana, among others. None are particularly difficult in terms of notes, that is the pages don't have a lot of ink. But they are a challenge in terms of getting the shifts and intonation spot on, timing and color right. And, of course, the ensemble is working on lots of things.

As far as doing anything differently to start - start earlier. I'd advise any beginner to find a teacher. I taught myself to play the guitar. Not the three chords to play any song method, but actual playing of notes, and as a result my guitar playing is, shall we say, a bit eccentric? I didn't want to repeat that with the violin, hence my reluctance to begin without a proper teacher, and it has paid off, even if later than I'd have wished.

I'd also highly recommend the beginner join a group of some sort, even if it's only two. playing with another is a real help in the learning process. In a previous lifetime, when we lived where there was snow, I was on the Ski Patrol. The main requirement for getting on was being a strong skier, because you have to have the strength to be able to get a tobaggon off the hill with an unjured skier without losing control. Once on the patrol we all skied with a partner, and the newbies were paired with an experienced, good skier. This was an excellent move. At that point I prided myself in not falling very often, but my partner put a stop to that. he told me, Gary, if you're not falling you're not learning. he took me all over the mountain, over every trail and by the end of that season I was falling a lot, but i was a much better skier. I can still outski my boys, and they were on skis before they were two. My point here is, don't be afraid to fall. Join a group, get out there and play. Fall and have fun. You'll learn a lot, and a lot faster than if you just play solitaire.

As to the last question, about dexterity, actually it worked in reverse. When I applied to dental school, my playing the organ was seen as proof of dexterity.

February 20, 2008 at 05:44 PM · One nice thing about being an adult beginner is that you can afford a decent instrument!! :-)

I recently purchased my teachers viola for which she had played on for 20 years professionally-a lovely handmaid instrument with great sound. It wasn't cheap but worth every penny. It makes playing that much more rewarding when you have a decent instrument. Now I think I need a new bow!,......:-)

February 20, 2008 at 08:14 PM · my was getting my ear to feel my fingers once i got the sound back to my finger it was fun...

get with a friend and play and play together and keep praticing every day ( if you can ) once you get the ear and your finger start to come to life you will love it keep it up!!!!!!!

February 21, 2008 at 06:37 AM · I enjoyed reading your post Gary. I've been playing musical solitaire on and off for years - it was in a way forced on me by the situation I was in, but now I'm back getting lessons again and hopefully I will find someone to play music with soon. I even thought of the idea of paying an accompanist for a monthly music playing session, but that seems a bit desperate.

I started violin later than some others, though still quite young, but other things, such as working in remote parts of Australia, got in the way of practicing, and here I am now in middle age, hopefully getting closer to where I want to be on the violin. In the last few years I have gotten back on track with playing.

What I find interesting is the number of devoted adult violin students there are these days. There almost seems to be a shift occurring in musical trends. I used to work in schools and I found it very difficult to find kids who would care to play violin or do any real practice. I sometimes wonder if the future may yet see an adult beginner of violin who goes on to become a professional, either a symphony violinist or a soloist. It is a nice thought that it might at least be possible, even if just in theory. Of course, a lot of adults do not desire to go professional, but I know I wouldn't mind it.

February 21, 2008 at 11:17 AM · Jon, there seem to be a fair few adult beginners in the US and UK, here in Poland perhaps less so. It sometimes seems that in part I'm paying my teacher for a bit of piano accompaniament. It's not easy around here to find someone who plays the piano well enough and can read music, and of those there are, they're too busy.

So I'm hoping that one day I may at least play in a trio with my kids if they keep it up - though I'm not holding my breath - kids being kids!

February 21, 2008 at 11:41 AM · Bernadette, sorry to hear you having trouble finding a proper teacher. Do you know about Todd Ehle? He posts violin lesson videos on YouTube.

There's also Ben Chan who posts violin lesson videos there, too.

This is no full substitute for having real lessons but it may be of help to you.

February 21, 2008 at 12:16 PM · Jon,

Thanks for the kind words. I can identify with you in living somewhere where there is little or no opportunity for either instruction or playing the violin with others. Malawi was that way. I was tempted a lot to just pick the thing up and have a go, but there was so much I didn't know about the instrument that I didn't even know where to start at having a go. For instance, just how does one hold this thing? What to do when you come to the end of the bow? And what's with this no frets thing? Shoulder rest? Didn't know there was such a thing, and on and on. I did try off an on, but mainly left the violin to sit in it's corner alone because it was obvious to that having a proper teacher was mandatory. There was a fair amount of frustration as the years went by and no teacher to be found.

As near as my fuzzy memory tells me, I found about a year after beginning lessons, so yes, I've been hovering on the borders for quite a while. One thing that has become very clear is that I've been fortunate in finally finding a teacher, and further in having a group to play with regularly. Having a good teacher keeps me on track, and playing with the group provides the push to play things I'd probably never consider attempting. It's the equivalent of my ski patrol partner taking me to the top of the worst diamond run on the mountain, and insisting I follow him down - not once, but all day long. There's a bit of the same feeling when the our ensemble director gives us a new piece that seems particularly difficult, I show it to my teacher, and she says, "Oh god, I hate playing this one, this is hard," I know this piece really is tough and it's not just me, but also that we're making progress.

February 22, 2008 at 01:29 AM · I hadn't thought of this before but I guess there are simply less people around the area where I live, and those who do live here tend (in my experience) to hold on to old fashioned ideas about violin playing, where if you start to learn after 10 (or thereabouts) you are NOT ever to be taken seriously as a violinist.

In other words: a provincial outlook, stuck in the past (outdated 19thC ideas about learning and making progress in music). Another word for it we use in Australia is "redneck", meaning a bit backward. You wouldn't believe the angst and hatred I created in some of the key string musicians in my area, and even some of the classroom music teachers who had been conscripted to their cause (a small but powerful clique of both groups), when I accepted a teaching position in strings - I was offered the job, I didn't go seeking the work. They hated me because I was a late beginner. I ended up leaving that work, and now I wash the dust from my feet with all those teachers. I wouldn't bother spitting on them if they needed it. Some of them were downright criminal, and they set up a conspiracy (workplace mobbing) when I tried to do a teaching prac in my area. I now work in a different field.

In my opinion they lost an excellent violin teacher, who might have made a great contribution to their very own local music community. They also lost a violinist, who by the way are a commodity not in great supply around these parts. If one of them one day comes to me and apologises I will forgive them, but I bet they never do. They are too guilty, too weak. Not big enough in character.

Here's an interesting bit of trivia for Australian readers: the school where this cabal finally "done me in" (to quote Eliza Doolittle) was actually the one where a currently very popular and prominent Australian politician had earlier received his schooling. I won't give his name away, but here is a hint. His best mate also went to the same school.

February 22, 2008 at 01:16 AM · Greetings

on the other, until you forgive them you are carrying around their merde.



February 22, 2008 at 01:21 AM · Oh, I do forgive them, in the Christian sense. That is my victory. I am happy, and am not burdened by their failure.

I don't forgive their actions however. But we will be friends again if they apologise.

February 22, 2008 at 02:43 AM · What a great thread. Thanks, PM, for starting it. I get the feeling you'll need to start another one very soon. (And please do!)

As for me, er... what the others said!

February 22, 2008 at 03:17 AM · A while back I stumbled into an online article by an old man in Spain who teaches the violin there and who appeared to be having a lot of anger and bitterness which led him to forming an extremely stark and negative opinion on the chances of anybody above the age of 5 to ever become a decent violin player.

The tenor was like everything there is about the violin is stacking up against you, you better not bother, but if you are so stubbornly inclined that you must give it a try anyway, then by all means give it a try even if it really ought to be a waste of time. He was giving anecdotal evidence of how his adult students didn't get it and used this to support his negative generalisations.

What struck me was that he was equally negative about Spaniards being unable to learn the violin. He was rambling about the sorry state of violin playing in Spain and how everybody there was doing everything outrightly wrong. At that point it occured to me that he was probably a failure as a teacher and that he was projecting his own failure to teach onto his students and the world in general.

As a result I didn't bookmark the site cause I felt it was just angry ramblings of a senile old man. But various postings on this thread here seem to suggest that this sort of naysaying has made its way into people's perception where it is doing harm to many of those who would like to learn the violin as adults.

I am trying to find this article again and if I do, I will post a link here so the more experienced teachers on this site have a chance to go on public record with a strong rebuttal, thereby hopefully neutralising the effect of discouragement such ramblings appear to have on some adult beginners.

February 22, 2008 at 11:42 AM · Oooooh... yes I got that a lot: "Why are you bothering?". Actually a lot of psychological persuasion was attempted too. One prominent violinist at an orchestra rehearsal saw me pick up a violin one night during the coffee break and watched me demonstrate vibrato to someone. He seemed to take it personally that I found violin playing so easy. Maybe the shoulder rest thing too was a part of it. But I never tried to evangelize anyone on not using a rest.

He said to those standing nearby: "I wish I could get my young (special phonetic emphasis on the word "young") students to play vibrato as well as that". This guy then went on to help lead a bit of a personal campaign to discredit me as a violinist after I made it known that I was learning violin again as a serious adult student.

It became ridiculous. The more determined I became to learn violin the worse it got. When I started to teach, having attained AMEB grade six level, which is not very high but quite OK for the kids I was teaching, the **** really hit the fan, so to speak. Teachers around me, who I needed for support, closed ranks against me. This same violin teacher, very well respected in my area, piped up at a public meeting of teachers and publicly denounced me. He cross-examined me. He said I should not be teaching violin. All this because I was a late starter. I was a young guy, in need of work and moral support, and here was this violin teacher being a right tight-***ed old fogey, and cutting me down. And he was powerful, too.

Again, I forgive him. He is a good man in other ways, and none of us are perfect. I wish him well.

But I never worked it out, actually. Chicken coop sort of stuff. I now travel 100 km away for lessons (200 km round trip).

The powerful local guru of violin playing never even bothered to hear me play, other than the vibrato 'incident'. He never knew how good I was, or what I could do. I was a late beginner.....end of story. Lights out and go home.

February 22, 2008 at 05:07 AM · Wow Jon, sounds really harsh up there in Queensland sounds to me theres alot of toffee's in the field !

I'm living in Melbourne Australia but im sure what your going through happens world wide.

February 22, 2008 at 05:31 AM · another job for Crocodile Dundee?

February 22, 2008 at 05:53 AM · Hi Robert, message appreciated!

Buri, you might be right. Mick Dundee was a good bloke, from what I remember. Honest and fair dinkum. There are a lot of them around in the remote parts of Aust. Its in these hot-house poofta tourist places that you get this sort of provincialism (ladies and gentlemen, please forgive my French).

P.S. Robert, I used to live in Melbourne, and went to school there for half my school life. A great city!

February 22, 2008 at 06:06 AM · " P.S. Robert, I used to live in Melbourne, and went to school there for half my school life. A great city! "

It is for sure, and good music culture down here in Melbourne.

February 22, 2008 at 06:33 AM · I was down there seeing friends last Sept and saw the MSO. Brilliant! I was walking around the city in love with it.

Where I live is a lovely spot, and I have made the most wonderful friends here, and it has been very kind to me. I didn't want to sound unthankful. It is just the general arts situation here that is less than what it needs to be. I have tried, and will continue to try, to improve things.....slowly.

February 22, 2008 at 06:52 AM · I'm with Terez. Thanks for starting this thread, PM Chu. It's an important topic.

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