Ever think learning the violin is too hard?

February 15, 2008 at 04:02 AM · Learning to play the violin makes me want to take up the oboe. They say anyone who takes up the oboe has got to be nuts. I say the violin could also drive anyone to the looneybin. What do you think?

Replies (60)

February 15, 2008 at 02:32 PM · Learning the violin has been the most challenging thing I have ever done...but is it the hardest? Probably. Even compared to an oboe it is so complex that even after years and years of study I don't consider myself an expert. I am constantly working to improve how I play. However, despite the complexity and difficulty the rewards are very gratifying. It has shaped how I listen to music of all kinds and has given me a project for life. My life would be less without the violin in it.

February 15, 2008 at 02:50 PM · Yes, every few days. For almost 50 years. Taking up the oboe isn't nuts, the internal air pressure can MAKE you nuts. Try the French horn for yet another truly mind-boggling instrument. Sue

February 15, 2008 at 03:23 PM · Every time I pick it up...

I go for small progress, my wifes friend is visiting from California. The last time she was here was about four months ago. She said I am vastly improved and sound legitimately good to her. But to my own ear I can't tell the improvement because it's so slow.

Hard or not, stiff wrist or not I'm sticking with it, I love playing whether I ever become an accomplished player I don't know but I won't let people tell me I can't.

February 15, 2008 at 04:43 PM · I was nuts before I started anyway,so my question is,is it driving me towards sanity?

February 15, 2008 at 05:36 PM · Steven Staryk used to have a poster in his studio:

"The technical, musical, and emotional challenges of the violin are infinite."

February 15, 2008 at 05:40 PM · Lovely

February 16, 2008 at 03:45 AM · I will disagree.

I think learning and playing the violin ''is playing the violin''.

Is it hard or easy who knows. Is it harder to do my law Bar: HELL yes!

Is reading two line at once with two hand playing with a piano easier, but without bow control and intonation?

Is playing an air instrument harder? I get a headache when I whistle for too long... really can't imagine obeo, french horn, sax or other.

I actually never learned that playing the violin was hard before hearing other people say that. I think that the fact that we dont get instantaneous result doesn't necessarily makes it hard. But actually, always leaves us with something to learn and a lot of the time skills according to the amount of energy we put in the instrument.

There is also a question of aptitude... another person practices 3 hours a day an got to suzuki 6 in a year. I've been playing for 3 years and got to lvl 4. I find there is a zen like characteristic to violin, that you can always learn something from the simplest piece and play it for a long time to learn the most of it.

February 16, 2008 at 07:21 AM · Yes, you're correct

February 16, 2008 at 07:54 PM · You gotta love it. I'd love it to be easy, but it isn't, but I still love it...

Maybe you need to slow down, take time at the start and during and at the end of practice to do whatever you do well very slowly, beautifully. Even just open bowing, done slowly, delighting in the wonderful sound and feel of your instrument. Then restart your more technical work refreshed. I think the most demanding critic resides within. Tell him/her to chill. Enjoy your time inside the music. There are too few such places in the world.


February 16, 2008 at 08:34 PM · I would say make your self-image, regarding violin, about things you can play, not the things you can't. If you can't play anything...then find the easiest thing you can and work on intonation and rhythm with a recorder. I think very intensive use of a recorder forces you to learn how to use your 3rd ear (?) in order solve the dilemma the recorder presents you with. Every piece would simultaneously benefit from the work you did on the simple piece. Or maybe I'm full of it. One thing I know for sure though is French horn is about ninety-nine and one half times harder than violin. Their concertos have about as many notes as a book 1 Suzuki tune.

February 16, 2008 at 09:05 PM · my friend just told me in my face that I sound bad. While I think that it is somewhat true, I was very dissapointed about that comment. I don't think everyone understand the difficult level of learning the violin, only learning for 2 months will not make me a good player, she hasnquite hugh expectations I guess.

February 16, 2008 at 09:51 PM · PM Chu, hand your friend your violin and have him/her try to play it. Even just an open string. Be nice and patient for as long as the friend is willing to try it. And then take it back and show them how to do what you've described. Trust me.

February 17, 2008 at 05:43 PM · Its a hard instrument. But if I just have fun with it though and not freak myself out its easier :)

February 17, 2008 at 08:36 PM · Every once in a while I wonder what in the heck I was thinking. "WHO PLAYS THE VIOLIN?!? IT'S TOO HARD TO MAKE ANYTHING SOUND MUSICAL OR BEAUTIFUL!!" But then I put down my violin and try to live without it. My 'boycott' usually lasts half a day (if I'm really luck) and then I find myself running to pick it up again.

I think it's important to remember that nothing worth doing is easy at first. Think of it this way: if every Joe-Blow off the street could pick up a violin and play a Mendelssohn concerto-- there would be nothing captivating about the instrument. It's harder than heck to master, but it's worth it.

Oh, and you can tell whoever says that "you suck" or "you sound terrible" or anything even remotely close to that to go... uh... well, I'll stop there. But don't EVER let anyone tell you that you suck. Trust me-- if they come right out and tell you, they don't know what in the heck they're talking about.

No true violinist would tell a beginning violinist that they sound terrible because they know and appreciate the years of hard work and pain that goes into mastering the violin.

February 17, 2008 at 10:26 PM · the violin is the easiest instrument i have ever played actually.. have you guys tried piano or guitar? they are inpossible to learn!...(for someone like me anyway)

February 17, 2008 at 11:24 PM · Wow! Jessica, you sound like me. Actually, Ia m just getting off of a week boycott. Painful and scary and downrigth depressing. We made up yesterday with some Saint-Saens.

February 18, 2008 at 01:53 AM · Thanks everyone :)

Actually, I am feeling a bit at a loss. On the one hand, I have to play in various keys and have done so because it was required of me. But the sound is just not perfect. Many times the bowing falls short and I am unable to give justice to the music. Recently I decided that I wanted to start again from the beginning. Yesterday I began lessons in Suzuki Book 1. Can you imagine? I am already playing pieces in G flat! But I want to begin properly and to enjoy that journey from being a beginner to getting better at each step.

Yesterday we began Twinkle Twinkle again, and for the life of me I couldn't do the staccato properly. Flowing notes were easy, but staccato? Anyway, it was fun. He asked me what my goal piece was. I said that I needed to play about 10 pieces from Handel's Messiah by December.

From Twinkle Twinkle to this Christmas Concerto, it's a crazy world!

February 18, 2008 at 09:31 AM · Sara Salmi, your comment makes me laugh a little, because I also play piano and guitar to a certain degree, and while part of me wants to tell you how easy they are, part of me also sees how you could take either of those two to an infinite degree of difficulty if you chose to. Two things I will stand by, though:

1.) Both the piano and guitar generally sound better when played by beginners.

2.) Of those three instruments, the violin opened up for me the most neurotic trail. It could just be my own violin proclivities, though.

February 18, 2008 at 10:22 AM · "1.) Both the piano and guitar generally sound better when played by beginners."

Beginners on those two usually sound better than experts on violin :)

February 18, 2008 at 11:32 AM · And I hope that it is already understood that the piano and guitar both sound even better when played by non-beginners.

February 18, 2008 at 11:53 AM · Non-beginners sound all fancy and stuff. I'd rather hear beginners.

February 18, 2008 at 12:29 PM · I've been playing the violin, the piano and the flute for about 25 years now.

To play them at professional level they are all difficult. (The level where technique doesn't matter any more because this is not the discriminator anymore). Pahud, Argerich, Hahn are all great artists.

I tend to say the violin is the most difficult to begin with:

1/ making a decent sound is hard.

2/ it takes a long time to learn every aspect of technique (different bowings, double stops, ... )

3/ Not playing for a certain time immediately shows. (Un-learning is much faster)

Can't compare with French Horn (but at least they play quite in tune, and literature seems not to be so hard. It takes the difficulties into account. )

February 18, 2008 at 04:39 PM · "If your only goal is to be a good violinist, you'll be constantly frustrated.

But if your only goal is learning how to play, you'll have a good time all the way through" -- and probably make better progress.

I have that posted on my wall.

February 19, 2008 at 05:32 AM · The way I see it is that violin is not necessarily more difficult - it just takes longer to learn to the same level as another instrument - unless you are a violin prodigy like Heifetz or Menuhin.

Beating around the bush I suppose you might say, but I think it is a much more positive and helpful way to see the situation. In violin playing you will need every ounce of helpful outlook you can get to add to your kitbag. You don't want unhelpful, distressing things rolling around in there, if you can help it. If you find any, try and take them out and fling them as far away from your person as your arm can throw them.

Calculate the time involved, and try to relax. Work out a time plan. If a normally talented - not prodigy - child starts playing violin at the age of 5, and by 15 he/she is making a good showing with the Mendelssohn concerto, but by no means mastering it, then that child has tripled their life span from the age when they began. This is a rough guide, and does assume some talent, reasonable hard work, and good teaching.

So if you start when you are 25, you can hope, with much good providence along the way, to be OK at the Mendelssohn, and play it at a student level, by 75, assuming all goes well and you haven't fallen off the perch by then, or developed problems that get in the way of playing. People of a different talent might do better or worse. If you start when you're 15, it might take you 'til you are 45. That is a very rough guide, and might not work for many, but it is sort of what I go by, and seems to be backed up by the evidence I observe.

Keep an eye on whether you are progressing, even if it is only a noticable advance every 2 years. At least you are getting there.

February 19, 2008 at 05:32 AM · This is really sad indeed, from Jon's calculation, that means I will have to learn the Mendelssohn when I join the Heaven Philharmonic....

February 19, 2008 at 06:52 AM · Greetings,

the problem with your calculations John is you are comparing child and adulkt. A child might well have a bad teahcer, have long period sof disinclination to practice and also be simultaneously developing the skilss of work, planning, goal setting, self evalaution and the like. Thus saying fifteen years is somewhat heuristically devoid of menaing in a non vitupertaive sense. If a really talente dkid goes to an excellent teacher off the bat then the posisbility of playing the Mendellssohn within four or even three years is very real.

As far as adults are cocnerned one cannot generalize. Someonbe with a positive attitude , wiling to address the issues adults need to addres sof habitual misuse of the body is capab;le of incredible things within a much shorter time frame than fifteen years. Personally I would halve that for starters.



February 19, 2008 at 12:37 PM · Yes, not the best post I ever came up with. After I wrote it I went in to do some shopping - and started thinking about the negatives associated with it. It is a personal view that has helped me - what can I say? It was a misguided effort at trying to help. Also, a touchy subject, and I understand that. Having said that, I hinted fairly clearly in the original post that a more talented child, and/or one better taught, could do much much better, and this has a bearing on adults as well.

Due to the title of the thread I was presupposing adults who maybe are having a hard slog at getting ahead. If this isn't the case for anyone reading this then that is fantastic, and good news. I'm happy for you, and encouraged by your achievement. I personally think that adults really can do incredibly well as adult beginners if they have the talent and have good teaching. I could imagine an adult starting at 45 and playing the Mendelssohn very well by 65, or younger. I'm not a professional and I'm not a teacher so...there you go.

If my original post seemed a bit bleak, forgive me, but I was in one sense having compassion for those who will not be able to achieve such spectacular results. Being able to play the Mendelssohn at 75 when you were a complete beginner to music at 25 is, after all, not a bad achievement for some people.

February 19, 2008 at 07:47 AM · I am always surprised when people ask "can I learn as well as a child" for this would seem to be the wrong question. Shouldn't we rather ask "can I learn as well now as *I* could have learned as a child, not some *other child*" ?

For some the answer to that question may well be that they could have learned better if they had started as a child and they might then regret that they didn't start in their childhood. Fair enough.

However, in my case the answer is clearly "I could not have learned the violin as well as a child because I wouldn't have stuck to it". I believe that for many of us the answer would be something similar, that they could not have done better as a child for one reason or another. If so, then there is nothing to regret, just be happy about the strengths you have gained since you were a child and use them to your advantage.

February 19, 2008 at 08:33 AM · "As far as adults are cocnerned one cannot generalize. Someonbe with a positive attitude , wiling to address the issues adults need to addres sof habitual misuse of the body is capab;le of incredible things within a much shorter time frame than fifteen years. Personally I would halve that for starters.




Because Jon's rule of thumb would make me like 132 before the Men... and that seems sought of, you know, unrealistic seeing as how our family has a history of carking it before they reach 80.

Jon, i suspect your theory is credible with learners in ther first decade. I dont feel so confident that you have been studying a bunch of adult learners for the last 50 years.

I really hope Buri's righter than you are on this one. Don't take it personally.

February 19, 2008 at 12:38 PM · No, Sharelle, that's fine. Buri is right. He is a professional teacher, a professional violinist, and he has a great deal of experience.

The ideas or theories I was mentioning above were my own attempts to rationalize a rather harsh and unyielding attitude I encountered in my own experience of learning violin, where several professional or semi-professional violinists I rubbed shoulders with in the past basically told me I didn't have a hope of one day being very good, because I had started later than the age of 10 - regardless of the progress I was making.

I developed my own way of seeing a ray of hope for myself. These days there is a lot more acceptance of violin beginners who start later in life.

I'll now gracefully bow my way out, and gently close the door. See you elsewhere on violinist.com :-)

February 19, 2008 at 02:06 PM · i think playing violin can be hard for some people, such as me:), like playing chess, basketball, or painting, or writing poetry, or singing, etc, for others.

whether one enjoys learning it is a different story...

February 19, 2008 at 02:20 PM · Funny...i was just thinking about this.

Yes...there are times, when playing the violin, It just "isn't there" at that moment...and BOY do i get frustrated. The IwannaCryAndThrowSomething type of frustrated.

February 19, 2008 at 03:03 PM · Before coming to Japan, I had to learn the language and I wanted to learn it fast. So I attended several total immersion crash courses where we would study 6 days a week for 3 weeks. The material we went through in those 3 weeks was worth about a full year of studying Japanese at university. We had to memorise 50 new characters every day and in order to complete the daily "homework" we had to study very late into the night in the dorm, bringing the total study time per day easily to about 15 hours. For the avoidance of doubt, these courses were for adult learners only.

Anyway, we noticed a very weird cycle of all that material settling in. Most of the time we'd be totally overwhelmed and rather confused, but every two to three days, we would feel that things were becoming clearer, a vague sensation of "I think I got it". But every single time when this happened, we'd be totally confused and devastated on the following day, we'd feel that nothing made any sense at all anymore and all that which we seemed to have learned up to the day before was now gone all of a sudden.

The head teacher explained to us that this was no reason to panic but instead that it was a very good sign. "Your brain is learning, it's reordering everything right now, once it has done that, you are ready for more, so don't worry, keep going" he said.

Normally we don't keep such a crazy schedule when studying and so the cycle I described isn't all that apparent, but once you have experienced it this way, you will notice that this cycle happens all the time, even when you learn at a slow pace, it's less intense but it's there.

This experience has been extremely helpful to me ever since because now, when I study something and I seem to hit a wall every now and then, I no longer get frustrated. I know it's just one of those cycles, nothing to worry about, it will go away and I will have made progress as a result.

Another lesson I have learned from this is not to worry. Those of us who trusted the assurances of our teachers and didn't worry when the new cycle of brain-reorders-information kicked in, learned much better than those who did worry and questioned themselves and their ability to cope.

So, when you seem to have hit a wall, don't be frustrated, smile! You are probably just about to advance one little step further up.

February 19, 2008 at 06:31 PM · Benjamin K, this is by far the most encouraging and informative post I have seen in a long time, and especially so to all of us 45+ beginners wondering by Jon's calculations if we were going to learn anything before we kick the bucket. In fact, it makes me want to cram, cram, cram! I really do want to thank you. We need every ounce of encouragement we can get and this has got to come pretty near tops.

Interestingly as regards language learning, I recently started a class learning German. Attitude certainly has a lot to do with this, and I suspect, with violin learning too.

Our teacher gave us a song written out in German, very early on, after only a few hours of lessons. We were to listen to the song on a CD player (in a horrendously echoey room!) and fill in some gaps.

Now I am far from new to language learning, yet I was a tad horrified. "Don't worry," said our teacher. "We will listen to this 4-5 times, and even if you only get 3 words in there, you will have done OK". OK, thought I, I'll have a go. To my utter surprise, even though I often don't understand songs first/second time because of the 'interference' of music in my two native languages, after listening 4-5 times I filled in almost all the words and they were right bar one!

Another lady didn't have a go. Instead of looking at the printed sheet for guidance, she stared at the ceiling, at posters, at anything else and 'gave up'. She's since pulled out, along with her friend.

It really is amazing what can happen when you give your brain a chance!

Kudos to you for trying, learning and encouraging us all!



February 19, 2008 at 09:54 PM · I know how you feel. Playing the violin both aggrevates me and lifts me up. Golf is the same way: I love it and hate it at the same time. I must be a masochist.

February 19, 2008 at 09:57 PM · concur with bernadette, benj k, that post was awesome, worth some serious thoughts,,,

February 19, 2008 at 09:59 PM · Jascha Heifetz once said that to play the violin you need "the nerves of a bullfighter, the vitality of a night-club hostess, and the concentration of a Buddhist monk."

As a psychologist, I would add that in addition to Heifetz's list, you need

* the attention to detail, precision, and ability to tolerate repetition of an obsessive-compulsive neurotic,

* the energy and willingness to take risks of an impulsive person with ADD,

* the inner confidence of a narcissistic ego-maniac,

* And the bizarre ideas (such as, "Beethoven talks to me") of a delusional schizophrenic.

February 19, 2008 at 11:10 PM · Greetings,

>Jascha Heifetz once said that to play the violin you need "the nerves of a bullfighter, the vitality of a night-club hostess, and the concentration of a Buddhist monk."

I have the nerves of a night club hostess, the vitality of a monk, and the cowardice of a non-bull fighter. Doe sthat count?

Benjamin`s post took us into the realms of cognitive psychology. Teh proces she so poetically describes is the `restructuring` that occurs when our currnet mental model of a specific action/concept can no longer assimiltae new input into its currnet eddifice. The model collapses and reorganizes. During this process of restructuring the studnet is likely to feel thay they have actually diminsihed in ability. This is common acorss all fields of human endeavour.



PS I think I read that on a prune can

February 20, 2008 at 04:48 AM · I think one of the joys of being an adult beginner is that we can enjoy the journey. No one can pressure us into thinking that we should progress faster, unless that is our goal. Sometimes being able to produce that singular open note in proper intonation is a pleasurable achievement in itself. And you get to appreciate each note, as you learn to play it masterfully - one by one. And before long you find that you can string it all together and play a beautiful melody, albeit a simple one. Personally, I find the simpler melodies more poignant and satisfying, reaching deep into the human soul. I don't feel the same way when I hear the virtuosi doing their finger gymnastics, although that is perhaps a higher plane of music appreciation and performance.

Whenever I hold my violin, I ask myself why I'm trying to learn to play. And the answer is still the same: there is this mystery to music that I would like to grasp, this intangible, incomprehensible thing that grips me whenever I hear a beautiful passage. It can move me to tears, raise me to the high heavens, or lull me on tranquil waters. I want to be a part of it. I want to also make that sound that can bring joy, anguish, or even healing to the human heart. I don't think I need to be a vituoso to do that. And, regardless of what age I start, I will know when I have been able to achieve that goal. I will see it in the reaction of the people around me - not necessarily of the audience or the crowd, of judges in a competition. If I can see a genuine smile from anyone whose spirit has been uplifted by my playing, even for a short moment in time, then the journey is well worth it.

February 20, 2008 at 06:36 AM · Bernadette, I am glad you got some encouragement out of my sharing this experience.

As for your German lessons and using music/songs, I think this is a great technique. You might perhaps want to take this further than your class does and get some recordings of Schubert songs, many of which have melodies you can play on the violin in 1st position. This way you could combine both German language study and violin practise.

Last but not least, Bernadette, if your teacher lets you down for three weeks in a row, get rid of him/her, find another one. You have to have a teacher who is committed to you. Don't put up with one who doesn't care.

February 20, 2008 at 12:25 PM · I've been lurking here daily for a long time,and have finally decided that adding my two cents probably won't hurt anything.

In answer to the question, is learning to play the violin too hard?, I'd have to ask in return - compared to what? Certainly it's a lot harder than some things. Like, say, fabricating from a block of aluminum a nice-looking, highly polished, adjustment clamp to replace the cheap plastic one (that almost immediately broke - grumble, grumble) that came with the music stand. No problem there - I have a complete machine shop.

On the other hand, I'm finding that learning to play the violin is easier in many ways than it was to learn to play the organ (though I started that as a young child and didn't realize it was difficult. Probably the same applies to children learning to play the violin.). With the violin, one only has one line to read, and it's always in the same clef. No need to play with your feet, either of them. True, one uses both hands, but only one is doing the fingering.

Compared to any brass or woodwind? Though I've had it explained a number of times, it remains a mystery to me why they have to be tuned to something different. I'd rather play the violin. Which, obviously, I do. Too hard? No. Different? Yes.

February 20, 2008 at 01:49 PM · Another reason the violin is easier to play than the organ. Don't have to practice in unheated churches.

February 20, 2008 at 04:43 PM · To play violin well is easy. Playing the instrument poorly is difficult. Once you get past Bach and Mozart, everything is downhill.

February 20, 2008 at 08:10 PM · it's not nuts it awsom i love it!!!!!! i just stated back and love every min of it. just sit back and learn and live and get in to your music and feel it come to your fingers....

February 20, 2008 at 08:45 PM · "* the energy and willingness to take risks of an impulsive person with ADD,"

Hahahahaha Buri, maybe that's why some of us on here do have ADD (I've struggled to 'see' the advantages before now as often the disadvantages and struggles seem to outweigh them).

Benjamin K, I'm not sure how to go about getting recordings of Schubert songs here, but I will try. Thank you for that suggestion. Thanks are owed to your super teachers of Japanese as well - forgot that!

"I think one of the joys of being an adult beginner is that we can enjoy the journey. No one can pressure us into thinking that we should progress faster, unless that is our goal."

Putch, I have to admit, that for all the advantages and maturity that comes with being an adult, I still felt a pang of regret that I will never be able to enroll into the music school in our town as it does not accept adults (our kids can though), which means I will also not have the opportunity to play in the school orchestra which children can join during their fourth year at the school. I know of no other adult learners here - so for now I have to content myself with playing solitaire, and for the few minutes of piano accompaniament I get with my teacher during lessons. There is the added bonus of course of playing a duet with a child. I would give a lot to be able to play in an amateur orchestra/chamber group. Maybe if the kids keep it up we can do a trio ... but can't bank on it. Still, maybe my enthusiasm for music, which managed to 'infect' them will also keep the spark alive. So far, so good!

February 21, 2008 at 12:37 AM · Bernadette, if your local CD/record shop doesn't carry Schubert, you can always order online, search for "Winterreise" and "Swansong", for example Amazon has those ...



Also Wikipedia has some interesting info and links, there are links to free sheet music, too.

February 21, 2008 at 02:16 AM · Hi, Putch!

Glad to see you active and posting again here on v.com, kababayan! ;-)

I stopped thinking of the violin as being "difficult" or "hard" at the very same instant that I stopped thinking of myself in comparison with other people.

I realized that what actually stressed me out wasn't my own playing but my own fears of falling short of other people's expectations.

Now I think of it as a personal journey, one that I can take at my own pace, one step at a time.

Cheers! :-)

February 21, 2008 at 02:47 AM · My teacher said something enlightening the other day. something like

If you think of the violin as a challenge or enemy in everything you play, the violin will always win. It has to be a friend.

I think this philosophy of continuously developing a relationship with an instrument is much more satisfying and productive than trying to tackle "demons" in one's playing.

February 22, 2008 at 05:44 AM · Hi TJ!

I have a new teacher na, si Diwa. Having lessons again. I do think the violin is a bit hard to play, especially when the various techniques have to be demonstrated. But what the heck, I'm here anyway. Am going to enjoy it!

February 27, 2008 at 03:27 AM · Yebah! You rock, Putch! ;-)

February 27, 2008 at 04:33 AM · Bernadette, I am an adult beginner, still not done with Suzuki 1, but I play in an adult orchestra - in church. It helps to play in the orchestra environment because you have to push yourself to keep up with the others. Many times I am at a loss, especially when a new sheet of music is placed before me and I have to play it by the next second, but I try. And I find that I can play a bit, even just a few notes. Then I study it a bit more and I end up playing all of it. I suggest you try to find an amateur orchestra in your vicinity, or maybe there are other adult beginners in v.com in your area, maybe you could get together?

Timothy, yes have had two lessons from Diwa already. We are almost in the middle of Suzuki 1, Perpetual Motion in particular, and he's asking me to try to play it as fast as I can. I hope I can.

February 27, 2008 at 05:15 AM · @Putch,

I understand how you feel about playing in an orchestra even while you're still learning.

I went through a similar experience when I was younger. I had stopped studying the violin for a couple of years, but the instructor felt that I might remember things if he put me in the middle of the orchestra. So there I was, struggling to stay afloat among all these advanced students!

It does have its advantages, though: one learns to listen to his/her companions and eventually develops a feel of the proper sound.

February 27, 2008 at 05:39 AM · Hi Timothy,

Yes, right now in our orchestra, more than anything, I think we need to learn how to listen to each other the most. We have no conductor, so it gets a bit difficult to play together.

February 27, 2008 at 01:24 PM · Okay, yeah, playing the violin is easy. Playing the violin good--is hard. Menatlly and physically the violin has been hard for me because I have big goals for it, too.

February 27, 2008 at 06:53 PM · ever tried to play the oboe?

harder then hard to get a good tone out of it

February 27, 2008 at 08:15 PM · Just one quote I read today :-)

Life is like playing a violin in public and learning the instrument as one goes on. (Samuel Butler)

February 28, 2008 at 03:50 AM · I dont really know, but playing the violin has shaped my life drastically. I may be crazy sometimes, because my head is always full of music, tunes going off randomly, i tap off beats with my head, hand, feet, anything. whenever i see music, i try to read it. Yeah, some people might call me crazy. But i still liove playing the violin. so that probably makes me even more crazy. but guess what? its all worth it.

March 6, 2008 at 01:37 AM · Sue,

I've played both, and now I don't understand why we have horn and oboe players at all; it's so beastly hard you'd think they would all quit as children!

March 6, 2008 at 08:26 PM · There is a wonderful story about Sir Thomas Beecham. A woman came up to him and said that she wanted to start her 5-year old son on a musical instrument, but that she couldn't bear the purgatory of his practicing in the initial stages. She asked Beecham what instrument he would suggest. Beecham replied, "I have no hesitation, madam, in saying the bagpipes. They sound exactly the same when you have finished learning them as when you start learning them."

(source, "Beecham Stories," a book compiled by Harold Adkins and Archie Newman, published in 1978 in Great Britain by Robinson Books).

Another gem from this great collection included this comment from Beecham to a trombone player during a rehearsal: "Are you producing as much sound as possible from the quaint and antique drainage system which you are applying to your face?"

:) Sandy

Oh, what the heck.

- To an audience: "Ladies and gentlemen, in upwards of fifty years of concert-giving before the public, it has seldom been my good fortune to find the programme correctly printed. Tonight is no exception to the rule, and therefore, with your kind permission, we will now play you the piece which you think you have just heard."

- "Festivals are for the purpose of attracting trade to the town. What that has to do with music I don't know."

- (After conducting Bruckner's 7th Symphony): "In the first movement alone, I took note of six pregnancies and at least four miscarriages."

- (After auditioning a baritone for Carmen): "He's made a mistake - he thinks he's the bull instead of the toreador."

- "There are two golden rules for an orchestra: start together and finish together. The public doesn't give a damn what goes on in between."

- "What have we got this morning?"

"The Pathetique, Sir Thomas."

"Oh, well, let's see what we can do to cheer it up."

- [The harpsichord...] "Sounds like two skeletons copulating on a corrugated tin roof."

March 6, 2008 at 02:33 PM · What a character! Must get this book!

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