Survey about adult amateur violinists

October 6, 2008 at 04:34 PM · Hi, to make a short story, I am currently a college student in science. I am loaded with work and definitively miss time to practice my violin which is all my life and so important for me. Since I started old (14 years old), I can surely not become a professional musician and studies are so expensive that I can not take the chance to go in music and be without a job after... Since I still dream of playing really well one day, I know that daily practices will be part of my future life. I would practice all day without complainig but in the reality, only professionals can do this... Can I hope to have at least 3 to 4 hours of daily practice in my future life after my studies? I admit that I am quite discourage about this!

I am very curious about knowing the stories of any amateur violinist and would like to do a little survey:

-How much time a day are you able to practice?

- What kind of job do you have?

- Do you have kids or not? (that too is a job..!)

-How did you manage to do a minimum of violin during your studies?

- Did you start the violin in your childhood, teens, adult years and what is about your level or expectations... ?

- If you stoped the violin during your studies, have you been able to catch up or to play again? Was it very frustrating?

- If violin is your burning passion, how did you manage to keep a good mood and remain optimistic through your studies when you saw yourself having more and more difficulty to maintain your level (in my case collegial level)each day and that music is still your number one choice in terms of carrer in your "heart"... ?

THANKS SO MUCH to those who want to answer and feel free to add more things if you want! Thanks for sharing your story with me and everyone!

Anne-Marie

Replies (59)

October 6, 2008 at 07:30 PM · Hi Anne-Marie

Here are my data:

I do my best to practice every day. On some days it's easier than on others. The average is somewhere between one and two hours a day. And it's true: after three weeks it becomes easier.

I work as a medical microbiologist. It's not the most strenuous of medical jobs, but to me it's plenty stressful.

My wife and I have four kids, two of whom live in our house; the other two have left the house to study. Our twin girls (16) are still at school.

During the first four years of study, finding time to play wasn't too hard. The mornings were filled with lectures, and most of the afternoons and evenings were filled with whatever I chose to fill them with.

I started violin when I was seven, at first enthousiastically, but when it dawned on me how much work it was, my mother had to help me remember to practice.

My first teacher was a very nice man who did a lot to give the joy of music to me. At 18, when I started studying, I switched teachers. My second teacher, who was both strict and very amiable, taught me to play in a technically sound way.

With my third teacher I learnt that there are more ways to play than one. That was a joy, too!

I'm the only one in my family (two brothers) who has not studied in a conservatory. I wanted to be an MD. There are many doctors who play the violin as a hobby, but very few violinists who doctor for fun.

In 1998 I got ill and did not play for about five years. When I picked the violin up again, many simple things had become very difficult. It took a couple of years to feel comfortable and solid again. Violinist.com helped a lot.

The choices I've made entail that I cannot play as well as I would have been able to, had I devoted my life to music; but they were my choices, so there's nothing to get upset about.

I cannot say anything that would convey my level of playing. May this serve as an indication. If I went to a concert and heard it played like that I would feel just a little cheated.

C'est la vie.

Bart

October 6, 2008 at 07:27 PM · I started when I was 42 in 2005. I work for a major airline in NYC. My average practice time is 2 to 2 1/2 hours a day and I play second violin in a small string orchestra.

Giovanny Leon

October 6, 2008 at 07:23 PM · - How much time: I try an hour a day, I manage an hour every 2 days.

- My job: management in med-size high-tech company. What kind of job? Demanding and invading.

- 2 kids - and yes it matters for me. It becomes a struggle between taking care of the family or taking care of myself.

- I started violin somewhere around 6, stopped around 15 - that takes care of "managing during my studies", I managed to stop.

- My level is very intermediate indeed. My expectations are to improve within that intermediateness, and to enjoy myself.

- Did I manage to catch up? Catch up with what? I would say the violin managed to catch up with me.

- Last question: difficult to answer, since music has always been a passion for me, but never was a choice of career - just like cycling. I really like riding my bike, but have always been light-years away from the talent needed to make a career from it. Same with the violin.

I find it easier to balance family and work life with my bike riding than with the violin. I can get up really early in the morning and go ride for an hour on the roller in the basement, or ride 30 km outside, nobody notices or cares. I catch up with everyone else at breakfast. But I can't picture myself playing scales in the basement at 6 am... I can bring a pair of running shoes on a business trip and go run anywhere. I can't picture myself carrying my violin on a business trip...

October 6, 2008 at 07:41 PM · Oh, and after I finished writing all that, I went to listen to Bart's recording. Let me now say that I am very very very very intermediate. Not in that league at all. I wish I could play half as good as that.

October 6, 2008 at 08:16 PM · Dear Anne-Marie,

practice time a day: 45 to 60 minutes; longer, if opportunity arises and/or a performance is ahead;

job: journalist, musicologist, a lot of writing and research to do, deadlines to meet, which I hate;

kids: one son who turns two in December. Demanding (wife works as well), but for the weekdays he is in the kindergarten from nine to three; goes to bed between seven and seven-thirty; practice time after that (plus one cuppa to come to my senses again)

manage to practice during studies: at first, be doing it early in the morning; then, by putting up silent work (screen, reading etv.) till evening and night; overall by taking my time with my studies (patient parents, jobs at university);

started to play at six, but had my ears opened as late as twenty by a new teacher; don't know about the level, but romantic sonatas and Kreisler work fine, whereas the Scottish Fantasia proved to be too much;

did not stop;

yes, it is my burning b****y passion. There was very, very much inspiration by my last teacher, and some serendipity, as I found Bruno Monsaignon's "Art of Violin" just before my teacher took a post in another country. From then on, I took much inspiration from recordings and clips of 20th-century heroes -- you know, the Auer lot, the Flesch gang etc. Plus, performance opportunities came about twelve years ago when I entered a Caféhaus ensemble; next performance in late October.

Best,

Friedrich

October 6, 2008 at 08:25 PM · why, thank you, Robert!

October 6, 2008 at 09:09 PM · Thank a lot!

It is very interesting to read your stories! Even if it is not always easy to find time, I guess it is a matter of priorities and to manage to have a life style that fits with your violin. It probably means doing sacrifices like practicing your scales at 6 am in the basement (well, when the rest of the family is still a sleep it must be another story... ) Bart, your playing is really nice and my sister too is in med studies but she said she would never be able to practice. On your contrary, I am the only one who is crazy about music in my family since the other ones have typicals scientific heads! We could start another debate, is it harder for moms than dads to find the time to practice? But since I like kids but for now see myself without in the future, I can't comment about that!

Thanks and your stories are welcome!

Anne-Marie

October 6, 2008 at 09:59 PM · Bart it doesn't seem to work on this computer :( I will try when I get a chance from work or something.

do I consider myself an adult starter or an adolescence starter? I'm 18 years old.

How much time a day are you able to practice? Really depends. Sometimes 2-3 hours a day, sometimes 1hour. Sometimes 10minutes. It really comes down to how I feel when I come home, no point forcing myself if I come home with a raging headache or I have guests over (Which is quite often...) and I can't forget my friends to!

However when I first started playing violin - It was almost 3-4 days a in a week for 8hours+

What kind of job do you have? Sales

Do you have kids or not?Nope

How did you manage to do a minimum of violin during your studies? It never really affected my play time. I'm going back next year again (only part time however to 12hours per week)

Did you start the violin in your childhood, teens, adult years and what is about your level or expectations... ? I started in my Late Teens (?) a day after my 18th birthday - I've only been playing for 9months+ now. I'm not too sure what level my playing level is at, my teachers friend thought I was playing for awhile and said 'I was up there' though I'm not sure if she was trying to be nice or not haha.

If you stoped the violin during your studies, have you been able to catch up or to play again? Was it very frustrating? Haven't had the need thankfully!

As for the last question - yes I am very passionate about it (maybe borderline insane?); I REALLY can't describe it, its just one of those things that are ment to be ;) -

when ever I am having difficulties practicing, I just remind myself that if I keep it up trying I will have no trouble doing it in the future; just like with everything I've had trouble with and over-came then eventually mastered - I remind myself that those things I find simple and easy now I had a lot of difficult with before. With that perspective alone it lets me plough through everything.

October 6, 2008 at 10:08 PM · I started playing violin at age 8 and stopped at age 20. I started up again at age 45 (I am now 58). I work as a lawyer for the US government. I have two grown children (25 and 21). I practice between 25 and 60 minutes per day, at the lower end during the week and the higher end on weekends. I was frustrated when I restarted, although I was surprised at how well I could still play after 25 years of hiatus. Fortunately, I found a series of very good teachers who brought my playing back to where it was when I quit and then made me an even better violinist. I am a good amateur and have always been more or less at that level.

October 7, 2008 at 12:47 AM · How much time a day are you able to practice?

Aim for an hour a day minimum, but it ranges from 30 minutes to hour an a half

- What kind of job do you have?

Pharmaceutical company, very demanding, highly stressful job with a boss that does not think you have a life outside of work, LOTS of travel.

- Do you have kids or not? (that too is a job..!)

No,

-How did you manage to do a minimum of violin during your studies?

It's a matter of sacrifice. I hate it when my coworkers/boss questions me: how do you find time to do that with this job (kinda imply that I don't work hard enough!?!?), first I don't have kids, and I don't watch much tv, that frees up some time for me to practice. It's all about choices.

- Did you start the violin in your childhood, teens, adult years and what is about your level or expectations... ?

Nope, I played the piano as a kid and not too into it. I started playing 9 months ago, and obviously, I'm a beginner. My goal was to be able to play in a community orchestra which I'm doing right now, so I'm quite satisfied.

- If you stoped the violin during your studies, have you been able to catch up or to play again? Was it very frustrating?

Doesn't apply...

- If violin is your burning passion, how did you manage to keep a good mood and remain optimistic through your studies when you saw yourself having more and more difficulty to maintain your level (in my case collegial level)each day and that music is still your number one choice in terms of carrer in your "heart"... ?

Well, I do hit the wall all the time, but i love the violin so much, my biggest regret of my life is not having started it when I was a kid. But I never thought of music being my career... i enjoy playing it though.

I'm an adult beginner that started not too long ago, but it's very very well worth it!

October 7, 2008 at 04:43 AM · hi anne marie (btw are you a fellow quebecer?),

it's an interesting survey! and one that i'm particularly interested in too.

I started way later than you at the age of 25 (about 10 months ago). However, I practice anywhere between 1 and 5 hours a day.

I'm a fulltime musician too and am financially stable enough to practice the violin all day at the expense of practicing my main instrument (the guitar).

It gets tricky when i go on little tours, but i still bring my violin with me (i just got back from a week in Seattle and Portland).

I've only been playing for 10 months, but feel like i'm making ok progress... since i have freetime and do music fulltime, i decided i'd just push as hard as i can while i still can... we'll see what happens from there

btw here's a clip of me back in january when i had been playing for 3 weeks hahahaha it's not good but by then i had already been practicing 2-3 hours a day.

www.fleche-dor.com/yeuxnoirs.mp3

that's me for the first part (intro starting with the 3 finger pizzicato), then it's the violinist in my band, followed by a guest violinist, then me on guitar hahaha etc...

then me on guitar

October 7, 2008 at 05:03 AM · Interesting survey...

-How much time a day are you able to practice?

Between one and two hrs during the week, and 4-8 on the weekends.

- What kind of job do you have?

I am a software engineer herder (manager). I do alot of work with Asia, so juggling evenings free is a challenge.

- Do you have kids or not? (that too is a job..!)

No, but I have 3 cats (2 are fosters).

-How did you manage to do a minimum of violin during your studies?

I stopped playing consistently during college and in my early years of my career. I dabbled a bit, but no formal lessons, orchestras, etc. At that time, all my waking hours were consumed with study and learning my industry.

- Did you start the violin in your childhood, teens, adult years and what is about your level or expectations... ?

I started on viola (yes, viola, not violin) when I was 8. I'm somewhere in the range of intermediate and advanced. I started learning some cello about 5 years ago, but my primary instrument and my love is viola.

- If you stoped the violin during your studies, have you been able to catch up or to play again? Was it very frustrating?

I had a 25 year "break" before picking it back up again. Starting back up wansn't frustrating at first. That took a few years to develop :)

- If violin is your burning passion....

Viola is a passion for me now. When I gave it up for awhile at school, I had so many other things that consumed my time. Today however, I manage the best that I can. I bring my viola with me on business trips - even the overseas ones.

October 7, 2008 at 05:42 AM · Ann-Marie,

I am an older working adult and I just started to learn violin this year. I work full time in an engineering office as a data specialist. I don't see violin as my passion, but it is balances out the rest of my life. I try to find time to practice every day, but in reality I only practice about 5 times a week. It would help if I weren't married, because I tend to play late in the evening, and my wife goes to sleep much earlier than I do. Somehow being involved in this community on-line helps too; I'm not sure how.

I would like to take lessons much more frequently than I do, however I find I need to keep dropping out because my work schedule dictates my attention; I get frustrated when I show up for a lesson and I can't get focused on the violin. If I could get lessons at 11:00 at night, I would have time to purge the rest of the world and focus, but when new projects come my way, it is difficult to keep my music up.

I also have my grandkids over almost every weekend, and the 5 year old takes a lot of keeping up with; although I do have a cheap violin I let him play with when I practice. If I thought it was more than another toy to him, I would get him a fractional in a heartbeat, but I know he would play for a few minutes, then want to get swords out for a swordfight the next minute.

I play for myself. I would like to progress faster, however I find a wonderful relaxation in picking up the violin in the evening and just playing. I consider getting an electric, so I can play with headphones, but I really like the acoustics; I don't know if an electric would provide the same warmth.

Decades ago, I played the trumpet, trombone, and a short forray into the acoustic guitar; none have provided me what I feel from the violin. It may be the instrument, or maybe my age, but I really think that this is an instrument that has a soul, and it links me to something very deep. I do not care if I maintain a skill level, I'll settle for competence. This gives me much more than I expected.

October 7, 2008 at 07:11 AM · Marina F. is a very inspirational voice on this site. You should shoot her an email. Look her up in the directory or in any of the discussions.

I am a journalism/music major.

-How much time a day are you able to practice?

3 to 4

- What kind of job do you have?

I teach almost 30 students, a combination of private and group class students. That brings in all my dough as of now. Bills are gettin' crazy, however!

- Do you have kids or not? (that too is a job..!)

NO WAY!!

-How did you manage to do a minimum of violin during your studies?

Well, you really got to know how much time in the day you have and how you are going to split it up. I keep a practice log. I record how long I practiced each section and what my goal is for that section the next time I practice. I break my practice up into small sections. So at 9am I will practice 10 minutes on a G Major three octave scale in progressive rhythms. I go to class at 10 am and then get out and go and practice for an hour on scales and etudes. Then I teach and go to rehearsals and more classes. Then I spend my evening practicing more and recording what I practiced, why I practiced it, and how I will do better each time.

- Did you start the violin in your childhood, teens, adult years and what is about your level or expectations... ?

I started when I was 14. According to violinmasterclass.com, I am about a level 7, going on 8. My expectations is t reach level 10 and beyond by the time I graduate and one day audition for the Sphinx Competition. I want to be a professional violinist as well as a reporter. I never saw anything wrong with doing both. I mean, they do tell you you can be whatever you want, right?

- If you stoped the violin during your studies, have you been able to catch up or to play again? Was it very frustrating?

N/A

- If violin is your burning passion, how did you manage to keep a good mood and remain optimistic through your studies when you saw yourself having more and more difficulty to maintain your level (in my case collegial level)each day and that music is still your number one choice in terms of carrer in your "heart"...?

My "burning passion" for violin never let up, so I never second guessed myself on what I could do. I am going to become a professional violinist no matter what. And no one, can ever cool off this burning in my heart. Therefore, I have no choice but to remain optimistic, or else this fire might consume me.

Jazzy

October 7, 2008 at 11:21 AM · -How much time a day are you able to practice?

Usually around 45-60 minutes a day. Sometimes up to 90 minutes on weekends. Some days, unfortunately, it is zero minutes.

- What kind of job do you have?

I am a project manager in an academic lab that does research on neurodegenerative disease. Previously I worked in the biotech industry on drug discovery for neurodegenerative disease.

- Do you have kids or not? (that too is a job..!)

I have two children, ages 5 and 9.

-How did you manage to do a minimum of violin during your studies?

I played in the university orchestra for 2 years in college. However, I quit violin altogether while I was getting my Ph.D. and started again when I was a postdoc. I started again after I broke up with a finacee whom I had been living with. It was like a new beginning: new apartment, new cat, pick up the violin again.

- Did you start the violin in your childhood, teens, adult years and what is about your level or expectations... ?

I started violin in public school, when I was 7. I started again after my PhD when I was 28. Then I quit again 5 years later to have kids. I started again 2 years ago when I was 40. I'd say I'm an advanced student. I'm not independent and will always be a student.

I started playing the viola when I was 32 and played for about a year then. I quit it too when I quit to have kids. When I started this latest time I included viola quite seriously, more seriously than the violin.

But I'm currently playing violin, not viola, in a local community orchestra. I am sitting concertmaster for this concert, but I believe the position will rotate for other concerts and there are 4-5 other players in the first violins who can also fill that role well.

I like to perform locally for small audiences, in church and at the farmers' market have been two recent venues. I like the idea of integrating music into family life and the life of the community. I work with my 9-yo daughter who takes violin lessons in school, in a similar program to the one where I started.

I'm still mostly terrified of being on a "real" stage, except as a member of an orchestra or chamber group. Stage fright has gotten much better for me as I've gotten older, but it's still always present.

- If you stoped the violin during your studies, have you been able to catch up or to play again? Was it very frustrating?

See above. It hasn't really been frustrating at all, either time I re-started. Both times I seem to have gotten more mature over the break and become a better student. The first time I reached my former level in about 6 months of practicing and taking lessons. This time I think I've reached that level around now, after 2 years. But since I've also added the viola (and a blog) I feel like there's so much that I have to learn that there's no time for frustration.

Except vibrato. I take it back. That can be frustrating.

- If violin is your burning passion....

Violin was not my burning passion during school. I made a conscious decision to major in something else when I went to college, and to go to graduate school in something else. For a while my studies in neuroscience could have been called my burning passion.

But after a while I realized I'm not really a "burning passion" sort of person. I'm more of a "balanced life" sort of person. I'm not happy unless I have a bunch of different things going on and I don't like to concentrate on one above the others.

October 7, 2008 at 12:56 PM · Hi Anne

My routine is to get up about 5:00. Not by choice, that just happens to be when my internal alarm goes off, I've never been able to do anything about it, and I find it difficult to sleep beyond that. I walk two to four miles, then practice until leaving for work, so I get in about an hour and a half every morning. Then I try to get in another hour in the evening.

Job. Dentist, general practice including orthodontics. My wife and I work together, which is a great thing for us. I understand that some couples cannot work together, but we get along very nicely. Dentistry is very demanding, mostly because it requires one to work very closely with people (who don't want to be there) all day, and some days, many days, we get home exhausted. We just cut back from five days a week to four,and that's been a help. Playing the violin is a great stress reliever. Or maybe, thinking of working on those fast passages, stress changer.

We have two sons, both adults, so we have the house to ourselves and (true confessions) five cats. We're suckers for abandoned kittens.

My music background - started classical organ at age ten, and continued until starting dental school at age twenty-four. At that point I was forced to admit that, much as I enjoyed playing the organ, it was not a practical instrument for one not playing professionally. For one thing, it's not very portable, though with the advent of electronic keyboards that is less of a problem, and for another, unless one is the regular organist at a church one almost never gets to perform on his or her instrument. You are always playing on an unfamiliar instrument. I had wanted to switch to the violin for some time, having always loved the sound of the instrument, and that same year I purchased a hundred-year old Romanian violin of known history. Unfortunately, I was not able to find a teacher while in school, or afterward (we moved to a small Oregon town), or after that during our nine years in Africa. So, in answer to the question about finding time to practice during other studies - I didn't. It wasn't until five years ago that I was finally able to start lessons, and I've been hitting it hard ever since.

The years of organ study were a definite help in taking up an entirely different instrument. Reading music is no trouble, and having only one line to read is great - I don't think I'd want to be making a reverse switch, from years of violin to organ, having to learn to read three lines simultaneously, and worry about playing with both hands and feet. That said, there is enough about the violin that is harder than playing the organ.

How do I manage to remain optimistic? When I get discouraged about how a piece is coming, I go back and play something from a year or two ago. That helps remind me that I am making progress.

Best wishes to you.

Gary

October 7, 2008 at 02:36 PM · -"How much time a day are you able to practice?"

I try for an hour a day.

- "What kind of job do you have?"

I work in accounting/customer service

- "Do you have kids or not?"

Only of the canine and feline variety.

- "Did you start the violin in your childhood, teens, adult years and what is about your level or expectations... ?"

I started playing in school at 9 years old, never took formal lessons. I quit playing completely in my early 20s.

- "If you stopped the violin during your studies, have you been able to catch up or to play again? Was it very frustrating?"

I picked the violin up again at age 36 and have taken lessons for 18 months. It took about 8 months to reach the approximate level I was at when I quit. The most frustrating thing might have been unlearning bad habits, but the experience was more exhilerating than anything.

- "If violin is your burning passion, how did you manage to keep a good mood and remain optimistic through your studies when you saw yourself having more and more difficulty to maintain your level (in my case collegial level)each day and that music is still your number one choice in terms of carrer in your "heart"... ?"

I think I just keep my goals in mind. When it seems tough, I just take a step back, remember why I'm doing this (for the love of it), and regroup and forge on ahead. My goal is to be able to play solo pieces with confidence for friends and family, maybe even for the general public. I just want to be able to make music. It's pretty simple.

October 7, 2008 at 03:23 PM · I started four years ago. I'm just finishing Suzuki book two, so definitely a beginner.

I do practice in the basement at 5 am. Doesn't seem to wake any one up. I have two kids in grade school, a job that is pretty much full-time, which includes a fair amount of travel. Whenever I can, I bring my violin on business trips.

I practice 30-45 minutes a day, most days, and I practice at least some everyday.

Would I progress faster if I practice more? Sure. But I'd probably get paid better if I worked more, be at a higher belt in TKD if I practiced more, and felt more at peace with balance if I could do all that and spend all the time I want with my husband and kids.

It's all a balance. But I do know that my practice time in the basement each morning are moments of peace for me, and I think that helps balance everything else.

Best of luck,

Ann

October 7, 2008 at 06:59 PM · Still, thanks to everyone, I really realize that everyone is different and that everyone approches music, jobs etc in a differnt way! I really think the tough part is studies grr... but after it depends on the way you organize things. Yes, Denis, I am from Québec and thanks for the link!

Thanks,

Anne-Marie

October 8, 2008 at 12:46 PM · Like Tom, I returned to the violin recently after decades of neglect. I was a lazy, and lousy, student at school, but like to think things are different now...

Work as: software engineer, 3 hours commuting a day.

Practice: when I can and have the energy left but not every day. Weekly lessons and orchestra practice in season. I do a lot of very useful mental practice reading scores on the bus (don't laugh, it works for me).

3 young boys, learning a variety of instruments. Wife plays basic cello, so we attempt various combinations!

My wife knows me as someone prone to passing enthusiasms, but this one looks like being permanent. No musical career ambitions of course, but a strong desire to be the best I can. I love the way you keep uncovering new levels of technique in a seemingly endless process. As you start to get on top of one aspect, something else appears over the horizon. Out there somewhere is the truly musical performance. One day...

October 8, 2008 at 01:59 PM · Mungo, I do a lot of work on the bus too! I usually just follow my own part (not the whole score) as I listen to the music on my iPod. All of the comments I've gotten have been positive. People tell me what instruments they play, what instruments their children play, what instruments they used to play. They ask when the concert is. They say "good for you"!

October 8, 2008 at 02:30 PM · I still practice (violin and cello) every day, at age 74. Now I find daily practice even more important than ever before in the 70 years I've been playing. I don't wear myself out practicing, but I do at least some Bach Suites on cello and some orchestra music or a Mozart concerto (sic) on violin.

I play violin in a community symphony orchestra, cello in a piano trio, and cello in a string quartet. I've been doing similar ensemble playing since I was 14, except in my early 20s when I was in grad school and just had time for some practice on my own.

I really recommend ensemble playing to provide continuing goals for one's playing. I don't really enjoy performing for audiences, but I will do it as the price I pay to retain in my life the ensembles and other musicians with whom to play. However, in my teens I really did enjoy performing .

I've also done some string teaching since my early 30s and continuously for the past 25 years or so.

I think it is a big help if you can even put in 5 minutes of playing/practicea day - just to keep your "muscle memory" alive and try to enjoy the music you can make.

Andy

October 8, 2008 at 04:07 PM · I have sold a couple of adult astudents violi theyns (older than 40). Both of them told me that always loved the sound of the violin, but never had the time to learn. Both aslo suggested that it had a calming affect on their sailey lives.....AND that it was cheaper than visiting a shrink!!!!! ;-)

GG

October 8, 2008 at 04:26 PM · How much time a day are you able to practice?

***I try to practice 30 minutes to an hour daily...

- What kind of job do you have?

***Development...

- Do you have kids or not? (that too is a job..!)

***Yes, a big job and they are both violinists

- Did you start the violin in your childhood, teens, adult years and what is about your level or expectations... ?

***Adulthood. No previous musical experience. Have played for 3 years, and just finished Suzuki book 3. Also playing in youth orchesta (a big kid). Hope to join community orchestra when I am ready. I listen to A LOT of music, and especially those pieces I am working on. Using Barbara Barber books also, and Wohlfardt violin book 1 for sightreading (a challenge to learn, but getting better..)

October 8, 2008 at 04:31 PM · Hi, Anne-Marie

-How much time a day are you able to practice? A minimum of 3 minutes. Some days I miss, but I try to do at least that. Sometimes, if there's something I'm playing in, or if I'm going to play for a meeting or a party for something, or if I want to work on something, it is of course a lot more on a daily basis. But I am sure to put in 3 quality minutes every day.

- What kind of job do you have? I'm a clinical psychologist, and I do several things as a professional at a consulting service provided to individuals and businesses outside of the university community.

- Do you have kids or not? (that too is a job..!) My wife and I have 2 daughters, but adults. (It's still a job)

-How did you manage to do a minimum of violin during your studies? Go to my website and read my article on how I did it. It ain't perfect, but it worked for me. http://www.iit.edu/~marcus/violinpractice.html

- Did you start the violin in your childhood, teens, adult years and what is about your level or expectations... ? I started at about age 9. I'm an amateur, and I can get through some Mozart and some movements from Beethoven sonatas. The usual Vivaldi and other pieces. I had great teachers, and learned to play in tune, cleanly, and with some feeling, but I'm not that advanced. I did get to work on the Bruch, Bach, Mozart #5 concerti and a few other things.

- If you stoped the violin during your studies, have you been able to catch up or to play again? Was it very frustrating? Yes, haven't caught up yet.

- If violin is your burning passion, how did you manage to keep a good mood and remain optimistic through your studies when you saw yourself having more and more difficulty to maintain your level (in my case collegial level)each day and that music is still your number one choice in terms of carrer in your "heart"... ? I maintained my interest because I love my occupation and committed to it, and my interest in violin playing started to take the form of learning about the history of violin playing and the biographies of famous musicians. I also do a lot of writing and speaking. So that kind of makes up for not playing....somewhat.

Sandy

October 8, 2008 at 04:34 PM · -How much time a day are you able to practice?

Usually from M-F 2-3 hours a day. On weekends around 4 hrs.

- What kind of job do you have?

I work as a translator at an engineering company.

- Do you have kids or not? (that too is a job..!)

No, I don't.

-How did you manage to do a minimum of violin during your studies?

I follow a self made schedule to organize each hour of my day.

- Did you start the violin in your childhood, teens, adult years and what is about your level or expectations... ?

I started at age 24 (3 years ago). I go to a private teacher twice a week. Last year I finished Suzuki book 4, we then quit doing Suzuki books. I am now finishing to polish Thais Meditation by Massenet. We also work on technique books (Flesch, Schradieck, Polo, Yost, Kayser studies). I plan on pursuing music as far as I can. I also play at a local orchestra.

- If you stoped the violin during your studies, have you been able to catch up or to play again? Was it very frustrating?

I hope I'll never quit the violin. I took piano lessons as a child along with music theory. Back then I seriously hated music, I never even practiced piano at home. Now I have way more free time to practice violin, plus I have tons more self discipline to just focus on practicing.

- If violin is your burning passion, how did you manage to keep a good mood and remain optimistic through your studies when you saw yourself having more and more difficulty to maintain your level (in my case collegial level)each day and that music is still your number one choice in terms of carrer in your "heart"... ?

Even though as my violin studies progress, they get more difficult, it is also more enjoyable to play it now than at the beginning when I barely knew anything. Yes, it does get harder but also better!

October 8, 2008 at 05:07 PM · - How much time a day are you able to practice-

*I practise between 2-4 hours a day with almost no exceptions unless I am going out of town.

- What kind of job do you have?

* I am a university/college student

- Do you have kids or not? (that too is a job..!)

* No I don't have kids, and I don't think I'll be having them for quite some time yet.

-How did you manage to do a minimum of violin during your studies?

* Either get up REALLY early or stay up late. I sacrifice sleep.

- Did you start the violin in your childhood, teens, adult years and what is about your level or expectations... ?

* I started when I was 22 years old. I'm not too sure about my level, according to violinmasterclass.com, I am somewhere between a level 3 and 4

- If you stoped the violin during your studies, have you been able to catch up or to play again? Was it very frustrating?

* I haven't had to worry about that

- If violin is your burning passion, how did you manage to keep a good mood and remain optimistic through your studies when you saw yourself having more and more difficulty to maintain your level each day and that music is still your number one choice in terms of carrer in your "heart"... ?

*Violin is my burning passion - but I don't feel like I am having trouble maintaining a skill level. I just practise every day. Some days I think I sound better, other days, it sounds like garbage LOL! but you gotta look at the light at the end of the tunnel. All of those super awesome violin players got to where they are because they put in the time. So to me, its just a matter of time. ;)

October 8, 2008 at 05:32 PM · How much time a day are you able to practice?

I practice daily. At least 2 hours every evening, sometimes more. I practice 4 hours or more on Sat and Sundays

What kind of job do you have?

I'm a psychiatric social worker, working in a Supervisory position at a Hospital. (MSW, LCSW) I work 9-5 M-F. I also have a long commute to my job (about 110 miles roundtrip) from the suburbs of CT, to NYC. I've been doing it for 7 years, and haven't lost my mind yet :-)

Do you have kids or not? (That too is a job.)

No kids, Thank God. It's not for me :-)

Did you start the violin in your childhood, teens, adult years and what is about your level or expectations...?

I started playing as a child, and quit after a few years. I then went on to study guitar. I have worked professionally as a guitarist. My last 2 bands were signed to major labels, and I've enjoyed moderate success. At 36, I'm burnt out from late nights, hauling heavy equipment around, and the rock music scene in general. For years, I worked a full-time job, and I also worked F/T with my bands. At 36, I just can't do it anymore. I’m too old ;-)

I started violin lessons about a year and 1/2 ago. It did not take me long to pick up where I left off. My background with guitar helped me learn quickly. I would say I'm at an "intermediate" level right now. I'm working on the Bach Unaccompanied stuff, and I'm supposed to be starting a Mozart concerto this week. I play 2nd violin in a College Orchestra that my teacher’s husband conducts.

If you stopped the violin during your studies, have you been able to catch up or to play again? Was it very frustrating?

It was hard to readjust to the instrument, after being away from it for 20 years. I am very committed to practicing daily, and being as good as I can be. I used to practice guitar 8-10 hours daily in my teens and 20's. I don't have that kind of time anymore. Basically, all of the free time I do have right now goes to violin. I'm enjoying being a "beginner" at something again. I enjoy making music in a "low pressure" situation. I’m having a lot of fun with it. Playing violin has helped me to rediscover my passion for music. It’s been a healing thing for me.

If violin is your burning passion, how did you manage to keep a good mood and remain optimistic through your studies when you saw yourself having more and more difficulty to maintain your level (in my case collegial level) each day and that music is still your number one choice in terms of carrier in your "heart"...?

I was accepted to several music schools for guitar when I was a teenager. My parents refused to pay, and did not support the idea of me making music a full time “career”. They wanted me to have a secure job with financial stability. Thank God I listened to them, or I'd be as poor as dirt right now ;-) I’m actually very happy with my career. I earn a great living, and have the time and $$ to pursue my hobbies. I know many guitarists that went to conservatory that have not had any of the success/opportunities that I had. "making it" is more about timing, and luck than anything else.

It's my Love of the violin, and how it sounds that helps me persevere through the challenging/difficult times. I also know from studying guitar, that you get out what you put into it.... You can’t enjoy any of the glory, unless you are willing to make sacrifices for the instrument.

October 8, 2008 at 06:58 PM · -How much time a day are you able to practice?

All over the map, really. I aim for every day. I might get in a 2 hour session on weekends vs. on weekdays when I have something in the evening (more often than not, that something is orchestra rehearsal/performance or chamber music) I used to let it slide but now I make a point of doing what I can… usually 15 minutes or so

- What kind of job do you have?

computer programming

- Do you have kids or not? (that too is a job..!)

nope

-How did you manage to do a minimum of violin during your studies?

Unfortunately I didn’t, I was in science at university… a really tough programme & the violin fell by the way-side for about 4 years.

- Did you start the violin in your childhood, teens, adult years and what is about your level or expectations... ?

- If you stoped the violin during your studies, have you been able to catch up or to play again? Was it very frustrating?

I started when I was 7, but never really worked all that hard in my formative years. I took up lessons fairly soon after finishing university, continued for a little over 10 years during which time I started to get involved in group music- first orchestra, then chamber music – and the violin definitely became a burning passion at this point. Because of all of my musical activities I took another 5 year break from lessons (longer than intended) & have just started back up again.

I honestly can’t say how good I was after the first 10 years. I didn’t play much with others & there were some seriously talented kids at my school to skew the basis of comparison. At this point I am an advanced amateur still striving to improve… and still frustrated by where I could’ve been if I’d stuck with it a little more, but friends I play with have told me they think I could play professionally. I do paying gigs alongside professionals on a regular basis.

- If violin is your burning passion, how did you manage to keep a good mood and remain optimistic through your studies when you saw yourself having more and more difficulty to maintain your level (in my case collegial level)each day and that music is still your number one choice in terms of carrer in your "heart"... ?

as mentioned before, for me the violin became a burning passion around the same time I finally got involved in group playing on a regular basis. Playing in orchestra & chamber music has become a huge & incredibly fulfilling part of my life. It is my motivation & if I had done it sooner I may have kept up the violin throughout university

October 8, 2008 at 07:46 PM · Thanks again, I enjoy a lot reading your stories! Sander Marcus, thanks for the link, I really like your approch towards music! In fact, music and performing is so much linked with psychology. To be a good musician, you got to fell winner but ironically never take things for granted, you must be very calm and confident but at the same time, things go so fast in your head and once the "moment" is pass, it is too late... So the overall feeling is between alertness, fast reflexes and almost meditation!!! Think about your favorite players and clips you saw about them... I noticed that their attitude is often this funny mix! But it is only my opinion to say how the mental is so involved in music. And one very efficient way to feel winner is like Sander Marcus says on his blog, it is so true...

Thanks!

Anne-Marie

October 8, 2008 at 08:03 PM · -How much time a day are you able to practice?

***I usually practice 3 hours a night except when I have a rehearsal or a practice, but never less than 1 hour. I also manage to practice on my lunch breaks during the week. I get a lot more practicing in on Saturday and Sunday usually in three separate sets of 2-3 hours each. Not all of my practice is on my instrument though but on score study, memorization, and other stuff like that. But I will say that I sacrifice a big part of my life to be able to practice that much and I’ll be the first to admit that it might not be the most “balanced” way to live. But that’s the privilege of being single… :-)

- What kind of job do you have?

***I’m in Legal / Real Estate – my work defines the “desk job” :-)

- Do you have kids or not? (that too is a job..!)

***I don’t have kids (well, not human kids anyway)

-How did you manage to do a minimum of violin during your studies?

***I didn’t manage – except for freelance work to pay the bills I didn’t play with any ensembles nor do any chamber work. I didn’t even manage to practice that much except right before an upcoming gig or event.

- Did you start the violin in your childhood, teens, adult years and what is about your level or expectations... ?

***I started when I was seven and played obsessively until I was 21 and I haven’t met my personal expectations of myself yet. But all things considered: never having had a private teacher until nine months ago and stopping, almost completely, for 10 years, I’m happy that I’ve maintained my intermediate / advanced level and look forward to consistent improvement.

- If violin is your burning passion, how did you manage to keep a good mood and remain optimistic through your studies when you saw yourself having more and more difficulty to maintain your level (in my case collegial level)each day and that music is still your number one choice in terms of career in your "heart"... ?

***Violin is my passion and I didn’t/don’t fight the bad days – there were days when all I could was come home and hold it like a guitar and pluck it for a while. But for me, I’ve always seen my “music” as a way to reconnect with myself and put my whole world back into perspective. So even, if I wasn’t accomplishing much technically I was able to keep the love I had for it strong.

Hang in there – your life will balance out again and you’ll find the time to play. Good luck!

October 8, 2008 at 08:30 PM · How much time a day are you able to practice?

60-90 minutes

- What kind of job do you have?

I'm a doctor, and work plus commuting is 13 hours a day.

- Do you have kids or not? (that too is a job..!)

Nope.

-How did you manage to do a minimum of violin during your studies?

I started playing violin two years ago, after finishing medical school and residency. I don't think I would have been able to play during residency, at least until the third year, due to the schedule (80+ hours a week).

- Did you start the violin in your childhood, teens, adult years and what is about your level or expectations... ?

I started as an adult. I hope to be able to play for family and friends someday, and play some easy chamber music with other amateurs.

- If you stoped the violin during your studies, have you been able to catch up or to play again? Was it very frustrating?

I do sometimes get frustrated, as my progress is quite slow. I try to remember that my goals are long-term ones, and that I have made progress.

- If violin is your burning passion, how did you manage to keep a good mood and remain optimistic through your studies when you saw yourself having more and more difficulty to maintain your level (in my case collegial level)each day and that music is still your number one choice in terms of carrer in your "heart"... ?

It's important to maintain balance. Of course your studies need to be your first priority, but chances are good you will be able to find some time for your music. Have realistic goals - you may not progress much musically, so have a goal to maintain your skills, and most of all to enjoy playing.

October 9, 2008 at 12:31 PM · I had the advantage of first majoring in music on viola, so I did at one time achieve the level of a major orchestra or professional string quartet musician, I am no where near that good anymore. When I decided to enter Engineering School, I slowly decreased playing and pretty much stopped for about 5 years. I then got involved with a community orchestra that got me started again.

Practice time, from 0 to 2-3 hours depending on what's coming up. I am fortunate to have been taught very good technique, so I can put it together even if I have gone some time without practice. Even when I don't practice, I play a lot and can still concentrate on maintaining technique in the course of playing.

I am an Engineer in the Aerospace Industry by day and am violist in a string quartet that plays over 100 gigs a year by night and weekend, and often perform at church, and occassionally get opportunities to perform concertos and recitals. I am concertmaster of the local community orchestra and teach a full load of students one night a week.

I have not had a teacher since Conservatory, but have often thought that finding a coach would be fun, and keep me motivated to learn new repertoire. I would like to learn and play a violin concerto with my community orchestra - I only really know concert viola literature, but have been learning a lot of violin orchestra repertoire since I was asked to move over to violin to be conertmaster of the orchestra.

Married, 2 kids, 2 cats, one dog.

A sample of my playing can be found at www.fortestrings.com navigate to the music samples, Amazing Grace opens with a viola solo, and then in All I Ask of You, there is a viola solo not too far in.

October 9, 2008 at 07:05 PM · Still thank you, I all wish you good luck also in your respective projects! Daniel, I will go very soon see the video!

Thanks!

Anne-Marie

October 9, 2008 at 07:27 PM · Hi Anne-Marie

I studied violin at college and have always played viola too, however I've been working in IT for over 10 years now. To answer your questions:

-How much time a day are you able to practise?

Twice a week for an hour or so if I'm lucky

- Do you have kids or not? (that too is a job..!)

We have a daughter but my partner prefers to bring her up abroad on her own.

- Did you start the violin in your childhood, teens, adult years and what is about your level or expectations... ?

When nearly 10, but within a few years it was the main thing in my life. Viola about 13.

- If you stopped the violin during your studies, have you been able to catch up or to play again? Was it very frustrating?

I don't realistically have time to keep violin up to my former level, though I apply myself to making a decent job of orchestral parts when required. What I'm doing now is relearning violin pieces on the viola - Bach G Minor sonata, Hora Staccato (at same pitch), La Campanella and Wieniawski B Minor caprice (from Primrose album) at present.

- If violin is your burning passion, how did you manage to keep a good mood and remain optimistic through your studies when you saw yourself having more and more difficulty to maintain your level (in my case collegial level)each day and that music is still your number one choice in terms of carrer in your "heart"... ?

This doesn't really apply to me, but there were a few years, 97 - early 2000s, when I wasn't serious about playing and gave myself the chance to let it drop.

October 9, 2008 at 09:31 PM · Amateur violinist describes a wide range of talent. I know a former member of major orchestra who is now a physician and an "amateur" but clearly a very capable one.

I think only the top professionals (not even major orchestra musicians) can really say that they can participate in music at every level. First of all it takes a prodigious technique and huge musical sense to be able to learn and play a wide range of chamber and solo music. Then it requires opportunities to play and they don't grow on trees. I think that Joshua bell can say 'I want to play the Brahms String Sextet' and someone will quickly have 5 other players signed up.

The best outlet for amateur musicians is a community orchestra. Many amateurs find the repertory too hard, some find it too easy and hardly anyone is satisfied with the level of ensemble playing in amateur groups.

If you can find a congenial pianist (I married one) you can play Sonatas and other duo music but the piano parts for the major sonatas are a lot harder than the violin parts and finding a pianist up to a few of them is a challenge. Finding a pianist who can play a lot of them is a major challenge. (I have been fortunate that my wife can play the Franck Sonata but we also have four children (now mostly raised) and she hasn't had time to whip out a new Sonata every year. (We also play Beethoven No. 5, Brahms No. 1, Grieg No. 2 and No. 3 and several others, but that isn't a huge number.)

Practice as much as you can and don't give up study entirely.

October 10, 2008 at 12:07 AM · Thanks,

Corwin, what you said is absoluntly true! I would enjoy more chamber music and solo music than group playing. I think you need solo performing because it is the opportunity to work on your sound and to make the "stage your friend". So many people say they are ok in a group but to scared to be alone (not really since you play with a pianist!!!) and you need to play with others to develop your tempo feeling! I think in chamber music you can make real friends and everyone is respected and recognize to its real value, it is more intimate and you don't feel like a number! Lucky you to have a wife pianist! Yes, I should hang around in piano faculties... (Joke)

By the say since I was studying maths and was really sick of it, I took time to do a little arithmetic. If you do a baccelar in music (3 years) ans a master (3 years)and you practice 9 hours a day, you will practice 19 710 hours. If you play as an amateur lets say from 30 years old to 50 years old (20 years)4 hours a day, you will have play 29 200 hours! (of course I don't count the hours you played when you were young in either case) So, maybe it is the mathematic proof that you can get it even if it is slower... Better late than never! I suddenly like maths...

Good luck!

Anne-Marie

October 10, 2008 at 12:59 AM · Hi Anne-Marie,

I played as a child and began again after a hiatus of more than 20 years. I've been practicing for 6 years now and I am much more accomplished than I was back then. However, my demanding schedule (two part time jobs, plus parenting a disabled child) means practice time is hard come by. Even when I can find time, my carpal tunnel syndrome forces me to take frequent breaks. So it's hard to say just how much I practice- certainly it's as much as I possibly can! Even though I will never be professional quality, I love to play. Usually practice time is the best part of the day!

October 10, 2008 at 06:09 AM · Corwin,

how true! There are probably more amateurs who, like me, are in the Groucho Marx position: "I wouldn't want to be part of a club that accepts me as a member."

Bart

October 10, 2008 at 02:35 PM · Thanks,

Nancy, I admire your courage! As I was reading your story, I almost felt guilty of saying that I find it hard to miss time to practice during my studies because it will be over one day even if it is in a few years. Some people have to constantly fight to find time to practice each day of their lives and overcome injuries. I hope you child realize what an extraordinairy mother he has! All the best, you deserve it!

Good luck!

Anne-Marie

October 10, 2008 at 03:27 PM · “The best outlet for amateur musicians is a community orchestra.”

I do love orchestra and I continue to play in one (rather than 3 or 4 like I used to), but for me an extra bonus of orchestra is the opportunity it provides to find other people who love chamber music. You could also find people in your area by joining ACMP. For me, chamber music is the best outlet, followed by orchestra. It’s much more flexible schedule-wise, there’s more one-on-one time with the people you’re playing with, so it’s ultimately more social, you have more of choice in terms of who you play with and what you play, it requires much less commitment, it doesn’t have to involve performance unless you want it to, having one person per part is generally more rewarding than playing in a section, it often takes place it nicer surroundings and it often involves yummy food. The list goes on...

October 10, 2008 at 07:13 PM · -How much time a day are you able to practice?

Varies a huge amount, can be as little as half an hour, or as much as 3 or 4 hours spread out over a weekend afternoon/evening.

- What kind of job do you have?

I work in various areas of music management and administration.

- Do you have kids or not? (that too is a job..!)

No kids.

-How did you manage to do a minimum of violin during your studies?

I majored in music (BMus Hons) so no shortage of playing opportunities or time during my studies and I probably spent too much time playing in various orchestras when I should have had my head stuck to a book in the library!

- Did you start the violin in your childhood, teens, adult years and what is about your level or expectations... ?

Apparently I was a very musical child right from the start who was reading music before she could read words, but because I was diagnosed as having a severe hearing loss at about age 4 and a half, my parents tried to keep my music just as a fun thing. However they weren't successful and eventually realised music and music-making was really extremely important for me. So I started violin lessons at 12 and was able to play in a pretty good local community orchestra by the age of 15.

At present I'm working on Beethoven Violin Concerto and Bach C major Solo Sonata in my lessons.

- If violin is your burning passion, how did you manage to keep a good mood and remain optimistic through your studies when you saw yourself having more and more difficulty to maintain your level (in my case collegial level)each day and that music is still your number one choice in terms of career in your "heart"... ?

Having majored in music it was never a problem to keep up the playing during my studies and in the immediate period afterwards when I started work in music management, but there was a long period when I stopped playing almost completely for quite a few years because I was depressed at not being at the level I wanted to be and knew I could have been at. I started playing "properly" again back in around 2000 and for the past year have been having lessons with a very inspiring teacher which has opened up a lot of new musical and technical doors to me as a player and musician (i.e. using baroque bow for Bach etc.) I also bought "Johannes" who has really inspired me to work on my playing as well!

I've recently joined a community orchestra again. I have to admit I still wish I'd pushed myself and my parents harder when I was younger as perhaps I'd then have achieved my goal of being a professional musician. But who knows where we end up heading...? I still have a lot of passion for music and love playing it, writing about it and working with/for top musicians who share my passion for it.

October 11, 2008 at 06:17 PM · - How much time a day are you able to practice?

I still average about 30 - 45 minutes per session, 6 sessions a week. This is a lot less than most on this site! But I've been playing for less than a year, so I'm not anywhere near the levels of most on the site either.

- What kind of job do you have?

Office job with evening meetings

- Do you have kids or not? (that too is a job..!)

Nope

-How did you manage to do a minimum of violin during your studies?

I can't on nights when I have a meeting that ends late and I don't get home from work until 10 or later. So I try to practice longer the days before and after.

- Did you start the violin in your childhood, teens, adult years and what is about your level or expectations... ?

I played in about... must have been 5th grade or so. Then I picked it back up last year before I turned 30 and started from the very very beginning.

- If you stoped the violin during your studies, have you been able to catch up or to play again? Was it very frustrating?

I wish I had never quit!

Good luck to you. My only advice is that you say you want this to be your career... if so, there is no reason to give it up during college. Stick with it!

October 12, 2008 at 09:02 AM · Hi there, that is a very interesting subject close to my heart I've just started a violinschool for adults who always dreamt of playing the violin but either did not have the time or the money or thought you got to start at age 4. !2 people answered my ad and showed up for the first lesson.None of them came with the idea of becoming a soloist but all wanted to see if they could do it and would it be fun as well. within a month most of the twelve return my violins and bought one of their own and do their home work and come to every lesson.The pay is minimal as I don't do it to make money but out of a passion I want to share.

We have grouplessons and the teacher in the next room to mine can't believe how fast my pupils learn. We will all be playing at old Age homes over the Christmas season. They practise daily for at least an hour they all work and have children and grandchildren. My youngest is 28 and the oldest is 84.We spend time on theory and exercises and "real" music.They could never afford to go to a regular teacher ,and learn from each other as well. We do lots of variations in music like questions and answers which is the biggest hit. they actually don't want to stop and that way learn by heart as well as reading music. Most of them have never played an instrument before and could not read notes. you can't imagine what this has done for their selfesteem.Afterwards we usually go for coffee and celebrate LIFE.

October 12, 2008 at 08:00 PM · Louise, THAT is exceptional. Good on you for recognising the need and working a way to meet it. How though, will you cope with 12 adults who want to take individual lessons to work on their individual skills development. Cause you know they're going to want to :)

October 13, 2008 at 12:28 AM · Louise, that is relly cool for your students! At least they don't feel anyone is laughing of them because they are adults!

Great initiative!

Anne-Marie

October 14, 2008 at 06:43 AM · Thanks for the comments.I get daily inquries from more interested parties. The group grows by the week. A good friend who plays with me in the orchestra has come in to help, and as I still go to a teacher myself ,we have told everyone that once they feel we can't teach them enough they can move on to the next teacher.We bring the newcomers up to strength and they join the existing group.Soon we will be moving to bigger premises and as it is not a financial deal we get a large room at the municipal library for free. We charge 50 Rand per lesson which works out to 6 dollar.And that is for a private lesson if they want it as well.This is a group that would not be playing if they had to go to a private teacher!I'm forever on the look out for old violins, which I repair and set up myself. I learned this and is one of my hobbies.

In our first lesson we teach how to look after your violin and clean it and tune it.

The proudest moment is when they come back and it is (almost ) in tune. After 4 lessons everyone can play a simple tune(french folksong) by heart.So they learn to listen and concentrate without having to read the notes. So far it all works well and I hope to do this for many more years.The lesson is one hour but mostly last well into the 2nd hour with everyone wanting more.....

October 14, 2008 at 07:53 PM · I have sold two violins to folks in their mid forties. Both told me it was something they always wanted to do. It has a calming affect on their daily lives.... and that it was cheaper than paying a therapist!!!! ;-)

October 14, 2008 at 10:15 PM · Greetings,

I have a student who nearly carved uop her family with a kitchen knife after being pumped full of all manner of drugs for depression.

The violin has been a major factor i her getting back t a normal, well adjusted life.

Who says music is a luxury?

Cheers,

Buri

October 14, 2008 at 11:47 PM · Yes, Stephan and Giovanni, you are wright on the effect that violin has on the mental health. I notice that when it goes bad in my practices or when I don't have time to practice and miss my violin, I'm not in a very good mood (I don't touch to kitchen nives thought!!!) and the contrary is true also. I think all musicians who really love their instruments feel like this because violin is a part of who you are after all... But, don't try to explain this to a non musician because you will get send with the crazy ones! Music is really therapeuthic!

Anne-Marie

October 15, 2008 at 02:26 AM · As a late adult beginner in violin, I don't have the right to say that violin is my life, but I do miss my violin alot when I'm traveling and unable to bring it. When things get stressful, I love to just play, whether it's a piece of music or just playing scales, it helps me tremendously.

October 15, 2008 at 02:45 AM · PM Rolf,

YOu may be in luck! I am working on a new portable version of the violin. In early testing, the pocket violin sounds a bit brittle, but the inflatable version has too soft a sound and it does not carry much.

When I get out of alpha testing, and ready for beta testing, I will come to V_Com to find testers. Don't hold off on the purchase of your next violin, however.... it may be a few years before I have a usable instrument.

October 15, 2008 at 06:34 AM · Here goes!

How much time a day are you able to practice? I try to get something in most days when I can. The max is 60 mins and it can be as little as 10 mins. Unfortunately there are plenty of days when I don't get the chance.

- What kind of job do you have? I run two not-for-profits amongst other bits and bobs :-)

- Do you have kids or not? (that too is a job..!)

Yes, 3 - 11, 9, 7. Whenever I pick up the violin, it encourages them to practice so I end up putting it down again to help with their cello, violin or piano! I'm now having to teach my 9 yr old violin which is making me re-examine what I'm doing when I play which is helpful.

-How did you manage to do a minimum of violin during your studies? No, I gave up when I went to Uni as I didn't major in music.

- Did you start the violin in your childhood, teens, adult years and what is about your level or expectations... ? I started when I was 6, did Grade 8 in the UK when I was 14 and stopped at 18. I would like to be good enough to keep up with my trio partners but they are accomplished professionals so that's pretty unlikely. I would like to stop feeling like I'm slowing them down though!

- If you stoped the violin during your studies, have you been able to catch up or to play again? Was it very frustrating? It is frustrating, my technique is nowhere near as good as it was at 16 and I can't hope to play some of my former pieces for a while. But I am still pleased I picked it back up and hope that my hands stay nimble enough for long enough to get back to where I was.

- If violin is your burning passion, how did you manage to keep a good mood and remain optimistic through your studies when you saw yourself having more and more difficulty to maintain your level (in my case collegial level)each day and that music is still your number one choice in terms of carrer in your "heart"... ? It wasn't my burning passion as I gave it up.

October 16, 2008 at 02:48 PM · How much time a day are you able to practice?

I practice 4-5 times per week; I aim for at least 45 minutes per session on weekdays and up to 2 hours per session on weekends. It usually adds up to 6 hours per week.

- What kind of job do you have? I'm a graphic designer (print, web and broadcast).

- Do you have kids or not? (that too is a job..!)

Yes, 5 kids - the youngest is 20 years old and they're all living on their own, so I have more free time than I used to.

-How did you manage to do a minimum of violin during your studies?

I'm not in school but it is a challenge to get in enough practice time with a full time job and a 1-hour commute (each way). Sometimes I practice at work during lunch breaks and other times I'll practice at home in the evening while dinner is cooking. If I feel as though I didn't get enough violin during the workweek, I make up for it with longer practices on the weekend.

- Did you start the violin in your childhood, teens, adult years and what is about your level or expectations... ?

I started 2 years ago, at the age of 43. I did have previous musical experience (singing, and playing french horn and guitar) so I've progressed rapidly... I'm in Suzuki book 4 and have been shifting and doing double stops and vibrato for a little over a year, so I guess I'm at the intermediate level. My expectations are modest, I would love to join a community orchestra and maybe participate in amateur chamber groups. This is just something I enjoy doing, and have no expectations of becoming a professional.

- If you stoped the violin during your studies, have you been able to catch up or to play again?

N/A

- If violin is your burning passion, how did you manage to keep a good mood and remain optimistic through your studies when you saw yourself having more and more difficulty to maintain your level (in my case collegial level)each day and that music is still your number one choice in terms of carrer in your "heart"... ?

The violin is one of my passions. It has gradually moved higher and higher in importance, and I'm now finding myself dropping other activities so that I can spend more time on my music. When I was first learning to play, I got frustrated by how awkward everything felt and how bad I sounded... sometimes I didn't even want to take my violin out of the case because I would cringe so much at the horrible sounds I was making. I'm getting to the point now where my muscle memory is kicking in, and it sounds like music, hooray!

October 17, 2008 at 06:56 AM · Oh my gosh! This thread certainly touched a chord in my heart. I'm a professional writer and amateur violinist AND I LOVE IT!

-How much time a day are you able to practice?

I honestly have no practice schedule to speak of! I play when the mood strikes me, sometimes even at 2am despite a very long day at work! Even when I do pick up my violin, I would play anywhere from as little as 5 minutes to 3 hours.

-What kind of job do you have?

I am a professional writer. I'm currently employed as a Senior Copywriter for an advertising agency, but previous stints include technical writing for an electronics journal and a financial news website; speechwriting; curating for a small art gallery; and lots of other stuff.

I also write fiction, but I wouldn't call that a 'job' :P

-Do you have kids or not? (that too is a job..!)

No kids ATM, and no plans to have them yet!

-How did you manage to do a minimum of violin during your studies?

Long story short, I did what I could! I looked for any available teacher and got whatever time slot fit into both our skeds.

-Did you start the violin in your childhood, teens, adult years and what is about your level or expectations... ?

I started regular formal lessons when I was six years old, but I admit that I wasn't as passionate about playing as I am now. So when the school I was attending closed down, my lessons stopped.

In my teens, I took lessons from different teachers from different schools because it was so hard to find a good schedule.

I made the most learning progress when I was already working in my early to mid 20's, because there is a music college situated just a few blocks away from where I worked at the time.

-If you stoped the violin during your studies, have you been able to catch up or to play again? Was it very frustrating?

I stopped lots of times!

The first, longest, and hardest time was when I was about 7 years old after my first year of study. My grandfather left for the US so I had to stop. I wasn't particularly interested in playing anyway, so I didn't mind. At the insistence of my grandfather after he came back, I took it up again... some FOUR YEARS after I stopped!

It was very difficult for me because I was put in the second violin section of the junior chamber orchestra WITH LITTLE TO NO VIOLIN PLAYING AND NOTE READING SKILLS AT ALL! I had been taught the basics before, but had completely forgotten everything in the intervening years. My teachers felt that immersing me in an orchestra environment might jog my memory.

As I recall, I had to learn everything all over again on the fly... It was like learning to swim on your own while you're stuck in the middle of the ocean!

Fortunately, I survived and later on found my love for the violin. Good thing too, because when the school closed down, I drifted from teacher to teacher, getting whatever instruction and pedagogy I could get. I don't think I would've been able to go through all that if I hadn't decided that I liked to play in the first place.

-If violin is your burning passion, how did you manage to keep a good mood and remain optimistic through your studies when you saw yourself having more and more difficulty to maintain your level (in my case collegial level)each day and that music is still your number one choice in terms of carrer in your "heart"... ?

Simply put, I learned to love the journey! :)

There was a time when I felt extremely frustrated because (1) I wasn't as advanced as I could have been if I had kept up my earleir lessons, and (2) I didn't seem to have the strength or willpower to practice daily for at least three hours, unlike my other violinist friends -who I perceived to be more successful than me.

However, I realized that I didn't HAVE to be a concert-level violinist! I discovered my "comfort zone" and just took things from there!

The analogy I always use is an image of drivers: You can be a hotshot Formula 1 driver if you really want and push yourself to, but there's nothing wrong with just being a casual Sunday driver right? There are things to be said for taking things easy.

October 17, 2008 at 02:33 PM · Have you thought about finding a way to quantify all of these responses? Maybe on the non-quantifiable items, some sort of rating system like that used in surveys. What do you think?

Sandy

October 17, 2008 at 03:01 PM · It’s been great reading everyone’s responses, but for me there’s a question missing:

What are you doing now to make the violin a part of your everyday life?

October 17, 2008 at 07:00 PM · Louise, Your school sounds wonderful. I hope I can find something of the sort when I settle where ever I end up...I retire tomorrow. Two cats, the dog, one blonde fiddle and I are getting into the RV and taking off for the coast.

I started violin again after some fifty years away...for comfort and to occupy time during the long cold Wisconsin winters.

No kids.

Fiddle/violin is a peaceful refuge, practise is part of the daily routine that gets me up in the morning. Not the center of my life but a part of the foundation.

And this community is a delightful opportunity to "meet and greet" wonderful people I would never otherwise encounter, hear and very occasionally participate in discussions that inform and entertain.

All the best everybody, I'll check in as I come upon wi-fi spots, Carol

October 17, 2008 at 07:49 PM · Still thanks to everyone!!!

I don't have any words to say how grateful I am to all those who wrote on this page. Your stories are so interesting! Still, good luck everyone! Sander, you are right, it would be nice to have a way to count the results such as

Daily practice:

0 to 1 hour X % (a pourcentage)

2 to 3 hours x %

3 or + hours x %

not every day x %

Jobs (to see how much amateur violinists are they in each field)

office jobs x %

artistic jobs x %

Health care x %

student x %

etc

We could also make statistics on age, kids or not and try to see what influences the hours that a worker can put in his daily practice...

BUT I dont really have time to do it since I have the answers in your stories but THIS SURVEY IS TO EVERYONE AND IF SOMEONE HAS TIME TO ORGANIZE THE RESULTS IN A SPECIFIC WAY (WHAT IS ABOVE IS ONLY A SUGGESTION) IT WOULD BE VERY INTERESTING AND PLEASE GO AHEAD! If someones likes statistics or little graphics, feel free to present the results on your own way.

Christina your question is great and if someone has another one, put it!

I can try to answer it: in my case, I do a lot of sacrifices to try to play some violin while studying sciences. To be honnest, I always feel guilty. I feel guilty when I play violin and should study, I feel guilty when I study and I should be practicing! I don't sleep ennough, I should exercise moore even if I'm slim because I eat well. I think music brings your life more complicated but it is one of the most beautiful and rewarding things! I do think that (like with anything else) if you want to enjoy it and make a little progress, you HAVE TO MAKE IT A PLACE IN YOUR LIFE even if it is just 15 min a day or if you skip a day, at leat 5 min of listening your favorite player or score reading etc And find things that keep your interest in music, that makes it something special ex: litening music is helpful because it makes me realize that it is a long process even if I admit to be very frustrated on some days when I miss time... Also, this site is wonderful. Going to concerts, playing in a group or preparing for a concert are all things that can only make your interest towards music bigger each day!

Have a nice day!

Anne-Marie

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