adult beginners

June 23, 2009 at 10:19 PM · i decided at age 25 to pick up a violin for the first time, after having looked @ playing violin as a dream that i'd never pursue. it's now been a couple months since i started, and a month since i found an excellent private instructor who i take lessons with once a week. i couldn't be more happy about my decision to start playing, and am so excited for what's to come! it's so inspiring to have found this site, especially seeing how many other adult beginners there are floating around, as well as teachers with experience instructing adults. i'd LOVE to hear some of your stories! when did you start? what made you decide to finally pick up the instrument? what did/do you find most difficult during the learning process? what's your biggest accomplishment thus far? any advice for a fellow beginner? i can't wait to hear your stories!

Replies (42)

June 24, 2009 at 02:00 AM ·

Hi, first of all Bravo!  As an late (teen) starter, I support so much people like you and can understand too... See my bio by clicking on my name for the long bla bla.  In short,(well not so short sorry!)

-started at 14, immidiately fell in love but with no support except a super violin since beginning (my big luck in this journey so far) Many tendonitus, big stage fright problem (you know the teen's insecurity of a 14 years old girl...) Violin changed all my life and plans. 

- got into a conservatory to try to become a professionnal (knew it was hard and learned how much more it was to get a job as a performer/orchestra... my dream) Took the bull by the horns: took two years of part time school to catch up and lived what I didn't know was going to be my life's best experience (music minimum 5 hours a day like in that time + hours of ear training/theory) I had the practice shedule of a professionnal musician.  It was fantastic to play for hours.

- made it to violin and theory collegial level (was happy but realize that it is steel kind of weak for my dream and the age I had etc. Not to mention I am not the most coordinated thing on hearth : )

- So, made a drastic survival choice and went in college science hoping to go in university in somekind of health care job. (I am now at college)

-  Now it is my life toughest part (surviving non musical studies) but it might make me stronger in a way.   Hopefully, I want to push my amateur musician life to its furthest and my life goal is too one day sound like the pros in my pieces (which are at my level of course).  

What am I the proudess in terms of personnal goal/achivements.  My sound technique or musicality (when warmed up and of course I'm not saying it's perfect).  Since childhood, people who knew me, used to say that I had a very musical head even if in my context, it was never expoited.  Later on, I discovered (comments by physical education teachers and because my brother was found with serious coordination problems) that body coordination and strengh was not in my blood... (in my genetic)  I think I tried to compensate this with a little sound obsession.... (I'm REALLY obsess about this)  Or is it just the need to play my heart out to "pass over" my physical problems and forget them for a moment.  This disparity between my head that is 1000 light years ahead of my body creates odd things.  My teacher says that I have maturity before technique and that it is easily misjudjed because we usually see the contrary and don't even think students can think musically by themselves.  In violin exams, I have often pass for a lazy talented (my relatives know I am work 100 %, talent 0 %) because of this and have often recieved comments like: you have the great sound, why not work a little more too have the technique also...   (fast scales, arrpegios, double stops, and passages where you have to show off your coordination... is my nightmares)

On the other hand, this sound obsession usually serves me well on gigs where I am usually ridiculously good to fake "talent".  For non-musicians, everything that sound emotional is undoubtly coming from a good musician...  (one can be technically much better but with a boring non entertaining sound and thus can be under rated in gigs).   I have had super comments in gigs when I cannot even play a scale decently...  (no lies)  (I am not talking about all the crazy circus I did before these gigs to actually sound ok but then again, my sound obsession forces me to do this mega warm-up "circus" at home lol.  shhhhhh ; -)

So, my advice to all adult beginners (you surely have a thing better than the other things in your violin technique.  you surely have one hidden talent if you are not lucky ennough to possess everything right which is quite uncommon anyway...)  Push that aspect, PUSH PUSH PUSH and you will be on a good way to make it become a sort of  a " trade mark" (yes this is not only for pros contrarly to the popular belief!)  Of course, practice everything to have a balance! Also, have the best teacher possible. 

Good luck!


June 24, 2009 at 01:15 AM ·

Glad to hear you are enjoying yourself. I restarted at age 35 after quitting in middle school. I am lucky to have a good teacher also, which has made all the differance.

I had been listening to irish fiddling and started to really become interested in picking up the violin again and have been playing for a year now.

June 24, 2009 at 02:26 AM ·

Same thing with Eric here, I started when I was 35. I had a thing before that I wil try to learn or do something every year, the year I turned 35, I run a marathon, and I say to myself, that there is one thing to beat that, and that is to learn the violin. I have been a patron of classical music, but not like most adult beginner, I never had any background in music, the only music background I have was back in high school, when my music teacher told me not to sing, for obvious reason that I can't sing, plus she said that I am a hopeless case in music. ( Can't blame her though..I wasn't interestd in music subject at all, at least at that time) 

I can't sing sure, but a "hopeless case" in music in general? My father always says that if you can read and you can count you can do everything you want to, and talent always can be learn, so, I was up for a challenge, and I never look back ever since, and that was almost 5 yeras ago.

Learning it and playing it is always the most beautiful and frustrating time of my life, but no regrets or whatsoever.

I owe that to my teachers, the high school one, and the other 2 who keep up with me.

I am glad that I took the step and thank God for teachers and this site, and I am loving every minute of it.

thank's for this thread!

June 24, 2009 at 03:10 AM ·

   I guess the best way to put things is I have always had a hidden love for music but never had a chance to do much with it or to see if I had what it would take to play an instrument . My grade school time was spent with instructors who would rather work with those you already had either the desire , skills etc then to try to awaken it it those that did not know they had it or were to shy to ask ...  Now at age 50 (well 49 +) and going through a divorce not of my choice I needed to hold on to something ,, a place that I could go , a "happy place ", a point of focus that lets me deal with all I have lost and will lose  ... ALso the good fortune to rediscover the family Violin stored away years ago in the attic at the family farm . An instrument far better than my current skills or efforts, to hear the magic of the music it puts forth in the hands of my instructor or my luthier makes me long for the day I to will have the skills and heart to share it's warmth and joy.. This is what has set much of my efforts in motion that and the day that the clouds of saddness will leave and the joy of the sun shining once again  ..It has been about a year now that I  have been taking lessons, once a week . To date I struggle to meet what my teacher explains to me as to "lay a good foundation", hopefully I will really start to make music in the next few months .... I stuggle with the bad habits of learning to keep time tapping my foot , it seem just as I am on the scratchy edge of making music it wants to stop to listen .... timing goes out the window ... my other bad habit is I peek at my violin , it does not help in reading the sheet music ...very easy to lose one's place or not see what is ahead .


June 24, 2009 at 05:28 AM ·

I  started playing guitar at 16 during the end of the "great folk scare"and the early Beatles and Beach Boys. The 60's happened, then the 70's and 80's. Terrible. Finally, 90's, discovered guitar players playing fancy fiddle tunes. Wasted time blowing out my arm trying to play fiddle tunes on a mandolin. Age 56 picked up a fiddle. Irish tunes are the way to go to learn the violin, much more fun than teachers and their scales. Now age 60, I know I can do it. Mentally, it's very tough to learn. 100% concentration is required. You're still a kid, you can do it too.

June 24, 2009 at 12:33 PM · oh my goodness, thank you SO much to everyone who has responded! it's amazing to see how different everyone's circumstances were when beginning to play, yet how similar at the same time. i really appreciate everyone's advice and the fact that you shared your own personal stories. i, too, like many of you, had VERY little background in musical training...i played clarinet for a year in middle school and my heart wasn't at all into the instrument so i quit right before the learning got very advanced (when it was time to join the marching band come summer, i chose to wield a colorful flag for the colorguard instead). probably the one upside to my clarinet experience was learning to read music, and amazingly enough remembering the basics of reading music enough to make basic violin sheet music easy enough for me to get through. anne marie, i think it's AWESOME that you're back in school...i'm sure the change from conservatory musical learning is a whole other world, but you can do it...kudos for taking the first step and even trying! that's the hardest part!!! (i'm in the process of going back to school to finish my english degree, so i know about that too!). i love what you had to say about pushing that one aspect of your playing that you do well and making it a trademark of sorts...very encouraging not only to myself but probably everyone reading this thread! thanks again to everyone for sharing, i'm very much enjoying these stories and appreciate the encouragement:o) AMAzING.

June 24, 2009 at 03:04 PM ·

Well I suppose I must be the "old fart" in this thread.  I was 47 when I started.  I'm not sure if I am still an adult beginner or an intermediate player.  But my story begins years ago, when my daugher was in 5th grade.  I used to listen to her play her viola from school and whine about how she didn't like to practice.  I loved the sound of her viola, and wanted to learn it as well.  I even thought if we practiced together, maybe she would like it more.  (I grew up in the '70's, when programs like music and art were slashed in the school budget).

However, my taking lessons was not what my daughter had in mind, and she voiced her concerns to my husband that if I played with her (or played at all) she would feel as though I was competing with her.  So I was told viola for me.  At least not at that time.  So, I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Years went by.

The feeling I had stirring inside grew worse as time went by, and eventually I told both my husband and daughter that I wanted to play, that I NEEDED to try to play.  A week later, a package arrived in the mail, and I could tell by the shape what it was.  But when I opened the case, I was shocked.  "That's not a viola," I said.

"It's a violin," my husband said, "It LOOKS like a viola, so get used to it.  I have an instructor lined up for you next month."  That month seemed like the longest wait of my life.  When I first put bow to string in my lesson, it was like magic.  I could not understand why my daughter was so tired of playing her viola.  Apparently, she was not feeling the magic that I was - even though I was playing an instrument I originally did not choose, I nevertheless fell in love with it.

Two years into my violin lessons, my daughter quit the school orchestra.  She did not care if I played her viola or not.

I have to say, I am now approaching the end of my third year on the violin and the end of my first year on viola.  I feel like Harry Potter - surrounded by magic.  Each instrument creates its own spell - its own world.  My arms miss holding them if I am out of town or my job prevents me from my normal practice.  I get grumpy if I am 'away' too long.  After a long day or a bad day - they are the perfect antidote.  I play when I'm happy.  I play when I feel sad.  I play when I'm tense, and each time, the magic works.  I'll have to explain that another time, I suppose, but I feel so blessed to be among the ranks of older students who have experienced music at a later time in their lives.

--Ann Marie

** after-note.....I ordered an upgrade to my student viola last week, and it arrived yesterday.  It is an amazing instrument --- far larger than my student instrument, with a lung capacity that has amazing projection.  The C and G strings are so deep I swear they sound like a cello.  The instrument is so magnificant I named it "Adonis".


June 24, 2009 at 03:21 PM ·

I, too, am an "old fart" violin beginner. I'm 46 and started playing the violin 2-1/2 years ago. I'd always wanted to try the violin because my grandfather was a fiddler, but ended up playing other instruments instead (the french horn and guitar) and singing in choirs. Finally decided to take the plunge and now I wonder why on earth I waited so long. I just love it so much! I think about my instrument (whose name is E.J.) all day every day, and sometimes I take him out of the case just to look at him because he's so handsome. But I can't look too long because my fingers are itching to make music.

My advice to you is play because you love to play. Don't compare yourself to other players. Don't limit yourself. Enjoy the journey and wherever it may take you, whether it's just playing for yourself or someday joining an orchestra or chamber group.

June 24, 2009 at 03:31 PM ·

 Hi - Sharing my story too. I got it in my head when I was 40 that I wanted to play some Maritime and Irish tunes on the fiddle. I'm a stepdancer, but needed something to do between dances. Luckily, I found a local teacher who was both talented and patient. We did about a year meandering through celtic tunes, when he convinced me to go the Suzuki route. Now I'm sorry we didn't start on it right away. Having a proper curriculum makes me feel far more confident with where I'm at and where I want to go.

I'm almost finished Suzuki book 2, and at the end of lessons, we go over an Irish tune or 3 for fun. My family rolls their eyes when I say I'm just going to play violin for 10 minutes, because I'll disappear for hours. Time just falls away. I feel the same way about it as Ann-Marie and Elinor, but they say it much better than I could.

Jessica - if I could have started at 25, I would be soooo good by now. I wish you all the best, and hope you never stop playing.


June 24, 2009 at 05:02 PM ·

I'm an adult who began in February of this year.  In a few short months I have gone from sounding like someone who doesn't play the violin, to sounding like someone who plays the violin badly!  I don't care about sounding brilliant at this point, as long as there is consistent progress, day by day, week by week, month by month.  While I'm comfortable teaching myself things, the first thing I taught myself about violin is that one very much wants to find a good teacher.  That has helped a great deal. 

I"ve also developed an intrigue with the technology itself, and am following Manfio's violin making posts with interest.  That is something I will have to teach myself unless I can find some classes at a community college or something, so any high quality web content such geniuses put up are very much appreciated.  It is extremely generous to go to the trouble of freely sharing such information.

June 24, 2009 at 05:09 PM ·

Do adult relearners count?

June 24, 2009 at 06:42 PM ·

 I started playing violin about a year and a half ago, when I was 25 as well. I'm working on a graduate degree in physics, which takes up most of my time, and I wanted to find a hobby that wasn't technical to get a little balance in my life. For a long time, I never considered taking up music, probably because I wasn't really exposed to music when I was young. My underfunded public school's music lessons didn't really inspire me either. I did play the bagpipes for a long time in a marching band, but it's not something you can pick up at the end of the day to relax and lose yourself in. Also, a full set of bagpipes aren't really suited to apartment living in a big city. I chose the violin simply because it is such an expressive instrument, and there are so many different directions you can go with it. I started by renting an instrument, and taking some lessons. I really started to enjoy it, and a year ago, I bought my own instrument, and have been getting better (slowly) ever since. Making time for practice is still an issue, and I'm well on my way to giving myself a case of tendonitis in my shoulder (that's what I get for not listening to my teacher when she tells to to keep my shoulder down), but I'm really enjoying it, and playing duets with my wife on the piano is a lot of fun. As I learn more about music in general, I'm finding that I appreciate it more as well. 

June 24, 2009 at 07:42 PM ·

What is it about 35? ;)  I'm an adult re-beginner. I started at age 9 with the Suzuki method. But I stopped private lessons at 15, when I went away to boarding school. I continued playing while away, but with the band (made NO sense) and a couple of dysfunctional ensembles.

I started playing again casually when my son started 2 yrs ago. This past January I started private lessons. It has been the most rewarding and humbling experience. I just had an overwhelming need to finish Suzuki - get through book 10. I'm not sure that's what will happen, but for now I'm using it as a marker. It's a great mental workout and easy hobby to have being home with two small children.

I've now joined a casual violin group of other adult beginners/re-beginners. We're working towards a 'concert' in December. This has been the most difficult part - I can't read music well at all! So frustrating, yet so good for me. 

Good luck with your adventure! It is so nice to see so many other adult beginners!


June 24, 2009 at 07:47 PM ·

Yes, Royce, re-learner counts!

C'mon, bring it on!

June 24, 2009 at 07:48 PM ·

Hello everyone, I think I'm the oldest fart to start at 67 last year.  I did play when I was 13 to 14 years old and quite.  I sometimes get lazy with my practicing thou.  My brother who is a trumpet player in the Bay area is always on my case about that.  I expect to much from myself.  Any ideas about motivating me would be greatly appreciatied.

June 24, 2009 at 09:05 PM ·

Well Esfira you do not have a unique age position in the adult replay business.  I too am 67.  I played when I was younger, from about 6 yrs old to about 18-19 when I went into the US Army.  Gave it up then although I was just finishing the Bruch Gm as well as Bach, Mozart 3-4-5 Vc and a myriad of other pieces.  About 6 lessons ago I resumed taking lessons with some vigor.  William Fitzgerald (he's a teacher in Irvine, ex student of Dorthy deLay ) recommended a luthier  in Newport Beach of all places.  Looked at several violins bought one and concurrently signed up for lessons.  My teacher is a young student of Horautan Bedelian in Irvine.  Bedelian was a long time student of none other than Nathan Milstein--so there's some connection with my favorite violinist of all time.  My fiddle is very nice but not like my Vuillaume (which I stupidly sold).  So if things go well I'll be in the market for a good violin, maybe even a good Vuillaume again.  Its fun to know of late starters again.  ps  I found my original teacher--he's retired, 93 years old and living in Hemet, CA  What a small world. Best of luck to all us late starters!!!  Charles Bott 

June 25, 2009 at 12:00 AM ·

WaY-To-Go Esfira!  Good For You!!!!!

Well Elinor.... if you just have ta' know?

For me........ I began to listen to more solo violinsts' CDs.  A short time past by and I heard the Advant Guarde Cellist Zoe Keating and emailed her.  She emailed Me!  Anyway, it triggered memories, many I totaly had forgotten, of when I use to play.  I realised that after 23 years there was a gaping hole in my soul.  It was a hole left in me the day I stopped playing.  Classical, folk, Advant Guarde.... My mother sent me my ribbons that I got when I use to play.  I had been looking for something to do that would challange me, a dream that I could chase!  I cannot hike, or cycle like I once could.  And when the desire to play again became a fever..... I bought a violin, some books and began to play.  Mom bought me a better violin from a Luthier in Colorado Springs, money she worked to save up.... to by me the violin she wished that she could have bought me when I was in college.  The one my stepdad bought for me when I was in college was junk... to frustrate me to quit playing so that I would become a construction laborer, a real job, and give up this music nonsence.  And he succeeded in bringing me to a nervous breakdown, see my profile page.  And I have been playing just shy of two years... doesn't seem like it. And to my former stepdad.... ya' know.... after two years and it's all coming back...... you're wrong...I'm pretty damn good even if I do say so myself....a crap load of other people think so too!  :^D

Royster B. Fiddlestyx ;)

June 25, 2009 at 01:49 AM ·

Royce--that is a beautiful and Very inspiring story.. Zoe Keating emailed you? tht is way tooooo coooolllllll!!!!

You Made it!  that is the most important thing, because you and your mom and those who love you, make it happened it for you. Give yourself a pat on your shoulder, for taking that STEP, love got you through it.

My very BEST!

June 25, 2009 at 02:55 AM ·

I seem to be an adult starter and a late bloomer :) I started violin a day after my 18th birthday. (15th december hehe)

I studied music in my final 2 years of high school ~ I asked to learn the violin, but my teacher at the time said it was too hard for me so he gave me the guitar. After 2 years of playing through it, I spent a year imagining what it would be like to play the violin, it was very appealing to me.

Any how as soon as I finished my final tests, I went out and used my birthday money to buy a violin. My family were like what a waste of money. (It was only $130 aswell grr! I had $800 at the time... and free of responsibility!)

Anyhow, I've been playing for about 1 year and 6 months now, attempting grade 4 exam in a few months. I hope I do well haha I want a distinction atleast. (hehe)

I've had a very comfortable journey with it so far though. Of course I'm no where as good as I want to be.

June 25, 2009 at 03:05 AM · esfira--i have acquired a couple of good tips through this forum to help keep you motivated to practice...i apologize, i don't remember who gave each of these suggestions but both were really good and have helped me so far! #1 when practicing, always end on a "high note"'s easy to not want to practice if you end the session with a piece, scale, etc that is difficult because it's easier to get discouraged. if, on the other hand, you end with a piece you can play really well it will end the practice on a positive note, and that really does tend to make you WANT to keep practicing! #2 instead of practicing all at once in one sitting, try practicing in 15 minute intervals when you get a chance. for example, i usually practice for 15 minutes before breakfast, then 15 more minutes after i work out and shower, then maybe 15 minutes while dinner is cooking, 15 minutes in the evening, etc...this seems to be much easier than cramming in one hour at once but you're still practicing the same amount of time. hope this helps! ps thanks again to those who have shared stories, i am loving them :o)

June 25, 2009 at 11:34 AM ·

Elinore.... Thank you so very, very much!  And it's nice being a part of the violin community!  Zoe use to try to personaly get back, via emails, to her fans.  These days she's booked solid and twitters.  One thing about climbing sumits.... It get's lonely at the top.

June 26, 2009 at 01:05 PM ·

I've got most of you beat.  I was 48 when I picked up the violin.  I'm now almost 49 LOL.  So I haven't been at this very long. 

I got into the violin because I inherited a sweet little fiddle  from a dear friend and neighbor who passed away.  It sparked my long buried interest.  So, I set my bow on the path despite the signs that all point "This Way Lies Frustration And Madness".  Fortunately, I've discovered that signs lie.  I have found peace and contentment instead.  And, its just plain fun ... each step has its own satisfactions and rewards.

I may have an advantage over some as I was a professional woodwind player in my murky past with a B.A. in music performance.  25 years of music training and performance have given me a really good platform to stand on (even though it was almost 25 years ago).  I'd have to say that the most difficult thing I've encountered is intonation on an instrument with no frets.  Big hands and thick fingers on such a narrow delicate neck has presented its own challenge.  But I am discovering that it is not insurmountable.  My size and build are probably more suited to the cello than violin, but in addition to my classical chops, I'd like to get into folk fiddlin' as well one day, and I've never heard of a klezmer cello.  But all things are relative.  I think violin is a lot easier than, lets say, calculating the curve of 14th dimensional space, or neurosurgery. 

I think what many people forget is that music is Of The People, By The People and For The People.  It seems to be "common wisdom" in the vioiln world that if you're an adult, its too late.  Well horse cobblers, sayeth I.  Violin is not the private reserve of a chosen few who teethed on rosin and floss with Mongolian unbleached horse hair.  Music exists because of the human soul's need to express itself.   The violin is wonderfully expressive tool for that and anyone can learn to use it if they want to.  But, its still only a tool however well suited to its purpose.  Afterall, the violin is  just an invention of humans, and therefore not out of the reach of humans to master it.  Even ones that begin their journey at 25, 35 or 50. 

Playing music is the right and priviledge of every human being if that's what they choose.  For me, I NEED to play music.  It's inherent in my nature.  The violin is a wonderful instrument which has touched me like no other I have played before; one with which I can fulfill that need.

My standing ovation and thunderous applause to all you adult learners here.  Don't forget to enjoy the ride!

June 26, 2009 at 05:16 PM · I started violin when my daughter (age 5 at the time) started. We've both been playing almost 5 years. And both of us have been playing in a youth orchestra for the last 3 years (yes, I'm just a big 10 year old. That makes the other kids laugh. :-) ) I'm in my 40s. I did make my living up until age 30 playing electric bass in rock and jazz bands, so I did have the advantage of understanding music. However, thinking of 5ths (violin tuning) instead of 4ths (bass tuning) was really hard at first.

June 26, 2009 at 07:02 PM ·

Starting playing in my 40s (4 years now) after many years of sitting in my kids' lessons.  LOVE it!  Play in group lessons, studio recital, and in one of the youth orchestra ensembles with my kids (as long as we don't have to share stands!)   Got a better violin last year with a better bow...which has been wonderful!  Nice to hear from everyone else too!  Erica

June 26, 2009 at 07:03 PM ·

Jim: I just read your post and laughed...isn't it SO FUN to play in the orchestra! 

June 27, 2009 at 05:40 AM ·

So many responses from adult beginners. I am crazy enough to have read them all. 

I am still plugging away after 4 years, 3 kids and now a grand child. I have my good and bad practice days but I still am enjoying it and plan to continue. Some of the problems I have had were:

1) Reading (seeing)  music--having to xerox and enlarge the music.

2) Old rotator cuff injury--bowing and exercise made it better

3) Fatigue--went back to the gym to improve stamina-shorter and more frequent practices

4) guilt: Having way too much fun learning something new!

5) That short cute little kid plays circles around me on the same Suzuki piece I am learning--yeah--well--I just quit looking at You Tube!

June 28, 2009 at 09:18 AM ·

Hi there.I think I beat almost all. I started when I was 65 ! Had the most fantastic teacher who made it real fun. I could not wait for my next lesson.Lots of variations. His patience was incredible.We played nearly everything together.I joined our local amateur Orchestra 2 years ago,Still learn every day. Practise twice a day and some times for a longer period. It gave me so much pleasure that I decided to see if there are not other "older" people who always wished.....etc.I started my own group of late starters, the youngest being 28, most well into their 50's and myself the oldest at almost 71.

We play together every Saturdaymorning for 2 hours one hour of theory and one hour of music. We started out with Christmascarols and played at lots of Old Age homes for the Christmasseason, After that we played Golden Oldies and again played at Old Age homes. At the moment our repertoire is a variety of light classics.Which we have been asked to play at functions.

Next month we play at a yearly Concert for over 200 Amateur musicians arranged by the British Heritage Association.

The most amazing part is that no one is scared to play in front of people.During the week there is always someone who will phone to find someone to go over a particular difficult part.Everyone wants to be able to play the pieces set out for the next Saturday.

We had publicity from Magazines and newspapers.After the Saturdaysession we go and have a drink or lunch at one of the nearby restaurants. Some people travel over 150 kliometers to attend.We have a few drop out but then as frank Sinatra said "too few to mention.'"We are playing with 24 violinists at this time with another 3 wanting to join.

One of the problems is to get a decent violin for every player, we sometimes have real cheap ones that sound awful and of course some can not afford to buy so they will have to wait till we find one. Which happens now and again.The best part is giving something back that gave me such pleasure.

June 28, 2009 at 12:12 PM ·

Louise- What a neat story!  You and your group keep up the great work!!!!!

June 29, 2009 at 12:00 AM ·

 Aww, this is so much fun to read. Me: started at 43, been at it for four years now. Still sound like a beginner, progress very humble, so very little time to practice. Sometimes I worry that I'm not going to be able to keep up with it, due to family and work constraints, but I'm so very glad I have resisted that pressure. It just gives me so much in return. Have never played a musical instrument before, but I've sung in choirs and I have a lifelong interest in classical music. How wonderful it feels to be trying to make some of the same music myself (and how humbling, the sound that comes out!).

Oh, and why I started. Ironically, it was just for research, and my plan was to only do it for a few months. Funny, that.

July 1, 2009 at 10:50 AM ·

Hi everyone. I have just started my violin lessons with 45 years old. I´m 49
now, and already playing some Vivaldi and Pietro Nardini Concertos, and hoping
to enter the Bach studies by the end of this year, however the way I still play,
 sounds very far from what I would like to be sounding. It´s certainly a very difficult
instrument. Tuning is such a strong issue for me, it requires me much daily trainning,
studying and practicing, which of course I have not enough and spare time do do it.
Maybe for an adult student things might go in a different pespective.  Anyway, I wonder
if it is still enough space in this age to improve, altough in a slow way.
Is it possible to become a good player, amateur of course, but a good one ?

July 1, 2009 at 11:21 AM ·


>Is it possible to become a good player, amateur of course, but a good one ?

iYou can be a superb player. the secret is not to worry about your age or stage or anything like that.  Just do what you need now until it is done. Then focus on the enxt thing and so on.  One day you will find you are playing really well and can do all sorts of marvellous things like orchestra and chamber music with te odd solo thrown in. Its just a question of how much are you willing to commit.  How far do you really want to go?  Be a little daring!  be a little ambitious!   

You will surprise yourself.



July 1, 2009 at 12:00 PM ·

Buri: that advice is exactly what I needed to hear.  Feel free to dispense more "atta girl/guy" advice as desired....Erica

July 2, 2009 at 02:20 AM ·

And a thanks from me also.  I think alot of adult beginners/relearners needed that one dude!



July 2, 2009 at 04:08 AM ·


its a slightly differnet case but  have a twenty two yera old student whose body was severly damaged by enchepalitis among other things.  he cannot speak,  finds walking difficult and has very poor motor control. His intlectual faculties are fine.

Every teacher in this part of Japan he went to told him he would never play the violin because he had little apaprent control over his fingers which are like wobbly sausages while his shoulders and back are rigid and discoordinated because he uses them in place of his legs to hold himself up.

It annoyed me that somone who clealry had a musicl ear (he actually composes) and desire to learn shoudl be blown off so for the last three years I have held his arms up and repeatedly put his finger s in the right place until the lessons began to filter into my nightmares.  But he turned up regular as clockwork eevryweek and put his Schradieck determindly on the stand and tried to play the first two bars with such doggedness I just kept going picking up the pieces.Now he is giving a creditable perfromance of the first movement of the Bach a minor concerto.

He just wanted it badly enough...




July 2, 2009 at 05:15 AM ·

Awesome Buri, simply awesome.

July 2, 2009 at 01:25 PM ·

Buri: thank you for sharing that.  What a gem of a story!  : )

July 2, 2009 at 07:50 PM ·

 Buri - ditto what the others said. Very cool, very inspirational.

July 2, 2009 at 09:24 PM ·

Such a beautiful story Buri, thank you for sharing it.


More power to both of you for not giving up.



July 3, 2009 at 02:35 AM ·

Thanks from me too, Buri! I needed that!

July 4, 2009 at 01:45 PM ·

Can we get technical?  I'm at the upper end of the age ranges mentioned here and I have a very stiff skeleton.  Been taking lessons for 2 years.  I'm happy with my progress but my right wrist doesn't seem to flex at all.  My teacher and I have discussed pronation but it certainly doesn't seem to be happening.  Is this a big limitation?  Are there violinists out there who sound good but play with a straight wrist?

July 4, 2009 at 10:22 PM ·


Michael,  there seems to be a little confusion here;)

Pronation refers to turning the hand anti clockwise  with supination being the reverse.  Hoever this turning does not concern the wrist the hand and forearm move as one unitas though one was turing a key in a lock. Whtehr or not your wrist can bend is irrelevent. Look at the action you use next time you unlock a door-  the writs doesn`t o up and down or whatever. 

The degree one uses pronation and spination varies from player to player. Some use a lot. the idea is that the weight of the arm filters through the first finger by this turingin action as opposed to simply pressing down with an independent fist finger which choes he sound. this is the position veyr clealry explained by Rober Gerle in his book `The Art of Bowing.`

I no longer adhere to this aproach.  I tend to keep the hand perpendicular to the stick and manipulate the sound using the fingers in differnet ways.  The weight of the arm drops through the whole hand.  Drew Lecher wrote a post on this a while back in which one flops the had down on a table and then paractice raising the the palm off the table by ccurling the fingers under.  Have a search for that one.

As for your wrist, old up your am in a relaxed bowing psotion sans bow.  Doesn`t the had drop very slightly from the wrist.. Try raising it till thehand ispointing at the sky but te fingers are curved ver so they make a square shape. Now drop the hand back to the intila neutral position.. Now drop the hand and straighten the fingers so they point at the floor. That is the basic wrist and finger action of palying somewhat exaggerated.

There are many school of violin playing. ot all of them advocate pts of wrist action.  Take a look at Milsteins playing for example.  Or follow up on Clayton Haslop`s views on the subjects.

No need to conjure up wrist demons for yourself...



July 5, 2009 at 10:02 PM ·

Thanks, Buri and Don

Sage advise.  I am having fun and gaining more appreciation of what you all can do is part of it!


This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop


Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine