Longtime pianist interested in beginning violin as adult -- advice?

March 5, 2010 at 01:58 AM ·

Hello!  I've poked around to see if this has been addressed here in the past; my apologies if it has and I missed it.

I'm nearly 44 and began piano when I was 10, continuing lessons at a fairly high level until college.  I still play and enjoy myself very much but have also always been fascinated by the violin.  (No frets?!  How do they DO that?)  Second to the human voice, I think it's the instrument with the most inherent beauty of tone and flexibility on Earth.  A piano can result in a "lazy ear," since we don't generally tune our own instruments or have to seek out and create the notes before playing them.  I'm hoping that studying the violin might help with this.

I work full time and with the piano to take up much of my leisure time, I'm not sure how much time I could devote to a violin, but I would not want to learn casually.  I tend to be a bit driven and even though I know I'll never be very good starting at this age, I would like to be as good as I can manage and would take it quite seriously.

I guess I have a few questions:

1) The last time I idly messed around with a stringed instrument, my fretboard fingers actually started bleeding.  I imagine they have to "toughen up."  How much of a problem would this be for a pianist?  Are there any people out there who play both instruments who could offer advice?

2) What should I look for in an instructor as an adult student with extensive experience in another instrument but ZERO experience in this one?  If you are an instructor with a student in this situation, do you have any advice?

Again I apologize if these questions have already been covered.  TYIA.  :-)

Replies (29)

March 5, 2010 at 03:51 AM ·

Greetings,

you don`t need to think about toyghening up your fingers.   Its like the story of the you7ng boy whose father made him lift a baby calf everyday to get strong.  The calf got older and bigger and the  boy got older and stronger so there was a day when the man wa slifting a full grown bull with no increase in effort.  

Frankly I am a tad dubious about this story- something to do with proportions that Simon could explain I guess.   But you get the point?  A beginner shouldn`t practic emuch anyway....

Cheers,

Buri

March 5, 2010 at 04:26 AM ·

Here are a couple of related threads. 

www.violinist.com/discussion/response.cfm

http://www.violinist.com/blog/agmy/20098/10430/

There was another one, but I can't seem to find it.  An advanced pianist taking up violin in his 50's if I recall.

 

March 5, 2010 at 05:05 AM ·

Go for it!!

I started learning the violin at age 43 ( 5 years ago now). I learnt the piano when I was younger. I am having lots of fun. My big problem is finding time to practice (full time work ).

Some aspects are easier - you will know how to read notes and know the music theory. Intonation was my hardest chore. My bowing tended to be a little "stiff" and not relaxed, initially resulting in a scratchy note.

March 5, 2010 at 05:49 AM ·

Hi there. I'm also a long time pianist and now learning violin. My advice would be to get the position right first if will save you from a lot of pain. This will take a while but the idea is you should feel as relax and comfortable as possible. As a pianist, reading violin music is easier but don't rush into playing difficult pieces just because you can read the music, I always have to keep telling myself this. And since you're already an advanced pianist, you will find that many things you learn in piano could be applied to learning violin too. For example, how do you practice a difficult passage on piano? try the same method on violin. and just be creative about practicing in general.  

Your fingers will get tough after a while, you will develop callous on the tip of your fingers but this is not a problem at all you can still play piano just fine. 

Find a good teacher who are excited about teaching adult.  

good luck :)

March 5, 2010 at 10:12 AM ·

I studied piano from age seven to twenty, with a piano concentration at Indiana University (I left half-way through my sophomore year due to budget issues).  When I was 42, a friend gave me a very worn violin, which I had repaired to make it playable.  I found a teacher nearby, and studied for all of about 4 months before Springtime hit at the garden center I managed, and my hours averaged 60-65/week (while also trying to keep family life running smoothly).  With little-to-no time for lessons or practice, I put my violin away -- for a short time, I thought -- and didn't get it out again until about two months ago (nearly seventeen years later!).  I really missed it, and kept intending through all those years to get back to it.  Unfortunately, life happened, but violin didn't.

Now that I'm back to playing -- at age 60 -- I'm enjoying it as much as ever.  I'm either "unemployed" or "retired" (sort of a "glass-half-full" take on being unemployed), which is great for finding time to play, but not so much for being able to afford lessons.  Since I'm operating without a teacher for the time being, I'm finding that some issues relating to injury and pain are cropping up.  I have an old shoulder injury from garden center days (my bowing shoulder) which I seem to be aggrevating.  I'm still in the process of trying to find a playing position that's more comfortable.  Arthritis is a lovely addition to the mix, too. :)

So anyway, my recommendations are:  Go for it!!  Look for a teacher who can not only teach you to play the music, but is also very aware of the physical mechanics involved in playing -- one who can direct you to a playing position that works best for your body type and physical requirements.  Some people play better without a shoulder rest.  Some need to bring the violin forward or back a little more.  If you find a teacher who says, "You MUST hold the violin exactly HERE!", or "You MUST use THIS kind of shoulder rest!", RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!  What you want to hear is, "Let me know if this hurts -- we can adapt."

I found that a 3/4-size violin works better for my size, but followed a rather circuitous route in acquiring the one that I have now.  (I still play my original full-size violin, but can't play it for as long at a time as I do my 3/4.)  Try many violins, buy the best you can comfortably afford, and be sure to have a good luthier (or at least a good teacher) check out your choice before you commit to it.

Someone mentioned not playing for too long at a time when you first start out.  That's very good advice!  Building calluses on your fingertips will happen naturally -- without damage -- if you don't over-do it.  And they won't interfere with your playing the piano.

Good luck!  Check in on the Message Board from time-to-time so we know how you're doing.

Enjoy!!!  

March 5, 2010 at 12:15 PM ·

I took it up aged 46 last year, it's one of the best decisions I've ever made.

I also play the classical guitar, so have had some experience with a stringed instrument. However, the violin is a completely different thing. Intonation and bowing are very difficult at first but you do get there in the end. It's a wonderful instrument and I now much prefer it to the guitar. My aim is to be playing in an amateur orchestra within a couple of years. I manage about an hour's practice every day and then I really have to stop myself... I could play a lot longer but for me an hour is the right amount of time.

Good luck, you won't regret taking it up!

March 5, 2010 at 06:07 PM ·

I'm in the same situation, just a slight variation, played piano for years, took violin for a few years twenty years ago but didn't have the time or much of an organized life to practice regularly and make progress, which is always a frustration to both the student and the teacher. Life changed, for the better, getting a more regular work schedule. All those years my violin resting comfortably in its velvet lined case. I eventually was able find a decent teacher where I lived, had my violin tuned, bow rehaired etc. The first thing learned, playing the violin is very physical, so you must pay attention to posture, warm-ups, resting when it starts to hurt. etc. In the beginning I did develop callouses on my finger tips until the ends of my fingers just seemed to toughen, as well as becoming more sensitive. Then I read as much as I could on the violin, once you start there are many, many resources. Even though I had a nice violin that I inhrerited, I started to research for a second one. You don't need a second fiddle, but the simple act of researching violins takes you deeper and deeper into the subject, with greater understanding of the instrument. In the beginning I bought a tuner so that I could learn to accurately tune, also the tuner helps with intonation, understanding that there's more to tuning than electronics but we're talking about beginning here. Also I started out with fine tuners on all strings. The next thing I decided to do was to get one of those finger guides for the finger board with the first seven positions marked. This was a tough decision, but when you start late, I believe in taking as many short cuts and using as many learning aids as possible. I found that it really helped overcoming the fear of the higher positions. It's a given that the tape has to come off as soon as possible, because it has to be hand ear coordination that must be developed, not hand eye. The eyes are too busy reading the music until it is learned by heart. The next thing I bought was a full length mirror, an attractive but not expensive one in satin black that nicely matches my grand piano. The reason for buying a second violin was because the second one comes in useful when the first one has an accident, as for example when the tailpiece on my first went flying, but more importantly, without the finger guide, what you learned on the first with the guide, you transfer to the one without the guide. Eventually you end up with two violins without guides, and in my case one Strad style and the the other a Guarneri. Each has slightly different setups and different stings and sound. Being able to read music is a big help, as does an understanding of music theory, scales chords, modes, etc. etc. As a pianist this is already second nature. As for the rest, it's patience and practice and then more patience. It's very apparent that it's a journey with no end but wonderful scenery along the way. A few last last thoughts, some kind of recording device is very useful, as is a lap top computer. There is  useful, and free software you can download that will slow down an MP3 recording whilst preserving intonation, that allows you to play along at a speed you can handle. As a pianist, you already know a metronome has to be somewhere in the room. These are just a few practical things that I used to break the barriers and make things happen when I started back on the journey.

March 5, 2010 at 08:33 PM ·

Wow, thanks for all the great advice!  Reynard, I imagine that will indeed be a stumbling block for me -- thinking that if the music looks easy for piano, it'll be easy for violin.  I'll have to remind myself of that a lot.

I should also have said that I'm up in the air at the moment on whether I'd like to start with a violin or a viola.  The range on the viola looks nicely centered on middle C and encompasses the types of voice I like best (contralto and countertenor, both natural and falsettist), but violins seem to have a larger classical rep.  I don't plan to play as a professional at this age though, so as long as I can find music that makes me happy to play it (anything in contralto and countertenor range, basically), I may be happy with a viola.  I love the deep sound of them.

Also, I'm planning to play left-handed.  I figure this is already going to be a big challenge, so there's no reason to handicap myself any further by using what for me is the wrong hand to hold the bow.  That may make it harder to find a teacher, but I've learned to knit, crochet, make lace, spin yarn, and quilt as a leftie all from right-handed teachers, so even if a teacher doesn't have experience teaching southpaws, I have a lifetime of experience learning strongly "handed" activities from right-handers.  :-)

Again, thank you all for your great advice, and I'll keep you posted as things progress.  I'm not in a huge hurry since I want to make sure I make the right decisions, but I hope to be in a place to buy a good left-handed instrument soon.  (I fantasize about a left-handed carbon-fiber viola!)

March 5, 2010 at 08:56 PM ·

 

My thoughts.

 

I am mid 40's and have 40 years of piano playing as an amateur (but very proficient) under my belt.  I have also played electric and steel string guitar for 30 years so violin strings feel like cotton...

My thoughts:

Violin rep is more interesting than viola rep.  This is mere personal preference.

Sight reading is extremely straightforward compared with piano.

Focus on getting intonation and technique right from day 1.  This will help a lot.  

The fingerboard tapes etc are a waste of time and unnecessary.  My experience was that after the first week I didn't look at mu fingers at all.  

Left hand fingering is not the real issue.  Bowing is where much of the technique lies.  

A good teacher will accelerate your progress ten-fold.  

A decent violin and bow helps a lot.  

You will make massive progress if you can do an hour a day in short segments.  

Go for it.  

James

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 5, 2010 at 09:36 PM ·

I found that my violin teacher started taking me more seriously when I started showing more dedication: regular lessons (for me, every two weeks instead of the every two months I had fallen into) and practicing every day.  I also have a very busy life but I need to practice half an hour a day at minimum.

March 10, 2010 at 08:38 PM ·

So I've taken the step of contacting an instructor in my area and asking her about my current situation and whether she would be willing to chat a bit more.

I admit I'm VERY intimidated by the idea of learning an instrument like the viola (I think I'm going to go that route since I just love the sound of them so much).  They take such careful maintenance.  Tuning, putting things like bridges and soundposts in by hand, worrying about humidity (I live in a very dry area) and temperature changes, different kinds of strings, bows that need rehairing, etc. ...  That's on top of playing an instrument that has no frets.  Pianos spoil you that way.

I might still decide not to take it up; I don't want to start if it turns out it's a lark on my part.  I guess I'll see how it goes ...

March 10, 2010 at 08:55 PM ·

Janis, I played piano for many years but always had the yearning to at least try the violin.  Finally I got the chance and never looked back.  I suggest that you rent a viola for a few months and see how it goes.  Yes, there are many things you have to worry about with a stringed instrument that you don't with a piano, but it really isn't that big a deal.  The only day-to-day things are tuning and putting rosin on the bow.  I discovered, after taking lessons for TWO years, that my biggest foe was tone.  Someone else called it a "lazy ear".  More to the point, it's an UNDEVELOPED ear.  If this is something you've wanted to do for a long time, do it and you won't regret not having at least tried.

March 10, 2010 at 09:47 PM ·

Janis, don't worry about soundpost and bridge - take the instrument to your shop/luthier, they do that stuff. They don't need regular twiddling, just a good initial placement and then hopefully they stay in place (although humidity/temp changes could cause the strings to pop, and the pegs unravel a bit, and that may allow a little movement in the bridge and perhaps soundpost.  If your teacher can't get it to sound as good after such anevent, get the placement checked).  Most learners shouldn't touch the things routinely unless they have a mentor alongside to explain where they need to be placed and how they need to be handled.

Even replacing strings is something that most teachers will do for a student who is new and/or nervous.  With the strings, I think its best to learn early how to deal with them, but I have friends who've been learning/playing for 10 years as adults and their teachers still change the strings.  It doesn't affect their enjoyment of playing.

March 12, 2010 at 04:13 AM ·

The two critical things I have found are: 1. have a regular time every week day for practice  and the discipline to stick to that time, and 2. find a teacher who will work with you on posture and relaxed muscles in just about every lesson for the first couple years.  Most violinists are too tight.  This reduces sound quality, makes vibrato difficult, makes it difficult to build speed, and for an adult, can lead to sore muscles and injuries that take weeks to heal.  We aren't 14 any more. Get a good teacher, and change teachers if you don't get schooled in a relaxed set up.

March 19, 2010 at 06:02 PM ·

I've been playing phone tag with the person I've contacted as a potential teacher, but she left a voicemail for me last night, so hopefully we'll link up and talk a bit about my goals and whether we're a good fit for one another in terms of how she teaches and what I'd like to learn.  She plays both viola and electric bass and was taught at Curtis, so she at least appears to have an ecumenical taste in music and great technical training.

Given what I've learned here and elsewhere, I'm imagining that the first two years at least will consist of simply learning how not to sound bad -- how to get the instrument to make a pleasant noise that I can control, which I've never had to worry about with a piano before.  After that, then I imagine I'll be starting in on the pedagogical rep for several years past that, whatever the viola equivalent to the Clementi sonatinas and Minuet in G might be.  From all the good advice I've seen here, I also imagine I'll be playing scales and arpeggios for the rest of my life, more or less.  That's the same as a piano, anyway.  :-)

I think I've also settled on a viola as my choice as well.  It's encompasses high cello and low violin, and it sits right on top of the contralto/countertenor vocal range, which I love.

We'll see how it goes from here.  Thanks to all of you for your great advice and encouragement.  :-)

March 21, 2010 at 07:40 PM ·

Someone said that finger tapes are a waste of time, I disagree, especially for someone older starting to play. The tapes give you a solid idea of just how much you have to stretch your fingers even to get close to hitting the correct pitch. I found tapes an immense help, especially with double stops, hitting that fourth finger stretch is a bear at first.Okay if you started as a youngster and grew into that finger flexibility and independence as your body and hands matured. In addition tapes make it much easier to move into the higher positions. My point is, when you start later in life, take advantage of every short cut you can to get to where you can play and enjoy the music. Very few people start a journey into uncharted lands without a map. Of course you can, but then it takes longer to get where you're going.

March 21, 2010 at 09:38 PM ·

Janis,

Start the first few weeks/months with a rental, and then engage your teacher in choosing a viola.  They come in so many different sizes  - full sizes ranging from 15" to 17" and beyond, though 15 1/2" - 16 1/2"  are more common.  It can take time to find one with that fits your body comfortably. Though viola rep is limited compared to violin, you will find that there is actually quite a bit either written for viola or transposed. 

Oh, and welcome to the dark side!!!!  :)

March 21, 2010 at 10:10 PM ·

 I have "girl hands" and thought I may need to worry about my finger tips as my fiance's family mostly play guitar, mandolin, double bass etc.  And their fingertips needed to callus up.  I've noticed that with the violin, since your fingers don't slide around as much initially like they do on a guitar, and the strings aren't as coarse, the calluses occur at a slower rate, and by the time you're ready to be sliding up and down the fingerboard, your fingers will be accustomed to being on strings.

 

  That's about all I can chime into with as I'm currently a novice myself, and those are my experiences.  Find a good instructor.  As you already probably know, it goes a LONG way in having good habits from the get go!

 

March 22, 2010 at 07:00 PM ·

One of my cello students was a very busy piano teacher (60 - 70 students every week). He had some troubles adapting to cello, and although we worked together for about 6 years, his progress was actually slower than some less musically accomplished adult students I have had. The fact that he was naturally left-handed did work against him regarding use of the bow, however.

As a teacher of violin and cello (I could do viola too, I suppose), I would recommend starting with cello instead of violin. The position is ever so much more natural. As with piano gravity is used to produce force on the instrument. And it can be helpful that you can see what you are doing on the fingerboard, whereas, with violin or viola you really can't see well at all.

Andy

March 22, 2010 at 07:35 PM ·

Andrew, I am definitely concerned that my piano experience will work against me as much as for ("for" when it comces to sight-reading and theory, and "against" when it comes to technique).

I'd definitely like to start with a viola; that's the one the range of which I love most; cellos are gorgeous, but after years of piano, I'd like to play something I can lift easily with one hand for a change.  :-)

My current concern is the way that the theory I've internalized assumed equal and fixed temperament.  (I hope this isn't a touchy topic; it can be on piano forums). 

I’m seeing two possible definitions for sharping a note (and the same goes for flatting). On a piano, these definitions are the same because the instrument is digital in the old-fashioned sense, and tempered. On a non-fretted instrument, they may not be.  For example:

How to Sharp a Note:

1) Push the note upward by a prescribed amount N. (Understood to be a half-step on a piano).
2) Take the note and the nearest note upwards in the key signature, and go up halfway between. (A-G)/2, for example.

The problem I’m having is: is N = (A-G)/2?  On a piano, it is absolutely defined as such — but the piano has been tempered to artificially fit those twelve fifths into seven octaves even though they don’t quite match, and besides, there's only one lever between G and A. Is this understood to be the case on non-fretted instruments? If a cellist plays an F# in the context of a certain piece, and a Gb in the context of another, are these notes at the same frequency?

Is a G# slightly higher than an Ab?  Slightly lower?  Is this a judgment call on the part of the player and part of what distinguishes a gifted player from a simply competent one?

 

March 24, 2010 at 07:49 PM ·

*wistful sigh*

http://www.violinslover.com/gamaviolas16_5.php?lefthanded

I should have my head examined for even thinking about this ...

March 26, 2010 at 02:21 AM ·

Oooh, that second one....

March 26, 2010 at 04:31 PM ·

Hi, I just started learning the violin to play Irish fiddle music and am loving it. I am also more than 10 years older than you so don't let age stop you at all! I learned piano as a kid so I had some background in taking lessons.

Sore finger tips- I don't think you have to worry. I tried guitar once years ago and right away my finger tips were a mess and I quit. But I am having zero problems with the violin strings and I don't know why but I am glad. I practice usually for no more than 45 minutes but will sit watching TV for about 20-30 minutes in the evening and just press on the strings to "build up" my finger tips. My left hand finger tips feel slightly tougher than my right hand but I can't tell by looking at them. I have a good friend who plays concert violin, has for years and her fingers look fine too

Teacher- I would highly recommend getting a teacher who is used to adult students. I would also recommend private lessons if you can afford it so you can go at your pace, not the pace of the slowest person in a class. Hate to sound mean but in my mid 50s I don't want to go any slower than I have to so that I can join a Seisun sooner than later! My original teacher had a long background in teaching children and her approach and choice of tunes was more appropriate for kids, not the adults in the group class I took with her. So I moved on the a fiddle teacher who works only with adults and teens and the pace and focus is much better.

March 26, 2010 at 04:46 PM ·

Kirsten, the first one is the one that piqued my interest, but yep all of them are lovely, aren't they?.  Check out the inlay work on this one.

Karen, I'm very happy to hear most people say that the viola/violin won't be much of a problem for me as a pianist in terms of my fingertips.  A little toughening up I don't mind, but actual calluses that would interfere with the piano would definitely be a problem for me.  I anticipate the piano will always be my "native language."  :-)

I'm planning on stopping by Gliga this Monday to look at the three LH viola kits they have, and there is a distinct possibility that I will walk out with one.  I'd love the first one, but I think I'll ask the person selling to play just one note apiece on each with my back turned so I'm not biased by their appearance.  It'll be a while before I'm not playing whale song anymore, anyhow.

I've also become curious about these.  The idea of being able to practice with headphones is very appealing, but absolutely nothing beats the beauty of an acoustic viola.  Maybe in a few years ...

March 29, 2010 at 09:15 PM ·

I bought it!  Kirsten, I did indeed get the second one.  A few initial thoughts:

1) My ear is better than I thought it would be as a pianist.  I'm also fussier about tuning than I imagined I would be.  My ears are better than I thought they were.

2) A little of that thin, no-slip silicone matting that people use on their kitchen shelves is a nice thing to drape over one shoulder while one is getting used to having an instrument sliding around up there.

3) It's of course far harder to get a nice sound out of it than out of a piano, where the notes are "pre-made" for you.  However, when you do get a nice sound out of it, it rings like a bell and is incredibly pretty.

4) I have to think about making the "bunny hand" every single time I pick up the bow.  I cannot fathom even attempting this with my off hand.  (I bought a carbon fiber bow.)

5) DM and AM scales must be preferred on this thing, because they are the simplest ones to pick out.

6) It's hard for me to tell at this early point, but I suspect I may like a center chin rest; my shoulders are very sloped and thin, and putting it too far forward makes it feel more unstable.  In two years, I may feel completely comfortable with a normal chin rest.

7) The extensor muscle above my elbow on my scroll arm is sore, but I feel no joint soreness or stiffness.  Only muscle soreness from holding my arm strangely.

8) It seems to go flat repeatedly, but the strings are new.  I imagine they need to stretch for a little while before settling in.

9) The first thing I've tried to pick out on it is Journey's "Lights."  :-)  DM, of course.  An octave down.

10) I'm glad I'm already a good, trained musician.  Learning how to handle this device physically is going to be enough of a challenge.  I can't imagine having to learn theory at the same time.

It doesn't have a name yet.  I don't think I merit naming it at this early a stage.  It'll probably tell me its name in good time, as I improve and begin to deserve it.

I have no idea when I'm going to tell my mother that I bought one.  She was an extraordinary violinist when she was younger although I've never once heard her play; she studied for years and years and years with Frank Costanzo, who is better known than I ever realized.  Hopefully, when I get even a little bit good enough to tell her, I can start asking her advice.

I will try to post a picture at some point.  It's very pretty.  :-)

March 29, 2010 at 09:30 PM ·

Pics uploaded!

http://www.io.com/~cortese/stevie1.jpg

http://www.io.com/~cortese/stevie2.jpg

It's Stevie!  Isn't he pretty?  So apparently, my viola's name is Stevie.  Don't judge.  :-)

Added: Here's the picture from the luthier's site.  He's much ruddier in person.

April 29, 2010 at 11:58 PM ·

 It is never to late to do anything.  I played piano gigs for years. I finally move to the violin.  I think it is very important that you at least take lessons in the beginning to get a foundation on bowing and left hand placement, and so on.... While I consider myself  a intermediate player, I have a good foundation because , I took  violin lessons for a year from a master player. I really think we should all always be taking lessons all of our lives. There is always somebody that knows something you don't.

Rob

 

 

May 2, 2010 at 04:08 AM ·

YES - Do it! 

Violin strings are SOFT and NICE to the fingers. You can be the tenderest-fingered paper shuffler and you will never notice a problem.

Finger tapes??????? I don't understand, hear the note. Maybe you'll need 'um I dunno ..... violin does NOT depend on looking, it's hearing. I like this myself, I'm a 40's beginner too and I only have one good eye, not only am I convinced that in an ideal life I'd have played the violin from a young age, but it's going to be not only musical expression but a bit of an insurance policy against when my good eye goes bad. It will, sooner or later! No more fine print, no more motorcycles maybe in a decade, but music will always be there just like it was there when I was functionally blind up to age 5. The tapes are in your ear........ ?

You can play an electric violin, you can play a pink paisley Incredibow, you can do anything crazy you want. You can even be so crazy as to take a classical teacher and train like you'd have, 500 years ago. You can play gypsy, classical, fiddle, rock riffs, anything you want.

And I think violin people are NICE.

May 2, 2010 at 02:42 PM ·

I have played violin and piano my entire life, and teach both currently with about 50 private students, including about 1/3 adults, some in their 70's.  I'll address your questions from that perspective, in case it might help. 

1) The last time I idly messed around with a stringed instrument, my fretboard fingers actually started bleeding.  I imagine they have to "toughen up."  How much of a problem would this be for a pianist?  Are there any people out there who play both instruments who could offer advice?

The violin fingerboard is not referred to as a "fretboard":  that's a guitar term.  You should find a good private teacher who enjoys working with adults and has a history of success with them;  your progress will be such that you won't need to worry about your fingers bleeding.  You must have overdone it in that instance, perhaps trying to teach yourself?  Leave the violin sitting out, if you can, and try to practice 15-20 minutes at a time, once or twice during the day.  Only practice on the days that you eat! 

 

 2) What should I look for in an instructor as an adult student with extensive experience in another instrument but ZERO experience in this one?  If you are an instructor with a student in this situation, do you have any advice?

 I would interview teachers over the phone:  have they worked with adults.  Do they have a recital coming up where you can see how their students play?  What are the materials (books) they recommend for beginning violin students? 

I send all prospective students an email that includes links to my lesson policy, my vita, a "Music Lesson FAQ," links to the books they will need, and a list of my current openings. Payment policies are carefully outlined. I've tried to anticipate every eventuality, but of course you can't. Everyone is always welcome to come and observe lessons, also.

What you should look for, IMO, is someone who is kindly, patient, who plays well, who has advanced training, a large studio, a good instrument, and experience teaching, especially teaching adults. Personally, they should be neat, professional, and have a clean, well appointed studio. They should be willing to play a little bit for you and, as mentioned, have you observe a lesson.

 

Postscript:  I know that the business of "they should be willing to play a little bit for you" is controversial.  Teachers don't like to feel they are auditioning for their students. I feel a little differently about that than many teachers do.  I love playing the instruments (I teach viola, also), and I have works prepared to play, in case they ask me, plus perhaps some works I'm looking at, like an etude or something, or scales.  But the primary reason I don't mind playing for prospective students is that these students are divided into two groups, in my experience:  those who are complete novices when it comes to music, and those who have prior experience with, if not classical music, then with the respectful student/teacher relationship.  The first group will be exceptionally impressed with a little bit of playing, and the later will not ask. 

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