A beginners learning curve and frustration

April 12, 2010 at 10:42 PM ·

I know this kind of discussion has been bounced back and forth many time before, but for my own sanity and piece of mind, please indulge me.

I'm almost 30 and have been playing violin for sixth months during which I've made steady progress.  I began self taught but have recently found an excellent Suzuki teacher (we also learn folk) but I'm becoming very frustrated with the plateau I've reached.

What I'd like to ask is the early experiences of other players.  What stages did you encounter along the way and what were the hurdles you had to overcome?

Currently I'm regularly hitting off notes/strings and my tonality is not always on target.  Songs sound very flat and un-emotional.  It feels very easy to give up at this point but I'd feel terrible as I love the music a well played violin can make.

I understand that great performance takes years to acomplish, but what are the key milestones along the way?

Is anyone aware (I'm looking at violin teachers here) of a generalised learning curve that amateurs encounter?  Basically I'd be very interested to see what usually happens within the first month, then within six months and then a year and so on.

This way I could work towards a goal or see where I should be progressing within the upcoming months.

I hope this makes sense and thanks in advance!

Replies (38)

April 12, 2010 at 11:01 PM ·

I start learning the violin when I was 36, and the "star" didn't "twinkle" for at least almost 4 mos, I knew then, that Suzuki method are not for me, but I stayed, since I have no idea how it works then, see, I never knew anything about music at all. The following year, the teacher suddenly disappear without any notice at all, the best thing she ever done to me, so I looked for a new teacher and have started with  Scales book, and Doflein methods, I progress  evenly.

But as you progress, there is always a day that everything seems to be not right even you tried really hard to it, just forget about in a while, it will all comeback to you. Last year i was learning the Cantable in D major, I hit a wall on that. I lost a teacher who decided to get married, then, I was again looking for a new teacher, found one, then quit again coming to my area last january, The Cantable in D major is still the piece, but I am half way through it, have to put it aside to concentrate on viola which I took up last year to give my mind  something to think about aside from violin, which I tend to over analyze a bit. The distraction really help, sometimes I work on much easier piece as a review for all the techniques I learned so far.

Don't give up, music is such a joy however you play it.



April 13, 2010 at 02:29 AM ·

I wasn't originally going to respond, but I had noticed that you mentioned the first month in learning. I'm at my third week with a Suzuki teacher, and I absolutely love her, but anyway, I'm now learning the Twinkle variations, all of them, and my problem areas are I like to stretch my elbow out further than I should go, my pinky still likes to stiffen sometimes on my bow hold, my wrist bends on my violin hand when my arm starts getting tired, and I'm still getting used to the finger placements through repitition. I have to make sure I time everything correctly. I like to start off fast and then when I get to the finger movements sometimes slow down a bit, then speed back up, and my teacher advises me to do it all at one speed until I have it down, and then slowly speed up as I see fit.

I'm not sure if that's what you were looking for, but I'm still an enthusastic beginner. :) Hope I could help.

April 13, 2010 at 03:21 AM ·

(form what I saw) Well, after 4-5 years with very very hard work, you start to sound decent (when you're at your best). You can actually start earlier but it can be very occasionnally... Probably to always sound decent and play the bigger repertoire must take way more time (except exceptions..)  But just the fact of knowing that it doesn't take that much time to sound "professionnal "ish" in the things at your level is very amazing in itself. But you have to have these

- invest in a good instrument (a real violin...)  

- invest tons of efforts

- find an excellent teacher

- listen to music everyday

- be ready to work on your sound very much even if you accept that your progress will be slower.  I mean, do not switch to the next thing if you can play technically ok but sound crappy. (it's maybe my impression but I have the impression many teachers let their student go to the next "stage" at the minute they play technically ok but still sound empty... thus empty sound over empty sound on many years is surely not a good thing...  NOT to say I'm better but, I think I realize this and try to do my best to avoid this "trap" if I can  (I say that just beeing aware of this is already a nice step towards a nice sound!)

The first years are the worst according to many people. You realize so much what you don't have as a late starter. But when the nice sound starts to sometimes visits you it's better!   Just my two cents.

Good luck!  I'm sure something nice will happen for you someday if you like the instrument!


April 13, 2010 at 03:31 AM ·


Congratulations on starting to play!
As a teacher I would recommend that you don’t try to establish milestones based on others experience and then compare your progress with that. My experience with students is that each one has their own unique set of challenges as they learn to play. In addition, I usually get excited when one of my students hits a plateau because it tells me that they will soon break thru and move into the next “level” (for lack of a better term) of playing.  
Without seeing or hearing you play it would be difficult to comment on your tone and bowing challenges so I won’t try to offer specific suggestions, but I will say this: when you run into a wall, stop playing, step back and review the basics. Most issues that arise on the violin can be traced back to fundamentals that have become skewed somehow. 
Remember that tone production is a constantly evolving process for all violinists. We are all searching for the sweetest, purist, most consistently clear tone we can get. We are rarely ever totally happy with our tone and usually feel it could have been just a “little bit better” than it was. 
Try not to get discouraged when your playing isn’t what you’d like – some days are just like that.

April 13, 2010 at 03:51 AM ·

Hello and Welcome,

I started to learn to play at 49, and have been at this for just over 2 years now , I choose a different path in that I found a locol music shop that offered instruction but not the Suzuki style of instruction. my teacher does know about the style and has just over 30 years of experiance with the violin and other instruments .                                                                                                             Yes there are days that I feel the learning curve is straight up but given I wanted to learn in part due to  personal  issues and need I have stayed with my lessons. I had no musical back ground to begin with so the challenges are many , sight reading of music I thought was hard at first  but my biggest problem is keeping time intonation I found to be very easy in part to a good violin to start with and at having listened to a bit of folk / bluegrass for most of my life so I had an idea of what things should sound like  ... does that mean I sound good ...lol   No not always ... Practice and having an adult life also makes it not a daily thing some times it just does not happen but I still try to do some work each day if nothing else listen to how it should sound ... ..Desire , an honest effort and practice will go a long way to meeting the goals you want I have found that for every wall that I have met and some how struggled and worked to get over it makes my efforts that much more easier on the next one  the break throughs and the AH HUH's are very sweet when they happen ,

.. Good Luck and may your music be what you want it to be ...

 Bill G.

April 13, 2010 at 05:02 AM ·

 A good way to break through various plateaus is to pick one thing in particular to become good at and completely devote yourself to that one thing.  It can be a technique, a small section of a piece you're working on or even one shift.  When you have made your selection, don't think about anything else.  Master that shift or that passage.  Imagine every possible relationship that the fingers involved have with the other fingers and obsess over every detail.  Feeling that you've reached a plateau is common for even advanced players working on new pieces.  Sometimes the mind gets lazy and lets you just sort of play through stuff without really thinking about everything you're doing.  I'm not calling you lazy, I'm just saying sometimes we get mentally tired and stop being picky, then we feel like we're not improving when we should.  If all you end up accomplishing in one day is guaranteeing that you won't fudge up one small part of your piece, then you've still broken your plateau.  Do that everyday of the week and you'll have 7 masteries to show your teacher.  

Also keep in mind that you can't expect your progress to conform to a pattern.  If you work intelligently and have an immaculate process in your practicing you may drastically exceed expectations.  Use child prodigies as an example.  Some of those kids give very mature sounding concert debuts only a couple of years after they first begin.  I'm not trying to make unfair comparisons, the point I'm trying to make is that it isn't ALL raw natural ability.  The one thing those kids have in common is that from a young age they all have access to great instruction and they have the diligence to apply what they are taught.  If you know how to work and all you have to do is make the material approachable and master small details you can make such quick progress that you appear to be skipping steps.  I have seen this frequently in students who aren't labelled "child prodigies" but merely have the heart and the dedication to pull it off so don't lose faith in yourself.  Just enjoy the process and pour your heart into your work.  I know it sounds kinda corny but it's been working for me :)


April 13, 2010 at 06:02 AM ·

As an adult beginner with little time, my progress has been snail-paced, or slower.

It picked up somewhat after I changed my teacher who made me practice regularly and see her weekly. Then it picked up a bt more when I started practicing mindfully, that is,  thinking about the exercise, scale, piece etc, and not just bumbling through it.

I'm still pretty terrible, after 5 years, but you might be a whole lot better, hopefully.

Another thing that might help you, is if you play some very simple pieces in front of a kind audience. I played once, in front of strangers and it nearly killed me, but after that my playing ability jumped up a small notch.

April 13, 2010 at 06:51 AM ·

Hi there Maurice,

As a fellow beginner I certainly empathise with your situation! That said, keep going on. I think the advice on playing something till it sounds 'good' (as opposed to 'passable') is a good one. I think there's always room to improve even on the simplest tunes -- eg expression and tonality and the flow of notes, etc.

I personally try to make this stage (of plateau-ness) more bearable by playing pieces that I actually like, and try to get it right (or as good as I can manage) -- at least I'd feel so guilty about not doing the piece justice that I'd work twice as hard to make sure I do!

Good luck :)

April 13, 2010 at 07:45 AM ·

 I wouldn't worry so much about where you will be in 6 months or a year.  It's not really all that important.  What's important is what is happening right now with your playing.  How you are holding the violin or bow.  Learning how to play a scale a bit more fluidly.  Each small victory that you see yourself making right now.  Then your violin playing will go from frustration at not knowing everything there is to know to simply enjoying the moment.

April 13, 2010 at 06:15 PM ·

I started with the Suzuki method, and a very adaptable teacher, 5 years ago at 40.  I have hit a couple of plateaus with specific pieces where I just couldn't seem to get the needed skill for months.  The first really long plateau ( i seem to remember nearly 6 months) was with Andantino in Book 1.  I just had a really hard time hearing the staccato quarter notes and playing them correctly.  I did finally learn it well enough to move on, and have had plenty of opportunity to practice it since. 

I am now in Book 4 and having a really hard time with the metering/timing of the Seitz 2nd concerto, 3rd movement.  I am using this as an opportunity to work on counting and working with a metronome.

My view is that I am not on any particular schedule, and that both easy pieces ( for me - i take lessons with my daughter and invariably what is hard for me is easy for her and vise versa!) and tough ones are part of the journey. 

That being said,  I can get really frustrated when I think I am doing something right, get t a lesson, and find out otherwise.  Thank goodness for the patience of my teacher!

Try, keep trying, get frustrated, refind your sense of perspective, and keep trying.  You will get past the plateau.

Best of luck,


April 13, 2010 at 06:20 PM ·

I'm not the starter of this thread but I just have to say that you are very encouraging if not inspiring, Ann. Thank you.
I just have to say that you really helped me out right now.


April 13, 2010 at 08:13 PM ·

April 13, 2010 at 08:32 PM ·

Everyone has great input!  One thing that's worthwhile to ask is "what specifically is going wrong"--what is causing the problem?  For example, many of my beginners hit lots of off strings etc.--because they are letting the bow get the better of them in stead of realizing that they do actually have charge of the bow and they really just need to focus it on the right strings, then the bad sounds go away  :)  That's a simplistic sounding example, but finding and taking control of a specific thing really can open doors and get you off a plateau.  Sometimes you can find the thing yourself, sometimes you need teacher guidance.

April 13, 2010 at 09:34 PM ·


If my frustrations have helped someone else.  I'm glad.  You, in turn, have made my day!


April 13, 2010 at 10:51 PM ·

Ann – inspired me too!  (also on Seitz No.2 - with me the plateau is bow, bow and more bow - more of it, more into the string, more aggressive…on the positive I have found my ‘springs’, I just lose them occasionallyJ).

April 14, 2010 at 12:29 AM ·

Ann, thanks to remind us about an important concept: patience ; )

I had a more than one year plateau with my first Mozart experience

Also had a one year plateau when I learn vibrato.

and a 1 1/2 plateau when I was working on making something comfortable for my giraffe  neck.

The most important thing I learned in all this is that a plateau of more than one year seems very frightning and you reallt think you'll never get it and feel depressed. But for us amateurs, one year is nothing...   Who care the age you'll have it?  At least one starts at 99 yo, we all have many years unfront of us to progress ; ) In addition that you really get much better sfter a plateau...

Good luck!


April 14, 2010 at 05:00 AM ·

Hello Maurice; I don't get out much but a couple of nights ago I went out to see a fiddler & guitar player at a pub. She was very good and once again reminded me of how much I don't know and can't do. I had a couple of thoughts about just packing it in, but I was only kidding myself. I've pretty much put my whole life into it, can't stop now. It's a love/hate relationship for me. Love because it's the most beautiful mystical instrument that God ever provided the inspiration to create. As for the hate part... for me... they are hard to play let alone master, If you neglet them they will forsake you, and one can get a tad obsessive about them.

But if you are truly smitten with this wondrous instrument, you'll never quit. And it won't matter what level you acheive or don't acheive. This post may not be all that encourageing... just saying...that's about the way it is with the violin and me.


April 14, 2010 at 04:50 PM ·

Dave about this love/hate relation, I could say violin is a bit like a pet you love and care who sometimes bites you of a sort... and cries the next day to get your heart...

Really, when we think about it, no normally constituate person would accept this comming from another person or pet! 

Sure, irregular schedules most of us have nowadays is something that the violin hates and won't forgive to his owner...   Perhaps it's actually us that are owned? ; )


April 14, 2010 at 05:01 PM ·

"I could say violin is a bit like a pet you love and care who sometimes bites you of a sort... and cries the next day to get your heart..."

This is probably the most accurate thing I've ever read, goofy or not. No wonder the two things I love most in life are my violin and my cat :)

April 14, 2010 at 10:06 PM ·

It is interesting to see the different rates of progress that people make. In my teaching I have so far found that every one hits a "roadblock" (my word instead of "plateau"). Sometimes a student goes so far before a slow-down in the rate of progress that I think, "Wow, will they never slow down" And then bang they hit the block! Even if they have made it to Book 6 or 7 (Suzuki) before it happens. So far, no one has gone beyond that completely smoothly for me.

My own progress as a kid seemed really slow, even to me and I quit for a year when I was  12. When I restarted it was with such motivation that I became concertmaster of my high school orchestra in less than 2 more years. I established that goal my freshman HS year and achieved it the start of my sophomore year. It was that goal the formed the basis of the amount of my practice, what I practiced, and the "amount of technique" I thought I would need to reach that goal. I did not have a violin teacher after age 12, but I did have a competent violinist who would advise me whenever I asked. (I also started cello lessons in that time frame and maybe it helped to have that professional teacher's competent musical instruction.)

I think directed MOTIVATION is the key. To get past a roadblock you really have to do the work, no matter how hard it is and how much it takes. But it really helps if you set a goal. Sometimes a teacher is the one who can help you define a goal that works for you, but sometimes you have to envision that goal on your own - especially if you are a teen or adult.

Even now, so many, many years later, I sometimes don't have the motivation to go through my stacks of music and pick some things to play or work on. It helps me if I decide to design a "mini-recital" and select music to work on based on what I want it to be. Otherwise I just run through a few minutes on my instruments to be sure my hands and ears are working OK.

I think that for adult beginners physical factors in playing may come more slowly than for comparable kids, but mental factors should usually come much faster. Unfortunately, one quickly learns that playing the violin is not "rocket science," it is a lot harder, and you can't solve most of the problems by power of reason (or math)  alone (if at all).

Andy (retired "rocket scientist" and retiring violinist/cellist)


April 15, 2010 at 01:36 AM ·

 I've been playing roughly a month and a half and have been devoting hours at a time.  It's hard to really say how well you progress, as some people things come more natural to others.  I have some musical background in flute, so I was able to just refresh my music reading skills, as compared to others who have to completely learn how to read music.  I have a little bit of an ear because of it and it helps tons.  Some people may find hitting the sharp notes will be easier due to finger position, for me, my fingers are more comfy in the natural.


  But sometimes I look at that fact and wonder why I am progressing so slow (to me).  But according to my teacher, I have "a natural affinity for the instrument".  I love the violin, but it is DEFINITELY the most challenging instrument I've ever tried to learn.  You have no reference points (frets), and one persons finger position may or may not be the same due to finger size, etc.  It's all based on the actual sound you make as to where your hands go.  Taller people (me)should start closer to the tip of the bow to keep your shoulder from taking over on 16th notes.

 He said if you go by the Suzuki method, the 1st book, being able to play up to the 8th-9th song (not exercise) without ANY mistakes is usually the place where people are at the 1.5-2 year mark.  I've been using that to gauge my progress as he's an extremely accomplished and knowledgeable musician who has several students of varying age groups.  So, hopefully I can hit the 9 song mark way ahead of the curve.

  I've also learned, not solely from my teacher, but from my girlfriends family who is all extremely musically talented, that not locking yourself into one genre helps you progress at a much faster rate as many skills from different genre's kinda build on each other and feed each other as a whole.  Improvising also helps you to go a much longer way.  

April 15, 2010 at 04:51 AM ·

I don't know if you will find this helpful or not, but there have been a couple of NY Times bestsellers, both of which reference a study on violin students.  This and other studies indicate that (1) it takes 10 years to master something -- an instrument, programming, chess, martial arts, etc.; and (2)  success on the violin is wholly dependent on how much one practices.  In other words, though it doesn't sound right (counter-intuitive?), natural talent or ability are not so much the deciding factors as the time spent working with the instrument.  Of course, normally, common sense suggests that people with the most natural ability are going to be putting in all the time, but if musically able students are divided into categories ranging from those who will have international solo careers to those who will be public school teachers, the primary distinction is in how much those in each category practices.

Here is the whole FAQ entry, with the books and relevant quotations:

 (31) How long will it take me to get really good at the violin?
That question is probably one of the top four or five most "frequently asked" on the violin forums. The answer is that it takes about five years to really get into the violin. According to the following research, it takes 10,000 hours to master it. I just finished Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers: The Story of Success, and I would like to quote the paragraphs having to do with successful learning of the violin [this study is also cited in Geoff Colvin, Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else]:

Kindle ed., location 464-492:
Exhibit A in the talent argument is a study done in the early 1990's by the psychologist K. Anders Ericsson and two colleagues at Berlin's elite Academy of Music. With the help of the Academy's professors, they divided the school's violinists into three groups. In the first group were the stars, the students with the potential to become world-class soloists. In the second were those judged to be merely "good." In the third were students who were unlikely to ever play professionally and who intended to be music teachers in the public school system. All of the violinists were then asked the same question: over the course of your entire career, ever since you first picked up the violin, how many hours have you practiced?

Everyone from all three groups started playing at roughly the same age, around five years old. In those first few years, everyone practiced roughly the same amount, about two or three hours a week. But when the students were around the age of eight, real differences started to emerge. The students who would end up the best in their class began to practice more than everyone else: six hours a week by age nine, eight hours a week by age twelve, sixteen hours a week by age fourteen, and up and up, until by the age of twenty they were practicing--that is, purposefully and single-mindedly playing their instruments with the intent to get better--well over thirty hours a week. In fact, by the age of twenty, the elite performers had each totaled ten thousand hours of practice. By contrast, the merely good students had totaled eight thousand hours, and the future music teachers had totaled just over four thousand hours.

[Similar studies on pianists revealed the same sort of data.]

The striking thing about Ericsson's study is that he and his colleagues couldn't find any "naturals," musicians who floated effortlessly to the top while practicing a fraction of the time their peers did. Nor could they find any "grinds," people who worked harder than everyone else, yet just didn't have what it takes to break the top ranks. Their research suggests that once a musician has enough ability to get into a top music school, the thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works. That's it. And what's more, the people at the very top don't work just harder or even much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder.

The idea that excellence at performing a complex task requires a critical minimum level of practice surfaces again and again in studies of expertise. In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.

[What follows is a very interesting discussion of Mozart.]

The materials, below, from Peter Norvig's Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years support this thesis as well: 

Researchers Bloom (1985), Bryan & Harter (1899)*, Hayes (1989), Simmon & Chase (1973)** have shown it takes about ten years to develop expertise in any of a wide variety of areas, including chess playing, music composition, telegraph operation, painting, piano playing, swimming, tennis, and research in neuropsychology and topology. There appear to be no real shortcuts: even Mozart, who was a musical prodigy at age 4, took 13 more years before he began to produce world-class music.

In another genre, the Beatles seemed to burst onto the scene with a string of #1 hits and an appearance on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964. But they had been playing small clubs in Liverpool and Hamburg since 1957, and while they had mass appeal early on, their first great critical success, Sgt. Peppers, was released in 1967.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) thought it took longer than ten years: "Excellence in any department can be attained only by the labor of a lifetime; it is not to be purchased at a lesser price." And Chaucer (1340-1400) complained "the lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne." Hippocrates (c. 400BC) is known for the excerpt "ars longa, vita brevis", which is part of the longer quotation "Ars longa, vita brevis, occasio praeceps, experimentum periculosum, iudicium difficile", which in English renders as "Life is short, [the] craft long, opportunity fleeting, experiment treacherous, judgment difficult." Although in Latin, ars can mean either art or craft, in the original Greek the word "techne" can only mean "skill", not "art".

* Bryan, W.L. & Harter, N. "Studies on the telegraphic language: The acquisition of a hierarchy of habits. Psychology Review, 1899, 8, 345-375
** Chase, William G. & Simon, Herbert A. "Perception in Chess", Cognitive Psychology, 1973, 4, 55-81.

April 15, 2010 at 05:06 AM ·

To add to the discussion, I have seen that students can get very good at the violin in about five years if they have good guidance and regular practice habits.  One thing I always bring up--especially with my adult students--is the notion of learning curves.  Psychologists can map these and there are many examples available. 

There is an urban legend that one music teacher got so tired of students expecting to go straight from point 0 to their highest perspective point of accomplishment that the teacher xeroxed actual learning curves and placed them on the walls of her studio.  Human beings do not learn in a straight line, in other words.  There are plateaus and ups and downs, and they are inevitable.  The trick is not to quit during a rough spot!

April 15, 2010 at 04:52 PM ·

The only barrier you have to deal with as a beginner or otherwise is putting the thing down.  Never put it down.  Never give up. Never give up.  Ever.  Do not stop.  As long as you keep moving forward, even millimeter-sized advances add up.  Success means nothing more than not stopping.  The universe doesn't give a damn for brilliance.  It rewards bullheadedness.  I may only be a beginner in the viola, but I've mastered other things in my life, and all you need to do is love it so much that you'll never stop.  It's that simple -- not easy mind you, but simple.

Never stop, and every single time you pick it up, think about it.  THINK about what you're doing, how to make it better, how to understand why the thing behaves the way it does, what you want and how to get there.  Find joy and satisfaction in that process of analysis -- punch the air and celebrate when you figure something out and then think of how many ways that new knowledge can be applied to coming challenges.  I may be a rank n00b at the viola, but if it goes for partial differential equations, Welsh, Ginastera's Argentine dances, and bracket-notation quantum mechanics, it goes for the viola, too.

Think about it -- if you have hit a plateau, what's the worst that can happen?  It's just a violin (viola for me).  It's not a nuclear bomb.  The planet isn't going to blow up if you don't master something RIGHT NOW.  Just keep doing it and it'll come in its own good time.  Ignore the clock, ignore comparisons, just tuck that thing under your chin and play.

April 15, 2010 at 05:04 PM ·

To Janis:

"Ignore the clock, ignore comparisons, just tuck that thing under your chin and play"

Awesome statement...I may have to plagiarize that to use on my students!  :-)


April 15, 2010 at 07:41 PM ·

How would I like to ignore the clock Janis...

When I think of a talented professionnal violinist from Europe I know who used to have so much talent as a kid she was able to  fastforwards the clock and make beleive to her grand-mother (who was responsible to check she'd practice the good ammount of time) that her practice time was already over... 

Personally, I would give anything to rewind it...


April 15, 2010 at 07:47 PM ·

 Janis - You are so correct!

I'm 43, and have been playing for 3.5 years. I hit roadblocks or plateaus very frequently, and you just have to keep playing through them. When you make it past, it is the best feeling in the world and you feel unstoppable.

Never give up. Practice a lot and practice mindfully. Don't skip over or rush past the hard parts - practice those even more - it is so rewarding when you "get it". Play music you love. If you get frustrated, go back and play an old piece from before; then you'll hear how far you've come. Play fun pieces - the Can Can is one of my favorites.

Plus, it was a post like this that got me past my first plateau. Thank you to the whole violinist.com community for keeping me inspired and motivated.

April 15, 2010 at 08:06 PM ·

Janis, I liked your post so much that I put it in a notepad on my desktop and named it "Click here to get inspired" not to mention I just got a nice quote to put in my skype status update.


April 15, 2010 at 08:43 PM ·

>> Janis, I liked your post so much that I put it in a notepad on my desktop

I agree with Theo.  That's amazingly good, lyrical writing. 

April 15, 2010 at 09:34 PM ·

I had to overcome what I was reading and what I was thinking.  I am prone to play where I think the composer is going as to where the composer does go. Play what I read, not what I think

April 15, 2010 at 10:53 PM ·

 I agree with Janis word for word!

I don't think there is a 'typical' road for a beginner, we are all different, so am sorry but we cannot say to you 'this is what it is like after 6 months/12 months', we just can't!

I have been learning for just over 3 years and passed my grade 5 abrsm with merit last month.  I would have like to be at grade 8 by now (don't we all!) but hey, if I had given up when I plateaud I would not be where I am today! 

so yes: just keep playing, practice EVERY DAY, even if only 15-30 minutes and even if it's 'just scales' but do it every day and 'mindfully', the rest will come when it' s 'good and ready', so long that you keep at it!



April 19, 2010 at 05:50 PM ·

WOW!  Can I just say WOW!?!

These are all wonderfully inspiring comments.  It's been amazing to read each post, every single one has made me pick up the violin each time and continue playing.  It's given me an amazing drive and refuelled my dwindling musical confidence.  Hopefully I'll blast through the other side of this roadblock with the biggest grin on my face.

It's fantastic to hear from players of all levels and ages, but I think the theme is constant...  Don't give up, just practice, practice, practice!

Thank-you all!

April 24, 2010 at 02:15 PM ·

Hi All,

I agree. This is a  great discussion. I am an adult beginner too.31 now.  been learning for about 5 years.. but its all been very sporadic, with long breaks (upto 7 years) in between and not much practice even then. I too was looking for some inspiration here on the forums.

I'm on the verge of giving up the violin. the thing for me is.. i'm just terribly lazy with violin practice. mainly because i sound so awful. its not like the piano or guitar( both of which i picked up casually from watching friends) . the violin is just so so HARD! every note is a struggle (cause of no frets, and need for proper bow arm action, not to mention supporting the instrument all the time with the chin and shoulder) 

If one could play music (albeit simple tunes) while learning, it would be alright. but a beginner just sounds so unearthly... on the violin. At least i did.

and listening to someone play bach or paganini..it seems just impossible to ever get to that level from where I am.

Ah well. i'll keep at it then.  thanks again you guys. play on.


April 25, 2010 at 03:57 AM ·

"n the first group were the stars, the students with the potential to become world-class soloists. In the second were those judged to be merely "good." In the third were students who were unlikely to ever play professionally and who intended to be music teachers in the public school system."

How depressingly shavian.  "He who can, does; he who cannot, teaches."


May 7, 2010 at 02:36 PM ·

I have been playing for 5 years now, never having played previously, but have had the good fortune of watching both my kids learn before me.  I am working on the Vivaldi concertos in Suzuki 4, but plan to spend some serious effort this summer on sight-reading, and playing IN TUNE in 3rd position...still scary.  Vibrato practice would help too.  Other adult beginners....keep up the posts, because you inspire me!  What helps you the most?

May 7, 2010 at 03:04 PM ·

Hitting a platue and hitting a wall will always happen. It recently happened to me, and it still happens to my teacher Dr. Fadial, and mind you he's a string profesor here at U W. what you are noting in the posts are not how it can be avoided, but how you can cope when it does happen. Each violin (viola, cello, kazzoo) is unique, though it may look like all others, just like people.  It's journey through life is also just as unique as all of us!  Each person grows at their own pace. All of us have atributes that others do not have and we can learn from them. Sometimes something happens, like what has happened to you, is a moment that a learning experience has reached a point that must be taylored for you specificly because you are a one of a kind just as we all are. A wall or platue can reveal aspects of our self  we would otherwise not have realized if it were not for The Wall...The Platue. sometimes, not only does what we learn or overcome from those moments makes us a better violinist.... sometimes we leave a better person as well!  And we see why the violin has been so intrumental, and important for us to have had it in our life!

May 7, 2010 at 04:19 PM ·

 Royce.....what a lovely reply! :)

May 7, 2010 at 07:43 PM ·

@ Jo....... why thank you, but really I can't take too much credit since I have been learning allot here at violinist.com and being around some very wise teachers. Some are violinist or musicians of other instruments, and many men & women in my Congregation at church.  I'm trying my best to grow and improve as a violinist and a person. Thanks again. and my your musical and personal endeavors be blessed.

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