too old at 69???

August 17, 2010 at 01:49 AM ·

i am 69 years old, beginning violin.  it is very frustrating since i am already an accomplished musician, it sounds bad, obviously, and my coach doesnt give me credit for being a musician.  what do you suggest?  how do other adult learners cope?  i should say 'aging crones'.

Replies (37)

August 17, 2010 at 02:10 AM ·

 Hi- If you already play the piano well, it's natural to feel frustrated early on. An important reason could be that there is a running underlying self criticism of yourself. You compare yourself with yourself, and find yourself wanting in the violin department. If that is the case, you need to practice specifically for not criticising your playing. This is an essential skill for becoming a good instrumentalist. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't be aware of what you're doing at all; you simply have to refuse castigate yourself. Another point is that it isn't clear whether you have a violin teacher, as opposed to a coach. Find out which local teacher's students sound good and feel encouraged by that teacher.  Charles Johnston

August 17, 2010 at 05:49 AM ·

I recently ran into a definition for crone: "wise woman"!

I would keep in mind what brought you to the violin and what motivates you to learn.  As time goes on and you keep with it, you may become (resigned?) to the reality and gain some patience.  I've found the journey itself to be rewarding.  Good luck!

August 17, 2010 at 08:20 AM ·

i'm musically illiterate, 4 years your junior and more or less in the same boat.  i'll never be accomplished enough for a concert hall but that's besides the point.  i think the biggest hurdle for me was being afraid to make noise.  once i had the fingering down - fewer bum notes - i begin to work on tone and slowly-slowly, confidence returned.  there are some wonderful videos on site relating to tone - some of which are repeated when you put "violin tone" in youtube's search engine.

forza!  warn all creatures great and small who are within ear-shot and let 'er rip!

August 17, 2010 at 10:51 AM ·

 My mother used to admonish me with "act your age or is that too old" and I am still battling with it, maybe that is your problem too. You are an accomplished pianist but you will not reach on the violin what you have done on the piano, and you will not be remembered in violin folklore unless you kill someone with the instrument or sit on your 'coaches'  Del Gesu. If you call him a pedagogue he will also realize your musical ability much sooner. 

You obviously will have no trouble reading the notes so the problem will mainly be motor skills which is different than tickling the ivories. Compared to the six or more notes you play on the piano the single notes on the violin looks deceptively easy, but that is where the paw-paw strikes the fan. It takes a lot more technical expertise and skill to play that one note on the violin. That  is why more time should be spent on scales and technical exercises. You would like to play lovely pieces like Meditation, Zigeunerweisen etc. but the groundwork must be laid thoroughly otherwise the building starts cracking up.

I am in the same but older boat than you, so enjoy the ride because it will end sooner than later. Practice diligently  for in five years time your energy levels will have halved and what is left is senior status on and an audio under your profile. That is compensation enough, what more can a man ask from life?

It is my pleasure to give you such positive advice. 


August 17, 2010 at 11:22 AM ·

I know a guy that started playing the guitar at age 72. Too old you think? Well he played until he died at the age of 98! So, by then he was super good, after 26 years!

May you live a long life :o)

August 17, 2010 at 04:08 PM ·

age should never be an issue for something you want to do. Ive played guitar since a child and two years ago at age 45 took up the fiddle. I love it and play everyday.

August 17, 2010 at 04:23 PM ·

thank you, thank you.  i do realize, on a rational level, that i shouldnt compare 'myself with myself' but this is an emotional leap.  it helps to hear you views.  and my mother died at age 98 and one half, so i expect to have more years, even decades.  what inspired me to do this?  well, my mother had played violin as a child, but i always thought it would be too hard, so I came in the back door, so to speak, and bought a cheap fiddle and took lessons with a fiddle teacher - she was supportive, not too exacting, but it was a wonderful experience until SHE RETIRED.  then i

heard a wonderful violinist, suzuki from age 5, and was re-inspired.  but suzuki is tough - and my teacher (I thought coach was just the trendy current term) is both male and 33 years younger - (here's another topic - teacher/student communication)  - he has inspired me to want to play the violin, almost as much as i have ever wanted anything - yet i am selfconscious in his presence.  again, a catch 22 - i want him to teach me because he is so good, but i know i sound pretty bad.  luckily, he is very patient but i am not sure he understands how i feel and he seems somewhat uncomfortable with my frustration...... but it gets better all the time.

the support from all of you was very helpful.  keep on fiddlin'.    diane

August 17, 2010 at 04:55 PM ·

Dion -- you're such a hoot!  :)  Love reading your comments!

Di -- During one of my visits to my luthier, he pointed to a violin case in his shop -- said it contained a violin belonging to a lady in her 80's who is still actively involved in playing (or at least she would be once she got her violin back from him!).  I'm just starting at 60.  I have some health and injury issues, but plan to keep going with my violin until someone notices that I've shriveled up and tipped over in the corner somewhere.  Thirteen years of piano study in my youth never created the bond between my piano and me that simply picking up my violin created between the violin and me.  Some things just get into your blood!

August 17, 2010 at 05:28 PM ·

 Well, Well.  Age is just a number.  It is not the final goal to be accomplished, it is the journey.  If we all lived until we where 500 years old, we would all (us musicians) play many instruments at concert level.  Hang in there  and practice. You only have to learn the finger board and learn to bow.  That does not take forever. In fact, it is only a short time. The rest of violin playing will be fun. Practice single string scales. I bet any violin teacher you get wishes he could play the piano at the professional level. If your teacher does not encourage you, then move on to the teacher that will encourage you.  


August 17, 2010 at 05:55 PM ·

thanks again, elderly gentlemen and aging crones - Dion, I dont accept that my energy level will be halved in five years - diet and exercise are crucial!!  i do reasonably well at both.  and i recommend a book called EFFORTLESS MASTERY - that's a Zen title for you - but of course I cannot recall the author.  It stresses patience, playing in the moment, and is very helpful. 

New works in neuroscience are encouraging, too - though we have fewer brain cells in later age, we still have lots of equipment to create new pathways and synapses.  Read THE BRAIN CHANGES ITSELF by Norman Doidge - another one is called THE WISDOM PARADOX - which argues that experience can be just as helpful as young brain function.......

August 17, 2010 at 07:37 PM ·

Hi Di!

I understand what you mean about your teacher not understanding your frustration. 

Just a short paragraph to explain why: I was not a proeficient musician before the violin as you were but my head progressed way more rapidly than my motor skills so it does a bit similar.   My motor problems include slow reflexes, very poor motor memory and physiologic issues: stiff hands, tiny "weak" fingers and long neck.  My biggest problem is cold hands... when I get a blood test, they take baby needles and, even so, have a hard time to find the veins... 

So, I often get really frustrated too because I know what it is to play well (somedays by "miracle", I experience it) but I'm always limited with my motor problems 99% of the time.

I've learn somthing:  society don't like complainers and don't like to really listen to other's problems.  That's how it works...   I'm not saying that my teacher isn't understanding. She is so much!  But no one will truly understand my frustration, not even my family.    Either I'll pass for nervous, pessimist, negative, unprofessionnal or as an excuse for my bad playing so I learned to... shut up most of the time.  But students can really get desperate with their frustrations!   This is why their is!   And you're not alone in feeling that no one can really understand your problems and frustrstions!

No one knows what it is to be a struggling musician until they exprienced it!

Good luck,


oups, I think I don't fit your description of "old crones" yet (lol).  I just saw this thread was to ask advice to other old crones!  But anyway, there is no age to post something here!


August 18, 2010 at 10:13 AM ·

Di you mention Kenny Werner's book Effortless Mastery so you must be familiar with it, so the question is why are you still struggling with patience. He gives all the answers and methods to improve. I have never heard of him before I googled his book and instant knowledge was at my finger tips. I would read the book but it would cost some money and if I had a problem with patience. A resigned fellow like me are happy to be mediocre, I have nothing to prove, I can just watch the world go by and wonder what the hell is happening.

Decreasing powers of old age can be measured by studying the Masters athletics statistics of the aging cronies that takes part. The fall off in the latter stages of life is quite dramatic because the body parts wear out like that of an old car but it can not be replaced. The muscles lose flexibility, the heart must work harder to pump blood through aging arteries and a brain that is shriveling. When you forget where you put the keys or your glasses you will know that you are not the girly that you use to be. That is reality for some people it takes a bit longer. When the glint in the eye is only a reflection of the sun on the window you will know that the sell by date is near. 

But all is not gloom and doom, like Elsie in the song Cabaret one can be the happiest corpse in town. 



August 18, 2010 at 02:16 PM ·

First of all, I think you need to find a teacher who respects your musicianship. Perhaps one who can relate your violin progress to your piano prowess.

One of my cello students was an adult piano teacher (with a studio of over 60 piano students-children and adults). We would move from the cellos to the Steinway to illustrate things. He did have trouble transferring his piano skills to a bowed instrument (i.e., cello). The "sustain" concept seemed hard to use

I have also found it helpful for adult students to have a particular (not difficult) piece in mind to learn to play.

Since you are already an accomplished pianist, at age 79 (sorry - 69, that makes a big difference) you may have already noticed some differences in the way you play and/or retain certain skills or memorized/remembered music. I think these mental changes will also affect the way you will learn and retain violin playing. My own playing is certainly changing. When sight reading nowadays (at age 75) fast passages do not move as rapidly from my eyes to my hands. My cello playing, which I started at age 14, is now clearly not quite as "hardwired" as my violin playing, which I started at age 4. The longer ago I studied a piece of music, the better I seem to be able to retain it now.

A new student of my age would have to adjust to physical and mental differences - and be patient - and work hard and steadily. When I was only 69, my cello playing was still improving (an indication that I did not do enough of it when I was younger), but around 70 I noticed that I stopped improving (coincidentally when I bought a new cello).

I play cello weekly in a piano trio with a 74 year-old violinist and a 94 year-old pianist. The violinist studied as a child and played into his 30s, then stopped for 30 years while practicing medicine and resumed violin studies at age 62. I'd day that at 74 his violin playing is still improving. The pianist was a life-long professional, but in the past few years with fading vision and almost non-existent hearing, her playing is now fading. And then there is my own life-long experience of improvement and fading.

I'd say you better put in all the time on the fiddle that you can stand - and work with a teacher who motivates you.


August 18, 2010 at 03:44 PM · to Dion - I couldnt afford the book, either although it costs just $20 and includes a meditation CD. Dont you know about Interlibrary Loan? they can get it for you. Yes, I am trying to take his advice to heart - and in fact my teacher incorporates his ideas - but it is still a struggle. but that's what life is, and working this out has been great for my brain and for me. Andrew, I can still memorize music as quickly as I could as a child, though I forget book titles, what I had for breakfast! etc. the author of the book is Kenny Werner - he writes beautifully as well as plays jazz....

August 18, 2010 at 10:04 PM ·

 Perhaps your teacher is also struggling with how to manage the dynamics of this situation. Depending on their experience and confidence, they may find that the easiest - not necessarily the best :) -  way to manage the uncertainty is to ignore the essence of it, and focus on the tangible things.  It may take some time for your teacher to develop a frame of reference for how they are going to approach adult, and in this case, older adult starters. 

Its ultimately you who has to decide whether to be part of that teacher's development, or do you need to find someone who is already there, and can start to assist you now.

Our ensemble includes a lovely viola player, who had played piano since childhood (I get the impression that piano lessons for school children were as common as after school tutoring back in the day) - she started viola about 10 years ago, similar age to yourself. She plays beautifully when she knows what she is playing, her learning of new rep is a little slower (hard to be sure of why that is, we are all such different creatures), she has a unique and well padded set up and manages rehearsals of around 1 1/2 hrs. So from that experience, it is clearly not prohibitive to start at a later age.

My violin stand partner in ensemble started at 60, and has also played piano her whole life. I'd always imagined that having the knowledge of reading music would be an asset, but she says its actually harder, its another language, and she translates the notes on the page from piano keyboard to fingerboard as she plays.She too continues to advance, and has regular lessons, ensembles, and now is in a community orchestra.

August 18, 2010 at 10:49 PM ·

sSharelle - interesting re the violist.  I dont think I could do this at all if I couldnt read music - I do sometimes 'see' a keyboard in my head - I dislike like the suzuki fingerings on the score - yes, i am in suzuki book 1.   and your comments re my teacher are spot-on.  I am myself a retired history professor - and also found I learned so much from my students.  I think my teacher is a bit unsure of just what to do.  I make dumb comments and he just doesnt respond.    But I should help him to understand where I am.  He is worth the time - a wonderful player and a nice person....just nott used to students like me....

All these comments have been really heopful.  Ana as for complaining, as one blogger says (nobody wants to hear it), I just say, what are these discussions for anyway?   

fiddlin forever, me

August 19, 2010 at 03:26 AM ·

 Up an at em!

My teacher is only 7 years my senior, she has learned/played violin for as long as I had b een alive when I started lessons at 44 with her.

I keep saying that when I too have played for 44 years, i'll be as good as her. that will make me 88. Hopefully i'll still have some years to rest on my laurels after that :)

August 19, 2010 at 04:26 AM ·


This idea of limited expectations for older players comes up over and over above.  I'm totally against it.

Realistic goals?  Mine are to play a soilo in a concert hall.  Who defines 'realisitc' anyway?  When I screened potential teachers recently I ruled out any that started to talk about reducing expectations, setting realistic goals etc etc.  To accept that is to accept also that the teacher does not have to take you seriously.

The teacher I finally settled on is 30 years my junior and is amazed and thrilled by my ambition - the point is I need those aspirations as fuel for my playing and work.  Realistic?  Who cares - that is NOT important, dreams are the fuel of effort and progress.  No teacher has the right to take away your dreams. 

August 19, 2010 at 05:46 AM ·

Very well said Elise. Nothing unrealistic about dreaming of becoming so good at what you love to do. 

August 19, 2010 at 11:54 AM ·

 To Di - I have heard of Interlibrary Loans and it is only works if the book is available. I am in South Africa and any book of Kenny Werner is not in our library system. If you click on a posters name you will get into his/her profile and that will tell you where they reside. I am not going to take too much trouble to get Kenny's book although I have plenty money. The reason is that I have read enough motivational books in my life to be the richest, most talented, most creative, most sought after man that dampened a bathmat. But I am not, reality always kicked in and I am still Joe Palooka, and I am not going to look for the holy grail anymore.

August 19, 2010 at 02:45 PM ·

hey, old fiddlers....thanks for the pep talk.  also, Dion, just reading a book doesnt change one.  I just read Kenney Werner a few days ago, and then I stopped playing to let the ideas soak in.  Actually, he is verbalizing much of what my teacher is doing.  by the way, I lived in Tanzania and Zambia, where I gave a harpsichord concert, much to the amazement of the locals.  also, you can google PLAYING FOR THE RIGHT REASONS and get a nice essay by Kenney Werner.

keep on buildin' brain synapses!    d.

August 19, 2010 at 02:59 PM · To take up a new instrument (or any challenge requiring a new skill set) as a full-fledged adult requires what I like to call a "willingness to suck." This goes hand in hand with an adventurous spirit and takes a certain amount of courage, perhaps even moreso for those with great expertise in other areas. The trick is to focus on how cool it is to be learning the violin from scratch (no pun intended) and to enjoy, even celebrate, every hint of progress along the way, much the way a child would. Works for me. Then again, I am still a child.

August 19, 2010 at 03:38 PM ·

Hi, Di, one can sometimes surprises oneself.  I wrote the post expressing some problems of mine because I felt in a similar way than you sometimes.  Yesterday, I had a super nice practice with a pianist.  (and though I would be crazy to quit!  But when I have many bad days in a row, I really think I will never do something good and ask myself If I'm crazy to still struggle to play lol)

If you really like it, you could have a few very good surprises somtimes!

Good luck!


August 19, 2010 at 04:29 PM ·

Agreed, Elise.  Artistry does not mean fluency, and fluency does not mean artistry -- although it can sure help.  There are billions of people who can speak English fluently, literally without thinking at all, and how many of them are brilliant novelists or orators?  Very few.

There are many people who have learned the language non-natively and still speak it with an accent who write and speak in a manner that most of us can only aspire to.

This love affair that people have with poorly understood half-science as an excuse to fail or set lowered expectations has got to go.  Every single person who loves something has something valuable to say and worth hearing.  That's not pollyanna fluff, it's fact.  A great deal of my most beloved music was written and performed by people whom I could bury technically.  Dennis DeYoung has the crappiest trill I've ever heard, and Elton John can just about reach an octave.  I'd kill to play -- and write -- like either one.

A large part of it depends on how one defines "music" -- taking the listener on a meaningful musical journey versus having the fastest trill in the world.  They shouldn't be set in opposition to one another, but many people do just that.  Technique is a means to an end -- it will enable you to say more things on an instrument without the instrument itself being an obstacle, but it will not bestow upon you something worth saying.

August 21, 2010 at 06:13 PM ·

Ah, Elise, you got a teacher! Good for you. May your experience of being taught be as fruitful as mine is.

August 22, 2010 at 02:26 AM ·

 Hi Di and everyone else, too

I had to respond to Di's reference to her teacher being so much younger.  I started studying Irish fiddle when I was 58 and my teacher was 22.  It is now seven years later and we are still hanging in there.  My teacher is also wonderfully patient, respectful and has high enough expectations to keep me on my toes.  He recommended that I read "Effortless Mastery" too - said that he rereads it every now and then himself.  

The violin is simply a very difficult instrument regardless of type of music or your age when you start learning.  After seven years I sometimes actually LIKE what I hear coming from me and my violin.

And my life has been so enriched because of the music, the discipline and the sense of accomplishment when something works out right.  This week my grace notes in an ancient Irish march finally worked out - I'm thrilled.

August 22, 2010 at 08:19 PM ·

thanx, Mary.  I feel I am taking baby steps, when I felt I'd be making at least toddler steps - when I was 7, and studying piano, I never thought about any of this.  I just did basically what my teacher said (or not) and full disclosure, my piano teacher had a nervous breakdown!   Now, I need to analyze, intellectualize and measure ..... I even read Ivan Galamian, most of it's over my head, but good comments on teaching.  the teacher, he says, should understand the 'personality' of the personality is complex, based on 69 years of interesting and varied experience, musical and teacher's experience is radically different, shorter, and he kinda scoff at reading books about violin playing.  but we do communicate better all the time across this age/gender/experience gap.    yes, I am thrilled to play something out of suzuki book 1 perfectly and hear him say 'that was great''s all very much a work in progress, a minijourney of greatsignificance only to me!

August 22, 2010 at 08:40 PM · Love this! I have students in their 60's, 70's, and find it is very good for me to teach someone besides kids & teens. 1) If you'd waited, you wouldn't be younger, would you? 2) You can't know where you're going till you get there. 3) If the fingerings in SI bug you, try white-out (the roll-on tape type of same is quick & easy.) 4) Good for you, wanting to help your teacher to improve :)) 5) There are some gigs out there for older beginners/intermediates. Google "New Horizons International" and "Scor!", which is in Rochester, NY Sue

August 23, 2010 at 03:08 PM ·

thanks, Sue.  Playing the violin is the hardest thing I will ever love.  A love-hate relationship, indeed.  but as Emerson said, 'a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds'  or Whitman 'do i contradict myself? then i contradict myself.  i contain multitudes.'      amazing how helpful this blog is - it's a SUPPORT SYSTEM FOR BATTERED VIOLINISTS.  As for goofing up in a performance, I've found that audiences love it when musicians joke about their failures.  Of course this is a bluegrass band!

August 23, 2010 at 05:05 PM ·

My occasional stand partner in community orchestra is in his mid-80s, and another guy in a previous orchestra was 90-something, so I reckon there's hope for us all!

Good luck with your violin adventure!

September 7, 2010 at 02:38 AM ·

My dear Di, you are never too old to begin playing the violin.  I am a "re-starter" as I played as a child and quit when I was 14.  I think boys became more interesting at that time.  Anyway, I began to play again 50 years later.  I found a wonderful teacher who understands the "mature" student and after 2 years, she helped me pick out a new and better violin.  That really made a difference in how I sounded and I became more inspired to practice.  I have just been accepted into the local symphony as a second violinist which is something I never thought I would do.  The secret to succeeding is the desire to play.  You must want to play more than almost anything and being retired, I have the time to do it.  Another newcomer to the violin who is also in her late 60's and I will play duets for 2 to 3 hours at a time.  We are always surprised when we look at the clock. So, hang in there, practice and let your dreams take you.  Good luck!!

September 7, 2010 at 03:21 AM ·

I am in a similar boat.  Accomplished, professional musician on other instruments.  Late starter violinist.  And I'm very impatient!  Especially with my slow progress to learn to play well.  

I discovered something about patience and process recently.  I found that my impatience comes from not trusting the process.  What I mean by this, specifically, is that you have to trust that the incremental work you are doing each day will produce the desired result.  Put your mind in the present days work.  The result will appear once the process is complete.  And the process needs to be rigorous.  By this I mean you have to be able to judge your own sound and make necessary changes so as to learn correctly, not letting mistakes get "practiced in."  

I have my own set of guidelines that my teacher has instilled in me to achieve results.  It's detailed, methodical and very well rounded, accounting for all aspects of a piece including emotional content.  I am seeing quicker results as my process develops.  It has turned my impatience into an exercise in trust.

September 7, 2010 at 01:45 PM ·

 Di Allen

This is a great thread and thank you Di for starting it. It is good to see that there are many people out there who want to encourage others.  Besides, age is just a number. We all go down the same road.

September 7, 2010 at 03:59 PM ·

Di (and everyone): I agree; great discussion. Although I'm not a late starter (I started when I was about 9), I am now still an amateur at age 69 also, and I can still relate to a lot of the discussions.

I'd like to add just one little technical point. Years ago when I was in college (when dinosaurs roamed the earth), I took lessons from a great teacher (Myron Kartman), who made me aware of something that I believe is important, especially as we get older.

It concerns the 2nd joint (the one closest to the nail) on the fingers of the left hand. When you are a pianist, you don't have to flex them much. But when you're a violinist, that joint is critical for vibrato and surely other technical reasons. That's maybe why a lot of pianists retain their technique better into old age than do a lot of violinists; pianists don't need that little finger joint as much. But for a violinist, once that finger joint loses its flexibility, well, there goes your tone and your vibrato (and maybe your intonation and technique along with it).

Mr. Kartman showed me an exercise to keep that joint supple - essential it is a "finger vibrato," which I'm sure many professionals are familiar with. You take a few minutes a day, and you don't even need a violin; you can practice this on a table, on your knee while you're watching a movie, or on the steering wheel while you are driving.

Essentially, you take one finger at a time, and wiggle it back and forth from the joint, with the pad of the finger placed down. Not much pressure, and not very fast, but with a good wide wiggling finger vibrato. Don't strain it or force it. It's the movement, not the pressure, that's important. Give each of the 4 fingers of your left hand a minute or two of this exercise.

I've been doing this for a couple of minutes a day now for almost 50 years. Not only did it improve my vibrato, but for some reason it helps my fingers and hands to warm up. Try it. If you like it, great; if not, sorry.

September 8, 2010 at 07:58 AM · Yes, warm-ups are essential. The violin will sound better if your fingers are warm. Your whole body takes part in creating your unique sound, so, like a singer, try to loosen it up before starting to play. Remember the back and the place between the shoulderblades. If I came from the piano I would focus on how to create a tone with bowing, and watch very closely how and why the sound changes. It helps to have a beautiful sound in your head before playing. Good luck on your wonderful venture.

September 9, 2010 at 08:20 PM ·

I've heard great teachers say that unless you start in early childhood, you'll never achieve greatness.  That is TOTAL bull. 

I will say that the musculature and the way its formed as a child develops WITH the violin, puts them at a very very very big advantage.

But an adult with fully formed musculature/skeletal that developed WITHOUT the violin, is definitely in for one of the greatest challenges of their life.  It IS doable.  Again, BUT, you must NOT hurt yourself, which will be easily done if you don't watch your own body. 

Otherwise, I believe...and this is just my belief (by the way, I started in adulthood and I defy anyone claiming an adult cannot play at the so called 'level' they infer), but you MUST have an AGGRESSIVE teacher, and one that understands the human body and the challenge an adult will face.  My first teacher was extremely aggressive with me, and while her pressure used to get to me, she always always challenged me both in devotion to the instrument, the DESIRE to learn the instrument and the insistence that I get my body to function in a violinistic way.  Obviously, it cannot happen overnight.  I have injured myself many times and faced many setbacks, all of which were uneccesary.  I don't think you have to injure yourself.  In the end, I worked it and worked it and connected to it and became it.  So you can do it.  You're age doesn't matter (except for risk of injury to tendon, muscle, joint and possibly nerve), and if you continue from now on until you are 79, you will be incredibly happy (I would think), because to BE violinistic (and this is how I put it) is a phenomenon you have to experience to believe.  Just my humble opinion.  I wish I could coach you myself, because I know what you have to do, but you need someone who is willing and capable of doing it.  Search around.  You need someone who EXPECTS pure tone from you, EXPECTS perfect intonation, EXPECTS a strong and rapid vibrato, not someone who could care less and not pressure you and challenge you as an individual. 

My best wishes and good luck with this very doable but challenging thing.

ps, there's a lot of good advice in this thread above, especially the one about not being afraid to make noise. How else will you get past it without going THROUGH it?


September 9, 2010 at 09:14 PM ·

Agreed on the "don't take no for an answer" mentality.  I got out of a lesson with a lot of "can't" in it last night, and what it meant was, "Can't do it now, but that doesn't release me from the job of continually looking for a way."

When one sees the number of brilliant virtuoso violinists who are fighting back against serious illnesses and injuries every day of their lives, any but the most blatant physical excuse is meaningless.  People forget that Perlman's entire nervous system was attacked and severely damaged in his youth, and not just his legs.  They forget what Hadelich and Pine went through and how many doctors told them they'd never walk, play, or even live, and the exhausting nonsense they both still have to go through even today.  I think sometimes that stuff makes you tougher since, when even climbing a flight of stairs or getting out of a car is a challenge, you just accept that everything you want to do in life will involve a serious amount of ass-busting.  Perlman can afford a wheelchair-friendly house now, but I'd be very surprised if he hasn't had to haul his body up a flight of stairs with his hands quite a few times in his life.  When there is a will, there is almost always a way, with very limited exceptions.

Can't doesn't mean "can't ever," just "can't yet."  And you get on the other side of that "yet" by just banging your head against something until it gives way.  ANY wall will crumble if you hammer at it enough.

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Johnson String Instrument and Carriage House Violins

Potter Violins

String Masters

Bein & Company

Annapolis Bows & 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