I know I am feeling the angst of a lot of adults who have picked up the violin later in life. For me this was a childhood desire that was dashed by an overworked, single mom trying to make ends meet. So as an adult, my husband and I have decided to give it a try and do something we have long desired – learn to play music. There are many, many people out there like us. I read somewhere that you only have one life to do the things you want to do. So if I don’t pick up the violin now, then when?
I rented a violin, bought books, watched videos. I spent time with friends asking questions and getting answers. Some of these friends are adult beginners but further along. Some of these friends majored in music in college and played the violin professionally. I have a surprising amount of friends that play and they are all very helpful and supportive. I also read a lot and researched what makes a good violin, what to look for when it’s time to purchase and tried like hell to get educated so that I would have an idea what I wanted when I finally saved enough to purchase a nice, student level violin.
I bought that violin last weekend. It was a very fun and exciting day for me. I couldn’t wait to get home to play even though I had just spent 3-4 hours playing a wide range of violins. At the time, I thought the bridge on the chosen one looked a little off but the shop was swamped, the luthier was tied up and there wasn’t much time to talk. Plus my train of thought got interrupted so it was a few days before my thoughts came back to the bridge. I posted pictures of the bridge and got the answers that I wanted, and a few other suggestions for things I had not thought of. Thank you to those people. I like input of all kinds. However, I also got a lot of stuff that I didn’t want and that no newbie wants to hear. Judgments that my chosen violin was crap and worthy of a landfill, that I got ripped off, that the shop owner should be shot and worst of all – why even try to learn because at my age I couldn’t possibly accomplish much.
Do you know that photos lie? Every photographer will tell you that. It doesn’t take much of a camera angle or change of lighting to show you something that is not there. As a newbie, I really appreciate all of the help and support that many people on this forum will give. Even the criticism. If you don’t hear the bad stuff you don’t know what you need to change or improve on. But there is constructive criticism and not so constructive criticism. Being told my violin should be sent to the landfill falls into the not so constructive slot. Have you seen my violin in person? Have you played it? No. Then how do you know? Do you expect me, a beginner, to skip straight to a Strad and be able to play it? Should I have bought the brand new $350 Eastman Student violin instead? I had that option. I played one. I liked the look, feel and sound of this 20 year old Shen much better so I spent the extra $400 that I really couldn’t afford and brought it home instead.
I train and show dogs. I strive for perfection in our training. My wall of blue ribbons tells me that I must be on the right track. I understand what it means to work hard to achieve goals and become #1 in your chosen field. In dog showing, I am a hobbyist. There are pros and I compete against them all of the time. I know they work harder than I do and I have the utmost respect for them. Just like Violinist.com there are a multitude of dog training forums and I am on several of the best forums. Just like V.com, we have newbies that join to seek out help and advise from the professionals and people who have trained for many, many years. In other words, my role on these forums is reverse of where I am now with my violin. There, I am the “expert”. Here, I am the “newbie”. I won’t say that snarkiness doesn’t run ramped amongst the dog training crowd. I think we invented the word snark. At the same time, the newbies add to the conversation, make us think about what we are doing and why, and remind us that we all started somewhere. Their seemingly stupid questions are only stupid if they are not asked. If you don’t know, how do you get an answer if you don’t ask? But to answer a question by telling someone that their expensive (for them) purchase is worthy of a landfill is really hitting below the belt. I can’t believe that anyone – anyone at all – started off playing the likes of a Strad. Even if you have been playing since you were a toddler, I guarantee it was on an instrument no better than mine. We all start somewhere.
I’ll get off my soapbox now and stop what will sound to some like a lecture. Actually, I’ll be surprised if this post isn’t trimmed. I’m not one to sit back and let people run roughshod over me. I can snark just as well as the rest of you. I normally choose to show respect instead. Not everyone comes from blessed beginnings with parents that are 100% supportive. Some of us had to become adults to finally pursue our dreams. And sometimes those dreams get put off until later in life. Everyone is different. Doesn’t that make for a better conversation?
This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.
Violinist.com is made possible by...
Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.