There seems to be a lot of mature aged violin students out there!!!!

September 22, 2011 at 03:09 PM ·

Hi everyone :) There is a thread up at the moment that got me thinking ... there seems to be a lot of violinists on this site who started as mature aged players or, if they did start as kids, they only started getting serious about playing as a mature student. I hear so much about violinists who started as 3-4 year olds and so little about mature aged students and am interested in seeing what others think about this. Wondering if people would mind answering these few questions just for interests sake:

1) Did you start as a child (say under the age of 10) or as a mature student? State the age you started playing only if you want to.

2) If you did start as a child, did you give up and come back to playing as a mature student?

3) Why did you decide to start playing?

Thanks everyone :)


BTW, I'll start us off. I didn't touch a violin till I was 16 and since then have loved it. I don't really know why I started playing the violin, I just knew I wanted to, and so I did and I haven't looked back since.

Replies (100)

September 22, 2011 at 03:54 PM ·

I'm slightly over 50. A young 50 and you wouldn't think it looking at me. (No, really.)

I played trumpet from 7th to 12th grade in high school and was going to major in music, but got lazy and went another direction. I wish I had chosen the violin or another instrument (maybe sax) instead of trumpet. I found the trumpet far more physically demanding than the violin although each have their own challenges.

I've always loved music and had a desire to express myself through music via an instrument. At this stage in life my music tastes have changed and I don't have the energy it takes to pick up the trumpet again. The violin for me is more cerebral than physical and the fact that it can allow for so many expressive moods and emotions is why I chose it at this point in time.

In the hands of a master it can bring tears to my eyes or joy to my heart. Inspire me in so many different ways. The one thing that practicing my violin does for me is to relax me like nothing else. At the end of a practice session I'm relaxed, excited, and looking forward to the time I can again pick up my violin and practice. Even if I'm at the elementary stage at this point, I realize it's just temporary and with time, energy, and effort, I'll be playing more difficult pieces as time passes. I long for the day I can competently play in an ensemble or band of some type.

It was either take up the violin or become a political assassin. I'm not suicidal (or homicidal) and chose the violin. I consider music and the violin a form of therapy without the psychobabble and drugs. :-))

September 22, 2011 at 04:55 PM ·

1)  Started as a child.  Not sure of exact age -- but not long after 7, because I know I started piano at 7.  The violin bug bit me soon afterward.

2)  No -- didn't give up playing to come back later; just kept it up with different goals at different ages.

3)  Why did I decide to start?  I wanted to become a professional symphony player after hearing and seeing a professional orchestra play at my elementary school.  I was hooked.

A classmate who was already into cello lessons told me, "Violin is a lot harder than cello."  Somehow this didn't faze the little swashbuckler in me.  I told Mom and Dad I'd like to switch from piano to violin.  They agreed -- but let a little time pass first just to be sure it wasn't a passing fancy.  It wasn't.
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FOOTNOTE: Ironically, although I listen to more orchestral music than any other type, I haven't done any orchestral playing since 21 y/o.  About that time, I could see that recital and small-chamber playing was really my niche.

September 22, 2011 at 04:59 PM ·

Well, I started at the age of 95 and by the time I was 97 I had gotten into Music Academy and the age 99 I got my first orchestral job (as toilet cleaner), but then I got my big beak at 100 and became concertmaster, and then I gave up music at 103 because i became the conductor.

At 110 I don't regret anything apart from taking on doing the Ring Cycle over a short weekend.

I may retire by the time I'm 115.

September 22, 2011 at 05:07 PM ·

Peter - its OK - most old people lie about their age: we all know you are 20-30 years older.  And the stories about actually performing on the violin, thats OK too.  We understand...


[edited - I initially called you Charles.  You know, Charles does fit you better somehow.... maybe its your princely demeanor... ]

September 22, 2011 at 05:14 PM ·

Started at 60 (about 21 months ago).  I played (?) on my own for about 5 months before deciding that finding a teacher was developing more and more urgency.  I studied piano for 13 years when I was a kid -- the basic musical knowledge helped a lot, but violin technique definitely needed/needs guidance.

I've always loved the sound of the violin -- the color and emotion it brings to music.  Several of my relatives used to get together periodically to play Bluegrass, and I always thought it would be fun to join in on "fiddle".  But my musical education always leaned more toward classical, and that's the direction my violin is taking me most often these days.  I've joined a small all-strings orchestra geared toward sort-of beginners and people who played in their youth and then left the violin for a long time.  I'm absolutely LOVING it!!!

September 22, 2011 at 05:19 PM ·


Started at age 6.  Stopped at age 14.  Started again more than 3 decades later.  OK, significantly more with unchecked passion.  Its now nearly 4 years and the passion shows no sign of abating.

Why did I start?  A friend did the same thing with her flute and that got me to go in the basement and take my childhood violin out and play a few tunes.  I have no idea why it engaged now and fine the question very interesting - in part because the above is not the whole story exactly.  I played the violin briefely in order to accompany my 12yr old son to his lessons with the intent of encouraging him to not repeat family history and quit (in vain).  I remember finding the instrument frustrating and that I was unable to improve.  So why did I fall hook line and sinker for it now - and even interesting, why do I now find it so easy to learn?

Thanks for the topic... got me thinking..

September 22, 2011 at 05:23 PM ·

I stop and start every day. One minute I'm playing OK, the next I'm swearing like a trooper (how do troopers swear?)

But I try not to swear too much in the quartet as the males can't take it .. (The females don't mind ...)

September 22, 2011 at 05:47 PM ·

i am telling the truth here and will provide a birth certificate if necessary.  i was born in november of 1940 and took up fiddle when i was 68 - when my fiddle teacher retired after 8 mo. i was in limbo, then, 18 mo. ago i started classical violin.  i can play the first two suzuki books, not peffect, but i keep going back and they keep getting better.  i played piano from age 7 to 17, and so i know music, but piano technique is so different from violin technique that it has been in some ways a disadvantage.  also, being old makes me think i am smarter than someone who is 30.  this is the age of my teacher.  however......i am working to overcome all these things.  and i think the violin is one of the greatest things in the world if not the whole universe.  and i like the v-commers because they love the violin too......this website is inspiring....

September 22, 2011 at 06:05 PM ·

 Started age 37, never played anything before....I started as I went to see an orchestra for the first time in my life 'live', they played 'movie music' (I love movie music), a soloist played the 'Schindler's list theme', I knew this piece of music, but hearing it live that night gave me goosebumps and so many emotions altogether never felt before....I thought 'if that little wooden box can give out so much emotion and sound so beautiful, I want to be able to do the same too one day!', went home, started to listen to violin music and got 'addicted'.  Now at age 41 (4 and a half years later) I have not stopped playing for one day and I am progressing progressing progressing :)  

I always had a teacher from the start (have changed teachers after 2 and a half years and am still with my second one now since 2 years ago).  I can never see myself give up.

I can now play the Schindler's List theme by the way (though not 'brilliantly' LOL)

My goals are just to keep improving and one day to play pieces like the Carmen Fantasy and Saint Saens violin concerto n.3 and many others :)

September 22, 2011 at 06:42 PM ·

I started at 9. Had nothing but a grammar school band teacher classroom style training, but still managed to earn 2nd fiddle in the 1st violin section for the regional summer youth orchestra when I was 12 (not a chance at 1st, because the concertmaster was 11 and just phenomenal. I wonder whatever became of him...). That was the highlight of my violin-scratching career. Never had a private lesson as a kid, although I could have if I asked. I simply developed other interests.

I played occasionally when starting high school but gave it up completely at 16. I was sans fiddle for the next 25 years, and missed it every day. What a fool for giving up my first true love. I was blind back then, young and dumb. I now wonder if I could have made a career of it, and of course I'll never know. I feel like that's what I was meant to do but now it's too late.

But that's not going to stop me from enjoying it now that I'm older and wiser (I hesitate to use the term "mature," because I'm anything but). I got back into it because I had the means, and I missed it so very much! I still don't practice so much as "doodle," and thus have not progressed very far, but I have realistic goals, i.e. just for the pure enjoyment of it. However I'm getting to the point where I want to start putting in some effort. I want to play Sibelius some day, in an almost convincing way. :)

September 22, 2011 at 07:46 PM ·

I started playing on weekends at grandpa house on his old German violin he got me into a class at school but that endedafter a few months because of buget cuts.  So didn't really get to play much except when with grandpa,who's violin was make in 17?? So  very old but I remember how it would sing so beautiful.  It was promised to me, so l waited. Finally my son insisted l buy a cheap one, just until l got grandpas he said may as well practice so when you get it you will be ready for it.  So l did, got a simple book 1 and taugh myself 3 months later knew l needed a teacher l was happy playing songs from the hymn book a church but wanted to learn more. I have take. 2 Months of lessons now and hope to continue till my life is done.  I am going to be 56 next week.  3 Months ago l couldn't raise my arms up to proper position from the damage to my body. Had no reason to live. Now l can hold it up and play in the church band.  Life is good. I practice 3 times a day 50 mins each time. Lots better than the 10 mins 9 times a day l started out with. I still don't have grandpas violin and looks like my little brother will. He never knew him and does play.  The violin hasn't been played in 50 years.


September 22, 2011 at 07:59 PM ·

 Played from ages 7 until 17, then quit because my old teacher retired and did't want a new teacher, also because I never disliked violin as a teenager but also never really loved it. Very much like Elise, picked up the violin again when my son started the violin, noticed that I wasn't all that good really, and began trying to improve on my own, and really got hooked this time. I am currently for a week abroad for the job, without my violin, and am missing playing the violin terribly. Obtained a lot of help in improving, just from reading this forum and trying out what I read! But mostly the improvement is simply because of more focused, disciplined, I would say "professional" way of practicing (as an adult I understand much better what is an issue and how to work on it, be able to be self-critical also). Also went restless because of what I read here on the forum, and loving the freedom of movement. I play much much better now than I ever did at my previous "height" when I was 17. This forum is great.

September 22, 2011 at 08:01 PM ·

 This is a fascinating discussion!  I like to believe myself to be as much of a student of people as I am of music.  I absolutely love the apparent growth in the numbers of adult (mature?) students and beginners.  It has helped me to reassert myself as a returning student, at the age of "almost" 50.

I started at age 10 and played through the 1st year of college, or about age 18. I started in the 6th grade (middle school). If my memory serves me, I was not particularly athletic, (short, red-haired, freckle-faced, semi buck-toothed), and was in a new school. One of the 1st new friends I made in the new school was a sort of stand-out geek who was carrying a violin case around with him. I went home to surprise my mother with, "I want to play the violin." She, eternally the go-to, ever-present church pianist, was in shock. I was #6 of 7 children, we were not very well off, but she really wanted to find a way to make it happen. We found my grandfather had an old beat up Czech fiddle in his attic that we were able to afford to barely get to playable condition.

I stopped formal study by age 19, at which time I went to do missionary work. I've played off-and-on over the years just so I wouldn't forget everything, though I almost did. When I happened; pursued a different career, marriage, family, 5 kids of my own...

Now, my youngest is in college. I resumed playing more regularly a couple of years ago and I love it now more than ever in my life.  Practice every day is therapy!  My grandkids and even my own children absolutely love it also... Who knew?  Oddly, I haven't lost everything, and, in spite of the age I am even improving and learning more and more, commensurate with how much time I give to the practicing. 

I hope I can encourage even more adults to jump on board. Constant and progressive learning, especially an instrument like the violin, helps to stem the tide of all aspects of growing older (except for the growing older part).

September 22, 2011 at 09:41 PM ·

Ok first, thank you. I needed to read all of these responses today! Reminded me of how much I love to play and that as an adult, I'm not alone (I had a bad chamber rehearsal last Friday, and have been walking around with slumped shoulders all week).

1) Did you start as a child (say under the age of 10) or as a mature student? State the age you started playing only if you want to.

I started at age ~9 in school, but then moved to a private Suzuki teacher. 

2) If you did start as a child, did you give up and come back to playing as a mature student?

I played until I was ~18, and did not play again until my son started with my childhood teacher 4 years ago - a 16 year break. After about a year, I started lessons with another teacher in the same program. She just recently moved away, and I'm now with a new teacher. I'm also in a chamber ensemble with other non-professional adult players.

3) Why did you decide to start playing?

Originally I was just naturally drawn to the violin - I remember asking which instrument was the most difficult and wanting to choose it for that reason as well (why I asked this at age 9, I have no idea!). But now it's different - I'm so in love with the violin and playing that it's hard to reason through why I didn't work harder when I was young, continue playing and pursue it further. I think it may have had something to do with lack of parental support - but the past is the past. My childhood teacher said to me when I started playing again that she had no idea I loved the violin so much - that she wished she had known etc. - and I told her, I wish I knew that back then too! 

September 22, 2011 at 09:48 PM ·

I'm still not a mature adult! :-)

September 22, 2011 at 10:47 PM ·

In fourth grade I was chosen with a group of other kids to play the violin.  The teacher was horrid and made every child cry.  All of us quit with out telling our parents why.  The truth was, i wanted to play the cello.  In 6th grade I started hanging around the music room which was right off of the school library (a place I could usually be found at anyhow).  The music teacher invited me inside and I told him I wanted to play the cello.  My mom refused, saying I would just give that up too.  The music teacher cornered her at an open house and said he would give me free lessons and let me use his cello.  Yay!  Unfortunately, he got transferred 4 months later so I lost my teacher and my cello.  Since I was entering 7th grade and was waaaaayyyyy behind my classmates, I gave up.  I knew (without asking - stupid, stupid, stupid) that my parents wouldn't come up with the money for the lessons or the cello.  I knew my mom couldn't afford it but I should have hit up my dad.......

Flash forward 30 years.  My husband is remodeling a bathroom for a guy who plays guitar in a bluegrass band.  His wife plays fiddle.  Both are in the "over 50" crowed.  My husband mentions that he always wanted to learn to play the guitar but gee, at his age he is too old for something like that.  Dick explains that everyone in their "over 50" bluegrass band learned their instrument in the last 5-10 years, so what's your next excuse.  Next thing I know, my husband has a guitar and turns to me and says to go buy a fiddle.  But I want to play the cello!  Well...... it's easier to jam with a violin and since I have a surprising amount of friends who play the violin, I decided that's what I would play - for now.  There's still a cello in my future.  I've been playing for a year now.  I can play several bluegrass and a few classical pieces.  I won't say I play them well, but I'm working on it.

September 22, 2011 at 11:42 PM ·

This is a great discussion. I love reading other's stories and knowing that there are others out there like me.

1) Did you start as a child (say under the age of 10) or as a mature student? State the age you started playing only if you want to.

Yes, I started in grade school.

2) If you did start as a child, did you give up and come back to playing as a mature student?

Yes. I was never really enthusiastic about practicing as a child. My parent's divorce and moving to Colorado from California seemed a convenient excuse to stop.

3) Why did you decide to start playing?

I attended a fly-in (a gathering of airplane enthusiasts) where a bunch of the people brought instruments, mostly guitars, and would jam in the evenings. That experience, and a violinist who played at church got me thinking about playing the violin again. I went back to the violin because it was what I knew and I figured it would be easier than trying to learn a new instrument.


I've been playing for 4 years now and just recently started rehearsing with a local civic orchestra. The orchestra is just a bit beyond me but as long as they will let me rehearse with them and gain experience, I'll keep at it.

September 23, 2011 at 12:50 AM ·

me too - got the bug as an oldie.  there's a ship's captain in joseph conrad's "the shadow line" who abandons his responsibilities, locks himself in his cabin and plays violin all hours of the day and night ... he eventually goes mad(er) and dies ...

September 23, 2011 at 01:15 AM ·

 I started playing viola at the age of 7 - 8.  It was required that all students take up an instrument when I was in grade school.  I wanted the violin, but when they called my name, all the violins were already taken.  The teacher convinced me that the viola was "just like" the violin, and I was fooled.  I quit when I was about 13 since.  By then, music wasn't taught in schools, so didn't have the social network to keep me interested.

After a 25 year hiatus, I started viola back up again.  That was 7 years ago and I'm loving it more than I ever did as a child.  I think I'm finally back up to where I was when I was 13...  :::: sigh ::::  

September 23, 2011 at 03:56 AM ·

Im 48, started 3 years ago.  Ive played guitar since I was 7 though

September 23, 2011 at 04:14 AM ·

WOW!!! This has become a facinating thread to read! Thanks to everyone who has posted and shared a little bit of their story with us. GO THE ADULT BEGINNERS!!!!!!!!!!! (notice I didn't say mature this time LOL)

Looking forward to hearing more from all you others out there . . .

September 23, 2011 at 04:49 AM ·

When I was a kid, I begged my parents to buy me a violin and let me take lessons. I don't remember why, but I just did. We moved down to San Diego when I was about 7 years old, and that year, they got me a [full size] violin and violin lessons under the Suzuki method. Of course, then my teacher had to explain that violins had different sizes, but that's another story.

We moved back to the San Francisco Bay Area when I was about 9, and I didn't really continue violin after the move. On a three-month trip to the Philippines when I was 11, I took violin again at a small music school, where I again did the Suzuki method. By this time, I was pretty sick of Suzuki. For the next few years, I learned flute, piano, ukulele, and some guitar.

Then I entered high school and I signed up for the school orchestra. I fell in love with the violin all over again, so I began taking lessons again. And just this school year, I made it into the first violin section of the school string and symphony orchestra and made it into the chamber orchestra. I don't plan on a career built on this, but I hope to get decent enough before I graduate (I'm currently 16--a junior in high school).

September 23, 2011 at 04:56 AM ·

I started at about age 52.  An aunt left me a bit of money and I had been wanting to play the violin ever since I started attending chamber music concerts (and a few choice soloists) as a grad student.  I played many instruments starting with piano at age 7 until a few years into grad school (got serious about a guy and stopped spending my time playing, but HE was the one who got me going to concerts--he's my husband now) and when I started studying the violin I discovered that I really need music in my life.  I got really serious about the violin about 2.5 years ago, after Laurie challenged us all to practice every day.  I just joined the San Francisco Scottish Fiddlers--can't wait to see where that takes me.

September 23, 2011 at 05:42 AM ·

I started as a child. Can't remember how old I was. I think I had "promise". But things happened. For one reason or another I lost the practising bug. My parents did not encourage/nag me. I didn't like the last teacher I had and he wasn't too fond of me. At the age of 14 I laid down the fiddle.

In the intermediate time I have strummed a few chords on the guitar.

But gradually I heard this voice calling in all sorts of places, from street fiddlers, to rock music to the classics. So in February last year at the age of 45 I picked up the violin again, quickly realised I needed lessons, found a teacher with the patience of a saint and here I am.

What's changed is that having got some living under the bridge I now realise what is necessary for success - that is a serious amount of dedication, practise, and a willingness to be told and to learn from someone who knows more than I do. Also I am paying for my lessons, music, strings, transport, so I better make the most of it.

I can't always play/practise as much as I would wish - there is that silly thing called "earning a living" that gets in the way but I try to not let that bother me too much.

September 23, 2011 at 08:07 AM ·

let's start a pressure group to promote music education - the "gray fiddlers!" ... heavy with attitude ... black leather, de rigueur ... "right arm!"

September 23, 2011 at 02:51 PM ·

"Mature aged?"  Why all the political correctness?  Just call me a geezer.  I also don't mind the term "old fart."  Seems to suit me well.  I started when I WASN'T an old fart.  Now I AM.

September 23, 2011 at 02:54 PM ·

Stories from a teacher's point of view:

A new student shows up to his lesson. 17 year old young man who has played violin for many years. He's playing Wienawski and can play fast high notes with ease. However his bow tone...scrambled eggs. I determine quickly that this kid is quite bright. He's got a great mind-body connection. All I have to do is share concepts and he immediately responds. I'm envious that he learns things the "easy" way. His progress is rapid and his tone clears up. I assign solo Bach, teach him a few concepts about phrasing and his interpretations are suddenly deep, meaningful and bring a tear to my eye. I find myself wondering why after all his years of study he wasn't more advanced. He clearly learned with ease and has something to say through his music. After 3 months of teaching this young man his Mom gives me a wonderful hug and showers me with thanks. It turns out that this young man's previous teacher was highly critical. The student had wanted to quit the violin based on his experiences with the last teacher. No wonder his tone sounded like "srambled eggs". His music was reflecting his conflicting state of mind.Luckily this young man's family moved and had the opportunity to try a different teacher before he quit the violin and as an adult would say "I used to play the violin..."

Some folks respond really well to highly critical teaching. Others cave. Adult students are hard enough on themselves! If you have a weird feeling in your gut about your teacher - just remember there are many other teachers out there. Make sure it's a joyful experience!

I have a number of kids that I've taught k - 12. Of course I get to know their families well. There are a couple of circumstances where I realized that 1 of the parents always wanted to play the violin - and here their kids are playing the violin...hmmmmmmmmmmmm. I always encourage them to get their own instrument but the "busy - ness" of adult life gets in the way. These parents shared a dream with their kids but wouldn't it have been really wonderful if they fulfilled their own dream???

Smiles! Diane

September 23, 2011 at 03:36 PM ·

I was never very musically inclined.  I played the piano for 7 years as a child, but never well, and I didn't really have the will to practice.

But my younger daughter is very musically oriented, and at three, she declared she wanted to play the violin.  We found a class with a Suzuki teacher, fairly hard core, that really didn't work for us.  I told her that anytime she wanted to try again, I was willing.  A few months later, we found a wonderful, amazingly patient and supportive teacher.  I started with her, as per Suzuki method, and I just really loved playing and learning, so I've kept going.  It's been more than six years.

For me, playing the violin (both classical and traditional Irish fiddle music) gives me open-ended learning, and a chance to be with others to make music. 

September 23, 2011 at 03:41 PM ·

I'm 64; my granddaughter started playing about ten years ago. I've played mandolin, which has the same tuning and scale length as violin, for many years. I decided I liked the violin enough to begin playing my ownself. I'm taking lessons from the granddaughter now. She may not be the world's most accomplished teacher, but she's flexible regarding my impulses in terms of what I want to play, and she's not afraid of correcting my mistakes, so it's a lot of fun.

I've taken to playing a fair amount of the simpler mado tunes on the fiddle, and when I'm on top of my game I can do a reasonable rendition of Chattanooga Choo Choo, with a low to moderate cringe factor.

It's still a little tricky rotating the right hand stuff thru 90 degrees on a two-axis devitation, and of course the bow arm has a long way to go before it could be considered artful, but I fully expect to be annoying neighbors and pets for some time to come.


September 23, 2011 at 04:19 PM ·

I didn't start until after 50. My first instrument was trumpet, 3rd grade. In High School, I played a little trombone and french horn (not well).

I am not a musician; I struggle with many musical concepts and structure. I do have a rather mature concept of some of the things, so it is an interesting mix.

That said, even though I don't consider myself 'musical', the violin is important to me. It relaxes me, but my lack of skill is part of why I am very private in my playing. I play for myself and my grandkids, not for public consumption.

Right now, I am frustrated because my life is pretty hectic, and I have been without a teacher for close to a year. With luck, I will be able to arrange my responsibilities so I have time to restart instruction; I find I do not advance on my own to any significant level (I know some can, but I can't seem to manage it.

September 23, 2011 at 05:42 PM ·

Started age 42, coming up on 10 years, y'all can do the math. As for the "grey fiddlers"......the "thinning, tendonitis, and general physical degredation in other areas fiddlers" may be more appropriate.

September 23, 2011 at 07:29 PM ·

Diane, thanks for your stories.  Some parents DO eventually share their child's dream.  But it has to be the type of parent who really wants to do it.  Lots of adults tell me "I wish *I* could play the violin."  I tell them they can and they start making excuses.  I think it helps if you already have a musical background.

September 24, 2011 at 02:00 PM ·

 I started at 9, in school, then with a private teacher.  Switched to viola in high school.  Majored in viola performance in college.  Must admit I never practiced "a lot," even in univ. but playing came naturally (I wonder if I'd practiced, how good I could have become, but I had a life to live, too, or so I would have said.)  Was a full-time orch. player for 10+ years, then 'grew up' (never matured) and became an Engl. prof--even though I was also principal violist of the city orch. in which I had my first tenure-track job.  I've always played in at least one orchestra, sometimes in chamber music, too.

Now, ** decades later I'm still playing, but I'm also practicing with care and great delight.  Glad I never stopped, because I have *** years of experience and an unspoiled love of the instruments. (Now I play about 50-50 viola-violin, mostly b/c I got tired of viola orch. repertoire and wanted a change).

September 24, 2011 at 02:25 PM ·

Started piano when I was 5, cello at 11 and played cello in orchestras ever since up until a couple of years ago. Took up folk violin when I reached 63, not long after I retired. Six years later I decided it was time to have violin lessons from a classical teacher, and 2 years after that I changed from cello to violin in Bristol Chamber Orchestra (UK). I'm still having lessons from the same teacher.

September 25, 2011 at 01:20 AM ·

 I first picked up violin when I was 14, almost 15, and I've been playing for about 2 1/2 years now :) I wouldn't consider myself "mature", by any standards, though. ;P

September 25, 2011 at 01:21 AM ·

I was force-fed cello at school and reached a reasonable standard but never really fell in love with it, so dropped it when I left.

In my late twenties I fell in love with the fiddle music of Scotland, and decided to learn to play. But just at that point I got the disease ME, and I simply couldn't cope physically, so took up the concertina instead - less tiring to play.

In my 40s I was sharing a flat with a pro who offered to teach me so thought I'd give it another try. My aunt loaned me my late uncle's old violin, but I still couldn't cope so it sat gathering dust under my bed. Then we discovered it was an important instrument and she whisked it off to Sotherby's who auctioned it in New York for $75,000! Not bad for my first fiddle...

In my mid 50s a new treatment raised my energy levels and I gave it another try. There are still periods when it's too much and I fall back on the concertina, but much of the time I can practice an hour or two a day.

I've decided to teach myself - partly because I'm tight for cash, and partly for the sheer challenge of the thing. A background in strings is helpful, and it's so much easier with all the great resources around these days. I'm around 3 years in and it's giving me a great deal of pleasure - I've even played a few times in public at charity gigs, and at sessions with some top players, without anyone throwing anything at me!

I'm enjoying the adventure...

September 25, 2011 at 10:39 AM ·

I picked up the fiddle when I was 21....golly, that's 37 years ago. I am not really sure why I began playing, could it be I saw a busker when I was about 13? I remember the sound of fiddle and will never forget the delight on his face. And mum jolts me and says come along, I must have been mesmerised. What's he playing mum? 'Sweet Goergia Brown'. 

Maybe it was the day I went to visit my friend, but he was'nt home, and invited to the pottery room where the Ladies had a lesson. i was given a fiddle  and discoverded it is tuned exacatly like the mandolin and plucked away my tunes holding it like such. The Ladies gave me much encouragement and I found myself borrowing friend's fiddle until the day I returned it, I then had to have my very own fiddle. I exchanged my fiddles several times until I found the Roth and I did feel so very privilidged  to be the owner. I thought to myself 'there's not any excuse now, better begin practising properly'. That is why I keep coming back to this site, I am still a student but not old cheese.........

September 25, 2011 at 02:44 PM ·

Well Katisha, I'm very much enjoying reading all the wonderful experiences out there.  It goes to show you never really know when and why you do something like this, but we all know it has its rewards. Here is my little story:

I started violin when I was 15, but only because my best friend wanted to learn it. We both had some musical talent we both decided, thanks to our high school music recorder class and the dedication of our enthusiastic teacher promoting the idea. Neither of our parents could really afford this but managed to scratch together pennies for our first $25 student models.

We started lessons with a teacher at the school once a week, and took them together. Slowly we grew, took exams, found a new teacher when the school one retired, pestered our poor parents for better violins and managed to learn to 3rd grade. Not that we worked hard at it, really, we treated violin practice a little like other school assignments mostly completing tasks the night before the lesson. But we managed to get somewhere. We played in our high school productions each year and once in a council production of Fiddler on the Roof. Great fun.

By this time HSC intervened and violin had to take a back seat. Then life and partners and children happened and for most of the next 28 years we had lost contact with each other. Unbelievably both our violins remained boxed for this period of time, only rarely being taken out, messed with a little, and returned.

3 years ago I stumbled across this neglected old violin of mine during a clean up. Feeling guilty, I decided to be responsible and mature for once and not waste the time and effort from my early years, not to mention my parent's meagre earnings, and find myself a violin teacher to continue with. This I did, my wonderful teacher becoming a good friend who makes great coffee, chats happily and generally draws out a half our lesson to an hour or more. I also have the confidence now to join a local 'mini' orchestra for all comers, and occasionally participate in local high school productions. The best part of all, is that my best friend and I found each other again, and she has decided to begin lessons again too, because I did. Now when we get together it's like the old times and we play old and new material. It's just the best reward after all this time.

Oh yes, I do sometimes regret not having continued when younger, at least to vibrato stage. But whilst I blame 'maturity' for lack of flexibility, slowness, poor eyesight and wonder where the hell my good old counting skills went, I also credit it for care, attention to detail, studious practice, a whole new musical world and appreciation for the way it all turned out. Simply because I decided to become an adult student!

September 25, 2011 at 04:13 PM ·

as a septagenuarian, i am curious about the 'flexibility' remark in the previous posting.  i feel just as flexible as ever, maybe i have less stamina, which isnt really relevant since i practice only an hour a day.  but does a younger body learn better and faster?  does anyone know?  has anyone really looked into this?  i wonder what the violin teachers say about the comparative ages of their students.  seems to be there are many advantages to being older and wiser and experienced.......but who knows?

September 25, 2011 at 04:43 PM ·

September 25, 2011 at 08:24 PM ·

I started playing the violin 1 year and 2 months ago, I never had played an instrument in my life but after hearing on the radio "Bazzini - dance of goblins" I knew that I wanted to learn the violin...

I know it will take me decades to master it (I tend to give up when I achieve what I wanted, since it will take me decades to master the violin there will be less proc giving it up??).

I am almost 21 and I find learning the violin reallllllllllllllllllllllllly boring but I don't slack I make everyday count.

September 25, 2011 at 11:19 PM ·

September 25, 2011 at 11:56 PM · Eric, thank you for sharing your story! Your love for music 'persisted' and never left you through the years. You had a few 'difficulties' on the road, but you kept going strong and now you are finally beginning to fulfil that strong desire that was there from a young age. I wish you many happy hours with your violin (and piano).

September 26, 2011 at 12:16 AM ·

1) Did you start as a child (say under the age of 10) or as a mature student? State the age you started playing only if you want to.

Started at the age of 5, violin and piano.  Gave up violin at age 17.  Pursued jazz piano as an amateur throughout high school and college.  My ability to grasp jazz and improvise compensated somewhat for a lack of technical skill.

2) If you did start as a child, did you give up and come back to playing as a mature student?

Yes at the age of 44.  My wife and I are dual-career professionals with two children and I always thought I was too busy.  But ...

3) Why did you decide to start playing?

... my daughter started playing at age 7, and when I realized how much *I* was learning about the violin from *her* lessons, and how much fun I was having being her practice coach, I decided I need to play and take lessons again.  It took about six months to get back to the basic level of skill that I had at age 16.  But there were also some serious problems with my technique that my teacher had to completely rebuild.  Fortunately I am a compliant student.

September 26, 2011 at 12:41 AM ·

Eric wow.  I think you should be our (late blomer) poster child!!  You must truly have the music in you.  We all have our life's burdens and rains but nonethelss I feel a bit embarassed at the many opportunities I have had through life to play but just did not do it - if only I could have sent them to you...

Perhaps we'll have a chance to play together one day?  I'd very much like that...

September 26, 2011 at 01:46 AM ·

September 26, 2011 at 03:51 AM ·

I started at age 43, 6 years ago. I did learn the piano as a teenager.

I started when playing along with one of my children who started the Suzuki method in violin. I had some much fun, I decided to start lessons of my own. I have done some of the Bach S&Ps, I have joined a community orchestra in the second violins. The first concert we did included the Moldau (which was a baptism of fire for me but I survived). Am enjoying the orchestra a lot!

September 26, 2011 at 04:39 AM ·

What a great thread.  I'm 70 and you have no idea how difficult it is to say that.  The time has passed with lightening speed.  Started playing at around age 6 plus or minus.  My mother insisted.  Progressed fairly rapidly.  My teacher was the concertmaster of the Long Beach Phil in Long Beach Calif.  Played through high school around age 17+.  Ended playing the Bruch Gm concerto.  Went into the US Army and gave up playing for over 50+ years. College and eventually  law school, etc family rearing and all the things that everyone on this web site has experienced.  Also have an insurance agency.  A client's daughter invited me to a master class given by a well known concert violinist.  Went to it and after talking to him decided that even at my age I could recapture some of the old technique and pizazz.  Found a remarkable young Russian violinist finishing his masters program who was willing to take me on.  Well its been almost a year and a half and through a lot of practicing etc I now have the light at the end of the tunnel.  While following his instruction without any question, I have on the side been practicing my old music--i.e. the Bruch.  Taking it slow but making progress.  I have never stopped loving the violin and have taken every opportunity over the years to hear soloists in many parts of the world..  Any one coming to this wonderful instrument for the first time at or at a more advanced age or someone rekindling their life long love.  Keep up the good work.  Charles Bott ps A few years ago I was able to fine my old teacher, of course now retired and in his mid-90's living in Hemet, Calif.  Spent a wonderful several hours with him and his wife along with his original notes on several pieces of music I was able to find.  Wow!!!

September 26, 2011 at 09:06 AM ·

Fantastic story Charles - and I took to it in particular because I too am working on the Bruch.  I've been back nearly 4 years now - but was nowhere near this piece when I quit (never even had a private lesson) so I seem to have made quite a progress.

What I do have from childhood, however, is my violin.  It had a crack in it and I just took it in for a repair.  The guy did a wonderful job and the instrument (1888 Wolf brothers) looks better than it ever did when I was young (it has an enormous black rosin stain when we bought it). 

I had it fixed a bit of a while ago but only played it seriously for the first time really last night and was astonished at its tone.  Its like finding a long lost love...

September 26, 2011 at 09:09 AM ·

 Charles Bott: love your story too! GREAT!  to return to the violin after a 50 year gap and get back to play the Bruch, what a FANTASTIC feeling! Am so happy for you :)  and 70 is a great age, here's to you!

September 26, 2011 at 02:56 PM ·

After 12 years of piano, majoring in percussion and voice, and being a professional percussionist for 25+ years (i.e., a rather petite female schlepping heavy equipment...often!), I swore that in my next life, I would play piccolo.  Well, violin is almost as small and as easily schlepped as piccolo :)

September 26, 2011 at 04:23 PM ·

again, i am 70.  i should be the poster girl!!!  and i dont even mind being called a girl, despite my radical feminism.  i ask again about physical aspects of playing--flexibility, stamina, ability to memorize, etc.  do these things diminish seriously?  can you keep going by exercising a lot, lifting weights, eating vegan, etc? 

September 26, 2011 at 04:44 PM ·

OK, I'm 70 also. But in contrast to all of the stories above, mine is very boring. Started playing at 9 (because I couldn't get enough of the Beethoven Violin Concerto), lessons through high school and college (and occasionally after), professional career as a psychologist, violin practice on a frequent but brief basis (e.g., no less than 3 minutes a day), and a moderate technique (as amateurs go). Oh, and one more characteristic - lifelong obsession with classical music, the violin, and classical violin playing.

I still consider this art as the single most difficult thing to do in this world, and am in awe of the violinists (past and present) who master it, even partially. Anyone who is willing to take on as ridiculously complex and challenging a task as playing the violin is OK in my book. As for me, my violin-playing skills (such as they are) do not seem to have diminished one iota (not yet, anyway).

PS. My only reaction to being 70 is......How the heck did that happen?

September 26, 2011 at 06:24 PM ·

I took violin in 4th grade - for maybe a year, but then the Beatles hit America and we ALL traded in our instruments for guitars. I went on to play guitar for about 45 years and then 2 years ago (age 56) I just went out one day, walked into a shop, rented a violin and signed up with a nearby instructor. I'm totally hooked. I practice 2 hours a day, have learned to set them up (cut a bridge, fit pegs, fit the tailpiece) and generally listen to as many violinists as possible. 

I'm a professional artist and college instructor and I've been reading a lot about learning and mastery. It seems, with excellent instruction, mastery comes about at around 10,000 hours of diligent practice - so I'm thinking- if I'm lucky, I'll at some point master this thing. Until then, the work, though frustrating, is highly rewarding.

September 26, 2011 at 10:50 PM ·

Well regarding Di Allen's question, regarding my own experiences my flexibility suffered primarily because of 20 odd years of heavy outdoor work in landscaping etc. My fingers at 18 used to be long, thin, lithe and supple and are now gnarled and thickened and somewhat stiff. I've been able to carry close to 40kgs all day any day, but am now left wondering how to drop and relax shoulders akin to Arnie. As for my left elbow which should be well under the violin, it doesn't want to move past my ribs. My bowing arm? Forget it.

As for flexibility of the mind, well, I used to recognise key signatures in a heartbeat and know it meant something important.  I'm still trying to remember what that was. Counting? I'm sure I never even did that, timing came naturally then, but now? Since when was a bar in common time so complicated? Sight reading was a song, not an eyesore. Back then I did music theory to 5th grade. Where has all that knowledge and experience gone? 

So, back to the drawing board, but I'm loving it. I'm sure the ageing process is different for everyone and I wish now I'd taken an administrative path in life rather than labouring, but I live in hope that violin will make me young again, lithe and supple both in mind and body.  I'm truly in awe of all the people learning violin well into their 70's and reading their experiences. But  Di, I'm 'only' 45 so there's hope for me yet. :)


September 27, 2011 at 11:01 AM ·

 Slightly off topic, but I spotted this recently on the benefits of playing an instrument in slowing down aging:

September 27, 2011 at 11:58 AM ·

Thanks Geoff, you just made my day! :)

September 27, 2011 at 12:43 PM ·

In the 4 months that l have been playing l have seen huge improvements in memory and flexablity.  I have had pain in my shoulders for years from riding accidents. The violin has helped my use my shoulders elbow and wrist better even my fingers move better now. They still need to be flexed before playing and l will never be great but l do feel better. I thought l would never memorize a song. But l have several songs just little hymns but l am getting better at then.  I love what it has done for me and look forward to getting my new violin from Kennedy's soon as l save up the money.


September 27, 2011 at 03:24 PM ·

Millie, thank you and it is good to learn that violin playing helps you with flexibility......and concerning 'does music help you stay young?' i really dont think so.  of course you are building new brain connections but whether they are relevant to anything other than learning new music pieces, i dont think the evidence supports that.  there may be something to the memory aspect, though...i play every week in the alzheimers wing of the veterans home - many of them can still sing and relate to music, although they no longer speak.  as for my own memory, i find i can memorize melodies easily BUT MEMORNIZING BOW DIRECTIONS IS HARD.  (remember that i started memorizing piano pieces when i was 7)   

September 27, 2011 at 03:24 PM ·

Millie, thank you and it is good to learn that violin playing helps you with flexibility......and concerning 'does music help you stay young?' i really dont think so.  of course you are building new brain connections but whether they are relevant to anything other than learning new music pieces, i dont think the evidence supports that.  there may be something to the memory aspect, though...i play every week in the alzheimers wing of the veterans home - many of them can still sing and relate to music, although they no longer speak.  as for my own memory, i find i can memorize melodies easily BUT MEMORNIZING BOW DIRECTIONS IS HARD.  (remember that i started memorizing piano pieces when i was 7)   

September 27, 2011 at 06:46 PM ·

Sandy, regarding your question on how did 70 arrive--well the truth is that we both blinked and there it was.  But I wouldn't trade any of my experiences over that time only I should have not had such a hiatus with the instrument.  Also I sold a beautiful Vuillaume about 20 years ago that my parents had purchased when I was about 14 or so, now that is a real regret!!

September 27, 2011 at 07:32 PM ·

Elise, how does Gravitas feel about that?


September 27, 2011 at 08:59 PM ·

)1 Did you start as a child (say under the age of 10) or as a mature student? State the age you started playing only if you want to.

I started when I was in Grade 5, so 10 years old.  Group lessons were offered in school as part of a city-wide music program.  I had no private instruction as a child.

2) If you did start as a child, did you give up and come back to playing as a mature student?

I played until Grade 9.  But then my lack of technique caught up with the difficulty of the music and I was too stressed.  So I stopped.  However, I kept that level...for my own entertainment for years.

I played the mandolin for many years as well...which kept my fingering in mind.  Had a few lessons on it.

Decided to return to the violin in my early 40s.  Finally took some private lessons, then my  teacher moved, and I stopped taking lessons.  Recently  Ifound myself a great teacher and am back taking lessons - weekly hour long ones.  I do play in a community orchestra and have for about 7 years now.

I also joined an adult beginner string ensemble - and am playing my viola in it.  Am determined to learn the C clef (to speed - I know the notes).

3) Why did you decide to start playing?

I always wanted to play the piano.  But my parents couldn't afford it at the time.  So the 'free' violin lessons and instrument loan fit the bill.  No real regrets.  I can also play a wee bit of piano (albeit basic stuff) - self taught.  My other 'beginner' instrument is the soprano saxophone.  But I haven't had time to devote to it since I'm putting in all this time with the violin at the moment.


September 27, 2011 at 10:00 PM ·

September 28, 2011 at 12:29 AM ·

Charles. I guess you're right; we just blinked. And so sorry about your sending that valuable instrument away. I think that one is never too old to be moved by great music, or to be challenged by the lure of learning to play the violin (the musical equivalent of trying to scale Mount Everest, or finding a cure for cancer, or winning an academy award, or getting a gold medal at the Olympics, or developing a new mathematical formula that explains the universe, or cooking the perfect spaghetti sauce).

September 28, 2011 at 02:14 AM ·


Gravitas - he just mumbled something about 'Levitas' can't be serious...

I think it was a put-down...


September 28, 2011 at 03:09 AM ·

Elise--clever violin!

All kidding aside, that's great that you discovered that your old violin was so good.  Like finding a Strad in the attic!  

September 28, 2011 at 05:36 AM ·

I have had a lot of fun thinking about my past and wrote a nice summary of about 900 words. I wouldn’t do that to you.

I have a much varied musical background but to answer the three questions.
1) Did you start as a child (say under the age of 10) or as a mature student? State the age you started playing only if you want to.
I had a plastic violin when I was very young, but I picked up a violin at 27 and worked mainly with Robin Williamson’s English, Welsh, Scottish & Irish Fiddle Tunes for about a year when life kind of got in the way again.
2) If you did start as a child, did you give up and come back to playing as a mature student?
I only played for about a year at 27. I took it up again last April at 57.
3) Why did you decide to start playing?
I have played many instruments since elementary school so have a life time love of music. My first memory of a classical album was the 1812 Overture. This was in early elementary school and I can still hear the sound of mom sitting on it.
But why did I originally take up the violin? I used to check out the guitars at Walter Hutcherson’s Musical Exchange. This was the main used musical instrument store in Austin, now mainly guitar and amp repairs.
One day I walked in and Walter said he had a great violin for me (it’s a Knelling). I said I don’t play the violin. He said “Come on Pat little kids learn it”. I said I’m not a little kid.
He told me it needed some work (lower the bridge) so he call Richard’s Music found out the cost of the work and took it off the cost of the violin. So I called my boss, told him I would be late from lunch stopped at Richard’s Music and that is how I ended up with a violin.
Now why did I take it up again?
On March 5, 2011 our Elementary School held a silent auction and one of the items was a violin lesson, starting bid was half the value of the lesson. No one bid against me. So after spring break I took a lesson last April. And I’m hooked, pretty much obsessively so. (About the lowered bridge: I have now had a neck pullup and a new bridge installed).
Oh, and now my seven year old has decided he wants to learn. So he goes once a week, after school. I go every two to three weeks, during school.
I divide my time between learning classical violin and fiddle music. After all there are lots of Tinneys in Donegal, though my family has been here since the mid 1700s.

Thinking about this was a lot of fun. Thanks you all.

September 28, 2011 at 03:28 PM ·


1) Did you start as a child (say under the age of 10) or as a mature student? State the age you started playing only if you want to.     No I started as an adult at 49..

2) If you did start as a child, did you give up and come back to playing as a mature student?  N/A

3) Why did you decide to start playing?

I have always loved the sound of a good violin/fiddle and at 49 (now 52 this Oct.) I was faced with a very messy and painful divorce I had found the family violin hidden away for many years unknown to me. So to help me deal with all that has and is currently going on and to hold on to something I got it set up and started to take lessons ....Bluegrass / Folk.  Up until this last July when neck surgery has forced a break in my playing.My recovery will be slow but looks good , C3-C6 had to be fused ....Hope is the lost of feeling in my fingers on both hands pre-op will come back in time as well the expected recovery of the post -op weakness in the arms and loss of range of motion

 Bill G.


September 28, 2011 at 04:48 PM ·

Here's my decades-old saga:

1) Did you start as a child (say under the age of 10) or as a mature student? State the age you started playing only if you want to.

I started at age 9 (1963).  Did a couple of years of public school orchestra, then added private lessons.   Got a ~75-year old Markneukirchen violin in 1966 from a relative for $25.

2) If you did start as a child, did you give up and come back to playing as a mature student?

Quit when I started an EE program in college.  Every once in a while, I'd pull the fiddle out and and noodle around, but nothing consistent.

I had done vocal music most of my adult life (it's easier to carry your instrument!).  I didn't have much opportunity for choral work for a while, so I up and decided to join a local orchestra. 

3) Why did you decide to start playing?

Originally?  They had a "see the instruments" session in the school gym.  When I picked up a violin, I loved it immediately.  BTW, in high school, I offered to fill in as a lone cello for a year.  My wife recently bought me a cello, and I've been working at that, too, lately.

On returning?  Well, the chances to do serious choral stuff just weren't there at the time, and I had a real hankering to do classical music again.  I was fortunate to get in an orchestra that mixed classical and jazz, which was spot on, for me!

I've since moved and now play in a local symphony orchestra.  I'm NOT a pro, and not notably good at it.  BUT -- it's a whale of a lot of fun.



September 29, 2011 at 03:08 AM ·

This is a great thread,,,lots of good stories! I started playing guitar @ 8 years,,.hated practicing, gave it up @ 9years. I played drums for 5 years then back to guitar. PLayed in C & W bands, and shows until mid 40's then found bluegrass. Got out of the band business and went to bluegrass festivals and played guitar or mandolin. I had bought a fiddle about 25 years ago to do one song in our group. SO I learned that song, and that was the only one I did on the fiddle. I would get it out 3 -4 times a year for festivals and try to play it..try being the key word,,it was horrible. IN March of this year I played fiddle all weekend at a festival and surprised myself at how much better I was on Sunday than when the festival started in Thursday. SO I layed down the guitar.mandolin and only worked on the fiddle since then. I am still not very good,,but getting a little closer. When practcing I  play scales..scales..scales then throw in a few old tunes and work on some classical stuff. Oh BTW I am 60. I am sure I was born to be a violinist!!

September 29, 2011 at 04:52 PM ·

One of my favorite "Great Moments in Honesty on Television" involved a famous conductor and the topic of old age. Barbara Walters was interviewing the then-94-year-old Leopold Stokowski. At one point, she asked - and with a great deal of exhuberance and awe - "Tell me, how do you manage to stay so young?" Stokowski looked at her blankly and said matter-of-factly, "I'm not young. I'm old."

September 29, 2011 at 05:08 PM ·

1. Started when I was 12. Played for one year and stopped because I had little support from my parents.

2. Started playing again in December of 2008 - age 63 - stopped after 9 months - just could not get the sound I wanted from the very inexpensive violin I had purchased. Started again in March 2010 - I had to master this thing - with a much better violin and bow. Made great progress until August 2010 when I fell and fractured my left elbow. At the time I was playing with a New Horizons Orchestra. I just started playing again this month. It is the first I have been able to play without pain. I expect to be back in the NH Orchestra next year.

3. I started again because I have always loved the violin. I play guitar (mainly Bluegrass), but find the violin (Fiddle) easier and more fun to play.

December 31, 2011 at 01:56 AM · When I was 12/13, one of my classmates brought a violin to school. He had just started two months earlier, but sounded beautiful (I did not know it was an exception), so I wanted to play too. At that time, nobody I knew played music beyond elementary school unless they intended to have a career in music. Actually no middle school kids I knew had extracurricular activities - all they did was go to school, then cram schools, then go home and study some more... (This was Taiwan in the 80's).

Nevertheless, I begged my mom to let me take up violin. She obliged but warned that if violin interfered with academics in any way, violin must go (typical tiger mom)! So I started lessons, was having a ball and progressing nicely - already in Suzuki Book 2 (Hunter's Chorus) after 1.5 months, then came the report card of my monthly school exam... I did not do as well this time as I had been, so my mom stopped my violin lessons - I was devastated and I promised myself that I would take up violin again when I grew up...

Years passed and I had other priorities..., until one day I read this article. The article itself was laughable, but this comment caught my eye. I knew who Yehudi Menuhin was, but only in Chinese, so I had to look the name up, which led me to borrow a copy of The Art of Violin (If you haven't seen it, you should!) from local library, and the rest is history! :)

December 31, 2011 at 02:26 AM · wow... just saw this thread and thought I should participate!

1) Did you start as a child (say under the age of 10) or as a mature student? State the age you started playing only if you want to.

I started when I was 16/17 I think... The reason is stupid... there was a pretty girl in school's orchestra so I want to join... lol

2) If you did start as a child, did you give up and come back to playing as a mature student?

Yeah, I gave up by the time I graduate high school on first page of Mendelssohn. So after 1.5 years of learning I stopped for about 5~6 years.

3) Why did you decide to start playing?

Another stupid reason... because I think Sarah Chang is pretty LOL

December 31, 2011 at 03:01 AM ·

December 31, 2011 at 03:04 AM · 1) Did you start as a child (say under the age of 10) or as a mature student? State the age you started playing only if you want to.

I started playing the viola (rented instrument) at 11 years old due to a special program for low income families. Sadly, my home situation did not allow for consistent practice. My mother had an old violin that she kept in the closet. She hadn't played it since before I was born. We were forbidden to touch it. Meanwhile, I couldn't understand why the other students improved so much more quickly. Found out in my last year of middle school that they all had private lessons to supplement the orchestra class. I quit when I got to high school and the instrument sat in the closet, next to my mom's.

2) If you did start as a child, did you give up and come back to playing as a mature student?

After I quit, the elderly owner of the shop we rented the viola from (it's actually a violin strung as a viola) passed away. His widow announced that those of us with instruments could keep them. I was astounded by her generosity but I didn't feel like I could qualify for high school orchestra so the viola sat.

3) Why did you decide to start playing?

When you are given such a gift, it seems wise to appreciate it properly. I knew I needed lessons to continue and I was not in the position through college or the military. Although I did pick it up from my mom's house while I was still in the military, bought a few beginner books, and played a little now and then. It was, of course, impossible to take lessons while deploying as often as I did, especially after the war began. Once I was married and out of the military, I played more regularly. When our son was 2 years old, I started taking formal lessons. He goes with me to each lesson. The teacher tolerates it because he is well-behaved. He's 3 and 1/2 now and loves music.

Oh, and my mother sent me that old violin that we weren't allowed to touch. It's finally getting played now, too. :)

Edited to add that I recently turned 40.

December 31, 2011 at 07:06 AM · 1) Did you start as a child (say under the age of 10) or as a mature student? State the age you started playing only if you want to.

Mature age (52).

2) If you did start as a child, did you give up and come back to playing as a mature student?

The only instrument I played as a child was a triangle in the school band, about 3 times, before we moved to a new area and that was the end of my childhood musical career ;-)

At the age of 17 I started playing guitar and soon found exploring sounds more interesting than jamming or playing songs. These days my guitar playing revolves around creating small tonal studies and promptly forgetting them.

3) Why did you decide to start playing?

A sudden inexplicable and irresistible calling?? It seemed a very foolish idea as I'm in a rural area with no teachers nearby.

Second stage was to buy a very inexpensive Chinese VSO from ebay to see how I'd manage alone. To my surprise within a few hours I was able to play melodies and while there still are many scratchy moments ... I'm hooked. Now for the many years of hard work making it feel natural and consistent. :-)

BTW. Hello everyone and wishing you all the best for 2012!


December 31, 2011 at 04:17 PM · 1) Age 7

2) Yes

3) When I restarted playing over a year ago, I was perhaps more surprised than anyone else. I decided to get back into serious music. It made a great deal of difference that this time I was completely motivated from inside. I also decided that, since I had played the violin before and been well taught, it made much better sense to start doing so again than to start from scratch with any other instrument. I certainly made the correct choice there.

Edit: When I was 14 I briefly rather fancied the idea of myself as a flautist, but coming from me that's pretty rich because a flute is the only orchestral instrument I can't get a sound out of.

December 31, 2011 at 05:28 PM · Question, part #1: yes, played violin from 7-10 yrs. old, formal lessons in school.

(switched to playing electric guitar because of all the great guitar players in the era/time I grew up in, along with the peer pressure as a young kid in school).

Question, part # 2: yes, returned to violin playing 4 yrs. ago, at age of 38.

Question, part # 3: because I realized I needed more instrumentation in my recordings, and thought, OK, I can apply my music theory training, re-learn & re-acquaint myself with the violin, and make more multi-dimensional, more well-seasoned, more flavorful recordings.

December 31, 2011 at 07:43 PM · Some of us adult starters hang out on this Facebook group:

Adult Starters - Violin/Fiddle.

You can join here:

January 1, 2012 at 07:32 AM · ours was not a musical or artsy family in the least. i never knew a violinist and hardly ever a paino playing person or kid. then i took a few piano lessons. that stopped soon. also, we lived in a peculair situation, civil war and some other things. anyway, i was around 20 or so - i don't know what attracted me to the violin - its just this strange small wooden object, something i can carry with need for a huge and expensive beast like a piano. also it seemed more esoteric than the piano- your whole body seemed to be involved. it was really magical. i had to stop, i left the country..started again...had to stop..left the other country..started again- now three years. i'll be leaving this country as well- i will truly resist stopping now. my tone is so much better- it would be sad if i did. but anyway, life goes on. also, i found it an intimate thing...but the intimacy can sometimes seem to be eroded through routine- this is why its nice to be here around professional and amateur violinists on and discover new dimensions. now, im very surprised by the delicacy of double stopping- trying to resist being too violint and imprecise.

January 1, 2012 at 06:12 PM · Haven't touched a violin until I was done my bachelors degree! I always wanted to take up an instrument, but I never got serious about it. My family is very musical, but none of us took up an instrument by taking lessons.

While I was in college and working, I took up piano-and then decided to couple that with violin!

It's a great combination-challenging, but thrilling.

I love both instruments, as they give me different views and feelings in music. Some of it carries over (like reading notes) from one to the other, which is helpful.

January 1, 2012 at 08:33 PM · 1) I started on my 46th birthday for the first time

2) After 30 years of guitar playing, I thought I'd do something different

3)The primary catalyst was seeing/hearing David Garrett performing from his Rock Symphonies album.

January 3, 2012 at 02:25 PM · I played the violin from the 3rd grade through high school.Went into the Navy for 4 plus years and lost most everything I had learned. Played jazz bass with groups for many years and after retireing decided to work on the violin again. Started up age 80, -now 86 - I practice every day and am making progress. I have some arthritis (not bad) and a finger that is a bit numb due to an accident, but I AM getting better and love it more than I ever did as a child. I wish I had kept a Camilli violin I gave away when I was 78.

January 3, 2012 at 05:34 PM · Kenneth - if you gave the violin away, maybe if you asked they would give it back? Perhaps its languishin in a closset somewhere...

January 3, 2012 at 07:24 PM · I started at 8 after a hearing the next door neighbor girl play. Later started playing in orchestra in 6th grade. The string program stopped in 10th grade high school. Also, I took private lessons during this period. Put the fiddle down until I went back to college for two semesters when I was 29. Put the fiddle down again.

In the eighties became interested in the scientific research done by the Catgut Acoustical Society and read all that I could find and started collecting material and tools to make an instrument. They are still in the shop.

Three years ago, at 70, I asked one of the ladies at church to let me see if I could still play a scale on her violin. Weeks later I tried to sight read a hymn and did. Without a choice I was drafted.

Two years ago using some stock that was meant for retirement, I purchased a Bob Spear imported mezzo violin. With which I am very pleased. I practice much more seriously now but my vibrato hasn't come back very well. The other players at church lean toward baroque therefore no problem. Playing with Sunday service keeps me satisfied and occupied.

January 4, 2012 at 01:17 AM · I started 8 weeks ago at age 42! Never played the violin beforehand at all. I have always mused with the idea of: 'One day I would like to try and learn the violin.' It's a cultural thing for me being Jewish. Started a blog about my experiences as a late starter. Only just begun writing and will also upload pictures (of, among other things, my hardening finger tips!)

January 5, 2012 at 11:32 PM · I was one of those who had a good ear (passed the who-isn't-tone-deaf test) in 4th grade and was put in a violin class that met a couple of times a week. I wasn't particularly encouraged or motivated, and when I got into junior high, the teaching was abysmal. When we moved in 8th grade, there were no strings in the new location. Soooo... almost 40 years later, my oldest child was out of college, the 2nd one was halfway through, and the youngest (who also taught guitar at our local music store) was getting ready to start music school in classical and jazz guitar, so I decided it was my turn for music lessons. That old violin was still in the house, and that was how the decision was made! My teacher is the age of my oldest child, and she is great -- encouraging without being coddling, and she also has the requisite good sense of humor. I have been playing under her instruction for a little over 2 years and I love it. I have to rest my hands frequently between songs while practicing, but I can still get lots of practice time in this way.

January 6, 2012 at 01:03 AM · This may be my first time posting here... I'm 49-and-a-half, have zero previous musical training (not even as a kid) and have been "playing" for five years (inverted commas because it only occasionally sounds like music). Oh, and did I mention that I adore it? In fact, I wish I could do nothing but. Unfortunately, this is not the case... Too bad, since I'd have to say that lack of sufficient time to practice -- I can normally only afford an hour a day -- is my biggest obstacle to progress. But since I love it so much (even scales!!!), I almost don't care how long it takes me. I just wish I was better for the sake of the neighbours, the plants and esp. the hubby. ;)

The passion struck one day when I idly picked up my mother-in-law's violin, which was sitting on the couch. As I drew the bow across the strings, a fine vibration shivered through the instrument and up my arm. "It's alive!!!" I thought with a kind of a gasp (if indeed one can gasp in thought)... and my heart went BOOM! Sounds ridiculous, I know; but it was love at first (sound)bite. And while I didn't march out the door to the nearest luthier right that minute, it wasn't long before I had a violin of my own. What can I say, it's been one big adventure ever since. I have a fantastic, patient and generous teacher and am currently working on [what she calls] simplish pieces like Fiocco's Allegro, as well as the Wohlfahrt violin studies (so much fun!). I just hope I'm not struck down by something dreadful like arthritis before I can actually play something. ;)) Onward ho...

January 6, 2012 at 02:20 AM · Lesley I know what you mean exactly. I was shocked first time I felt my violin sing. I wish I could get it more often. I love playing a church on Wednesday nights. I'm not good enough yet for Sundays. I love it and completely under stand what your feeling


January 6, 2012 at 04:17 AM · I fell in love at 42. It was unexpected as I had absolutely zero musical teaching,skill or empathy previously (words were the big thing in my family). I moved to a new town and thought I'd learn to play piano as for some reason it was on my "bucket list". My apartment is too small for a piano so.....THANK GOODNESS I didn't move somewhere big enough for a piano. I fully expect to remain in love with my violin for the rest of my life (despite what I do to his sound!)

January 6, 2012 at 07:02 AM · Ive been lurking for a while but this is my first post. I started at 39 a month ago. My musical taste has changed over the last few years. I played trumpet before but the sound of violin is amazing I may never play well but I'm loving it. I have a teacher and I am progressing rapidly. I am on Etude #1 from the Hans Sitt book. My wife finds it amazing that I can move along so well. MY first song was Ode to Joy :) that was a couple of weeks ago.

January 6, 2012 at 07:29 AM · I started at 25. I met a man at a bluegrass festival who was just starting at 65 and that showed me it wasn't too late to start. My father played violin before marriage and 10 kids interrupted his playing. I am now 54 and can not imagine not playing. It has enriched my life so much. I have recently added cello and am reloving the progress. Kevin C

January 6, 2012 at 04:40 PM · This thread is filled with so much joy! Fun to read about people falling in love with the violin at all ages.

January 9, 2012 at 07:51 AM · Just joined here. Because I'm a student at 48!

I played in elementary school and again in high school. I had to drop the violin when I hit college because of time. After I graduated, I refused to go back to it because the instrument I had bit the big one. It was a 1910 Japanese student model that some guy traded to my great-grandfather for an overhaul on a Studebaker in 1931. My Dad insisted it was concert grade, despite the fact it had a flat back and belly. But that was Dad. He was an Alabama hick after all.

A few years ago, as a grad student and a writer I realized that I needed a break from writing, so I bought my current fiddle and decided to take it back up just to clear my head. Not a novice thing to do at 48, but there it is. And I'm having a blast!

January 10, 2012 at 12:00 PM · I started a couple of years ago. I was bit drunk passing a violin shop and was saying to my wify how nice it would be to play (I played guitar when I was in my teens and had always intended on trying the piano). I looked at the internet the next day, saw rentals were cheap and decided to try after a week as the apartment I lived in at the time would not have enough space for a piano. I am 44 now, am on AMEB grade 3 and hope to get to grade 8 by 50, practice for at least 20 - 40 minutes most days. Its quite theraputic (I work in IT).

January 10, 2012 at 12:19 PM · I started at 45, Im 48 now. My main focus is on fiddle styles

January 10, 2012 at 03:37 PM · I have two degrees in music (percussion) and always lamented the fact that there were so few masterworks for my instrument. I resorted to playing transcriptions of Bach's violin and cello works, as well as Debussy, etc. I also played piano for a few years and studied the cello briefly in college, but that was just to impress a girl.

Started the violin with my daughter 4 1/2 years ago. I'm a Suzuki parent and was required to attend all her lessons and be a practice coach at home. Well, thought I, if I'm going to go to a violin lesson each week...

Couldn't say how many wonderful hours we've spent together trying to solve the puzzle of this instrument, but it's a great feeling to play the Bach Double on the actual instrument. I had been in love with this piece for 15 years since performing it on marimba.

January 28, 2012 at 10:04 AM · I started at 14 as a boring youth, which is useful now in teaching, as I still know what it feels like to begin. I am still at it half a century later, though no-one would describe me as a "mature" adult.

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