Too Late to Learn?

September 25, 2012 at 09:11 PM · I'll be turning twenty in two weeks and I was wondering if twenty is too old to learn to play the violin? I've always heard that if you didn't start playing as a child you won't be able to learn as an adult because it's simply too difficult an instrument to learn but I never really believed it.

When I was a child I really wanted to learn but my parents couldn't afford it and I wound up learning to play the piano instead. I loved it, of course, but the want to play the violin never went away. Now that I'm an adult and am financially able I would really love to learn how to play.

I don't have any delusions that if I can learn at this age I'll be able to play professionally, I'm well aware of the years it takes to get to that level, I just want to play.

So, can I still learn or is it too late?

Replies (20)

September 25, 2012 at 09:24 PM · Of course you can learn the violin at any age. Yes, I used to hear that same nonsense about having to learn as a child...blah blah blah. All total rubbish ! Beginning as a child is only necessary if you want to be a professional violinist.

People much older than you have learnt the violin but do yourself a big favour and get a teacher. The violin is not an instrument for self instruction.

Hint : Have patience and practise every day. Progress can be quite slow at first for some people but the challenge is all part of the fun.

September 25, 2012 at 10:17 PM · The biggest problem when you are older might be, that you work a lot and don't have much time left for the violin. But on the other hand most people get smarter with age and can use their time more effective. I had some older students who learn more in one lesson than a average 6 year old kid in 2 months.

Important will be how you react to critizism and if your body is still healthy, flexible and strong in the right places. But with 20 everything should be no problem in that aspect.

Late beginners can achieve a lot! And I think they should not necessarily be jealous of the young professionals. Everybody can make music and also the violin is not that hard to learn if you understood and practiced the principles.

But be patient. Some quit, because success doesn't come immediately. Violin playing is like growing: You don't necesarily feel the progress but you constantly grow.

September 25, 2012 at 10:22 PM · It's never too late. I'm 50 and started violin four years ago. I did two years at school to Grade 2, however. I have now been playing the flute and clarinet for three years, saxophone for a year, viola for one year, trombone for a year and a half, trumpet a few months, cello six months, piano a year, guitar for just over a year and singing for four years.........I'm having a ball and everything has been in the last four years. I focus on the violin -about three to four hours a day and then divide my time up among the rest - am a freelance interpreter by the way which means my appointments are short so get time to practise both at home and in orchestras and choirs. The best time to learn is when you decide to and want to. That's all it needs - the desire, then fall in love with the instrument/s. It's addictive, therapeutic and, along with languages, the best thing I have ever done.

September 25, 2012 at 10:41 PM · Hi, I started as a late teen and now, 7 years after and with unfourtunately not that much time to put on it due to studies, I'm in the last ASTA level.

Not saying that I'm that good...just as much as the average conservatory student and better than what people usually thinks for a late starter. When I started, the tiny kids were better than me and I felt weird and clumbsy. Now, it's no longer the case as I'm as good as the older and teen students.

We all have that stereotype of an overloaded stay at home mom (or dad...)who starts violin and plays twinkle little stars not in tune for like 5 years. That stereotype is, in my opinion, totally NOT TRUE if you have a minimum of a musical head/hear and time. In addition that you are already a pianist who knows the sound and look of notes on a staff...

The first 5 years or so are the worst (in my opinion) but after, one really starts picking up the fruits :)

Best of luck!!

September 25, 2012 at 11:54 PM · Never to old to learn!! Go out, find yourself a teacher, come on this site often, and learn as much as you can. Don't forget to have fun. Granted it may be harder because when you start younger, you're still very susceptible to learn a new skill. I'm not saying that that is no longer the case now, it's just that it may be a tad bit more difficult. As long as you like the instrument enough to practice and be as dedicated as possible, you'll be fine :)

September 26, 2012 at 12:01 AM · Thanks for the words of encouragement guys :). It's good to know that I'm not alone as a late starter. I'm definitely going to give the violin a go. I have nothing but free time on my hands (my husband brings home the bacon :P) so I'll always have plenty of time to practice.

September 26, 2012 at 12:37 AM · I started the violin in December, teaching myself as I can't yet afford an instructor and need to learn the basics. Greatly enjoying the process of learning. I turned 60 the end of August. You are never to old....

September 26, 2012 at 12:40 AM · I hope not, I started at 31.

September 26, 2012 at 02:23 AM · Go for it Amber. I'm 43 and have been taking lessons for four months now. I'm having a blast with it. You won't regret taking the plunge.

September 26, 2012 at 02:43 AM · I hope 20 is not too late to start on the violin, because I have a personal interest on the matter - I started at 20 myself, two years ago ;)

As people pointed out before, it depends on what your goal is. At that age, they usually don't sell you any more tickets for the "world class soloist superstar" train, but that does not mean that you will have any disadvantages in learning. It is essential, however, to find a teacher who really believes that you can learn to play the instrument at your age...

What I like about having started at this point in my life is that you have so much more responsibility over the process than a child would have. You get to choose your teacher, your instrument, when and how much you practice, because it was your decision to start learning in the first place. That's also where a lot of motivation can come from.

The main issue I'm having right now is organizing my schedule, which revolves around a full-time (coming soon: part-time) job, conservatory lessons, practice time, a social life, personal interests and curiosity, and the most basic needs. Oh well, you can't have it all...

September 26, 2012 at 08:22 AM · I read the comment about the 'first five years being the worst'. Well, I guess, regardless of how many years, as it's about time you put in, there is a steep learning curve and the better one plays the more one gets from it. However, maybe 'worst' isn't the best word. I see it as a huge blessing to be able to learn. In the West, we often see studying and music practice as a chore, but it's not really when you think about all the dull activities out there.

September 26, 2012 at 08:34 AM · What---no way! Twenty is a great time to start many new things. I'm hoping I'll be able to take up something new when I hit 40.

Your only enemy is yourself. Adults tend to be less ecstatic with small successes, and are also more critical of their current abilities. If you can bypass these road hurdles and just settle into your own journey, complete with celebrational microscopic improvements, you will do just fine.

September 26, 2012 at 09:33 AM · Amber it's none of my business and off topic but one thing you wrote above sparked me up. You should be professionally active yourself and not be financially totally dependent on your husband, or on any single person for that matter. Life is unpredictable and your husband may not be there anymore for you in any possible number of years from now, for any possible number of reasons. I think you should be financially independent, at least to a minimum degree. Sorry for intruding here, but I guess I am brainwashed by my wife who insists on this theme a lot (and with whom I am happily married for more than 20 years). And by any means keep up the violin spirit!

September 27, 2012 at 12:56 AM · - Jean

Don't worry about intruding or anything. I don't mind. I'm capable of supporting myself (graphic design 10+ years), I simply meant that at the moment my husband is the one who works so I have a lot of free time on my hands to learn.

September 27, 2012 at 01:40 AM · The fact she "never really believed it", regarding XYZ age being too old to start, is the most important factor here. The mind is a powerful thing. Much can be accomplished if you believe and little if you dont. My guess is she will do just fine learning at 20, given she has the right mindset.

September 28, 2012 at 10:02 AM · Amber, I started playing at age 60. I'm loving every minute of it, and have even found a local orchestra for Seniors. The only thing I regret about starting at 60 is missing all this enjoyment when I was younger. GO FOR IT!! You won't regret it!! :)

September 29, 2012 at 08:38 PM · As I am finding out-never too late. Enjoy!

October 2, 2012 at 12:34 PM · I started age 34 and today (6.5 years later) I started Vivaldi. So yes, it is possible. I haven't noticed huge advantage to my son, who started age 3, over me in terms of musicality. What will eventually determine that he overtakes me is time available to practise. With 3 kids and a full time job, I am practising only 25 minutes and not even every day. As he gets older he has more stamina to practise, plus he does group classes, which I haven't done. Think about it, you'll only be 35 when you get to the level a tiny tot beginner gets to when 18. 35 isn't too old to join an orchestra and have a lot of fun.

October 2, 2012 at 01:03 PM · That whole mystique of having to start as a toddler to be "successful" is of recent origin. The legendary violinists of the late 1800s and early 1900s commonly started at 10 or 12 or later. They did fine :) You know what people say. If you don't start THIS year, next year you'll only be older and you still won't be able to play. At 20, you're mighty young to think you're too old, btw. A friend is starting in a few weeks at 71. A man who plays in my fiddle jam started at about 69 maybe 8 or 10 years ago.

October 4, 2012 at 06:21 PM · Hey, another adult beginner checking in. I think all that's required to learn the violin is passion mixed with persistence.

Also, being a good problem solver and not being afraid to experiment will greatly help your learning curve.

Edit: I'm 20 years old and have been playing for a little over 2 weeks. Invest in a solid instrument, if you can't I'd recommend renting one. This is big, I've heard poor violins and it really isn't fun to listen to. When you've got a good fiddle, even playing bad can sometimes be bearable if you love the sound of the violin :).

I am currently renting a nice sounding violin from kennedyviolins.com for $30/month, 55% of which goes to a full purchase if you end up choosing to. I recommend them, they have great return policies, guarantees, and prices.

I don't see why you wouldn't try to learn!

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