Learning Violin as a busy adult?

January 1, 2016 at 05:44 PM · For the New Year I would like to start learning the Violin, but I am not sure where to start.

I live in NY, and I work 5 days a week, with Saturday and Sunday off.

I have been looking for weekend classes only to start learning the Violin, but it seems too rare.

I did come across the Manhattan School of Music that has Sunday classes using Google, but it keeps taking me to a form to fill out for 2014-2015 session...so I am not sure if Sunday classes is a thing anymore at the school, I will research later.

Throughout this year, I can attend Saturday and/or Sunday classes for Violin if I can find a good one to attend somewhere in NY. My Saturdays will be occupied with other Community College classes Saturday morning from February to May, and most of Saturday from September to December...so I will still have some portion of my Saturdays open for Violin classes, and still have my Sundays open for Sunday classes.

Is it really this rare to find weekend classes to learn Violin or any instrument? I would figure there is somebody out there taking advantage of teaching weekend classes.

My other question is, how useful is attending a 30-60 minute once a week Violin class? Is it adequate enough? Or is learning Violin something where I should be attending a class every day of the week? I know there is also practice at home, but I do not want to develop bad habits by being forced to learn by myself at home instead of learning from a professional.

I am really eager to start learning, but I just need guidance or tips on how to find a good continuous way of learning that doesn't involve only self-learning...in NY...lol...

Replies (22)

January 1, 2016 at 07:15 PM · I started learning at 50, with private teacher first 45min, now 1hr once a week. I tried 1.5hr once every 2 weeks, but that didn't work well for me. That was too long a lesson, and too much time in between. I personally find that I need at least 6-7 hrs min. of practice in between lessons to consolidate what directions / advices I receive, so unless I were able to practice several hours every day, once a week is enough. Other than official schools there are tons of private teachers around: professional players, music grad program students, retired pros, etc. It's just a matter of asking around, checking bulletin boards in music schools, violin shops, etc. To find a teacher that can suit your personal schedule. There are also some online schools, but I am certain no substitute for a face to face time but better than none that's for sure.

January 1, 2016 at 11:45 PM · I agree with Roger's comments. If an adult learner with limited time available wants to make real progress learning the violin then a personal teacher is essential, even if it's an hour lesson once a fortnight, as I had for several years. The problem with class tuition, as I see it, is that it is inevitably a "one size fits all" situation which may be suitable for children but not for adult beginners. Adult learners will each have different sets of problems which cannot easily (if at all) addressed individually in a class setting. There will also be the real danger in a class that bad habits may arise which will not necessarily all be noticed and dealt with by the teacher.

A good private teacher, on the other hand, will have the time and opportunity to look at the student's individual problems, come up with solutions, and explain and discuss them in detail with the student, to the benefit of both parties. The private teacher is also able to tailor the teaching, the rate of teaching, and the syllabus to the student's requirements.

January 1, 2016 at 11:45 PM · Violin lessons tend to be expensive, even more so in NY-I wouldn't deem it practical to get many lessons a week (unless you are in an uniquely affluent situation.) A lesson per week with a good, open-minded teacher is more important, as well as intelligent, daily practice (make notes of what's working/not working, and discuss your practice and concerns with said teacher so you keep developing your skills way quicker and without bad habits.)

The instrument is difficult to master, so please take time to put into it some devoted labor of love. One needs not forgo the required training just because of being busy-many music professionals are also busy, and there's always the temptation to put off practice time even at that level. But frankly, the violin is a life-long learning endeavor, and will mostly require our daily attention (luckily, it's also its own reward, so no life seconds are wasted, even warming up on open strings).

Again, I'd say intelligent practice trumps 8 hours of daily violin work, so don't feel too badly if all you can do at most is about 3. Being busy is good, and the time-balancing process will test how commited you are to the instrument you are starting to love, if not already adore.

Being a developed, intelligent adult will also help you learn faster in many areas, so don't mind the child vs adult differences on that regard either (and avoid a teacher who does.)

There should be some weekly night lessons around, as well as weekends-failing that, private teachers can also be an option.

Best of luck in your musical journey.

January 2, 2016 at 01:07 AM · I'm an adult beginner with two young kids at home. Finding time to practice seems to be the big issue. I do so during my lunch breaks. Once a week I have a 30 minute lesson( also during a lunch hour). Some semesters I can swing 45(much less rushed).

January 2, 2016 at 03:02 AM · Yep, practice time is a real pain. I would echo the above comments about hiring a private teacher for weekly lessons.

A good private teacher will let you record lessons so you can keep current during the week. Not every teacher will do this, though, and not every teacher takes adults. Barring that, you can do Skype lessons, but I would strongly encourage finding an in-person teacher before resorting to this.

If you have good guidance and develop a practice routine with your teacher, you can make progress pretty quickly. An hour a day is minimum, IMO, but even if you drop the ball occasionally you will still make progress. Just make sure to pick up and play your instrument daily!

An often overlooked piece of advice is to LISTEN. Listening is as much a part of your practice as playing. Listen to your practice material and even other material in your desired genre whenever you can. Car, public transportation, on campus, etc. Smart phones and headphones are awesome inventions for aspiring musicians!

January 2, 2016 at 02:39 PM · I would echo the above suggestions.

It's hard to fit it all in when we are adults and don't have mom or dad as our personal secretaries! And as adults we often have a tendency to want to do it 'perfectly' which includes over-doing it. (More is better).

The violin isn't easy, and is best learned in small manageable bits.

I'd suggest a 30 minute weekly lesson to begin with, and aim for 30 min. to 1 hour of practice a day.

See how that goes...and then of course, you'd adjust as you went along.

You might be able to find a teacher to give you a lesson right after work. That might be the easiest to manage for you - time wise.

January 2, 2016 at 09:28 PM · It is wonderful to hear that a 30-60 minute weekly session with a professional is fine...I was kinda worried it would have to be more.

The additional practice hours throughout the week is fine by me, using my own time to practice multiple hours throughout the week is actually better as the time will be more flexible.

I will heed the many suggestions you all have given me to find a personal instructor...that may be for the best it seems anyway.

Thank you all for the tips and information, and I am glad to be a part of your community.

January 3, 2016 at 12:51 AM · Vishnu,

Good luck to you in starting to learn to play violin. You could try looking on Craigslist for a teacher. You could also post an ad looking for teacher hopefully close by and one that charges a reasonable fee. Once you find a teacher and get into a regular practice routine and start to understand the basics of what the left hand does and what the right hand does I think it would be beneficial to spend time watching YouTube videos on different aspects of violining. I particularly like the videos by Todd Ehle and he has about fifty of them that cover the beginning concepts of pkaying to advanced technique.

Keep us posted on your progress Vishnu and stick with it. Daily practice over the years is not so easy and not always so fun to me.

January 3, 2016 at 02:10 AM · Violin shops also have teachers or lists of teachers that are available. And sometimes a simple Google search will yield good results, especially in such a heavily populated area.

January 3, 2016 at 02:55 AM · Just as a caveat, when I first started learning some years ago now, I asked my teacher how many adult students he had had - the answer was 'none'. So I was his first, and he was great.

The thing is while the majority of people on here are adult students, the majority of students are kids. Don't rule someone out just because they haven't taught an adult before. While there may be some adjusting on their part, if they are open minded to you as a serious student and willing to approach things differently thats probably far more important.

And for the record I like Suzuki lol. Not twinkle maybe...but there is some really good music in there.

January 3, 2016 at 03:20 AM · Yes, shop around for an instructor that suits you. And don't be afraid to switch if you decide later in that the first one you picked is not a good fit. Being in NYC, I'd imagine you will have the pick of a multitude of competent instructors.

Enjoy! It's extremely challenging and at the same time very rewarding.

January 3, 2016 at 10:31 PM · I would agree with Jenny AND Bradley about Suzuki. Yes, the method in it's pure form was started for 3 yr. old Japanese children, so there are some things required that wouldn't normally be for an adult. i.e. as an adult learner, if your teacher tells you that you need to start bringing your mom to sit in on lessons, then there would be some great concern. There are a lot of great pieces in the books, but that is because Suzuki arranged pieces that were already out there and have been around before the method came out. Interestingly, most of the good pieces in Suzuki show up in other method books too.

I also teach adult students, and I love it! I don't have all the answers and I'm still learning, but I would say that half hour every week would be a good start. Don't worry so much about the method book your teacher hands you, it is just a tool and a good teacher will make sure you learn the violin, not simply a method. Good luck and enjoy your journey!

January 4, 2016 at 04:09 PM · Do it! ....in about a year or so, you will either become hooked or realize it is perhaps not for you.... but, whatever the outcome, it will not be a waste. Be compassionate with yourself, as you squeak and scratch in the beginning, and remember the side benefits of learning (i.e. good for the mind). Have at least one easy, "makes me feel good to play" piece always at hand to play after finishing any practice (especially helpful when having a bad practice day). With regards to practice, it can be done.... luckily we adults seem to learn better in smaller chunks and always have your violin at hand. ...waiting for coffee to brew in the morning.... great time to do a few mins of open string work....ready to jump in the shower?.... give yourself the present of 2 minutes of a scale..... About to leave for the workday? ....why not check your straight bowing technique?? ...you get the idea I am sure. Sitting on the train or at a light? ....do some finger exercises for left hand.... hold a pencil like a bow in the right hand (assumes you are playing right handed).... Welcome to the never ending pursuit of beautiful sounds!!!!


January 4, 2016 at 08:45 PM · Private individual lessons and devoted, focused practice are keys to successful study of the violin. But don't forget community! As soon as you are ready there might be a community orchestra that accepts players of "all levels" (which is a bit of misnomer, you do need *some* level of proficiency).

And there are lots of internet resources available to guide your work. Of the freely available videos at the beginner to intermediate levels, I think those by Todd Ehle and Kurt Sassmannshaus are particularly useful. Beth Blackerby has hundreds of tutorial videos too but you need to buy a membership to get access to her materials. It's possible, though, to get carried away (and go broke) watching others show you how to play the violin when you can be actually learning more just by trying stuff yourself.

Look for a teacher who welcomes adult students, who accepts adults into recitals and other performance opportunities that might otherwise be kids-only, who demonstrates technique with his or her own violin, and whose schedule agrees with yours. Make sure you find a teacher who understands that just because you're an adult doesn't mean the violin is a throwaway hobby. If you're serious about learning to play properly, then make sure your teacher understands and supports that goal.

January 5, 2016 at 12:27 PM · Hey. What can you already play, and to what level?

If you are starting everything from scratch (ear development, instrumental technique, notation reading, music theory, etc, then "I don't know". But if you already play stuff, quite well and accurately, then you should be able to do well with 30 minutes a week, or so. Give it a go: you might be surprised.

Practice is not a killer. Practice is fun.

Enjoy coming to the process of making friends with your violin. Put in all of the time you have available: you might find an hour early in the morning (6.00 am), and two hours after 9.00 pm, day after day after day. Practice is fun.

If you are totally new to music, I'm not the right person to help you: if you are already well educated and experienced on one axe, get on with it.

January 5, 2016 at 10:55 PM · Try to find other people to play with. You don't have to jump straight into an orchestra - that's a frighteningly big step for a beginner. But with two or three other people you can play some chamber music. Or, if your tastes run to bluegrass fiddling, look for a jam you can sit in on. I do all three of these activities, and there are many more. Check bulletin boards in music stores, or just ask around. Once you find a teacher, he or she can likely hook you up with others of similar interests and skill levels.

You'll still need to spend lots of time on individual practice, but playing with others makes your musical journey much more exciting.

January 8, 2016 at 05:16 AM · I started learning the violin in my 40s. My biggest hurdle was finding time to consistently practice during the week. I had 30-45 minute lessons weekly. Started on the suzuki method but quickly branched out from there. I am now in a community orchestra. I would strongly advise a teacher rather than trying to learn off the internet.

Hope you enjoy your violin journey.

November 10, 2016 at 07:59 PM · Playing the violin involves a lot of effort before you begin to hear things you really want to hear especially if you're new to playing an instrument, so don't give up!

I suppose everyone is different in this regard. I like a 30 minute lesson. This seems to be about right for my hectic schedule. Then I try to practice at least an hour a day at a time when I can concentrate on playing. It IS fun!

I was taking hour lessons from a person who lived an hour away. This was too much. Eventually I found a great teacher close to my work. Don't overlook younger players. My teacher is in her 20's but she's been playing since she was 4 and majors in violin. I would be sad if I couldn't take lessons from her.

I play several instruments. Without a doubt the violin has been the most challenging. The rewards have far outweighed the efforts so far :)

Dedication is mandatory. Practice a few times a week at 15 minutes won't be enough.

November 10, 2016 at 11:24 PM · Heh, I find practicing for two hours a day barely enough.

November 11, 2016 at 12:52 AM · Why do people comment on 11 month old questions

November 12, 2016 at 10:13 AM · "Why do people comment on 11 month old questions ?"

To avoid multiple threads on identical topics?

November 12, 2016 at 10:14 AM · The teacher has to recognise that the student has a working day full of responsibilties, and cannot think violin, let alone practice on it. Some of each lesson will be spent "re-discovering" the instrument. We must also be able to explain clearly the reasons for proposed practice, since the student has to get his or her head, not just the fingers, round the instrument.

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