Learn violin or oboe? If you could choose freely...?

December 31, 2016 at 03:35 PM · New year greeting to all members of violinst.com

Dear members, I am a student studying in a European country, now 19 years old.

Recently I have a chance to choose one instrument to learn, one is violin, another is oboe, however I have no time to learn both of them at the same time, for I have to deal with my studies (I want to take PhD courses in the future), as a result only ONE instrument could I choose to learn.

I myself as well as my parents wanted me to choose violin, because we think that: firstly there are more violin teachers here; secondly,a 4/4 violin for beginner is not expensive (my homeland is China where violins with reasonable price are available, and my relatives could buy one and send it for me ); thirdly, I've been loved string instrument when I was young, but had no chance to learn(because my parents wanted me to concentrate on study, and to study math, physics, foreign languages...in order to go to a better school), as I am adult now my parents don't care about my study, thus allow me doing what I like..

However, I've also heard about that it is not good for adult like me to learn violin, in my hometown if an adult wants to learn violin, it is discouraged, because people always consider that violin is one instrument difficult (or most difficult) to master, thus one should start from a very early age (3 to 6 yrs old), if one becomes adult, his or her mind as well as flexibility is limited, thus adult could not master it well, and people also think that it is impossible for adult to learn Classical pieces composed by Mozart, Vivaldi, Sarasate, Paganini...So should I choose?

In terms of oboe, in my homeland not many people know what oboe is, and there are few students learn to play oboe, people also think that if one wants to master oboe, there is no AGE limit, that is, if you want to play oboe concerto, there is no age limit, you can start from any age if you like, after years of practice one could master it. People do not have a deep understanding about oboe, and they also think that wood-wind instruments would not be as hard as string instruments. As a result, if adult wants to learn violin, other people will encourage him or her to choose wood-wind or brass instruments. But an oboe is expensive for me, for instance, a regular Loree cost $4000 to $5000, and a Marigaux will cost more...

I come here to ask all of you, and could you please tell me your ideas about learning violin or oboe? Or about the age limit in choosing an instrument? Thanks!

Best wishes,


Replies (90)

December 31, 2016 at 03:53 PM · I think you have to decide which instrument you prefer and what your goals with the instrument are. Oboe is also not an easy instrument to master, not to mention you will have to figure out, and constantly deal with reed and reed related issues. But yes, you'll likely advance further faster on oboe than on violin.

I play violin, and recently took up the bassoon, so I know the issues with both strings and woodwinds.

If you do decide on an oboe, I'd highly recommend you check out the Buffet Green Line.

December 31, 2016 at 04:05 PM · The violin for sure! There is more solo music for violin than any other instrument than piano.

There are so many opportunities to play violin with other people. Orchestras have many violinists so when you play in an orchestra you are part of a crowd and your mistakes can be mostly hidden. There are two violin parts in every string quartet and one in every string trio or "piano trio."

If you play oboe, which is (can be) a wonderful instrument, you will be only one of two people in most orchestras and every note you play will be a "solo" (heard clearly by the audience and everyone else in the orchestra). I've been playing in community (mostly amateur) orchestras for 68 years and every one of them has ended up with really good oboe players - but not every oboe player who came to play with us was good enough - so I think the world probably has more bitter oboists than violinists, even though there are fewer oboists.

Once you can make a sound on a woodwind instrument you will find it easier to learn to play music on it than on a bowed string instrument, but there are still the challenges of becoming a decent enough musician. The woodwind players I've played with (on average) these many years have generally been better than the average of string players because they are winnowed out by competition/audition for the very few ensemble playing opportunities around.

Neither instrument is easy to play well and it probably takes a long time to sound decent on either one.

It is easier to carry an oboe - but if that is an important criterion, play piccolo!

If size is not the criterion, and you are over 25 I would consider cello. It does not require the same bodily contortions demanded by violin playing and I've seen adult beginners, even in their 60s, make good progress in their studies because the proper playing posture conforms naturally to the human body. But I have also know starting violinists in their 30s who made rapid and excellent progress.

December 31, 2016 at 04:08 PM · I started learning the violin at age 39, and you will find plenty of folks around here who started as adults and enjoy it for a lifetime. You are not planning to make a living from music, but mainly play it for your own pleasure - so feel free to make an emotional decision and don't be discouraged by what people say!

If you habe somebody competent who helps you shopping for a violin, I'm sure you can get a very decent instrument that will last you at least several years for $200-500. In your position I would eventually rent a violin from a local (european) luthier and wait 6-12 months until you can play some easier pieces and start to develop, and then you will be able to involve yourself more in the shopping process, e.g. when you are in vacation in China.

December 31, 2016 at 04:35 PM · Funny -- when I first read the title of your post, my immediate reaction was "oboe has got to be cheaper." But apparently not for you! You're correct -- in some places there is a tremendous prejudice against adult violin learners. But I suspect this can be overcome. Since you already know you love the violin you should definitely choose it.

December 31, 2016 at 04:59 PM · Hi Dimi, good idea to start learning an instrument! The choices will mainly depend on what grabs you in the end after some trying. Before you purchase any instrument, I highly recommend you look for a violin or oboe teacher and rent an instrument of each to try for a few days or weeks before buying. I don't know if this is available to you where you live. Here in Canada, we have many conservatories in the cities. In the beginning of each term, some of them provide event that you can go for free and you'll get chance to speak to the faculties and visit music "petting zoo". Look around to see if you can find this out in where you live. Another thing to try is go to a community orchestra concert and chat with the players after the concert to see if you can gain some insights.

I'm saying this because I believe while the price of an instrument is a concern, it shouldn't be a dominant one because learning any instrument is a long term process and can be expensive, if you are serious about it (lessons, strings, occasional repairments, etc). So if you can do an annual budget carefully, you'll be more likely stick to your pursuit and be happy with the result. Buying a beginner's violin is too easy these days, as the market is flooded with it. I've got one I can't even sale :D My point is, try not to make the same mistake many of us made in the past; i.e., don't just go out purchase a piece of commodity because we want to learn without finding out if it is indeed what we want to be doing. Learning an instrument is a discipline, which takes a lot of work but rewards us tremendously if we are absolutely passionate about it. Don't worry about your age. You are young enough to learn anything you set your heart on.

You are doing the right thing by coming here for suggestions. Now, go out and test the water. Good luck and let us know how it goes, ok?

December 31, 2016 at 05:00 PM · I started at 18, been playing for less than 3 years now, but my very good teacher believes I may be ready to begin wirkjng on the Mozart violin concerto in less than 2 months (the piece is a standard requirement for professional orchestras as a show of clean playing and very precise bow control). :)

Although I must add that I learn at a very fast rate due to natural ability, there is no reason why you cannot reach a fairly high level after 4-6 years of careful practice. :D

Get practicing and prove to people that we later learners CAN do it.

PS: If you would like some practice tips I have found helpful for faster practice on a schedule, please PM me. :)

December 31, 2016 at 05:06 PM · It's a no-brainer--violin, a universal instrument, with players, and makers around the world.

December 31, 2016 at 05:29 PM · My son is a very fine oboist. Two considerations: oboe is *at least* as difficult to sound good on as violin, and reeds are an endless headache. If you're not driven to play the oboe (my son evidently was, and it was his instrument for sure), I'd go with violin.

December 31, 2016 at 06:10 PM · Do what your heart says. Quite honestly, in your situation, violin may be a better bet, but please do what your heart says. Also, don't be discouraged by your age. The main reason why wind players start late is because young children never have the lung strength required for wind instruments except the recorder, harmonica, a few very simple whistle-like instruments, etc. Children do have the necessary physical attributes for string instruments (and keyboards), however. Violins and cellos come in tiny sizes for children. Other instruments (ex guitar, bass and viola) are more difficult for young players because smaller sizes are limited.

December 31, 2016 at 06:21 PM · Your post made me smile from one ear to another; what answer would you expect to get in a Lutheran church if you asked about choosing between Christianity and Buddhism?

Of course that majority of us here will (gently) nudge you toward violin... and ...it seems to me that in your heart you have already decided the same, but your mind is telling you that reality is against you.

Oboe is a very beautiful instrument, but do not underestimate its difficulty. For example, my friend who plays both modern and baroque oboe, has told me about the art of reed cutting. One has to be almost in a Zen state of mind to do it properly. That single detail does not exist in violin playing (the most we do is to replace our strings and despair about proper rosin selection) but it contributes in oboe sound production enormously!

Ask the same dilemma in Oboe or woodwind instrument forum and compare the answers.

Oh, if you are inclined toward string instruments, consider learning viola da gamba instead! It is less difficult than violin (a fretted instrument), but nevertheless a great sounding and more ergonomic instrument. Here is a video clip to spark your interest:


It is an expensive instruments, but there must be places in Europe to rent them for not too much money.

December 31, 2016 at 10:22 PM · That's a delightful dilemma... I love the sounds of both instruments when someone else is playing it for me though. If I were you, I'll probably pick up the piano instead.

January 1, 2017 at 12:25 AM · Are those really the only two choices? Why? If you chose clarinet instead for example, you'd have a wider range of possibilities, only a single reed to deal with, and an instrument which is easier to pick up and play.

If you're considering any wind instrument, the fit of your mouth and the control of your breath would be key differences from string instruments. I'd suggest renting or borrowing one for a month or two and trying it out with as good teaching as you're able to find to help you decide. Because you're going to be strength and stamina limited in any case at the beginning, you could even do that with both instruments at the same time.

January 1, 2017 at 12:12 PM · @J Ray:

There are many choices, but these two choices are the best, because teachers (Tutti violin and tutti oboe from one orchestra, another violin major student from a well-known conservatory) live close to where I live and close to my university).

@Sung Han:

A piano may be even more expensive than a regular oboe, and, if I move to other departments or houses it will make me feel fuzzy about how to move a piano to another site ;-)

January 1, 2017 at 12:17 PM · @Rocky Milankov:

I've also heard about that the reeds of oboe are so expensive and easily got broken for oboe beginners, right? And the instrument for making reeds also expensive ;-(

@Ella Yu:

Do you think that age will not bother? In my hometown even my classmates still think that: violin is made for children, violin lessons are for children, etudes are for developing children, not adults.....

January 1, 2017 at 12:21 PM · @Mary Ellen Goree:

I'm not driven for oboe, indeed, I was once driven for violin but had no chance to learn due to many reasons (concentration on examinations, etc..)...

@Erin Sabrini:

I know violin is far universal than oboe, but how about the difficulty? Will violin be more difficult than oboe, or with slower progress?

January 1, 2017 at 12:24 PM · @A. O. :

Great! You're so talented. And how about the rate of progress? You spend how many hours on violin per day? (Oh maybe I should PM you ;-))

January 1, 2017 at 01:24 PM · Please PM me by clicking my initials please. :)

BUT, I will still respond. :)

Progress: Usually, playing beethoven/mozart means preparing for an orchestra job/conservatory (figure about 10 years of practice)

Hours: Honestly, usually not more than avg. 7-8 hours a week, because I think very effectively, and work out technical spots in my head while unoccuppied.

January 1, 2017 at 01:58 PM · I played both cello and oboe when I was young, and tried to learn violin as an adult. I would say if it's just a matter of which is easier, I would learn the oboe. But I would not let that issue make my decision for me--in fact it would play no part at all in my decision. I would decide on a basis of which I liked better, wanted more to play, and of course this depends on the availability of teachers being equal.d

Your instrument comparison is not a good one--in deciding what to buy you've put student violins against professional oboes! If you considered buying a violin at the level of the oboes you've named, you'd have to spend tens of thousands of dollars. So that shouldn't enter into it, either.

January 1, 2017 at 01:59 PM · @Yixi Zhang:

Goodday, Zhang, very kind of you. I've found some violin or oboe teachers near me, and I always have chance to see the performance of orchestra, because many residents here are also fond of classical music.

I know in North America instrument rent is available, but in European countries it is difficult to find this sort of shop or organization, generally if one wants to learn an instrument this person shall buy one.

I love violin from the bottom of my heart (I do not why, maybe it is destinated or influenced by others?), and if I start to learn it I'd like to follow the discipline and never cease, it is also due to this reason making a choice between these two instruments is so hard, because I want to learn something WELL, for example, amount of etudes and pieces of concerti, which sounds so challenging.

Finally, thanks a lot for your advice.

January 1, 2017 at 02:33 PM · @Paul Deck:

You're right, oboe is not cheap, so there are not many people choose it, but my parents support my idea and insist that if I want to learn oboe they will buy one for me, in fact I'm still feeling that it is tooooooooo expensive.

Some of my friends also love violin, but they are also worried about the problem of "age", that is a serious question, because they (we) fear that it is difficult for students of this age to encounter a well teacher (because we know that some teachers are reluctant to teach adults, they prefer children at all).

I wonder why there is tremendous prejudice, is it because that many violinists start from an early age? But why there is less prejudice towards learning mathematics, languages, literature, physics, psychology, or sports, or other instruments, just VIOLIN?

January 1, 2017 at 02:34 PM · You can 'make do' with a cheap violin (if it's not a total dud). You can't 'make do' with a cheap oboe. My daughter played the oboe throughout high school. If I had known then, what I know now, we likely would have bought her the Green Line to begin with.

However, after 3 oboes and lots of frustration, we lucked out and ended up with a decent plastic oboe that plays very well. It sounds much better than her wood one did.

And speaking of plastic, there is a newer plastic reed, called Legere, that you can also check out. Very very expensive, but it lasts much longer, isn't fickle with the weather, and is very consistant in tone production. It is NOT one of the cheap plastic reeds that everyone warns you stay away from.

AND...if you really want to play the violin...don't worry about what others think. Or, see if you can start an adult violin 'group' in your neck of the woods. You might be surprised that there is more interest from adults than it might appear on the surface.

January 1, 2017 at 02:37 PM · @Nuuska M.:

Thanks for your advice. In China cheap violins are available, usually from only $100 to $200, and a handmade violin is not expensive (the cheapest one costs around $500), do you think that a handmade is better than a factory-made? ;-)

January 1, 2017 at 02:43 PM · @N.A. Mohr:

I 've seen Buffet Greenline and Legere reed last year, and a cheap oboe sounds like duck? As a result the player will fastly give up...

How about the sound of wood oboe, it seems that many people consider the sound of wood oboe better than plastic one, what do you think? ;-)

January 1, 2017 at 02:45 PM · It all depends on who is making the violin. All violins are 'handmade' to some extent. If you get a 'factory' violin that has been assembled by experienced people you will likely get a better violin than one that was completely'handmade' by a beginner or novice.

You should see if you can try it out first.

You can also see if you can buy a used one from a student that is upgrading.

Re: The oboe. The wooden oboes are also very finicky with humidity. Many are prone to cracking. The Green Line are very good, and have less issues to worry about. The professional player I know that uses one, loves it. She wouldn't change back she said.

January 1, 2017 at 02:53 PM · @Andrew Victor:

Thanks for your advice, in fact I have never thought about becoming a player of orchestra, because many orchestra players are professional, I'm nervous about my playing if my skills are not good enough..

I understand the competition between tutti oboe, and there are also fewer oboe soloists, because becoming a soloist requires much practice and inspiration..

Compared with cello, I am more interested in violin and oboe, due to their "soprano" sound, when I was a boy my voice is close to "soprano" and could sing difficult songs, then later I found that I got interested in the sound of violin as well as oboe, their sounds are just like angel singing ;-)

Lastly, could you please tell me what is excellent progress of adult? Thanks!

January 1, 2017 at 03:02 PM · @Michael Darnton:

You're right, I do not care about the ease of playing, just seek for what I really love to.

Do you think Loree and Marigaux are professional? In fact there are different levels of their oboes, there are Loree student oboes just like there are student violins, but regular oboes are more expensive than regular violins, and professional oboes just like Josef, Marigaux, Fossati cost around or above $10000, I've seen a "transparent" glass Marigaux oboe for professional players costs more than $20000... Professional handmade violins of Italy, France or Germany also expensive (more than €10000 to €20000), but there are more choice of handmade violins, for example handmade from China or Romania ;-)

January 1, 2017 at 03:06 PM · If you think you are too old to start violin, I guess I should never have started at the age of 75. After one year, I am playing Vivaldi concerto in A minor for two violins with my violin buddy. You can start violin now, or wait until you are 75. You choose! You will be just fine at whatever you do!!!!

January 1, 2017 at 03:11 PM · @Erin Sabrini:

Thanks for your reply, I once very care about the "flexibility" of finger, as one becomes older, do you think it matters? ;-)

January 1, 2017 at 03:38 PM · For me, not yet!

January 1, 2017 at 04:41 PM · Dimi, as far as excellent progress on violin for an adult: a man in his mid-30s came to the orchestra I was playing in the first-violin section of about 8 years ago. He had only had 1-1/2 years of lessons (which were still ongoing) with one of the better know local violin teachers. He seemed able to handle most of the music pretty well - we were an amateur orchestra (with a professional concertmaster and professional conductor and several players who played elsewhere for pay). He was a big man, about 6'4" tall and although he looked a bit awkward playing (unlike those of us who started violin when our ages were in single digits) he seemed able to handle the first violin music (that goes up quite high - we were an orchestra that did some Shostakovich and Mahler as well as Beethoven, etc.).

In my own teaching I had a couple in their mid-20s who come together every Saturday morning for lessons. Both had prior experience on saxophone in high school and the lady was also a sight-singer - so they could read music, but had no prior experience with string instruments. In the 10 months they took lessons from me the young man got to Suzuki violin book 4 and the young woman was just starting Suzuki cello book 7 (both having started with me in book 1). Unfortunately job opportunities far away in Florida beaconed them from my California "studio." I had started using the Suzuki books in the late 1970s after the local Suzuki school dumped some of their lazier teenage students on me (it was a very fine school - the one where Anne Akiko Meyers got her start). Before that I used more "old-school" teaching materials - but after looking at the Suzuki books I could see (when supplemented) with other "exercise" materials) they were essentially no different than the materials that had been used on me at the Manhattan School of Music in the 1940s and before that by private teachers in NYC.

These are two examples of what I meant by excellent progress.

January 1, 2017 at 05:33 PM · Mastering any instrument takes time and effort. Even something as "simple" as the penny whistle can take years to truely master. I started playing violin at 50, and joined a community orchestra by the time I turned 56. I'd say pick whatever instrument the music inspire you most.

January 1, 2017 at 09:56 PM · Dimi - if you want to get a sense of the difficulties presented by oboe and its reed issues even to a professional, you might want to read Blair Tindall's book "Mozart in the Jungle." Tindall played oboe professionally, and, although the focus of her book is the problems faced by professional musicians, her endless complaining about dealing with the issues raised by playing oboe says a great deal that is relevant to your question.

January 1, 2017 at 09:58 PM · Go with your passion. I had the fortune in my 12th and 13th year to have music classes where we had to attempt to play all of the instruments in an orchestra over those two years. I learned that I liked strings (loved the violin), hated reeds (both single and double but really hated double reeds), brass was ok but the French horn mouthpiece was too small and the tuba way too large.

Unfortunately my parents would not fund any lessons or instruments and I was almost 30 when I finally decided to take up the violin. I've loved it for 40 years and am still playing and still loving it.

Our high school band was great because the young people chose instruments that they liked/loved from that exposure. There is no single instrument that is best for everyone (sorry pianists) it is the instrument that you are drawn to that is the best one for you. Age is not a limit, desire and the love of music is the key.

January 1, 2017 at 10:01 PM · You are right on the ball, George.

January 1, 2017 at 10:10 PM · Please do not labor under the illusion that oboe is easier than violin. It is not.

January 2, 2017 at 12:26 AM · George, I don't think anyone said that the piano is best for everyone, but its main advantages are that one can reach passable mediocrity relatively quickly, and *unaccompanied* (that is, self-accompanied) music of all genres has been arranged for it at every playing level. And, if you have a decent digital piano (such as the Yamaha P255) then you can practice anytime wearing headphones. Thus piano is a guite practical choice in some ways.

For the Suzuki-oriented violinist who wants to learn the piano, I suggest buying the first two piano accompaniment books for the violin series and try those. You already know the pieces.

Another instrument that is surprisingly difficult is classical guitar.

January 2, 2017 at 05:11 AM · The oboe is extremely challenging for one additional reason: you generally must make your own reed to achieve a professional level of competency. There have been breakthroughs with commercially-produced "handmade" reeds, and Legere has developed a European scrape synthetic oboe reed that has gotten some traction, but for the most part besides learning to play the instrument, you will also spend equal amounts of time with a reed knife, sandpaper, and a lot of patience.

January 2, 2017 at 11:37 AM · @Andrew Victor:

Thanks for sharing your experience, by the way, you mean that suzuki method is more advanced than other program? I wonder how older prodigy like Menuhin, Kreisler, Hassid, Neveu studied, whether their teachers also used suzuki method or other method?

@Roger St-Pierre:

Thanks for your advice, I'll pick up what I like ;-)

@Fideli S:

Sounds good, but in fact I see many friends of me from China, usually fear that it is even “incorrect" and "inprobable" for adults to learn a string instrument, that is, string instruments are suitable for children, with flexible hands and pure mind, in my hometown I also find that some teachers (especially those whose skills are good )are reluctant to accept adults as their students, but in the field of other instruments such as oboe or bassone there is no such phenomenon, strange enough ;-(

@Tom Holzman:

I really know oboe is not an easy figure, but in my homeland few people understand the teaching and performance of oboe, because the learners, usually children, picking up what their parents choose for them or what their parents "force" them to cope with (for example, if parents love or can play violin, some of them will force their kids to play violin, too). As there are fewer parents know what oboe is, so there are fewer oboe players in China, as a result people usually neglect oboe, and do not know the difficulty of oboe, the majority of them even haven't heard any oboe concerto! However, there are more Westerners playing oboe than Chinese do, so what you've said is true---the difficulty of oboe is underestimated.

And there is also a little prejudice: people in my homeland consider that woodwind instruments are somehow not as "great" as string instruments, if a kid can play violin, he or she usually wants to perform what they play to their classmates, but if a kid can play oboe or other woodwind instruments, the kid usually has fewer chances to perform, because their classmates do not understand oboe, do not consider it is a "typical" difficult instrument, and some people even look down upon wind instruments--- in fact, only violin and piano are accepted widely by both parents and children ;-)

@George Wells:

Great experience, I've been loving violin since I was 10 to 12, but unfortunately had no chance to learn, now I'm 19, that is to say I've been loving the same thing for almost 9 years.

@Mary Ellen Goree:

Thanks, I understand the difficulty of oboe, but in fact many friends of me do not understand ;-(

@Paul Deck:

I've heard that a digital piano does not "feel" like an ordinary piano, right? Among all the piano brands, I love the sound of "Fazioli" most, which is an Italian handmade piano very expensive ;-0

@Gene Wie:

Apart from the problem of reed, I find its fingering and scale are also challenging. Once I've seen an old lady who made oboe reed, and she told me that the instrument (knife, machine) costs highly, as a result handmade oboe reeds are also expensive ;-)

January 2, 2017 at 02:25 PM · Good digital pianos have a quite realistic feel. You have to spend around $1500 or more for that. The days of the squishy wurlitzer organ type keyboard are long gone. Check out the Yamaha P4. There are demos on youtube. Of course no digital is going to feel exactly like a 9 foot grand. But I'll take the P4 over any upright. And being able to practice quietly, and to interface to a computer, these are really great features especially if you are living in an apartment and genre-curious.

January 2, 2017 at 02:59 PM · In response to Heifetz etc: Suzuki was not yet born by the time they learned violin, so scratch that. :)

Being Jewish, many of them starting by learning from their parents or a famous teacher as a way of making a living in an Era when that was often the only job of merit for Jews living in Russia etc.

January 2, 2017 at 03:10 PM · Dimi, when you said "@Andrew Victor: Thanks for sharing your experience, by the way, you mean that suzuki method is more advanced than other program? I wonder how older prodigy like Menuhin, Kreisler, Hassid, Neveu studied, whether their teachers also used suzuki method or other method?"

You misunderstood me completely. I was just offering for those who do understand, an instantaneous glimpse of the musical literature I had presented to those students. Using the Susuki books, as I was, as basis for teaching is not at all the same as the "Susuki Method." What I saw when I first encountered the Susuki books (and the Susuki Method as well - because I knew and played chamber music and in orchestra with a number of successful Susuki-Method teachers) - was the similarity of the early progression within that method to the way I had been taught by more conventional pedagogy 30 years earlier. I also saw and heard many students who demonstrated the success these teachers had with the Susuki Method, a number of whom went off to college and majored in music and violin performance (usually after leaving the Susuki teachers for lessons under teachers using the older methods that trained the famous violinists you refer to. By the way, the best of these young players were advised by the head of that Suzuki school to seek advancement by going to other (big city) teachers before they had even completed the (10 books of the) Suzuki course.

Note AO's last remarks (submitted while I was composing this) - when those great (Russian Jewish) violinists were accepted into the schools of their great teachers they were already fine violinists - having already competed the equivalent of the Suzuki Method and more.

January 2, 2017 at 03:27 PM · @A.O:

Japanese share similar viewpoint with Chinese as well as Korean in terms of instrument instruction, that is, children should start from as early as possible (2 or 3 yrs old), as if instruments can be made as small as possible for kids to convey. Suzuki himself had also emphasized that children learn instruments just like acquire their mother tongue unconsciously, so if start as early as possible with correct instruction, as kids grow up, most kids would achieve a rather high level in playing. But I think suzuki method mainly aimed at violin or piano, not oboe, harp, classical guitar etc...

I read some books and thesis about Ashkenazi Jews in Central and Eastern Europe, it seems that Jews in Germany, Netherlands, UK, France could find more way of making a living, such as commerce, doctor, professor, many Jews were businessmen or scientists, and were rather rich. While Jews in other parts of Europe especially in Central-Eastern Europe like Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Hungary had fewer ways of making a living, many of them were rather poor, as a result many of them chose to pick up an instrument from an early age (usually initiated by their parents or local music teachers). In terms of choosing what instruments, it is said that violin is portable and cheap, in that era Jews moved from place to place, so not every family could own a piano, and Jews are attracted by the sound of violin easily instead of other instruments like woodwind or brass, so there were and are still lots of notable violinists are Jews, mainly of Eastern Europe origin before migrating to US and Israel.

January 2, 2017 at 03:33 PM · @Andrew Victor:

Sorry, I misunderstood you. So, do you think "songs" like twinkle twinkle little star in suzuki book suitable for adult beginner? ;-)

January 2, 2017 at 06:53 PM · Dimi, I must say I'm impressed with your motivation to learn an instrument, even though your surroundings aren't especially encouraging. Puts things into perspective and makes me thankful that I live in Canada, where my family and friends and the general society are extremely pro my new ambition (I'm an adult beginner too).

I'd say, keep up the motivation, maybe join online adult learner websites to stay motivated! Violinist.com is just one.

"Jews are attracted by the sound of violin easily instead of other instruments like woodwind or brass." Hhhhm interesting, I wonder if that's why I chose violin over clarinet ;) no regrets

January 2, 2017 at 08:58 PM · Dimi,

1. Usually also "factory violins" are (and always were) hand-built in their most parts. The difference is rather, if this is done like in an assembled line, each employant doing just a few superficially acquired movements as quick as possible to maximize profit even with low budget instruments, or if only few well trained subspecialised artisans who really do understand what they are doing spend much more time, heart and brains in that (only at first glance similar) production process. Don't expect to find a "master violin" for 200-500 bucks even in China.

There ARE some really decent european "factory violins" (remember Mirecourt and Markneukirchen just a century ago) which sell for thousands of $, and quite a lot of not so decent "master violins" from the same time which may go for just a few hundreds. The same may occur quality-wise in China nowadays, and a violin from a reputable workshop may be more playable and pleasing in sound than a even more expensive instrument from one of the less inspired "masters". It's not ONLY about money if and how much a violin fits your needings and taste. But the price usually is an indicator as well in new as in old violins, usually (if your are not cheated) you get what you pay for.

2. In Europe rental systems are quite common. I know quite a few luthiers in Austria, Cech republic, Germany, Italy and Suisse, and they all do rentals in student and intermediate level violins. Usually they'll take you the rent of 6-12 months off if your buy later (even if it's another violin). With woodwind and brass I know one shop in my city where you can rent for max. 2 years (they'll take you off max. 18 months) until you have to decide if your want to return or pay out.

3. Don't be shy. There are so many private teachers that will be pleased to instruct a motivated young adult, and quite a few may even prefere this to motivating a child in pre-school age.

Check out your local luthier. Even if you don't buy one of his instruments, you might need his professional help from time to time. Ask him for rentals. And many luthiers also provide a list of private teachers, if you're in need.

January 2, 2017 at 08:59 PM ·

January 2, 2017 at 11:30 PM · Dimi - I found everything in Suzuki appropriate for adult beginners - but in different ways than the Suzuki program might use them. For example instead of spending months on the bowing variations used in preparing for "Twinkle" I used the song (as printed in book one to help beginners find the notes. A typical bright adult student would likely work on one or more piece a week - and thus get through book one (plus some other music I assigned) and thus get through book one in a few months at most rather than the year or more it could take beginning kids. When my son was 12 years old he decided he wanted to add playing the violin to his other musical skills (piano, trumpet and guitar) so one Easter week (no school that week) I gave him a lesson eery day and he completed Suzuki book one that week - and quit playing violin for the next 30 years. He is playing violin again - taking on-line lessons through artistworks.com and face-to-face with me once a year when he comes to visit us - I also check out his artist works progress and email him additional pointers. But he did keep up with his other musical interests, and even spent one year after high school touring in a performing professional band. He went to recording engineering school after high school and has been doing music and song-writing and recording ever since as well.

I had one ~60 year old beginning cello student whose goal was to learn the old hymn "Amazing Grace." So after getting her fingers "tuned" on Twinkle I wrote out a version of "Amazing Grace" for her 2nd lesson (one lesson each week) and we took care of that goal quickly so we could get on progressing on learning to read cello music and play more. I also adapted other songs for early violin and clli students - songs like "Ashoken Farewell" and "Devil's Dream." The Seventh Day Adventist mother of one little 5-year old girl student was rather shocked when I assigned "Devi's Dream" to her daughter - but the music covered pretty much the same notes as "Twinkle" with some more challenging bowing - and is a lot of fun to play and impressive to hear and see.

I like the way all the Suzuki books concentrate first on the two higher strings so that early bowing practice is not confounded by having to learn to play on 4 different strings and work on bowing in 3 dimensions. I found that ability came soon enough when moving through the other music in the book.

I found the trouble with adult students can be that their brains are too well developed and they are used to solving problems with their brains instead of other parts of their bodies. They often think they know so much that they don't care to listen to the teacher who wants them to take certain things more slowly. Also, some adults fix their mind on a certain incorrect concept and like any bad habit it is very difficult to dissuade them of it. A large part of learning to play these string instruments is like gymnastics and the body has to be trained properly before the brain can control it the way it is needed to perform.

With kids, they are willing to follow what the teacher directs and often make faster and greater progress because of it. You can see this happen in the Suzuki Program where the parents are also taught and then go on to help their kid's practice - until they no longer are able to.

January 3, 2017 at 09:22 AM · @G.A:

Great, I guess you are Jewish Canadian? Where I'm living now provides a good environment for adult learner, because there is less prejudice, compared with where I've lived before entering to university ;-)

@Nuuska M.:

Thanks for your comment, in China handmade a good "master violins" are not cheap indeed, usually cost more than 10,000 yuans (around $1500), students in consevatory whose violins are over 30,000, some of them use ancient violin made in European countries (Italy, Germany, France especially) are more expensive, up tp 50,000 to 100,000 yuans ($8,000-$16,000) or more...

@Andrew Victor:

"I found the trouble with adult students can be that their brains are too well developed and they are used to solving problems with their brains instead of other parts of their bodies. They often think they know so much that they don't care to listen to the teacher who wants them to take certain things more slowly. Also, some adults fix their mind on a certain incorrect concept and like any bad habit it is very difficult to dissuade them of it. A large part of learning to play these string instruments is like gymnastics and the body has to be trained properly before the brain can control it the way it is needed to perform."

---------- I agree with what you said, thanks for your advice, I'll pay attention to this problem when I start learning ;-)

January 3, 2017 at 09:25 AM · @G.A:

Great, I guess you are Jewish Canadian? Where I'm living now provides a good environment for adult learner, because there is less prejudice, compared with where I've lived before entering to university ;-)

@Nuuska M.:

Thanks for your comment, in China handmade a good "master violins" are not cheap indeed, usually cost more than 10,000 yuans (around $1500), students in consevatory whose violins are over 30,000, some of them use ancient violin made in European countries (Italy, Germany, France especially) are more expensive, up tp 50,000 to 100,000 yuans ($8,000-$16,000) or more...

@Andrew Victor:

"I found the trouble with adult students can be that their brains are too well developed and they are used to solving problems with their brains instead of other parts of their bodies. They often think they know so much that they don't care to listen to the teacher who wants them to take certain things more slowly. Also, some adults fix their mind on a certain incorrect concept and like any bad habit it is very difficult to dissuade them of it. A large part of learning to play these string instruments is like gymnastics and the body has to be trained properly before the brain can control it the way it is needed to perform."

---------- I agree with what you said, thanks for your advice, I'll pay attention to this problem when I start learning ;-)

January 3, 2017 at 09:37 AM · I'm not sure if I can add much to the wonderful discussion above, but if you are genuinely unsure as to which instrument to learn, I would suggest spending a year renting both, and taking lessons in both, even if this means having less regular lessons.

It would certainly slow your progress for that year considerably, and would raise the cost of the experience, but it would likely give you some degree of certainty about which instrument you really want to play, and this might speed your progress in the longer term. It can be hard to really understand what playing a specific instrument is really like until you start doing it.

I did this - for baroque flute and violin - and don't regret it at all.

January 3, 2017 at 11:07 AM · @Stefan Rennick-Egglestone:

Good idea, in general I care less about the cost but care about whether I could learn difficult skills from teacher.

I do not need fast progress, for example playing well-known concerti, because I learn instrument for myself, not for standing on stage as a "soloist", my greatest interest is upon etudes in order to develop skills :-)

January 3, 2017 at 02:27 PM · In either case, the search for a gifted teacher is your next Holy Grail; nothing kills interest faster than a pedestrian drill sergeant.

January 3, 2017 at 03:14 PM · @Erin Sabrini:

Thanks for your advice ! ;-)

January 3, 2017 at 05:26 PM · I agree with Erin. I would not choose the oboe (or violin) if there is not a good teacher that you can go to.

But on the oboe you can play the Poulenc Sonata.

January 3, 2017 at 08:42 PM · I'll bet someone on this website will start a furious argument about what kind of rosin to use on an oboe.



PS. As a long-time Chicagoan, many times in my childhood and youth I saw the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (including those great Reiner years), and many times heard their great oboist, the late Ray Still. To my ears, I have never heard better oboe playing.

January 3, 2017 at 08:45 PM · Great idea. But first we'll have to state clearly that an oboe has to be played restless!

January 4, 2017 at 09:49 AM · I don't know in which part of Europe you live now. But in the western European countries rental instruments and teachers are quite common for both instruments as far as I know.

Apart for that: choose the instrument you love most. When you really want to master an instrument, every instruments is difficult and shall ask dedication and time.

January 4, 2017 at 10:15 AM · @Christian Lesniak:

I find both nice violin teacher as well as oboe teacher, one of them is my neighborhood:-)

@Sander Marcus:

There are fewer oboe masters compared with the number of violin masters ;-( But I've heard that it is easier for oboists to find a chair in orchestra than violinists, because there are more violinists hold degree from conservatory than oboists, the number of professional violin major students are multiple times (maybe 10 times) than the number of oboe majors, generally an orchestra is made of 22 violins but 4 oboes, by calculation it seems that oboists could find job more easily? :-)

@Nuuska M.:

Maybe oboists tend to make a mistake when strings stop playing, there are fewer oboe solo parts :-)

@M Snellen:

Western Europe, where kids usually buy a new violin if they strat to learn it, and violins are not cheap here, but compared with oboe, they are cheap...

January 4, 2017 at 03:49 PM · @Dimi de Saro:

Hey! I'm also near your age and learning the violin. I live in Singapore and for me it was really an instinctive response. I was learning piano at the age when i first saw a violin (10) and that violin looked like it was sent from heaven itself (i was small). It was white (painted) and heavenly and I decided right then and there i was going to acquire that instrument. I asked my dad (he's from mainland china) to buy it for me. He said no. Unless i could pass Grade 5 for piano. TAKE NOTE THAT I WAS FAILING GRADE 1 AND 2 CONSISTENTLY AT THE TIME. And i did it. I passed. I didnt get the white violin because it wasnt for sale anymore (cry), but i fell more and more in love with the violin each second i spend playing it. I had 3 violins to date. My first was a 3/4, cost 99 dollars. My second was a full sized violin from china, which cost 1k SGD(it still sounds good to this day). My current violin costed 4.8k, and is by far the loudest and brighest of the bunch.

TLDR go with what you like. Dont care about which one will give you more money in the future. Go with the one that inspires you and makes you feel like you're soaring in the sky or swimming in the ocean when you play it.

Pretty cheesy I know but thats my take on it.

January 4, 2017 at 05:41 PM · @Yunfan Xu:

Thanks for your comment, when I was ten I dared not to tell my parents that I wanted to learn violin, only when I was twelve had I one chance to mention my desire, but quickly refused by them, because they cared about my studies, they didn't want to spend money on instument learning. After entering a quite "satisfied " school as I become adult now they agree on my idea of learning an instrument.

And I remeber that when I was a child, learning violin or other instruments was much costly, I mean in terms of purchasing power, in that period it was hard for an average family to afford the fee of private lesson (a private lesson in 45mins would cost 1/20 to 1/10 of mouthly salary of family), let alone the cost of "go pro" (to enter a conservatory since middle school, the parents will accompany their kids and live near the school, some parents even quit their jobs!) . Today, many of my friends still regret that they have had no chance to learning an imstrument when they were children, but when they knew the cost was once high they understood their parents' choice was not that wrong. :-)

January 4, 2017 at 09:13 PM · Hi Dimi da Saro,

I find your question somewhat confusing. Why are you so worried about what instrument is "easier" to play then he other? What are your musical goals? Are you planning to play in hopes of going to grad school for music and later an orchestra position? (If this is the case I believe you are being completely unrealistic).

Learning any instrument is difficult. It takes time, patiences and dedication (at any age really). I think the assumption of x many years = good playing is false with any instrument. I also think you are getting caught up in the idea of being a good player as fast as possible. I believe you need to choose what instrument to play first, and then dedicate yourself to study. It may take a couple years, 5 years, 10 years, or maybe you will never sound like a professional. I think in order to be happy and have fun playing music, you need to be ok with the fact that you may never be professional good.

In terms of your question:

I played both oboe and violin as a child in my school orchestra/band. I can't really say that one is easier then the other. Its just different. I had a violin teacher that didnt fit me at all and infact I was terrified of him as a child. On the other hand I had a very supportive oboe teacher so naturally I was relaxed and had fun playing oboe.

If you know both a violin teacher and an oboe teacher, try to arrange a trial period of study. I think after 3 months you will know which instrument you really like.

January 5, 2017 at 05:11 AM · @Kimbery Demuth:

Hi, I do not care about which one is easier, it is just what people around me care about, I've mentioned above that in my hometown people always consider that it is not proper for adult to pick up a rahter difficult string instrument, however they judge that oboe may be "easier" , so should I refer to their suggestion?

I do not and never have the idea of going to orchestra position, and friends in my hometown suggest to me, they said if I learn violin it is nearly impossible to perform concerto, but if I learn oboe I'll play Mozart Oboe concerto C major KV314 or Vivaldi oboe concerto within six years (students who study oboe can do so within five years or less), they implied that violin requires more on flexibility of hands than oboe, violin beginner usually of 3 to 6 years old while oboe beginner in my country usually over 10 years old, one professional oboist in my country (in one philharmonica ) started in 11, taken the issue of age into consideration, they advised me that oboe be more suitable.

January 5, 2017 at 05:32 AM · Dimi, when I participate in a violin masterclass in Southern California way back in 1973, most of the class was composed of young students of the Jascha Heifetz Masterclass at the University of Southern California. One of those was a young girl of 18, who had started violin at age 13, only 5 years before and like all the others - she was amazing. If you want to see the amazingness of those kinds of students get the DVD of the Heifetz Masterclass that was filmed in 1962 - but the way, the tall female student in that DVD, Claire Hodgkins, was the master who led our masterclass and was Heifetz's assistant in 1973.

I had adult violin students who were playing the Vivaldi A minor concerto 10 months in - If it's a concerto you want to play.

You did ask your question here in the big world - maybe it's time to stop worrying about what the people in your hometown consider - you have to do this to suit yourself for the rest of your life.

January 5, 2017 at 05:54 AM · @Andrew Victor:

Thanks a lot, I've watched this DVD on TV years ago, and saw Heifetz enjoying play tennis, fun! But after saw this, I wonder why siblings of Heifetz did not become violinists, they had better chance than average violin learners.... ;-)

January 5, 2017 at 02:36 PM · Heifetz does not play tennis in the Masterclass DVD - that's a different one. The masterclass video is 4 hours long.

I didn't know this, but the entire video is now available on YouTube starting with this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLlUoS8D7Bo

January 5, 2017 at 02:47 PM · Hi Dimi, I'm sorry but I find what you say very confusing and contridictory. This is probably a product of cultural differences and language barriers.

I feel that you should go with your gut and play the violin. Don't worry about what others think. Enjoy the time you have learning the violin for your own peace of mind and heart.

Good luck, work hard, make music !

January 6, 2017 at 05:59 AM · I'm 17 and started less than a year ago, and have thus far made steady and solid progress. It all depends on your personality and willingness to put in the effort. Will I ever be capable of auditioning for professional orchestras or winning competitions, well of course not. That was never my goal though. If you're willing to put in the effort and do it right, you can do fine for yourself. Just be reasonable with your expectations.

January 7, 2017 at 04:03 AM · @Dimi de Saro

On one hand i can understand your situation. But i dont really sympathise with you because its such an easy decision. Just throw all of the material problems you have right now out of the window (money/people around you/the amount of time it takes to learn an instrument) and chose whichever you like best. If you say **** it I dont like either I want to learn another instrument thats also an option.

You dont need to care about your relatives, or people around you who learnt violin at a young age. They wouldnt be around you when you're in a practice room trying to get through finger exercises. It will be just you and an instrument you dont really like. So spare us the "analysis" of all the factors going into your decision making.

Speaking from my own experience, I've had a mish mash of violin playing experience (1/2 year of lessons, then 2 years of orchestra playing as 1st and 2nd violin in my school orchestra, and then 2 more years of orchestra playing with serious lessons). Currently, I am able to play Mozart's concertos and some hellish pieces from Saint Saens (they break my fingers but it sounds awesome), along with Bach pieces for my Diploma.

Both oboe and violin are equally hard to play, and hard to get good at, and hard to master.

@Kimberly Demuth

What he's saying is his relatives/ people from his hometown is influencing his choice of instrument by saying that oboe is "easier to play". And also in China a lot of the kids start very young and he's scared that his fingers will be stiff(er) than the kids. Dimi, if you are reading this, why would you care about catching up to the young learners or what the people from your hometown think?

January 7, 2017 at 05:22 AM · Why do you worry so much about the people in the "homeland"? It is you who will spend thousands of hours with whatever instrument you decide to go with. Pick the one you like and start learning it NOW. You will never be 19 again!

January 7, 2017 at 06:10 AM · Considering your goals, you can get pretty good at the violin if you try. Same with oboe, so please think about your friend's ideas before taking them seriously. I edited my very first post saying that wind players tend to start late because young children do not have the physical capabilities required to play a wind instrument.

January 7, 2017 at 07:43 AM · @David Zhang

Thats exactly what i said.

January 7, 2017 at 02:00 PM · @Andrew Victor:

Got it, thanks!

@Kimberly Demuth:

I feel sorry too because I misunderstood you ;-)

@Bailey Tincher:

Thanks for sharing comment ! ;-)

@Yunfan Xu & @David Zhang:

Why I care about others' suggestion? Well, in fact I don't know, either, maybe many Chinese people do so as what I do now, that is to say, people often care about others' value or viewpoint, which in turn influence one's choice deeply. In China, many violin teachers are reluctant to teach adults, due to several reason, one is physical flexibility (in fact I find my fingers to be pretty flexible and can strech quite wide and can trill quite quickly, one old friend of me (he's violin major student) once said my hands are quite "soft" ), another is "mental" flexibility, that is, kids tend to progress further than adults, because kids do not think much but imitate their violin teacher, there's also third reason, that is an "established thought"--- instrument like violin is what children learn, because few adults learn it, adults as my age in China are quite "conservative", even they enjoy violin they can not easily pick up it (some of them turn to other instruments); as a result violin teachers then suggest adults learn other instruments (woodwind or brass), for this reason I treasure my studying abroad now, for there's good chance.

In terms of "catching up others", I haven't yet considered much about this, because among my relatives or kids of those relatives none of them learn violin, there is no comparison, it is not similar to examination ranking. However I know that people from my hometown or my friends will not support this choice, how do you imagine that you will be jeered at if you learn what kids learn? Scared.

January 7, 2017 at 02:05 PM · @Ella Yu:

Yes, due to physical capabilities few children start to learn oboe at an early age, also, oboe maybe require less on finger flexibility than string instruments, as a result those people consider oboe to be much "easier", because they generally consider: the earlier, the harder.

January 7, 2017 at 02:44 PM · Dimi, I hope you would be able to make your violin learning process as private as possible. Although I started violin lessons when I was 4 years old I never played where I was heard by anyone but my teachers and members of my household until I entered a public school (high school) that had an orchestra. Therefore, I never heard any other people play except for recordings, radio broadcasts, movies - and my own father (who also played violin as an amateur). So my comparisons and inspirations were people like Heifetz, Morini, Menuhin, Kreisler, etc. So - about the time I was 13 I started to hear and play for other people - and everything worked out OK. It could have been different, I could have been one of the worst instead of one of the best had I been in a different environment - but I wasn't.

Some teachers have periodic recitals for all their students, but some don't. When I was teaching I did not hold recitals for my students. There are advantages and disadvantages in public exposure of a developing skill, as one can easily imagine. For those who are "winning" it can be a motivating force that leads to even faster improvement, but for those who are not progressing as fast it can be discouraging and lead to quitting. It takes a very fine teacher to overcome the negative effects of such recitals - but I have certainly seen that work too.

Once I started to get public exposure, I liked it because it led me to understand what I needed to do to become better and one of the "winners," which I did, becoming concertmaster of my high school orchestra for 3 years and 15 years later concertmaster of my community orchestra for 20 years.

So - like a smart general, if you position yourself so you can pick your "battles" you increase your chances of gaining the position you want. This can be done in almost every aspect of life if you are realistic about it.

Personally, I like the idea of starting an instrument in private (except for your teacher) in spite of the fact that it is instructive to be able to observe the learning process in a number of different people. But you have to find a teacher whose methods work for you.

January 7, 2017 at 03:03 PM · @Andrew Victor:

I accept your opinion completely. From childhood to now, I've successfully fulfilled all my desires and realized all my goals except learning an instrument... As it is important for me, so I'll try to make this process a private issue,except the teacher. I live in a flat where only myself thus I can practise without being awared of.

In terms of comparison, I have a lot of discs of these violin masters such as Milstein, Grumiaux, Hefeitz, Perlman, Kavakos, Hilary Hahn, Joshua Bell, S. Accardo, Oistrach...(I bought it when I was in middleschool), could them be useful?

January 7, 2017 at 11:19 PM · Dimi, I kind of disagree with you on your statement that playing the oboe does not require much finger dexterity. Quite honestly, wind players still need fairly dexterious fingers. They often have to hold down multiple keys for one note. Plus, finger coordination takes time to develop, even in young children. If worst comes to worst, would online instruction be an option?

January 8, 2017 at 05:52 AM · @Ella Yu:

Yes, you're right, I meant that requires less than violin did. I find teacher near me, so online instruction is not necessary ;-)

January 8, 2017 at 07:04 PM · I think the kmount of finger dexterity is almost equal, if not the same. The instruments that require the least finger dexterity are brass instruments because you have very few pitch controlling devices. Thus, you must be a master at controlling airflow. The other thing is that you only need to have a lot of dexterity in the left hand for violin, whereas with oboe, you have to be equally dexterious in both hands.

January 8, 2017 at 08:06 PM · The only reason why you have young players able to play string instruments is beacuse they come in fractional sizes. Onlder kids start wind instruments for a simple fact: children cannot hold the instrument because thier hands are too small.

Somehow, people are equatiing - starting an instrument later in life = easier to play. Totally wrong!

I started violin in my school program in 4th grade (which is common in the US). I wanted to play oboe in the middle school so I started learning in the summer before 7th grade at age 12. When I showed up for my first lesson I remember my teacher being apprehensive because she thought my hands would be too small to learn it. She also told me that Oboe is one of the hardest instruments to learn, and offered to teach me flute instead.

Every instrument is difficult in its own way. No matter which you choose, you will sound horrible at first. With dedication and practice, little by little, you will improve and one day you will be able to play -the- concerto you have dreamed about.

January 9, 2017 at 11:32 AM · @Ella Yu & Kimberly Demuth:

Thanks for telling me about the fact, I agree with what you say ;-)

January 9, 2017 at 02:20 PM · VIOLIN or OBOE - you don't just bow or you don't just blow. The artistry required of right-arm control or air flow control are beyond the imagination of anyone who has not done them.

In my opinion the visible actions of a violinists left hand or an oboists fingers are far more easily learned than those others that make the sounds that others want to (even can stand to) hear.

January 9, 2017 at 03:12 PM · @Andrew Victor:

Yes, the invisible part is thought to be more difficult than what people imagine, the most difficult part of violin study is thougt to be arco(bowing), for example staccato in high speed ;-)

January 9, 2017 at 07:51 PM · "The other thing is that you only need to have a lot of dexterity in the left hand for violin"

I could hardly disagree more with this statement. Right hand technique is, IME, harder to teach, harder to learn, and absolutely critical in producing a beautiful (or even a decent) sound.

January 10, 2017 at 04:59 PM · Please follow this guide:

I have an interest in learning a difficult and rewarding instrument. -> Violin

I have an interest in learning a difficult and rewarding instrument. I also have an interest in wood carving. -> Oboe

January 11, 2017 at 03:46 PM · @Douglas

HAHAHAH made me laugh

January 11, 2017 at 04:18 PM · Douglas ...

I'm more interested in tuning my instrument than playing it -> Mandolin

January 11, 2017 at 05:29 PM · @ Yunfan

Because yes, almost every conversation with an oboe player begins "my reed..."!


Mandolin, or harp! How long does a harp stay in tune? About 20 minutes, or until someone opens a door.

January 14, 2017 at 06:05 PM · Like a few others who have posted, I also played both violin and oboe when I was younger, and I think got a good experience from both. In my opinion, having played both--and I actually enjoyed oboe more when I was younger--if you are really more interested in learning violin, you should do so.

True story--I was not a music major but had played in a masterclass with David Weiss before college (then principal oboe in the LA phil) and with my teacher's help got in touch with him about taking private lessons while I was in college. He said he would be happy to teach me, but when he learned that I had played violin as well, asked me why on earth I would want to deal with the hassle if having to make reeds when I had the option of enjoying violin instead.

So I continued on violin and sold my oboe, and had great experiences playing violin. When I was learning, my oboe technique progressed pretty quickly. However I never got the knack of making reeds at the point when I stopped taking lessons and that largely precludes me from continuing to play oboe long-term as an amateur. (I don't think I would have made a very good luthier either but fortunately as a violinist I don't have to carve my own soundposts).

January 15, 2017 at 10:23 AM · Well, im no violinist, only a mother of a voilinist, but my thought are that it depends on you what you want to do. Do you have agood ear? If you dont I would discourage violin, as I dont and I tried learning it at the age of 11 and it didnt work out well at all allthough I played the piano very well. But a friend of mine started flute as an adult and seems to do well. And he does not have perfect pitch. Usually its also harder to get to play in an orchestra if you play the violin as there are so many good violinists so they dont really need you, at least it is like that here.

Would it be possible to try out the two instruments somewhere? But if you really like the violin, then go for it, maybe rent first and see how it goes, dont commit a lot of money before you know if it is for you. It also depends which teacher you like more.

January 15, 2017 at 03:32 PM · I think playing a wind instrument requires a good ear to quite a degree because you also have to worry about tuning to a degree.

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